3.9 Herbs, ADD, and replacing Ritalin


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

From herbal.got.net (Roy Upton):

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, differentiate 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.