Does your child struggle with inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsiveness? Have you been told that stimulant medication is the only effective treatment for these symptoms?
If so, your experience is like that of many parents and it is important for you to know that medication is NOT the only effective treatment available. There are many research-based treatments that have been shown to reduce symptoms inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity without causing the negative side effects of prescription stimulants. Herbal treatments are one option, specifically the combination of valerian and lemon balm.
Recent research (Gromball et al., 2014) demonstrated that a product combining valerian and lemon balm significantly reduced symptoms of restlessness and insomnia in elementary aged children with symptoms of ADHD. The specific product used in the study combined the two herbs for a total dose of 640mg valerian and 320mg lemon balm daily. Parent and pediatrician evaluations indicated that problems with focus, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and sleep all decreased markedly for the majority of the 169 children included in the study. It was also notable that the majority of parents who rated their child’s behavior as severely impacting the family felt that was no longer the case after the 7-week treatment period. The treatment was very well tolerated, with only mild transient side effects of irritability and fatigue in two of the children.
Herbal therapies can be challenging to research, as the concentrations of active ingredients can vary from one batch of herbs to the next. This study utilized a standardized preparation to ensure consistency in the capsules used in the study. When using herbal treatments it is important to choose quality products that have pure formulations and standardized dosing. Combinations of valerian root and lemon balm can be purchased in liquid, tablet, capsule, and tea formulations. This makes it easy to give children regardless of whether they are able to swallow pills.
In my practice I have found that valerian and lemon balm can be very calming for some children and adults. I often recommend using it in the evening hours to help children wind down before bedtime, and to support sleep. However, some school-age children benefit from dosing in the morning to help them with focus and behavior during school hours. You can try giving it at different times of day to best meet the needs of your child. Some benefit from a dose in the morning and again in the evening, as was done in the study above. Numerous studies have demonstrated that both valerian root and lemon balm are safe for children and adults, without significant risk of side effects. This safe and effective herbal treatment approach is certainly worth trying if your child is struggling with issues related to attention, concentration, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or sleeplessness.
Have you tried valerian root and/or lemon balm with your child? If so, share your experience in the comments below.
Gromball, J., Beschorner, F., Wantzen, C., Paulsen, U., & Burkart, M. (2014). Hyperactivity, concentration difficulties, ad impulsiveness improve during seven weeks’ treatment with valerian root and lemon balm extracts in primary school children. Phytomedicine, 21(8-9), 1098-1103. Retrieved from http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0944711314001494/1-s2.0-S0944711314001494-main.pdf?_tid=1625af32-777f-11e5aa2a00000aab0f26&acdnat=1445382522_0bf476ea49d24696e5c9da17534d3e8e.