*None of the below should be taken as medical advice*
Recently I was asked about my experience with cutting out food dye, and other natural ways for managing ADHD, and I realized I haven't shared about it in quite awhile. I started thinking about all the options out there, about all the different things we personally have tried, both for ourselves as adults and for our 9 year old, and about which things actually worked for us.
There aer so many different sources out there, from your pediatrician, to your therapist, to your naturopath, to websites like ADDitude, to Facebook groups, to mom blogs, to your own personal circle of friends... It can very quickly get overwhelming. How do you decide what to use for your own family? How do you know what will actually work and what is just hype?
And that's the key right there! Without trying, you won't know. Because just like foods and medications, natural solutions are going to affect different people in different ways. We all want the magic pill (so to speak) that's going to be our first try and make it all easier immediately. But that's not real life. What works for one might not work for another. Sometimes it can be so easy to get caught up in wanting the "right" thing, that we forget it's all about experimentation. And that we don't have to have the perfect answer to begin with.
I'll share with you below what has worked best for us, but please do your own research and experimentation (under the supervision of a licensed medical professional, of course), knowing that different things may work for you and your kid than worked for mine.
From age 4-7, we managed G's ADHD exclusively with natural solutions. We started with melatonin for sleep because he would toss and turn for 1-2 hours every night, despite the fact that he was tired and truly wanted to go to sleep. Then we added Charlotte's Web Calm gummies, Barlean's fish oil, and Natural Vitality CALM Magnesium powder, under the guidance of our naturopath. We also added intense exercise, and cut out all artificial food dyes (or so we thought - more on this next week). Later we added in yoga and mindfulness practices. We also had school accommodations through a 504 plan, he was enrolled in the Gifted program to give him more challenging work to keep him from getting bored, and saw a family therapist monthly to improve his self esteem, and teach us new ways to accommodate his behaviors at home. Then when baby bro was born in August 2021, we made the decision to add traditional non-stimulant medication because his focus was deteriorating and he was putting both himself and his brother in danger unintentionally, due to his impulsivity.
What I've noticed is that the food dyes make a significant difference, IF we are consistent with it. I've just found out that it may be in several things I wasn't previously aware of, or that I didn't expect to affect us (I'm looking at you candles and produce!), so it will be interesting to see how eliminating even more food dyes will affect our lives. Fish oil didn't seem to do anything for us, though I'd heard great things from others. The gummies only made a slight improvement. Rigorous exercise makes a positive impace, but is most effective when done daily (maybe a duh). Yoga and mindfulness are really helpful when done daily, but it is challenging to deal with the grumbling because "it's boring" or "too many poses too fast". Which yoga we choose makes a huge difference too. Cosmic Kids Yoga is way too stimulating and frustrating so it has the opposite affect on his behavior, despite how enticing it can be for kids. Yoga with Adriene Rainbow Yoga has been our favorite, because it is floor based, slow flow, and she has her dog with her. As for supplements, magnesium has been the most effective for impulsivity, and works even better in combination with the currect ADHD medication (Guanfacine). It's also far more effective for impulsivity than Guanfacine alone. The Guanfacine has been most helpful for focusing on less desired academic tasks.
We are currently in search of a quality psychologist to do a full psychological eval to see what other concurrent diagnoses may pop up, as we have our eye on a small handful that we believe we are seeing, and also a quality psychiatrist so we may be able to tweak his medication to find a better, more effective fit for him. As I mentioned before, I am not a medical professional so please do your own research and consult your own care team before making any changes to diet, supplements, medications, etc. The things I'm sharing are what work for OUR family, and it may or moy not work for yours. Don't be afraid to try different options, keep what works, scrap what doesn't. If I've learned anything, it's that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to ADHD.
If you are looking for even more info about what has worked for us, to do a deep dive into all things ADHD, make sure you jump into my 6-week course, Glimmer, which begins October 25th.
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