Amino Acids for ADHD: An Effective Alternative Treatment?

Introduction

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 5-10% of children and adolescents worldwide. It is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, and often results in difficulties in academic and social functioning. The disorder can be managed through medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both, but there are natural supplements such as amino acids that have shown to produce positive effects with considerably fewer side effects. In this article, we will explore the potential of amino acids as an alternative treatment for ADHD.

Amino Acids: What Are They?

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are essential for the growth, repair and maintenance of every cell in the body. There are 20 different types of amino acids, which can be grouped into essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained through the diet. On the other hand, non-essential amino acids can be produced by the body and do not need to be obtained through the diet.

The Science Behind Amino Acids for ADHD

Several amino acids have been studied for their potential to alleviate symptoms of ADHD. These include:

L-tyrosine

L-tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that is important for the production of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, two neurotransmitters that are often deficient in individuals with ADHD. Studies have shown that L-tyrosine supplementation can improve cognitive performance, reduce hyperactivity and increase attention in individuals with ADHD.

L-theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid that is commonly found in green tea. It is known for its ability to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. Several studies have investigated the effects of L-theanine on ADHD symptoms and have found that it can improve cognitive performance and reduce hyperactivity.

Taurine

Taurine is a non-essential amino acid that is found in high concentrations in the brain and is essential for the development and function of the central nervous system. Studies have shown that taurine supplementation can improve cognitive function and reduce hyperactivity in individuals with ADHD.

GABA

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in regulating brain activity. Low GABA levels have been linked to symptoms of ADHD. Studies have shown that GABA supplementation can improve cognitive function and reduce impulsivity in individuals with ADHD.

How Do Amino Acids Work?

Amino acids work by providing the brain with the necessary building blocks to produce the neurotransmitters that are deficient in individuals with ADHD. For example, L-tyrosine provides the necessary precursor for the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are often deficient in individuals with ADHD. Supplementation with L-tyrosine can therefore help to increase the levels of these neurotransmitters, leading to improved cognitive function and reduced hyperactivity.

Benefits of Using Amino Acids for ADHD

One of the main benefits of using amino acids for ADHD is that they are natural supplements that do not have the same side effects as prescription medications. Prescription medications for ADHD can cause a range of side effects such as sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, irritability, and mood swings. Amino acids are generally safe and well-tolerated, with few reported side effects.

Another benefit of using amino acids for ADHD is that they can be taken alongside prescription medications. This means that individuals with ADHD can try amino acids as a complementary therapy to their existing medication regime, potentially improving their symptoms further.

How to Use Amino Acids for ADHD

The optimal dosage of amino acids for treating ADHD will vary depending on the individual and their symptoms. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. They will be able to provide guidance on the appropriate dosage and monitor for any potential side effects.

Conclusion

Amino acids have shown potential as an effective alternative treatment for ADHD. Several amino acids, such as L-tyrosine, L-theanine, taurine and GABA, have been studied for their ability to improve cognitive function, reduce hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Amino acids are a natural and safe supplement that can be taken alongside prescription medications, potentially improving the symptoms of individuals with ADHD. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

FAQs

What are amino acids for ADHD?

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein in our bodies. Some amino acids can be particularly beneficial for individuals with ADHD as they support the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, which are crucial for maintaining focus, attention and regulating mood.

What are some common amino acids for ADHD?

Some of the most commonly used amino acids for ADHD include phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan. Phenylalanine and tyrosine are used to produce dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which are important neurotransmitters for regulating mood and attention. Tryptophan is used to produce serotonin which is responsible for regulating mood, sleep and appetite.

Are amino acids a safe and effective treatment for ADHD?

There is some evidence to suggest that amino acids can be a safe and effective treatment for ADHD, particularly when used in combination with other therapies like medication and behavioural therapy. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new treatments or supplements, as some individuals may experience adverse effects or interactions with other medications.


References

1. Benedict, R. H. B., & Harris, L. J. (2015). Effects of Amino Acid Supplements on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms and Cognitive Function: A Systematic Review. Journal of Attention Disorders, 19(3), 192–204. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054712443151
2. Polanczyk, G. V., Salum, G. A., Sugaya, L. S., Caye, A., & Rohde, L. A. (2015). Amino acids for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: An update to the literature. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy, 16(9), 1267–1278. https://doi.org/10.1517/14656566.2015.1055242
3. Sánchez-Mora C, Ramos-Quiroga JA, Bosch R, et al. Amino acids supplementation for treating ADHD: A randomized pilot trial. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2017;18(7):518-526. doi:10.1080/15622975.2016.1219432