There are many “proposed” natural treatments for ADHD, but few of them have ever been compared to placebo, so we don’t know if they really work. Increasing certain fats or oils in the diet may be the only natural treatments that are worth considering. ADHD kids appear to be deficient in these fatty acids.
There are two families of these compounds, Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6. The only source of Omega-3 is fish, flax seed oil, and some greens. From the research on this topic, it has been determined that:
giving long chain fatty acids and adding it to your food doesn’t work any better than a placebo
giving a certain long chain fatty acids called DHA derived from algae doesn’t work better than placebo
giving two long chain fatty acids called Omega-3 and Omega-6 worked better than a placebo in children who had behavior problems, attention problems, and academic problems
Two of the most popular natural treatments for ADHD are Synaptol and Focus ADHD. But they are very costly ($69 for a one-month supply). If you can find it, there is a herring product called Omega Gold. It is cheap and has plenty of the right fatty acids in it.
To determine whether or not fish oils are actually helping your ADHD child, you need to be able to measure how much change there is over time, because these substances do not work overnight.
Assuming your child will go along with this attempt at natural treatment, try giving fish oils for one whole year. If there is no significant improvement in his/her behavior or academic performance after the recommended time has elapsed, then stop the treatment.
The good news is there are few side effects -- usually just indigestion and burping (although in rare cases, an ADHD kid may become agitated on fish oil).
Overall, fish oils are worth trying, not because they work better than standard medications, but because:
they have so few side effects
they are cheap
some parents refuse to administer standard medications (e.g., Ritalin)
some kids refuse to take the “hard stuff”
Just so you’ll know my bias, I don’t believe children should be on non-natural forms of ADHD medication except in those worst-case scenarios where the child simply cannot function (in the social sense) without the drug. Here’s why:
some children will actually become more hyper -- not less
some children will become irritable, angry and easily upset
occasionally a child who has a problem with speaking will actually worsen on one of these drugs and speak even less than usual
these drugs may make the child have nervous tics as in Tourette's (e.g., nail biting, licking the hand, having to touch certain things)
sudden death while taking stimulants (3 deaths per 10 million)
serious heart problems while taking stimulants (5 per 10 million)
Overall, ADHD is (in my opinion) an overly diagnosed mental disorder. Often times it is much easier to medicate a child rather than spend the time and energy with behavioral strategies.