printer-friendly version   Printer-Friendly Version  

Green Tea for ADHD

Is your ADHD child having difficulty concentrating? Is he having trouble sitting still long enough to finish his homework? Try brewing a hot cup of green tea sweetened with a teaspoon of honey.  Green tea is valued in Japan for its rich antioxidant content, which can slow down the onset of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.  While children are far too young to worry about these conditions, both Parkinson's disease and ADHD involve a problem with neurotransmitter reception.  Green tea keeps the neuron receptors in top shape, improves neurotransmitter communication, and boosts the brain functioning of your child.  These effects are caused by two substances – l-theanine and caffeine

L-theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid with potent stimulant properties.  Unlike other stimulants, which can increase anxiety levels and cause a "crash" once they wear off, l-theanine creates a certain clarity of mind while keeping the child calm.  It improves focus, lengthens attention span, and improves working memory without causing the brain to go on overdrive.  Green tea's l-theanine content is what makes it very useful for kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, especially when you want them to calm down without putting them to sleep. 

A recent double-blind study on l-theanine and ADHD showed just how green tea can help children with ADHD.   Children with ADHD were given either a daily dose of 200mg of l-theanine or a placebo, then tested for any improvement in cognitive performance and attentiveness. The researchers also used an actigraph, a device used to evaluate sleep quality.  After several weeks, the researchers saw that those in the l-theanine group had improved cognition, attention spans, and better sleep – despite the fact that green tea is a stimulant.

Caffeine

It might not make much sense to give caffeinated drinks to a child with ADHD, but caffeine is actually needed to wake up the region of the brain required for attention.  However, the caffeinated drink itself also matters. Green tea is a better source of caffeine than coffee or soda because it contains just enough to shake the brain into wakefulness.  Its l-theanine content also counteracts the anxiety that caffeine may cause. Finally, real green tea does not contain the high sugar content of soda, which clearly makes it a healthier source of this stimulant

Giving green tea for ADHD

If you'd like to explore the possibility of using green tea for ADHD, make sure you use tea bags or loose leaves rather than bottled green tea drinks.  These bottled drinks are made up mostly of sugar and water and contain very little of green tea's antioxidants and l-theanine.  Use honey or molasses to sweeten the tea because these stay in the blood stream longer than refined sugar, thereby preventing unwanted sugar crashes.  If your child gets too hyperactive when he ingests even the smallest amount of caffeine, you can buy l-theanine supplements from a health food store and use these instead.