Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has quickly become one of the most common behavioral conditions among children and young adults. In the United States alone, every year, approximately 4.5 million children between the ages of 5-17 years old are diagnosed with ADHD or ADD.

Research indicates that when treating ADHD, a multidisciplinary approach is most effective; combining behavioral therapy, exercise, dietary changes and medication. Fortunately, acupuncture can now be added as one of the treatment methods that successfully manages ADHD and ADD.

My brother was diagnosed with ADD as a child. Like those afflicted, he was prone to inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness that complicated daily functions like attending school or maintaining personal relations.

Today, doctors are more likely to treat this behavioral disorder with drugs as opposed to the simple, inexpensive, and safe treatment that acupuncture offers.

What Exactly Is ADD/ADHD?

As I mentioned before, children with ADHD generally struggle with paying attention or concentrating. They struggle when following direction and can become easily bored and/or frustrated with simple tasks.

While this behavior can be attributed to general childlike attitude, they present themselves more severely in children with ADD or ADHD.

With adults, ADD or ADHD can present itself as difficulty with time management, organizational skills, goal setting, and employment. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addictions.

Homogenized Treatment

Rather than address this issue with a holistic approach, big pharmaceutical companies have made a fortune in distributing Ritalin and Adderall, among others, the drug of choice for individuals with ADD or ADHD.

McNeil, the company that makes Concerta, one of several stimulants used for ADHD kids, reaped $800 million last year on that drug alone. Helping this widespread distribution is the ADHD evaluation checklist teachers use to assess children that is printed and distributed with the blessing of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

ADD and ADHD drugs are “speed.” They increase focus and the appearance of attentiveness, but there’s no evidence they improve learning. Only the superficial traits are addressed and nothing is done to remedy the residual effects on children and adults.

ADD and ADHD is best managed when families, educational and health professionals work together to meet the unique needs of the child or adult who has ADHD to help them learn to focus their attention, develop their personal strengths, minimize disruptive behavior, and become productive and successful. Acupuncture is an excellent addition to any treatment plan as it is used to help the body restore balance, treating the root of the disorder, while also diminishing the symptoms of ADHD.

How Does Acupuncture Help?

In a recent randomized controlled trial, a total of 100 children with ADHD were equally divided into two groups. The group that received acupuncture and biofeedback focused on scalp acupuncture that targeted the following acupuncture points:

  • Dingzhongxian (MS 5)
  • Dingpangyixian (MS 8)
  • Baihui (GV 20)
  • Sishencong (EX-HN 1)

This treatment of acupuncture and biofeedback achieved a 91.5% total effective rate whereas children receiving only biofeedback achieved an 83.3% total effective rate.

Based on these findings, the researchers were able to conclude that acupuncture plus biofeedback created an additive or synergistic clinical effect which in turn produced positive patient outcomes.

Given the complexity of ADHD and its treatment regimens, further investigations may help specific protocols that will yield maximum efficacy.

The Take Away

Acupuncture helps to:

  • Improve focus and attention
  • Manage moods
  • Reduce fidgeting
  • Lower hyperactivity
  • And enhance concentration

There is still room for further large scale, randomized, controlled, and double‐blinded studies, but, acupuncture is quickly coming to the forefront as an option for ADHD and ADD . This is not a simple problem and as such it does not have a simple answer, so, it stands to reason that while acupuncture helps target and address key symptoms of ADD and ADHD supplementary behavior such as diet and exercise is also necessary to see continued positive results.

Also published on Medium.