Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects one’s ability to pay attention, control impulses, and regulate activity levels. Symptoms can manifest differently in children and adults, women and men, and cultures and communities--and its severity can vary from person to person. ADHD is commonly treated through a variety of modalities such as medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, and more, but did you know that acupuncture and Chinese herbs can also be an effective treatment for ADHD symptoms? Read more to find out what ADHD is, its common symptoms in kids and adults, available treatment options, and how acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help manage ADHD.
What ADHD is
ADHD is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that can significantly impair daily functioning. It often begins in childhood and can persist into adolescence and adulthood.
This pattern is caused by dopamine inefficiency, meaning the dopamine that is released doesn’t reach the frontal cortex of the brain. That is the area of the brain that is responsible for executive functioning. Executive functioning includes skills that underlie the capacity to plan ahead and meet goals, display self-control, follow multiple-step directions even when interrupted, and stay focused despite distractions, among others.
There are common physical imbalances that can also exist for those with ADHD such as IBS or IBD, hypermobility, oral health imbalances, migraines, PCOS or menstrual irregularities, emotional dysregulation, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain.
The positive qualities of ADHD often go unnoticed in mainstream thought. One of these positive qualities is the ability to hyperfocus. This is the ability to become completely absorbed in a task by fully tuning everything else out. Through hyperfocus, one is able to optimize their time so they can get the most done in the least amount of time. Other positive qualities of ADHD include the ability to maintain focus on tasks and subjects that are novel and interesting, a strong sense of equity and justice, strong pattern recognition, thinking outside the box, a strong sense of empathy, working well under pressure, the ability to think clearly in a crisis, finding creative solutions to complex problems, and general creativity and ingenuity.
What ADHD is NOT
ADHD is NOT laziness or low intelligence. In fact, most people with ADHD have high intelligence but struggle to manage their lives due to societal structures that don’t accommodate the neurodivergent needs of those with ADHD.
Common Symptoms in both Children and Adults
Executive Dysfunction and Inattention
- Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
- Frequent careless mistakes
- Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
- Difficulty in organizing schedules and time management
- Difficulty initiating self-care tasks like cleaning, hygiene, and scheduling appointments
- Avoiding or being reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
- Forgetting important things
- Difficulty with verbal instructions
- Fidgeting or tapping hands and feet
- Inability to stay seated in situations where it is expected
- Running, pacing, or moving a lot in stressful situations
- Talking a lot or oversharing
- Difficulty sleeping or resting
- Blurting out answers or interrupting before someone is done speaking
- Interrupting or intruding on others' conversations or games
- Difficulty waiting for one's turn
- Starting projects without proper planning or research and feeling overwhelmed
- Difficulty managing emotions and emotional expression
- Impulsivity in spending, and participating in high-risk behavior
Current Treatment Options for Those Diagnosed with ADHD
Behavioral interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can help individuals develop coping strategies to manage their symptoms, improve organization, and set achievable goals.
Stimulant medications, like methylphenidate and amphetamines, are often prescribed to manage ADHD symptoms. Non-stimulant medications, such as atomoxetine, can also be used, particularly when stimulants are not effective or are not preferred.
Educational and Occupational Support
Children with ADHD may benefit from individualized education plans (IEPs) and classroom accommodations. Not as common, but making more headway, are workplace accommodations for adults to help manage their symptoms effectively.
Various lifestyle changes can help reduce symptoms, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, time management tools and tricks, and stress management techniques.
Parents of children with ADHD can benefit from training and support programs to learn how to manage and support their child's needs effectively. Because ADHD can be genetic and often runs in families, parents often learn they also have ADHD and find that the tools they learn for their kids help themselves too.
What Can Acupuncture Do to Help?
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine offer a natural approach to managing ADHD with or without medication. Acupuncture is known for effectively regulating the nervous system, regulating emotions, and improving brain and cognitive function in both children and adults.
Chinese herbal medicine offers a different approach and can effectively manage and regulate hormone production and regulation, improve digestion, improve cognitive function, and balance emotions.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are completely customizable and treatments can be suited to your individual needs.
If you are ready to start managing your ADHD naturally, you can book your appointment with me and together we will create a treatment plan that fits your specific presentation. I will also soon be offering my 6-week focus flow program. I utilize acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, diet, and lifestyle to help you balance your ADHD symptoms and find sustainable tools that will keep you in balance. Schedule your consultation and your first appointment today!