Substitutes for ritalin.

Date: Mon, 26 Feb 1996 18:00:29 -0100
From: Henriette Kress <HeK.HETTA.PP.FI>
Subject: Re: Herb substitutes for ritalin

>Hello folks. My son is a bit drifty in school so of course he is labeled as having ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Has anyone heard of an herbal substitute for Ritalin which seems to be the drug o choice - it is a mild Central Nervous System stimulant. More importantly, has anyone had good or bad experiences with these herbs?
>I have read just a tad about an antioxident called Pycnogenol which is supposed to be used in Europe a lot, any info on this?

This is from the paracelsus list on the subject:

From: (Roy Upton)
Subject: Re: ADD

> Does anyone know of any viable substitutes for Retalin for ADD? I have heard of a substance called Pycnognal. Are there any other substitutes for taking Retalin? How long does a person need to take Pycnognal in order for it to take effect?

I have seen at least 70 children weaned of Ritalin. I usually recommend weaning off of Ritalin for a 2-3 week period, while administering the herbs. Usually, the program consists of dietary modification, exercise, and nutritional and herbal supplementation. Though treatment is similar, diffrentiate between ADD and ADHD. ADD might be a direct result of under/poor nourishment. The brain is the most energy intensive organ of the body. If the body is deprived of energy, the brain is first to suffer. In ADHD there is often a rapid heart beat that may have varying underlying causes such as specific allergies.


  • Elimination of most simple sugars including fruit juices, foods with colors and preservatives. Concentrate on a whole foods diet.
  • Magnesium supplementation. Dosage based on weight, age of child.
  • I have used a combination of the following herbs with significant success (according to parents and teachers): Chinese zizyphus, chamomile, lemon balm, catnip, hawthorn berry, and gotu kola flavored with cinnamon, anise, and a touch of cloves. Usually this is prepared as a glycerite extract (approx. 1:3-1:5 concentration). 20 drops 2-3 daily. I alternate this with Hawthorn berry syrup, 1 tsp 2 x daily.
  • Exercise is a must for ADHD.

In Germany, Chamomile tea, and small doses of valerian root are utilized.

I think it is important to note that ADD and ADHD is one of the most frequently diagnosed conditions in children, and that is rising dramatically, much to the concern of many practitioners who feel that the diagnosis is handed out much too casually. I believe the makers of Ritalin have done an excellent job of marketing. There have been a series of articles (and a few books) I have seen over the past number of years on the need to provide a "proper diagnosis" of these children rather than labeling them as 'bad". Teachers have become the prime target for providing the initial grounds for diagnosis. Oftentimes, a child will be diagnosed in kindergarten or early grade school and not adequately reassessed for a number of years. The inherent problem in both of these is obvious. I also do not believe the diagnosis should be made until all lifestyle protocols (including supplementation, diet, exercise, etc.) have been attempted and failed.

I am of the firm belief, from many of the parents that I have seen, that it is often the parents that primarily require the help, the children secondarily. This is especially true of ADHD. Relative to the energy levels of the majority of exhausted, "burned-out at the end of the work day" parents, the majority of children are "hyperactive". We try to force them to be little adults before they have developed the coping mechanisms or social skills we design to stifle their natural impulses. We expect them to sit still when they have boundless physical energy. We ask (tell) them to pay attention to educational materials that mean little to them. This is an indictment of our education system as well.

Also, the typical American child is raised on nutritionless foods, challenged with numerous stresses, and spends an average of six hours a day in front of the television, when they should be expending the physical energy. While I believe that medicating, especially with amphetamines, is beneficial for some, by-and-large, it should be a last resort.

I hope this is of some help.

From: "Kenneth C. Keppel" <kck.MINDSPRING.COM>

> My son is a bit drifty in school so of course he is labeled as having ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).

I am ADD. And I know from experience that students are mislabeled, get the school to diagnose him first before worrying about medicience. The driftiness can be anything from having a learning disability to being bored.

That said, I recommend the Feingold diet instead of drugs. This is taking out things that upset the balance and make it hard to stay focused. I'll try to find the number to call. When ADD is the worst I take chamomile and increase the exercise.

Personally, I find the trend to medicate troubling. It is saying that you must stay on our level, be intrested in different things, when we say it is ok. Medicience never worked on me, and I like the fact that I have alot that I'm intrested in.


From: Robert Tolbert <rlt.VNET.NET>

I am a teacher, certified in Special Education. There are some children that seem to truly exhibit a condition referred to as ADD or ADHD under a speficic set of criterea-these are a very small minority of students. One major factor in the large amount of children being labeleld as ADD or ADHD is that any physician can label a child, that is diagnose, as suffering from the physical condition called ADD or ADHD that requires drug therapy, regardless of their knowledge about the condition. Most of the time the decision is made informally by a school or a parent and the doctor goes along with it. If anyone is interested in the criterea for ADD or ADHD, you can contact me personally. I won't argue for a second with what is said below about Ritalin and the children it is being used on, but I will say that most of them are not ADD or ADHD. They are products of thier environment, and the environment is the home, media, peers, school, and community. Another interesting statistic of the ADD and ADHD epidemic is that most of those children diagnosed with it are white middle class boys, it is not cheap to provide the medical care for this condition.

Oh and one other thing, a lot of the children who are not ADD or ADHD do much better at school once they are put on Ritalin. I know from experience that these children are much easier to teach, and with current teacher to student ratio, that is a blessing and much appreciated. Of course, the flip side is that a large number or our future children are becoming addcited to drugs at an early age biochemically, and rather then adressing the issues discussed below we are treating the symptoms.