Kids with ADHD – hyperactivity and attention issues – now have proven natural alternatives to drugs. In the form of two safe herbs: Lemon balm and valarian root.
In the United States alone, about 11 percent of kids have been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). That translates to more than 6.4 millions kids according to the Centers of Disease Control.
The issues that relate to these diagnoses are quite common among many children. They are hyperactivity, impulsive behavior and difficulty concentrating and focusing.
Many of these ADHD-diagnosed kids are being prescribed medications such as Adderall, Ritalin, Dexedrine and others. These drug stimulants come with a host of side effects, including appetite loss, insomnia, irritability, tics and others. In one article, we exposed that ADHD drugs are causing bone density problems for kids.
ADHD drugs also come with a more subtle danger: The potential of turning our children into drug addicts or abusers. Yes, ADHD drugs are basically amphetamines (or methylphenidates).
Nature’s herbs provide safer alternative
For centuries, traditional healers have offered parents another option in the form of natural herbs. There are a number of herbs that have calming, nurturing effects without the danger of addiction or dangerous side effects.
But now we find research proving that a blend of two common herbs have can significantly reduce hyperactivity, impulsiveness and difficulty concentrating.
Valerian root and lemon balm formula clinically tested
German researchers conducted a study that included 169 primary school children. Their average age was 8 years old. They were diagnosed as suffering from hyperactivity and difficulty concentrating. The children were treated in 27 different clinics by pediatricians. Each center and pediatricians prescribed and oversaw the herbal combination prescription for anywhere from up to 30 different children.
The herbal combination consisted of 640 milligrams of valerian root extract together with 320 milligrams of lemon balm extract. Each day, the children took two pills of the herbal remedy called Sandrin – consisting of 320 mg of the valerian extract and 160 mg of the lemon balm extract.
The children were treated for a total of seven weeks.
At week two and week seven, the children were re-tested for symptoms using the Likert scales for attention deficit, nervousness, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, anxiety and behavior. They were separately graded for school and family environments. The children were tested for the last seven days at each visit.
At week two, the children and their families and teachers began to see significant improvements. The children’s levels of focus, hyperactivity and impulse behaviors improved significantly.
After the seven weeks of treatment, the researchers found the children’s symptoms of poor concentration and focus decreased from 75 percent to 14 percent. Symptoms of hyperactivity went down from 61 percent to 13 percent among the children. And impulsive symptoms went down from 59 percent to 22 percent.
In addition, nearly 38 percent of the children suffered from sleep difficulties in the beginning of the study. At the end of the study, only 9 percent had sleep difficulty.
The decreases are significant. And the fact that these improvements were seen after only seven weeks of treatment is significant.
Parents reported that many of the children’s symptoms significantly improved. These included increased focus and concentration. But they also included less forgetfulness, less nervousness, less anxiety, less aggressiveness and increases in self-control. They also included a reduction in lying and cheating.
Only two children showed any form of side effects, and these were very mild and temporary. Both subsided shortly thereafter and did not continue. The doctors deemed the connection with the herbal medicine “unlikely.”
Not the first study on lemon balm and valarian
This is not the first study that showed a combination of lemon balm and valerian root helps children with hyperactivity and sleep problems. A 2006 German study published in the Journal Phytomedicine tested 918 children with hyperactivity (“restlessness”) and sleep issues. They were 12 years old or younger.
The children treated with the lemon balm/valerian extract combination reported significant improvement. Sleep problems were improved in 81 percent of the children. And hyperactivity improved in 70 percent of the children. Other symptoms improved by an average of 38 percent among the children.
There were no side effects of the herbal combination among any of the children.
It’s about safety, safety, safety
When it comes to children, our primary concern should be their safety. I am sorry, but drugging our children with amphetamines and methylphenidates at a tender age simply does not appear to be safe. Today, we are wrestling with thousands of deaths among our children as they become addicted to powerful prescriptive pain killers.
Research from the Alpert Medical School of Brown University has found that these prescription stimulants given to ADHD children can form addictions and abuse syndromes among the children as they grow older. They stated:
“Despite the potential health and judicial consequences, misuse of prescription stimulants, typically defined as taking stimulants without a valid prescription, or use of stimulants other than as prescribed, has become a serious problem in the United States and abroad, especially on college campuses.”
Weyandt LL, Oster DR, Marraccini ME, Gudmundsdottir BG, Munro BA, Rathkey ES, McCallum A. Prescription stimulant medication misuse: Where are we and where do we go from here? Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2016 Oct;24(5):400-414.
Gromball J, Beschorner F, Wantzen C, Paulsen U, Burkart M. Hyperactivity, concentration difficulties and impulsiveness improve during seven weeks’ treatment with valerian root and lemon balm extracts in primary school children. Phytomedicine. 2014 Jul-Aug;21(8-9):1098-103. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2014.04.004.
Müller SF, Klement S. A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine. 2006 Jun;13(6):383-7.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.