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Part of an ongoing series on how to use supplement and behavior-based protocols to treat common maladies. To read the detailed plan, order supplements, or download the patient resource sheets, go here to create a free patient account at Fullscript by entering your name and email address: Dr. Mark McDonald’s Fullscript dispensary
Is Adderall the only way to treat ADHD?
While it’s true that stimulants temporarily improve attention and concentration, they can also reduce appetite, provoke anxiety, and cause insomnia. Not everyone feels good on prescription medication to treat ADHD. Also, many people—children and adults—don’t fulfill all criteria for an ADHD diagnosis yet still suffer mild to moderate concentration deficits that limit productivity and damage relationships.
There are alternatives.
Anyone can improve attention by working on strengthening awareness. By far, the best method for this is meditation. There are numerous different approaches to meditation, some rather difficult and inaccessible. Some schools of meditation require an hour or more a day of strenuous practice over several years to see a measurable benefit. I have found that the most direct and effective technique is somatic meditation, which trains you to redirect your attention from what’s going on inside your head to how you’re feeling in your body. It is easily learned, takes only a few minutes a day, and can be done anywhere. Most importantly, it produces results—rapidly, in as little as two weeks.
Essentially, somatic meditation involves bringing focused awareness to sensations in the body by slowly scanning, with the eyes closed, from toe to head and back again, over a ten to twenty minute interval. As distracting thoughts or environmental disturbances pull attention away, you practice letting go of those distractions by returning to the focused awareness on the body. A popular style of somatic meditation is progressive muscle relaxation, explained in the handout attached to my inattention protocol.
Supplements have also been shown to improve attention and concentration. Until the product was discontinued a few years ago, I often recommended Vayarin, a purified krill oil, to my patients who were uncomfortable using prescription supplements. Vayarin was the first fish oil supplement proven through double-blinded placebo-controlled trials to reduce symptoms of inattention in children.
Today, to improve attention, you can buy high-quality, concentrated fish oils with high doses of EPA and DHA (the active ingredients of Vayarin), along with vitamin D and zinc.
If sleep regulation is also an issue, adding a low-dose sustained release melatonin can help, too. By combining a daily meditation practice with these supplements, you can either lower the dose of your prescription stimulant or eliminate it entirely. Best of all, stimulant side effects are reduced or eliminated as well.
There are alternatives to relying entirely on prescription drugs.
Below is a link to my inattention supplement plan I provide my patients. I am now sharing it with my Substack subscribers. To access the plan, you must first create a free patient account at Fullscript by entering your name and email address: Dr. Mark McDonald’s Fullscript dispensary
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