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Holistic Approaches to Support Children with ADHD and Autism


Children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) require a comprehensive approach that goes beyond traditional medical interventions. In recent years, there has been growing interest in exploring holistic and natural treatments that not only target the symptoms but also address the underlying causes. This article explores various aspects of managing ADHD and ASD in children, focusing on diet, nutrition, herbal medicine, functional testing, and natural treatment options.

ADHD and ASD are often characterised by difficulty concentrating, impulsive behaviour, frustration, restlessness and anger.

There is no 1 clear-cut answer as to what causes ADHD or ASD, however science has shown that environmental factors, such as the gut microbiome, hormone imbalances, nerve cell communications, food sensitivities and lifestyle factor affect the intensity and triggers of the emotions and behaviours associated with ADHD and ASD.

Diet and Nutrition

Diet plays a crucial role in the overall health and well-being of children, especially those with ADHD and ASD. Several studies suggest that certain dietary interventions can positively impact symptoms and behaviour. The following elements are worth considering:

  1. Food sensitivities: Children with ADHD and ASD often suffer with food sensitivities, especially gluten, dairy, food additives and artificial colours.

  2. Nutrient-rich foods: Incorporating whole foods that are high in essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and minerals such as zinc and magnesium, can support brain function and promote overall health. Children with ADHD and ASD are often found to be deficient in these as they often have a narrow range of foods they eat as they avoid certain textures.

  3. Blood sugar balance: Balancing meals with a combination of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can help stabilise blood sugar levels, leading to improved focus and behaviour.

Functional Testing

Functional testing involves assessing various factors that may contribute to ADHD or ASD, such as nutritional deficiencies, toxic exposures, gut health, and genetic variations. Some commonly used functional tests with ADHD and ASD are:

  1. Nutritional testing: Evaluating nutrient levels and imbalances to address potential deficiencies.

  2. Food intolerance and allergy testing: Identifying food sensitivities and allergies plays a major part in mental health as the gut and brain are strongly connected.

  3. Environmental toxin testing: Identifying toxins like heavy metals or pesticides that may impact brain function and behaviour.

  4. Gut health analysis: Assessing gut microbiome imbalances and intestinal permeability to guide targeted interventions.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine has long been used to support various health conditions, including ADHD and ASD. While it's important to consult with a qualified naturopath or functional health practitioner, some herbal remedies have shown promising results:

  1. L-Theanine: This amino acid is known to improve attention and focus whilst having a calming effect on the mind.

  2. Magnesium: This mineral is needed specifically in children with ADHD and ASD as it has a calming effect on both the body and mind. Relaxing muscles and improving sleep are some of it's functions.

  3. Vitamin D3: This mood-vitamin plays a huge role in mood balance and brain function, allowing the neurotransmitters in the brain to fire more appropriately.

  4. Ginkgo biloba: Known for its cognitive-enhancing effects, ginkgo biloba may help improve concentration and memory in children with ADHD.

  5. Bacopa monnieri: This adaptogenic herb is believed to enhance cognitive function and reduce hyperactivity, making it a potential natural remedy for ADHD symptoms.

  6. Chamomile: Known for its calming properties, chamomile can help reduce anxiety and promote restful sleep in children with ADHD and ASD.

Natural Treatment Options

In addition to diet, nutrition, and herbal medicine, other natural treatment modalities can complement the management of ADHD and ASD in children:

  1. Mindfulness and meditation: These practices can promote emotional regulation, reduce stress, and improve focus and attention. Apps such as CALM and headspace contain sleep stories and guided meditations for children.

  2. Exercise: Engaging in physical activities helps release excess energy, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function.

  3. Behavioural therapy: Utilizing behavioral interventions can help children with ADHD and ASD develop coping strategies and improve social skills.


Taking a holistic and natural approach when supporting children with ADHD and ASD can provide a multifaceted approach to their overall well-being. Addressing diet, nutrition, herbal medicine, functional testing, and using natural treatment options can contribute to improved symptoms, better cognitive function, and enhanced quality of life for these children as well as their families. As with any medical intervention, it is crucial to work closely with health practitioners to develop an individualised treatment plan that meets the specific needs of each child.

Booking An Appointment

Book your appointment with Daisy Doppenberg, Functional Health Practitioner to discuss your child's needs.

Daisy's philosophy:

  • Taking the time to listen to you

  • A Root-Cause approach (what is the cause of your symptoms)

  • You have accessibility to testing options often declined by GP's

  • Giving you the support and resources needed

  • Accessibility to prescription supplements, not available in health stores

Appointments are available face to face in Nelson and NZ wide via TeleHealth.


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