Often only associated with children, attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and its cousin, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are both surprisingly common in adults as well. With our fast-paced lifestyles of information and sensory overload, most can relate to the symptoms of restlessness, insomnia and poor focus and concentration, along with bursts of energy followed by periods of fatigue. The good news is that we can tap into the wisdom of Ayurveda, yoga and natural medicine to help calm this life-disrupting condition.
As specified by the ancient Indian system of Ayurveda, ADD and ADHD are nervous disorders based on imbalances with the dosha (aspect of one’s constitution) of vata.
“[Vata is] dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile and clear. When these qualities are in a balanced state, the vata person experiences excellent health, stability, creativity and freedom,” notes the Seattle-based Ayurvedic center Life in Balance.
Vata also governs cardiovascular function, the nervous system, communication and physical movement. This dosha can become imbalanced with sensory overstimulation, travel, cool and dry weather and excessive time spent on electronic devices, including cellphones, computers and tablets, or watching vast amounts of television, as well as playing video games.
Steps to Balance
Although it’s nearly impossible to completely unplug from our modern lifestyle for extended periods of time, we can reduce our daily exposure to vata-aggravating activities and embrace practices which ground us. This in turn will help alleviate the symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
Spend time in nature – Enjoying the great outdoors is one of the best ways to bring the vata element into harmony. Earthing is even better. Learn more about this cost-free, yet powerful, technique for restoring health here.
Yoga – Practicing asanas that foster equilibrium, balance and self-awareness is another excellent method for supporting a healthy nervous system. While all poses provide benefit, examples like downward facing dog, tree and corpse pose are especially helpful.
Meditation – Similar to practicing yoga, a daily routine of meditation assists with calming a scattered mind and overactive body. Even just 5-10 minutes of quietly watching the breath while seated on the floor can work wonders for those struggling with ADD/ADHD.
Diet – Several studies have found that the Standard American Diet (SAD) significantly aggravates, if not downright causes, ADD/ADHD. Avoiding artificial colors, preservatives, MSG, refined sugar and carbohydrates is crucial. Instead, focus on an organic, whole-food diet that is rich in healthy fats (such as grassfed butter, extra-virgin olive and coconut oils), fruit, vegetables and nuts, along with pastured animal proteins and dairy.
Massage – A daily massage using warming oils like almond or sesame helps calm overactivity too. If you are strapped for time, a quick foot massage will start the day off right. Otherwise, a nurturing “self-abhy” Ayurvedic massage is the most beneficial.
Moreover, adopting a consistent daily routine, reducing clutter in the home and using clay therapeutic baths will also support harmony. Lastly, herbal remedies can provide significant relief from a vata imbalance. Lemon balm, valerian, chamomile and passionflower are excellent for calming a racing mind and stressed body. Likewise, pycnogenol (a plant product made from the French maritime pine tree) balances the stress hormones associated with ADD/ADHD — leading to increased attention, concentration, sensory processing and motor-visual coordination.