More and more children are being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and most of them receive ADHD medications to treat the symptoms. However, the information campaign on the harmful side effects of Ritalin and other psychoactive drugs is also becoming more widespread. Instead of automatically medicating their children, many informed parents prefer using natural remedies for ADHD.
One such remedy is kava-kava, a root found in the Pacific Islands. Traditionally used in ceremonies and rituals, it was also discovered that kava-kava has many healing capabilities. Use of kava-kava eventually made its way to the United States, where it gained the attention of homeopathic practitioners because of its tranquilizing effect on the central nervous system. Kava-kava provides fast-acting sedation because the human body is receptive to its six different kinds of kavalactones, a group of compounds that is responsible for the root's sedative effects. These kavalactones attach themselves to the receptors in the amygdala (the region of the brain that regulates fear and anxiety) upon entering the nervous system. Kavalotones also work on the limbic system, the area of the brain that regulates homeostatic mechanisms like blood pressure, heart rate, and sleep cycles. All of these mechanisms are interconnected to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Some homeopaths believe that kavalotones also boost the production of the neurotransmitters GABA, serotonin, and dopamine, but scientists have yet to confirm this hypothesis.
Along with St John's Wort, kava-kava is one of the best anti-anxiety herbal remedies. Unlike pharmaceutical sedatives like Valium, kava-kava does not impair mental processes, dull the senses, or make the user's limbs go numb. Its initial effects induce relaxation followed by heightened sensory experience.
Kava-kava is traditionally consumed by chewing the root, or drinking a tea made of the shredded root. Today, you can get kava-kava in more convenient forms, either as capsules or as tinctures. Since kava-kava's calming effects only temporarily address the hyperactive component of ADHD, the root should only be used as a supplementary treatment, not the primary treatment for the condition. Its sedative components are also strong, and only small doses should be given to children. While kava-kava is non-toxic and non-addictive, you should always speak to a licensed homeopath before you take any ADHD herbal remedies or give them to children.