Several people have asked me about herbal allies and ADD/ADHD. Rather than talking about what ADD/ADHD is or isn’t, let’s focus on some natural approaches to cognition.
Please note that some practitioners encourage the acceptance of neurodiversity, rather than thinking of it as needing treatment. I encourage exploration of natural cognition support only when an individual asks.
There are a few tried and true daily habits that can help with symptoms of ADD/ADHD (and good overall health):
→ Adequate amounts of physical activity
→ Getting enough GOOD QUALITY sleep
→ Limiting sugar and some food additives
→ Increasing omega-3 fatty acids (such as from fish oil)
There are two main categories of herbs associated with helping cognition. One is nootropics, the other adaptogens. Yes, I’m speaking English. No, I didn’t just make up fancy sounding words.
Nootropics are herbs that help support cognition, memory, and brain health in general. Herbs like gotu kola, lion’s mane (a mushroom - more on those later!), ginkgo, and holy basil are all great support for our high-functioning brains!
Adaptogens help the body to adapt to stress by modulating the endocrine and nervous systems. There are a variety of ways adaptogens help the body. For example, improving how oxygen is utilized can have a great effect on our energy level and mood. Some of the stars in this category include gotu kola, ashwagandha, and holy basil.
No, you’re not seeing double. Herbs can function in multiple capacities, having properties of both nootropics and adaptogens.
It’s important to remember that because our goal when utilizing our plant friends is to help facilitate balance and natural wellness in the body, it takes time to see our desired effects.
A good general rule of thumb is that it takes 14-30 days before you start to notice major differences in the way your body and mind are functioning.
Prescription medications such as Adderall and Ritalin are often a first line of defense for someone with ADD/ADHD. Like all medications, there can be side effects. These can include cardiac and circulatory issues, as well as possibly being addictive and/or habit-forming.
Medications such as these are stimulants and often contain amphetamines. But did you know there are natural stimulants which may produce desired effects with fewer (or no!) side effects? Coffee, green tea, and the more gentle ashwagandha help with cognition and also increase dopamine levels, which we know may be naturally lower in individuals with ADD/ADHD.
Circulatory stimulants help support circulation to the brain, improving vital nutrients needed for health cognition while simultaneously improving the elimination of cellular waste. An added bonus to circulatory stimulants - they often have antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties!
On the opposite end of the spectrum from stimulants are herbs we might call “calming herbs”. These often overlap with nootropics and adaptogens, which are known to promote a calm-alert state. In addition to herbs like gotu kola, ashwagandha, holy basil, lemon balm is an herb that can enhance the calm (but not sedated) state to improve cognition. You might even have lemon balm growing in your garden!
I promised you more info on mushrooms, and I’m not about to let you down! Fungi are a diverse category of organisms that play a vital role in the health of our planet. I’ve previously discussed how your body is its own little biosphere and ecosystem, so the fact that fungi can play an enormous role in our overall health and wellness shouldn’t be a big surprise.
While mushrooms aren’t technically herbs, you’ll often find them used by herbalists as part of a customized treatment. From reducing inflammation, to boosting immune function, to promoting health cognition, herbs are a magical little group all to themselves. And I have SO much more to say about fungi - you’ll be reading a lot more about them soon!
It’s important to remember that because our goal when utilizing our plant friends is to help facilitate balance and natural wellness in the body, it takes time to see our desired effects. A good general rule of thumb is that it takes 14-30 days before you start to notice major differences in the way your body and mind are functioning.