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ADHD Herbal Remedies: Ginseng

Ginseng has been widely used by many cultures to help boost overall brain function and memory. So could ginseng also help children with ADHD?

Although there aren’t many clinical studies done on the specific effects of ginseng in ADHD children, theoretically, the biochemical properties and physiological effects of ginseng could have several benefits for children who suffer with symptoms of ADHD.

Here are some of the health benefits of ginseng: 

Compound diversity 

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, ginseng is not made of just one isolated compound. Rather, it is a mixture of substances called ginsenosides that work harmoniously together. Since the successful treatment of complex disorders like ADHD rarely result from one isolated substance, using a multi-compound treatment method like ginseng could have many advantages over the traditional single-molecule treatment approach.

Improved dopamine activity

Clinical trials have shown that ginseng has a beneficial neuroprotective effect on dopamine-related pathways in the brain. This is of interest since ADHD has been shown to be related to dopamine neurotransmitter imbalance and deficiency.

Boosts glucose metabolism

Studies on brain metabolism indicate that the presence of ginseng improves aerobic glucose metabolism, reducing brain waste products associated with oxygen deprivation. In essence, ginseng helps the brain use glucose more efficiently.

Increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels

As mentioned earlier, an imbalance in dopamine is one of the biological triggers of ADHD.  Levels of norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter related to dopamine, have also been shown to be affected in the disorder. Some studies suggest that ginseng can naturally stimulate the production of those two neurotransmitters, thereby helping with attention, motor control, and auditory processing.
It is also interesting to note that the neurotransmitter-boosting properties of ginseng are amplified when ginseng isolates are taken with gingko biloba.

Protects the brain from excess iron damage

The neurotransmitter dopamine is produced by the body from an amino acid called tyrosine. This metabolic transformation requires iron. Several studies have shown that a majority of children are deficient in iron, and that iron supplement help reduce symptoms, even in children who are not deficient or anemic. The problem is that iron is a double-edged sword. As necessary as it can be, it can start damaging tissues in higher doses. One interesting property of ginseng is that it can help neutralize some of the negative effects of excess iron by regulating the brain’s iron-transporting proteins.

Promotes nerve growth in under-developed brain regions

The symptoms experienced by children with ADHD are mostly due to the delays in development and maturation of certain pathways in the brain.  Research findings suggest that ginseng naturally promotes neuronal growth, giving ginseng the potential to offset ADHD-related developmental delays.

So, just how effective is ginseng as a natural treatment for ADHD? In 2009, an Italian medical researcher published a small study involving 3 adolescents diagnosed with ADHD; it  showed that Panax Ginseng supplement helped reduce symptoms. In another study, Canadian researchers showed that a combination of ginseng and gingko had a positive impact on symptoms of ADHD.

Before giving your child ginseng as an herbal remedy for ADHD, consult a nutritionist or a holistic health care practitioner on the proper dosage and frequency.