ADHD complementary and alternative treatments
Some people believe complementary or alternative approaches may be helpful in managing ADHD symptoms.
As well as dietary interventions, complementary or alternative approaches for ADHD include interactive metronome training, chiropractic medicine and neurofeedback.
There is no cure for ADHD and when considering alternative or complementary therapies, the adult ADHD group AADD-UK cautions that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Which dietary interventions are used to treat ADHD?
Some parents may notice that when a child eats some types of food, or food ingredients or additives, ADHD symptoms worsen.
Do not change your child's diet without taking medical advice. Instead, keep a diary of food, drink and any changes in ADHD symptoms to discuss with a doctor or dietitian.
There is no medical evidence to support taking any supplements, herbal remedies or homeopathic therapies for ADHD, including Ginkgo biloba and St John's wort. These also need to be discussed with a doctor in advance in case of an interaction with other medication.
Other unproven complementary therapies for ADHD include:
Neurofeedback or EEG biofeedback: This technique uses an electroencephalogram to monitor brain activity as the person experiences visual images, sounds, or vibration.
Cranial osteopathy: A cranial osteopath will attempt to relieve pressure on the skull said to result from birth trauma. This is said to stimulate circulation to help reduce symptoms of ADHD and other disorders.
Sensory and auditory integration therapy, and lightwave stimulation: These techniques use exercises and special equipment said to help improve the way the brain processes and organises information from the various senses.
Mind control games
Children with ADHD have trouble controlling impulsive behaviour. Now software designers have come up with a game that forces a child to concentrate to keep playing - which helps to train the brain to control impulses while having fun.
In 2010, researchers from the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Psychology tested a special game called “Play Attention” which uses EEG (Electroencephalography) biofeedback by detecting brain waves. The developers say it uses NASA technology to help make your mind become the mouse.
Researchers got 10 children with an attention deficit from Hertfordshire schools to use it three times a week for twelve weeks. Children have to wear what looks like a cycle helmet, but is really a set of brain wave sensors linked to a computer.
As long as the child concentrates, they stay in control of the games - but if their attention waivers the game stops.
The researchers found that, at the end of the study, the children’s impulsive behaviour was reduced, compared to a control group who had not used the system.
However, AADD-UK says there is very limited scientific evidence that special games lead to any sustained improvement in concentration in those with ADHD.