Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed medication for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The primary ingredient is methylphenidate, an amphetamine that stimulates the central nervous system. Children and adults with ADHD use Ritalin to improve alertness, combat fatigue and increase attention span. While effective, the long-term effects of this drug are not known. There are some natural alternatives to Ritalin for those who want to avoid the chemical side-effects and unknown risks.
Centella Asiatica and Avena Sativa
Centella asiatica, also known as gotu kola, is a medicinal herb that grows in India and other parts of Asia. Its natural properties increase cerebral blood flow, enhancing brain function. Centella asiatica reduces anxiety and improves memory.
Avena sativa, commonly known as green oats, is a natural nerve relaxant. If taken regularly over time, it has calming effects that can help an ADHD patient.
Panax ginseng, an herb originated in China and throughout Asia. A common ingredient in energy drinks, ginseng combats fatigue, as well as fortifies the immune system. Other properties in Panax ginseng help reduce stress and increase a person's ability to concentrate.
Other Nutritional Supplements
A number of over-the-counter nutritional supplements can be used in place of Ritalin to diminish symptoms of ADHD. Hyperactive people often lack sufficient iron, B vitamins and zinc in their diets. Zinc is especially helpful for improving memory. Omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed or fish oil are also beneficial for proper brain function. Magnesium has calming properties that can decrease stress and improve focus over time for people with ADHD.