“Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission.” – Mourning Dove
The term “herb” simply means a plant that is used medicinally. For centuries, herbs were used for their medicinal properties to soothe and heal illness and disease. Their use in western European communities diminished towards the end of the 17th century when pharmacology and chemistry knowledge developed. However, in the last few decades there has been a resurgence of interest in herbs and their healing properties again.
Some people are very skeptical of using herbs and other methods of complementary therapy. If this is you, that’s ok! There are lots of excellent ways besides herbs to help you and your ADHD. However, if you are interested in herbs then this is a good starting place.
Herbs can be taken in the form of a tincture, in capsules and essential oils or drunk as a tea (my personal favourite.) Below is a selection of herbs that can help your ADHD.
Herbs that stimulate and aid cognitive functioning:
Stimulates blood circulation, particularly cerebral circulation, and increases concentration, focus and aids memory. Note: It can take up to three months before seeing effects, and shouldn’t be taken with Ritalin or other ADHD medication.
Improves and stimulates memory. In Greece, students burn this herb in their rooms during exam time. Note: Not recommended for people who have hypertension. Ask a naturopath or an aroma therapist before using rosemary essential oils.
Stimulates intellectual activity such as focus, concentration, memory and mental endurance.
Stimulates the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for functions such as memory, attention, perceptual awareness, etc. As a bonus, it protects your immune system.
Often used in combination with gingko to improve the symptoms of ADHD. American ginseng is found in the form of capsules or in soups and teas. Like other ginsengs, it protects your immune system. Note: Not to be taken for more than six weeks straight.
Herbs that help you to relax and reduce anxiety and stress:
Soothes the central nervous system and can reduce nervous tension, irritability and emotional stress responses. Note: this plant stimulates perspiration.
Helps with insomnia (take two cups maximum before bedtime), acts as sedative for anxiety, aids stress and nervousness.
Herbs that do both!
Gotu Cola or Gotu Kola
Improves concentration, revitalizes and strengthens the memory and nervous functions and is an anti-anxiety and anti stress agent.
Supports mental performance, attention span, accuracy and memory. Relieves restlessness, nervousness, anxiety and mild mood changes. For anxiety it’s best to take it in form of tincture.
A word of warning:
Before you dash to your nearest health food store, a word of warning: Because herbs are “natural,” our brains equate that with “safe.” However, herbs need to be used with the care and respect we give pharmaceutical drugs. Remember, Morphine is “natural.” It comes from poppy seeds, yet it’s a highly addictive controlled drug. Like pharmaceutical drugs, herbs can have undesirable side-effects. However, unlike pharmaceutical drugs, herbal ADHD treatments are not standardized in terms of purity and dosage.
Herbal medication can interact with prescribed medication. Medical doctors may not be knowledgeable on the use of herbs, but your pharmacist is great resource to find out about any potentially dangerous interactions.
However, the most effective and safest way to use herbal ADHD treatments is to work with a good naturopath or herbalist in your area.
Bottom line, if herbal ADHD treatments interest you, they can be very effective. But you do need to practice caution as you would with any drug.