Considering ADHD Alternatives

Douglas Cowan Psy.D. MFT's picture
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Alternative ADHD Treatments that Work

Article includes VIDEO on EEG Biofeedback

There are a LOT of alternative treatments for sale out there for ADHD. Some are good, some are fair, and some are bad.

Anything will help somebody out there. There are 2 million kids with ADHD, so a treatment that worked for as few as 01% of the kids who tried it could still line up 20,000 kids on TV to say what a remarkable treatment it was. But if you are smart, you will want to pursue treatment options that have better than just a one percent chance of helping your child, or yourself.

Just as a way of reference, consider that studies show that a placebo is actually effective, when measured by parent rating scales, with about 15% of children with ADHD. But when measured by computerized tests such as the TOVA, placebos are 0% effective at bringing about statistically significant improvements.

So, when we rate the effectiveness of any treatment, alternative or pharmaceutical, we need to consider the effectiveness (measured by parents subjective ratings or objective computer ratings?) and the possible side-effects. Choose wisely.

These are the three alternative interventions that I think are the best. These decisions are based on my personal experience over several years, and from both published and unpublished research data. I'll only list them briefly, as this could turn into a book if I write too much detail.

EEG Biofeedback Training

Our experience was that EEG Biofeedback, or Neurofeedback training, was about 70-75% effective as measured by both computer assessment tools (TOVA test) and parent ratings.

Important issues to consider in choosing this treatment are the:

  • age of child,
  • IQ of child,
  • expertise, training, and experience of the therapist,
  • quality of the neurofeedback equipment,
  • and financial resources of family.

There are two good web sites on this intervention, one at and the other at

This technology involves the acquiring of the EEG brainwave activity from the subject, and through the use of either animation, or sound, or tactile feedback, the subject learns to change and control his/her brainwave activity. Simply, the subject is trained to produce less of the slow brainwave activity that is related to "disregulation" or being a "space cadet" and learns to make more of the mid-range activity related to focused concentration and self-control.

Here's a news clip from CBS News that's interesting.

Yes, neurofeedback works. No, it is not just placebo.

This is a 30 year old technology that is recently gained a lot of respect from clinicians and is used at over 1,000 sites now nationwide. It is best for children over 6 years old, with average or above IQ's. The therapist must know what he's doing, so look for experience and training. The equipment must be good. Two computer monitors are best, one for therapist and one for subject. The number of sessions can range from 20 to 40. Cost ranges from $50/session to $150/session. Shop around. Some insurances cover these services, most do not.

Resources: EEG Spectrum has an association of therapists around the nation and world. They now have 300 Associate Offices in 25 countries. I'm not associated with them, but I do consider Sigfried and Susan as friends.

Here’s a video on EEG Biofeedback and ADHD from the Othmer’s and



Our experience and research indicates that VAXA's ATTEND product is effective for 70% of ADHD individuals, as measured by computerized testing (TOVA) and about 80% effective on parent rating scales. See our ATTEND study results

Attend really works. We really like it and think that it is a great alternative to pharmaceuticals for both children and adults. Depending on the “Type” of ADHD a person has, we recommend specific treatment strategies using Attend.

Important issues to consider before choosing to try Attend:

  • Can the child swallow capsules (they are pretty large capsules).

This is a nutraceutical medicine that combines 75 ingredients, including amino acids, homeopathic medicines, phospholipids, essential fatty acids, Pycnogenol, grape seed extract OPC's, DHEA, DMAE, and more.

I did the clinical research for the manufacturer, so I have seen this work with my own eyes and been able to give input into the development of the formula. I am convinced that it is very helpful for the majority of ADHD children or ADHD adults.

It can be used along with medications, and as it begins to be effective the medication levels can often be lowered. With temper problems or hyperactivity/hyper-startle problems, it is best combined with VAXA's EXTRESS product.

ATTEND takes about 30-60 days to become effective. Improvement continues for at least 120 days.

We even measured improvements with college athletes who were not ADD ADHD in reaction time over a 90 day period, and found that their reaction time continued to improve with Attend throughout the 90 period of time.

Here is a comparison of the effectiveness of Attend, as measured by the four scales of the TOVA computerized assessment tool, compared with Stimulant Medication (Ritalin) and with EEG Biofeedback:

ADHD Eating Program

Our Recommended Eating Program for ADHD is the 3rd best alternative treatment that I know of. It only seems to work with about 20-25% of the kids who try it, but when it does work, it is great. And we believe that it is helpful with along with the use of prescription medications, Attend, or EEG biofeedback training.

Any time someone stops eating junk, and regularly eats foods that feed and optimize brain performance, they are going to do better.

Why does it work? I don't know. Some kids seems very sensitive to food additives or food colorings, or to sodas, or to cow's milk, or to sugars paired with carbohydrates. Some kids seem to have real ups and downs with their blood sugar levels.

Why does it work for some, and not for others? I have no idea, and I've had hundreds of kids on this diet over the years. Here's a letter I received last week via email...

Dear Doctor,

I requested the info for the ADHD diet for a friend at church. It's working wonders for her son (after just a week!), but she's unable to find the Rice milk, Almond milk or Better than Milk. Can she substitute a lactose-free product or is there something else besides lactose in the dairy to avoid? If she can't, where can she get the other products you recommend? (We live in Oklahoma City)

We'd both like to express our thanks for the information. It's going to help a lot of other people we know, too. We've had many requests for copies of the info.

Once again, many thanks!

Love & Peace in Christ, Karen F

These are wonderful responses! But, don't get your hopes up too high. If it works, great! If it doesn't work, try something else.

To get a copy of the ADHD diet

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