What should people consider when trying alternative therapies for ADHD?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine

Before trying the latest, cutting-edge treatment options for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), parents should explore and understand all that is involved. Below, the advocacy organization Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) has provided specific guidelines and questions involving proposed ADHD alternative therapies:

Will it work for my child? Suspect an unproven remedy if it:

  • claims it will work for everyone with ADHD and other health problems
  • uses only case histories or testimonials as proof
  • cites only one study as proof
  • cites a study without a control (comparison) group

How safe is it? Suspect an unproven remedy if it:

  • comes without directions for proper use
  • does not list contents
  • has no information or warnings about side effects
  • is described as harmless or natural (Remember, most medication is developed from natural sources. A natural treatment may still be ineffective or harmful.)

How is it promoted? Suspect an unproven remedy if it:

  • claims it is based on a secret formula
  • claims that it will work immediately and permanently for everyone with ADHD
  • is described as astonishing, miraculous, or an amazing breakthrough
  • claims it cures ADHD
  • is available from only one source
  • is promoted only through infomercials, self-promoting books, or by mail order
  • claims that treatment is being suppressed or unfairly attacked by the medical establishment

Not all children will respond to ADHD therapies the same way. That is why parents must discuss their children’s health with their family pediatrician. You will have the chance to talk about whether the alternative treatment is more effective than proven methods. And, you will cover any side effects, financial costs, and how these therapies will affect the rest of the family.

But the first step in selecting a child’s therapy is to receive a full and accurate diagnosis of their ADHD status. Children need a standard medical evaluation to determine whether or not they will benefit from proven or alternative therapies. Along with your physician, you and your child will receive all the information needed to decide whether an alternative therapy is effective.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.