Natural medicine in ADHD – part 1

Lets first look at what ADHD is, so we can later relate the natural medicine treatments. Or dysfunction. ADHD is a ›genetic disorder resulting in imbalance in neurotransmitters in the prefrontal cortex, causing it to not function properly. There are also structural changes, such as reduced reward pathways, and difference in the frontal lobe development.

These parts of the brain are towards the front of your head, and are all related to conscious thought and what we call executive function. Executive function is the planning, organising, short term memory etc. I.e. all those things that make your life function well. The prefrontal cortex is also responsible for the inhibition of inappropriate behaviours.

While certain important brain pathways are working normally, cortical regions involved in attention, impulse control, and stimulus integration abilities, have yet to become fully active. ADHD is a widespread affliction that we are just beginning to understand.

Neurotransmitters in ADHD

A chronic deficit of serotonin (5-HT) at the synapse may trigger symptoms of ADHD. Neuro-anatomical investigations suggest that serotonin may regulate behavioural domains of hyperactivity and impulsivity in ADHD.

We also have reduced dopamine production and fewer dopamine receptors, which both leads to a reduced dopaminergic system. Which means that we don’t have the benefits of dopamine, such as calming, satisfaction, and feeding the reward system.

Nor-epinephrine is the third very important neurotransmitter in ADHD. This hormone has a double edged sword, as it both reponds to stress by increasing our blood pressure, but also contributes to your brain’s ability to store memories, helps you wake up, increases attention and focus, as well as supports emotional health.

ADHD medicine – stimulants

›So, how do the stimulant medications work? Well, they stop dopamine from being reduced, so it can be reused. I.e. when the dopamine travels between neurons with it’s message, the receiving neuron will automatically absorb it when it’s done. The stimulants stops this absorption, and the dopamine can be reused. Therefore we feel better. This also happens to nor-epineprhine.

NOTE: there is no natural supplement that will mimic this action exactly. If anyone tells you they can treat your ADHD naturally, they are lying. We can enhance your dopamine production, and even the pathways between dopamine and nor-epinephrine, but we cannot mimic amphetamines. More on what we can do later.

Other medications that may be prescribed for ADHD are anti-depressants, as these will also impact serotonin. If you find one that works for you, stick to it. Remember, we are dealing with a dysfunction in the brain structure. This is not a temporary dip in neurotransmitters, but a natural deficit. Natural medicine can support your production of your neurotransmitters, and enhance the effect your medicine has, but we can’t replace medicine.

›When the medicine stops working

They might not stop working completely, but you are seeing a reduced improvement of symptoms when you take your medication. Maybe you are taking a higher dose, and with not the same effect as before, all you feel is wired?

Usually this is because your body has run out of building blocks to make the all important neurotransmitters. So this is where natural medicine is the most useful. We can provide targeted amino acids, and vitamins and minerals as co-factors.


The next thing which the ADHD (and autistic community) talk a lot about is burn-out. Basically this happens when you run out of all the neurotransmitters, including the nor-epinephrine. Usually adrenaline is low at this stage too, and you feel like nothing can ever make you feel motivated or excited about anything.

To recover from burn out, you have to teach your body to not be in over drive all the time. To slow down and to rest. Burn-out happens when the body has been under pressure for too long and the adrenals can’t keep up, and won’t produce enough adrenaline and nor-epinephrine for every day use.

This is where natural medicine is at it’s absolute best, and we can nurse you back to health. Some people say that you can never fully return from burn-out, but I don’t agree. It just takes a very long time. You have to work at many different aspects of your health at the same time.

Next part

Next blog will discuss food, exercise and lifestyle choices in ADHD and how you can become the master of your own destiny.

Thank you for reading, my name is Caroline Kennedy, and I specialise in ADHD and autism, as I live with both conditions myself. Visit my page for more information about me.

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