A Vitalist Approach to ADHD

Having ADHD can oftentimes look like constant chatter in our heads and not feeling very grounded.  Creating a sense of stability and grounding can lead to better focus and ability to deal with life’s everyday stressors.  

It sounds simple but focusing on herbal remedies that grow in the ground works wonderfully for this. The doctrine of signatures really applies here.  Root herbs such as dandelion, burdock, ginger, turmeric, marshmallow, astragalus, angelica, pleurisy root, wild yam, and gentian are some of my favorites to work with. Ginger and turmeric are accessible spices that you can add fresh or dried to everyday recipes. I especially like working with wild yam in tincture form when experiencing tension. The bitterness of gentian can really awaken the senses and stimulate digestion–something that is often affected with ADHD or ADHD medications. A common theme with ADHDers is loving our multiple beverages. Here is a lovely herbal latte I like adding to the mix:

1 tablespoon Angelica Root (Angelica sinensis or archangelica)

1 tablespoon Astragalus Root (Astraglus spp.)

1 tablespoon Ginger Root/Rhizome (Zingiber officinalis)

1 tablespoon Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)

Add herbs and 600 mL of water to a pot on the stove. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15-30 minutes or until the volume of the water has reduced by half. Strain and add your favorite milk or non-dairy substitute. Optional: add maple syrup, honey, or stevia.

 Another one of my favorite ways to ground myself is to nourish myself with soups and stews. When experiencing feelings of airiness, we can bring ourselves back down by sipping on a nice broth. I like to keep miso paste in the fridge for an easy go-to broth. Crock pots and slow cookers are great options for ADHDers. You can throw in some protein, veggies, broth, and spices, and come home to a nourishing meal right when you need it.  Adding lots of spices can be very beneficial to feel embodied as well. I especially like cooking with rosemary, cumin, garlic, onion, dill, fennel, and various chilis. 

Physically grounding ourselves before meals is very important as well. As someone with ADHD, I find myself eating on the go or in a hurry quite often. It can be a challenging transition, but focusing on sitting in a comfortable seat, and fully relaxing before meals can really set the tone for the rest of the day. Intentionally focusing on food can create more balance and focus throughout the day. Deep breathing for 30 seconds to 1 minute is something else we can try to do to be in the present moment before eating. Chewing our food 30 times (tough to get used to, especially for the sometimes impatient ADHD brain!) gives time for the enzymes in our saliva to start digesting our food. It also gives us time to slow down, even just for a moment.    

Another way I like to feel more grounded is actually touching my feet to the earth.  Studies have shown that spending time outside and in nature can help with unwanted ADHD symptoms.  As someone with ADHD, sometimes making a game plan to get outdoors can feel very overwhelming. I suggest starting small with walks around your neighborhood or locating local parks with nature-filled walking trails. When possible, take your shoes off and feel the ground. It is pretty special what physically grounding ourselves can do. Life can be hectic and even this can feel overwhelming. In this case, maybe set up your laptop at the park or on a patio, or just take a moment to step outside and look at the clouds. I find it hard to focus on phone calls without another task at hand. Next time you have calls to make, take a walk around the block or walk through some grass barefoot.  

Sometimes feeling more centered is as simple as a hot bath at the end of the night or cuddles with a pet. I hope you find the chance to feel grounded today.

xoxo Gem Boehm-Reifenkugel with Community Herbal

Student Clinician at CSCH

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