Would you risk poking needles into your skin to cure your ailments? It sounds scary, but it’s a traditional Chinese medicinal practice known as acupuncture. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doesn’t view ADD/ADHD as a disease; they view it as an imbalance between the heart and mind. TCM states the symptoms of ADD/ADHD occur due to factors like excessive heat or wind in the head, stagnation of the “Qi” (lifeforce) in the liver, and deficiencies of the kidneys and spleen. Many people with ADD/ADHD use acupuncture to help them cope with their condition, but does acupuncture treatment for ADD/ADHD actually work?
Can Acupuncture Help with Inattentive ADD/ADHD?
There’s limited scientific evidence to prove the efficacy of acupuncture for ADD and ADHD patients. However, anecdotal evidence suggests acupuncture may be beneficial for treating impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattention and improving overall well-being.
There is some evidence in Western medicine showing acupuncture can influence brain activity. Studies show a reduction in brain activity in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. The practice also creates changes in the way the brain metabolizes glucose.
Hyperactivity in this area of the brain has links to several mental health disorders, such as ADHD/ADD and schizophrenia. Evidence suggests people with ADD/ADHD can reduce their dependence on medication. In fact, some studies suggest acupuncture may be more effective at curbing the symptoms of ADD/ADHD than medications like Ritalin.
Is Acupuncture a Common Treatment for ADD/ADHD?
TCM and other homeopathic treatments are becoming more popular in all healthcare sectors. Specifically, acupuncture is gaining traction in treating behavioral and developmental conditions like ADD/ADHD.
According to research, approximately 60 to 65 percent of parents use alternative treatments to manage their children diagnosed with ADHD/ADD. Parents state their reason for doing so was to limit the long-term side effects of stimulant medications.
Understanding Acupuncture Pressure Points
TCM acupuncture therapists produce relief by accessing pressure points on the body. Acupuncture practitioners believe that inserting a thin needle into the pressure point releases the tension in the muscle groups and unblocks energy flow (Qi).
There is no set of pressure points specifically for treating ADD/ADHD. Practitioners will select the pressure points for the therapy sessions based on their diagnosis and symptoms.
Some common acupuncture pressure points on the body used to treat ADD/ADHD include the following.
- Lv3 (Taichong) – Positioned on the top of the foot between the big and second toes. This point eliminates restlessness and regulates energy levels in the liver.
- Gv20 (Baihui) – Positioned at the top of the head along the midline, this pressure point promotes mental clarity and clears heat.
- Pc6 (Neiguan) – Found on the inside of the forearm above the wrist, this pressure point reduces anxiety and calms the mind.
- Sp6 (Sanyinjiao) – Found on the inside of the lower leg just above the ankle bone. This pressure point harmonizes kidney and spleen energy, creating a sense of calm.
Is Acupuncture Safe for Treating ADHD/ADD?
Medical professionals consider acupuncture safe when performed by a qualified and experienced practitioner. The risks and side effects of acupuncture are typically minimal. Since the procedure involves using thin needles inserted into points on the body, you may experience temporary sensations such as tingling, mild pain, or bruising at those sites.
Is Acupuncture Safe for Kids with ADHD/ADD?
Acupuncture therapy is safe for kids, provided you’re in the hands of a qualified and experienced acupuncturist. Some children may experience sensations of tingling or light pain at the needle site. They may also sustain mild bruising. However, the side effects of acupuncture are minimal, and they don’t create lasting discomfort.
Research surrounding ten studies with 876 child and adolescent participants evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture as an ADD/ADHD treatment. Results show acupuncture treatment was more effective than Ritalin therapy in reducing symptoms of hyperactivity.
Southlake Natural Family Wellness
Our mission is to support the health and well-being of our patients by offering individualized, comprehensive holistic care including acupuncture, herbal recommendations, customized nutritional counseling, allergy elimination (NAET), whole food supplements, lifestyle suggestions, moxibustion, and cupping, as well as helping couples get pregnant and STAY pregnant by supporting all the paths to conception.
About Farrah Hamraie
Farrah Hamraie, L.Ac, MOM, Dipl.OM (NCCAOM), is licensed and board-certified in Acupuncture and Herbal medicine in the State of Texas with a Masters of Oriental Medicine from the Dallas College of Oriental Medicine. She is also a Diplomat of NCCAOM (the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), a Board Certified Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist, and a member of the American Association of Oriental Medicine.