Ayurveda is a system of traditional Indian therapies that includes herbal and nutritional supplementation, meditation and massage for the treatment of physical and psychological disorders. Although prescription medications are often effective, persons suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, could benefit form Ayurvedic medicine to improve behavioral and cognitive functions.
The effects of meditation to improve attention, reduce stress and improve mood in adults and adolescents with ADHD was explored in the May 2008 issue of the “Journal of Attention Disorders.” The researchers enrolled 24 adults and eight adolescents in an 8-week meditation program and noted performance on tasks measuring attention and cognitive inhibition. The participants reported high satisfaction with the program, and improvements in anxiety and depression were observed. The study concluded that meditation may improve behavioral and cognitive dysfunctions in adults and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD.
A review article published in the February 2005 issue of “Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews” investigated the effects of complementary and alternative medicine including Ayurvedic therapies in the treatment of ADHD. The authors reviewed medical databases and found evidence to support the use of yoga, massage and homeopathy in the treatment of ADHD. The study suggests the elimination of artificial food additives, colors and preservatives from the diets of those diagnosed with the condition. However, the authors concluded that more stringently designed studies are needed to fully evaluate the effectiveness of alternative therapies for ADHD.
Massage and Exercise Therapy
Medications and behavior modification can manage the symptoms of ADHD, but they do not cure the disorder, according to the March 2003 issue of the “Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Review.” In this article, researchers explored the effectiveness of massage and exercise therapy on reducing symptoms and medication doses in ADHD school-age patients. Researchers maintained prescribed medications during the trial and assigned the participants into one of three groups: massage therapy, exercise therapy or a control. The treatment consisted of six 20-minute sessions given weekly for six weeks; progress was measured through parental questionnaires and clinical assessments. The results indicated that massage and exercise therapies were equally successful and were significantly more effective for behavioral modification than medication alone.
Herbal and Nutritional Supplements
A review article in the August 2011 issue of “Complementary Therapies in Medicine” investigated the effects of herbal and nutritional supplements for the treatment of ADHD. The authors searched several medical databases and located 16 studies that met their criteria. The studies revealed that foods rich in zinc and iron were effective for the treatment of the disorder, whereas opinions on foods containing omega-3 fatty acids and L-acetyl carnitine were inconclusive. Other studies found that the Ayurvedic herbs Pinus marinus, Bacopa monniera and Piper methysticum were also effective treatments due to their sedative effects.