Are There Natural Remedies for ADHD?

Options include herbal medicines and lifestyle modifications

Medically reviewed by Kira Graves, PhD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurotypical or neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts executive functioning for children and adults. Characteristics of ADHD include impulsivity, disorganization, and difficulties concentrating and regulating emotions—all of which can make living in a neurotypical world incredibly challenging.

To cope, some people take ADHD medication, but pharmaceutical treatment for ADHD may not work for everyone and many of these drugs can have side effects. Holistic treatment for ADHD includes complementary or alternative ADHD treatments. This article covers these alternative treatment options that can help reduce or manage symptoms of ADHD.

<p>PeopleImages / Getty Images</p>

PeopleImages / Getty Images


Researchers have been looking at diet as a potential natural remedy for ADHD symptoms for years, with conflicting findings. Some studies suggest certain foods can increase risk or severity of ADHD symptoms while other foods may offer a protective benefit against symptoms.

Foods high in refined sugar and saturated fats, for example, have been associated with ADHD symptoms, but diets high in fruits and vegetables are associated with fewer or less severe symptoms.

Diets high in fruits and vegetables include:

What About Elimination Diets for ADHD?

Elimination diets for ADHD involve eliminating food items or ingredients one at a time in an effort to isolate foods that are potentially contributing to symptoms. They have not been well-evidenced and are said to be linked to nutritional deficiencies.

Related: Does Sugar Cause ADHD Symptoms?

Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle modifications are habits or behaviors that can be changed. Sleep and exercise fall into this category.

Sleep disorders and disturbances are common in people with ADHD—and not getting enough sleep can make ADHD symptoms worse.

Experts suggest:

  • Practice healthy sleep habits, such as no screens before bed, set bedtime and wake time.

  • Cut back or avoid stimulating substances like caffeine and alcohol, especially late in the day.

  • Add relaxation techniques to your bedtime routine.

  • Seek behavioral therapy for improving sleep habits, if necessary.

ADHD Medication and Sleep

If you’re taking ADHD medication and it’s interfering with your sleep, your prescribing healthcare provider may suggest switching to alternative medications. Never stop taking medication without consulting with your healthcare provider about next steps.

Exercise has been shown to immediately reduce ADHD symptoms such as impulsivity and hyperactivity and improve executive functioning (skills to manage everyday planning and problem solving). Longer-term results have not been well-studied.

Experts suggest setting up an ADHD-friendly exercise action plan. Some tips to consider include:


It's recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week and two days of muscle-strengthening activity. If this is overwhelming, bear in mind that any activity is better than none. Consider tracking how you feel before and after exercising so you can notice the positive changes over time.

Related: 8 High-Impact Exercises

Herbal Medicines

Herbal medicines may be used either in place of or in combination with medicine prescribed by a healthcare provider. They can come in tea, capsule, pill, tincture, or powder form. Always consult with a healthcare provider as many herbs interact with medications and research on effectiveness is often mixed.

Herbs that may be useful for treating ADHD symptoms naturally but still require further research:

  • Biloba (Ginkgo biloba)

  • Pine bark extract

  • Saffron (Crocus sativus)

  • Ginseng (Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius)

  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

  • Water hyssop (B. monnieri)

  • Ningdong granule (NDG)

  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)


Finding the right ADHD treatment can take trial and error. Consulting with a healthcare provider before starting, stopping, or changing any ADHD treatment plan, including holistic treatments, is recommended.

Read Next: The Benefits of Drinking Herbal Teas for Relaxation and Health

Supplements and Vitamins

Some research suggests certain supplements or vitamins may be helpful for managing ADHD symptoms. But current evidence supporting this type of natural treatment for ADHD is still inconclusive—especially when looking at long-term outcomes.

The following supplements and vitamins are nonetheless associated with natural remedies for easing symptoms of ADHD:

Related: Supplements For ADHD Symptom Control

Essential Oils

Essential oils may be helpful in managing ADHD symptoms because their scent may stimulate the limbic system, the part of the brain involved in memory, behavior, motivation, and emotion.

Different oils have different effects. Common examples include:

  • Chamomile and lavender oils: Calming, well-known, and evidenced for their anxiety-reducing effects

  • Peppermint oil: Stimulating and potentially improving memory ability and performance

  • Rosemary oil: Stimulating and potentially enhancing focus and short-term memory recall


As with other natural remedies for ADHD, a lack of evidence exists to support essential oil use as a standalone treatment.

Related: Alternatives to Pills for Treating ADHD

Helping Children Learn New Skills

Experts say building daily habits or creating systems for routine activities like getting ready for school can make it easier for children to manage ADHD. Of course, symptoms of ADHD also increase the challenge of sticking with routines.

Helping your children learn new skills built around routines may strengthen their confidence and their ability to know when adjustments or accommodations are necessary.

Related: Bedtime Routines and Sleep Rituals for Restful Sleep

Further Help for Adults With ADHD

Finding the right type of help can take some time and patience. There are many options to explore, and what works for one may not work for another. Additional treatment options include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Studies suggest CBT is the most effective type of therapy for ADHD. It helps someone make desired changes to thoughts and behaviors contributing to ADHD-related struggles.

  • Combination treatment approach: Studies suggest a combination treatment approach that includes ADHD medication and therapy is more effective than medication alone.

  • Additional support: Talking with friends who understand ADHD or making connections in ADHD peer groups can offer a safe space to share your frustrations without judgment.

Related: Best Online ADHD Therapy to Help Manage Your Symptoms

Risks to Home Remedies for ADHD

There are mixed findings when it comes to the safety and efficacy of home remedies for ADHD. Herbal medicines and nutritional supplements, for example, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And even though something is naturally derived, it doesn't mean it's safe for everyone. You may be allergic to certain essential oils, for example.


Researchers say the risk-benefit balance of natural treatments for ADHD should be carefully monitored by your healthcare provider when used as a standalone treatment or when combined with other ADHD treatments.

Related: What the Research Says About Popular Sleep Supplements


There is no one size-fits-all approach to managing ADHD. Rather, there are many options extending beyond medication, which may or may not be suitable for everyone.

A holistic approach to treating ADHD may involve dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, supplements and vitamins, essential oils, and other nondrug options like counseling or connecting with people who have an understanding of the real impacts of ADHD on everyday functioning.

It's important to consult with a healthcare provider when considering holistic treatments to ensure safety and efficacy.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.