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Essentials First!
Natural Steps to Deal with ADD and ADHD

By Marguerite Wright

A diagnosis of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can send an entire family into an uncomfortable tailspin of doubt and worry. While it's often reassuring to frazzled parents to have an actual diagnosis to their child's symptoms, the diagnosis can raise more questions than it answers.

The right route of treatment is mired in a mountain of contradictory information that can be difficult to sift through. It's essential that the proper course of action be taken to eliminate the worrisome symptoms that can include a quick temper, inability to focus leading to fidgeting and irritability among others.

Getting a solid diagnosis
Your first course of action is to ensure the diagnosis is accurate. The diagnosis of both ADD and ADHD is on the rise and some experts are very concerned that not all may be warranted. Teachers and other educational professionals cannot provide a diagnosis and no course of treatment whether herbal or medical should be implemented without an official diagnosis. Seek out a certified medical doctor that specializes in child mental health who is open to alternative measures rather than going straight to the prescription pad.

Medication therapy needs to be carefully considered and turned to as an alternative of last resort, rather than the first. While the medications supplied tend to work in a majority of cases, the concern is with the side effects and long-term consequences of the drugs commonly prescribed. Ritalin is by the most famous of the drug therapies recommended for ADD and ADHD children. Ritalin is an amphetamine commonly referred to in street parlance as an "upper" or "speed."

Your first line of attack can be initiated while waiting for a diagnosis. Diet changes can and should be implemented in the family diet. Increase the volume of fresh fruits and vegetables, reduce refined sugars and carbohydrates, eliminate food additives such as Aspartame and Splenda, avoid artificial food coloring and ensure that your child receives adequate

Multivitamins and minerals will help provide the nutrition needed to complete a balance diet. It can be a challenge to ensure your child is receiving a high quality diet, but the benefits are worth the brief struggle during the implementation period. Most experts agree that a steady improvement of small changes over time is most likely to lead to long-term success of any new health system. Family involvement is essential and every member of the family will benefit from the dietary improvement.

Behavior modification programs can also be very effective in reducing symptoms to a manageable level. In many cases, simply spending more time with your child, learning and teaching more effective communication techniques can lead to marked behavior improvement. Consistency and routine are essential to all children and are absolutely essential to those prone to ADD and ADHD. It is also important that your child is drinking plenty of water and receiving proper rest.

Explore herbal alternatives
Another important step before medication is the exploration of herbal alternatives. There are several herbal recommendations that can be introduced to improve both the attention and behavioral issues common to children with ADD and ADHD. These include flaxseed oil, important for brain function, chamomile and B-complex vitamins for the nervous system.

Natural herbal supplements are available to help cleanse and detox the system, helping to rid the body of waste, toxins and parasites. The second most important consideration in choosing an herbal remedy, after choosing the right combination for your needs, is choosing products from a quality source from companies who have a quality control department.

Because herbal remedies are not regulated it is up to you to ensure your sources are providing valid information and consistent quality. Many parents can testify experiencing positive results from changing their child's diet and including herbal supplements.

A diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is not the end of the world. In fact, it opens the door to improved health and increased mental awareness for the entire family. The time invested in discovering the right solution for your child will pay off in better behavior, improved attention span and better self-control.

The key point to keep in mind is that none of these improvements need to come from the medicine chest. Exploring diet, behavior and natural remedies as first steps can often help families avoid the controversial practice of medicating children.

© Marguerite Wright

Marguerite Wright is a certified herbalist and health consultant who has helped parents put their children on healthy herbal programs for various conditions. She can be reached at [email protected]

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