Treating ADHD with Vitamins and Supplements – Our Personal Experience
First Steps – Recognizing We Had A Problem And Finding A New Solution
Many years ago, when T was just in kindergarten the teachers started telling me that he needed to be medicated. They believed he had ADHD and it was pretty severe. He couldn’t sit still, follow more than one direction at a time, or focus on any lessons. But to me, he was just a boy. Practically a baby still. Furthermore, my only experience with a child being medicated for ADHD was not a positive one. Once that sweet boy would take his medicine he would become very still, his eyes would droop, all of his excitement for life would drain away, and it took all he had just to sit in front of the tv and watch it. Plus, he never had an appetite. No way, was I going to do that to my child. Not a chance…
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The Trials of Growing Up With ADHD Can Have Lasting Effects
By the time T had entered second grade, he was starting to sink. The expectations to sit still and follow directions and hold his millions of questions a day until someone responded to his raised hand (which usually they didn’t), well that life was wearing him down. Plus, all of that time on the naughty list was doing serious harm to his self-esteem. He was anxious about school. He hated it. He started to believe he was stupid. He became stressed out. He chewed his nails off. He would panic in the drop off line at school. He was changing. My heart was breaking with his.
We changed his IEP a dozen times. We met with every teacher. We put him into resource classes. We tried so hard. He tried so hard. But we were not making any progress.
I couldn’t understand why no matter how determined he was, he couldn’t absorb information unless he had a genuine passion for the topic. He tried so hard. He wanted so badly to get good grades and to make his teachers proud. He just wanted to be a good student. And why not? After all, he was absolutely the best guy ever. Brilliant! He would amaze us with his deep knowledge of all things that intrigued him. He was kind and compassionate, always sticking up for his classmates, helping in every way he could. He was generous and sweet and very funny. The most wonderful boy you could imagine. And yet, he was still so sad. He couldn’t do Math. He couldn’t read a sentence. His classmates had noticed. You can imagine.
We changed his diet, increased his exercise, made sure he had plenty of time in nature, introduced him to art, taught him to meditate, and tried desperately to form some sleep habits that would stick. We adjusted his IEP over and over again. We attended so many meetings… I read everything I could find on ADHD and I applied what I learned. But still – he could not read. He could not tell you what 2 x 2 was. (Later we would discover he also had dyscalculia).
Deciding To Medicate Our Child For ADHD
By the time T finally fought his way into third grade, he was desperate for some help. We went back to the doctors and let the school run the tests and sure enough, it was confirmed he had ADHD. He wanted help. I remained terrified of the medications. But everyone insisted we needed to at least try the medication.
“It’s not like it used to be, Gwen.”
They all assured me. Trusted doctors, amazing teachers, article after article. So we prayed about it and in the end, we decided to give it a try. What a transformation! He could focus. His grades were improving. He finally learned to read at long last. And he was not a zombie. He was himself. We dealt with some appetite issues and the medication added a bit to already existing sleep issues, but we were getting there. The only thing I could think was that I wished I had started him sooner.
And things went really well on those meds. We always used the minimum dose possible. When we noticed a lack of effectiveness, we worked with his doctor to adjust his dose or change his medicine until we were back in a place where he was comfortable. We also brought him home and started homeschooling. Life had never been better. He was hurdling over obstacles he had struggled with since kindergarten. It was so good.
When The ADHD Medicine Stops Working or The Side Effects Are Too Much
And then, T became a teenager. I don’t know if it’s the hormone levels involved with this stage of life or if he had just been on the meds too long but he started to act differently. He started to be sad, or angry or fixated on issues that he could not get past. Was this normal teen behavior? T didn’t think so. He believed it was his meds. The worst moment was one night when he told me on the way to indoor soccer practice that he was scared because the medicine was making him feel nothing. He said he had started to feel numb after taking them. He had never said anything like that before.
Mental Health is serious business. I look at it with the same respect and concern as I do physical health and spiritual health. So that statement had my heart racing and aching all at once.
“We will figure this out, Buddy,” I promised him.
He wanted off the medication. T is a naturalist anyway. He won’t take any over the counter medication save supplements. He believes food is medicine and he eats healthier than all of the rest of this family combined. He had always resented needing the medicine. But he was so grateful for the ability to focus and learn that he considered it an even trade-off. Until now.
Our First Attempt At Finding A New ADHD Treatment Solution – Treating ADHD with Supplements
Over Christmas break, he stopped taking his medication altogether. When school started back up we had our homeschool loaded up with the right essential oils, a waterfall, calming music, candles, plenty of plants… the scene was set for success. But we ended up having two major breakdowns our first day in. He just could not focus. All of our go-to tools were not enough. But he still did not want to take the medicine. He was ready to forgo a college education if it meant he had to take the meds again. T is very serious about his grades and values his education. This could not be any more unlike him. I trusted him that he needed off the medication. How could we manage that and still see that he could excel at his studies?
Sorting Out Which Supplements Might Best Help To Treat ADHD
So, I started looking into supplements. I spent hour after hour, day after day, reading the results of large and small studies on the effects of supplements for the ADHD mind. In the end, I ordered the following to begin our journey of treating ADHD with supplements:
- Triple Magnesium (Glycinate, Malate, Citrate
- Chelated Zinc
- Vitamin B6
- Omega 3 EPA/DHA
- Vitamin C (with Rosehips – time release)
We both also love tea so I ordered a few of those that are designed to assist focus and mood. Yogi Sweet Tangerine Positive Energy and another with Lions Mane and Chaga mushrooms that we have had success with before.
Making The Switch From ADHD Medication To Vitamins and Supplements
And now, here we go. We will begin treating ADHD with supplements right away. I will follow up after our first week using the supplements and let you know how it goes. I hope with all my heart it goes well. But I know that if this was going to be simple, there would a lot more parents choosing this route. I expect there to be a learning curve. So, we have set some priorities to help us gauge our success.
- Top Priorities:
- T’s Mental Health
- T’s Physical Health
- T’s Spiritual Health
- Secondary Priorities:
- Finding an appropriate level of focus and stamina to successfully complete high school without standard ADHD medication.
- Finding a balance of treatment that includes physical activity and mindfulness, as well as more natural supplementation.
- Eventually moving from supplementation to a diet high in the most effective vitamins and nutrients.
T has always been a boy who prays. He prays for his friends and his family, and the environment daily. And we pray for him too. Right now, we are all praying that these supplements will be enough to make the difference he needs to succeed and be healthy – mind, body, and spirit.
Have you ever tried treating ADHD with supplements? If you have any suggestions or experiences with this, I would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments section below. I know there are a lot of parents looking to find an effective alternative to pharmaceuticals for treatment of ADHD. I am just one of them.
Wishing you all of the best,
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