3 Calming Herbs to Support ADHD & Cognition
Many different herbs can be incorporated into a successful herbal protocol that helps support attention, cognition, and mood in those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Whether it is you struggling with ADHD or you are working with a child, family member, or a client, approach the topic with compassion and an open mind. In doing so, you will discover a deeper understanding of patterns that will emerge. You can then match these patterns with herbs appropriate for both age and unique constitution.
There are several categories of herbs that can support those with ADHD and brain fog, as well as those with attention, memory, focus, and mood concerns. Furthermore, several of these herbs will perform more than one role! In the Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive, we’ll unveil a number of these categories and specific herbs to help you create a unique protocol for managing ADHD. “Calming herbs” are one of these categories we cover in this Intensive, which often overlap with nervines and calming adaptogens and promote a calm-alert state (Groves, 2016; Winston & Maimes, 2007).
Let’s take a look at three calming herbs discussed in Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive.
3 Calming Herbs to Support ADHD & Cognition
The three herbal profiles selected below have been excerpted and adapted from the Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive. Find the full plant profiles including dosage and safety instructions in the workshop, now offered for a limited period of time at only $39. You can also access this workshop permanently as part of The Herbarium membership website that includes this and other intensives, articles, monographs, and much more, all for $45 a year!
Milky oat seed (Avena sativa)
Milky oat seed acts as a supreme nervine, nourishing and soothing the nervous system. Herbalists often turn to it for burnout and feeling “wired and tired.” Best as a fresh extract, it makes a fabulous backbone for a blend, especially where nervousness or excitation are present.
For adults, try 1-5 ml of the fresh tincture (1:2, 95%), or corresponding vinegar or glycerin extract, up to three times daily. Milky oat is very safe, but avoid it in oat allergy. It doesn’t contain gluten but contains avenin, which may cross-react with gluten for some people (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013; Groves, 2016; Winston, n.d.; Winston & Maimes, 2007). Find the full dosage and safety profile in the Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
With its brightly aromatic leaves, lemon balm calms, uplifts, and increases focus, and is especially useful when anxiety, overstimulation, frustration, anger, or irritation are present (Groves, 2016; Romm & Romm, 2000; Winston & Maimes, 2007). It makes a nice supportive herb in blends.
This nervine-nootropic has performed well in a variety of human cognition studies, including with ADHD children, adults, college students, and seniors with varying degrees of dementia. In a double-blind study, just one 1,600 mg dose of encapsulated leaves – not even a very potent form – improved mental performance and calmness in just one hour (Kennedy et al., 2003)! More concentrated extracts made people too sleepy at the highest doses, hindering cognition, but since it works so quickly, you can easily fiddle around to find your lemon balm sweet spot (Kennedy et al., 2002).
Lemon balm tincture taken daily and lemon balm cream applied topically long-term, improved quality of life and decreased dementia ratings in seniors in two separate studies (Akhondzadeh et al., 2003; Ballard et al., 2002). In ADHD in children, researchers paired lemon balm with valerian root. The combo reduced school children’s poor ability to focus from 75 to 14%, hyperactivity from 61 to 13%, and impulsiveness from 59 to 22% (Gromball et al., 2014). Another study found that the combination reduced hyperactivity, attention deficits, and impulsivity in children (Ross, 2015). Find the full dosage and safety profile in the Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive.
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)
Bacopa also supports focus and calms anxiety without over-sedating; however, it’s slower acting. In Ayurveda, it’s called brahmi, a name sometimes shared with gotu kola. This nootropic nervine supports brain function via various mechanisms for all ages and has a long history of use for cognition in India (Groves, 2016; Romm & Romm, 2000; Stough et al., 2013; Winston & Maimes, 2007).
In adults and elders, those taking 300 to 450 mg of bacopa extract daily for 12 weeks saw the greatest improvements in memory free recall versus other cognitive tests (Pase et al., 2012). A review of nine studies noted better cognition, speed of attention, and decreased reaction time (Kongkeaw et al., 2014).
A handful of studies found bacopa beneficial for school-aged children, particularly those with ADHD, with significant improvements in immediate memory, perception, reaction/performance times, learning, and memory tasks (Shinomol et al., 2011), and more bacopa research on children is underway (Kean et al., 2015). Find the full dosage and safety profile in the Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive.
Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive
These three calming herbs are just a taste for what we will be covering in the three-part Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive! Along with lifestyle considerations, we’ll teach you about 11 herbs with safety and dosage guidelines in this intensive so you will have suggestions to start applying what you’ve learned towards supporting those with ADHD as well as nourishing and balancing cognitive wellbeing.
This course isn’t just for those struggling with ADHD! Would you like to learn ways to support your brain during the aging process or menopause? Are you interested in finding herbs to support you as you go back to school as an adult? The information and herbal discussions provided in this Intensive doesn’t stop at ADHD – it goes much further than that!
So while ADHD and related cognitive concerns can seem daunting, rest assured there are numerous holistic and herbal options that can help support those with these concerns! We welcome you to join us and Maria Noël Groves for a guided journey through the Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive!
There are 2 ways to register!
- Learn more and sign up for this Intensive offering on the Herbal Academy website! We’re offering this limited time Intensive for only $39! https://theherbalacademy.com/product/herbs-adhd-cognition-focus-intensive/
- You can also get this full Intensive along with a library of Intensive Short Courses included in your membership to The Herbarium! The Herbarium currently boasts of three exclusive Intensive Workshops, with many more coming this next year! Sign up for a $45 annual membership and get this Intensive and others in The Herbarium! herbarium.theherbalacademy.com
Akhondzadeh, S., Noroozian, M., Mohammadi, M., Ohadinia, S., Jamshidi, A. & Khani, M. (2003). Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 74(7):863-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1738567/pdf/v074p00863.pdf
Ballard, C., O’Brien, J., Reichelt, K. & Perry, E. (2002). Aromatherapy as a safe and effective treatment for the management of agitation in severe dementia: the results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with Melissa [Abstract]. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 63(7):553-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12143909
Gardner, Z. & McGuffin, M. (2013). American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook, Second Edition. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group).
Gromball, J., Beschorner, F., Wantzen, C., Paulsen, U., Burkart, M. (2014). Hyperactivity, concentration difficulties and impulsiveness improve during seven weeks’ treatment with valerian root and lemon balm extracts in primary school children. Phytomedicine, 21(8-9):1098-103.
Groves, M. (2016). Body into balance: An herbal guide to holistic self care. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
Kean, J., Kaufman, J., Lomas, J., Goh, A., White, D., Simpson, D., Scholey, A., Singh, H., Sarris, J., Zangara, A. & Stough, C. (2015). A Randomized Controlled Trial Investigating the Effects of a Special Extract of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08) on Hyperactivity and Inattention in Male Children and Adolescents: BACHI Study Protocol. Nutrients, 2;7(12):9931-45.
Kennedy, D., Scholey, A., Tildesley, N., Perry, E. & Wesnes, K. (2002). Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm). Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 72(4):953-64.
Kennedy, D., Wake, G., Savelev, S., Tildesley, N., Perry, E., Wesnes, K. & Scholey, A. (2003). Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of single doses of Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) with human CNS nicotinic and muscarinic receptor-binding properties. Neuropsychopharmacology, 28(10):1871-81.
Kongkeaw, C., Dilokthornsakul, P., Thanarangsarit, P., Limpeanchob, N., Scholfield, N.C. (2014). Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri extract. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 151(1):528-35.
Pase, M., Kean, J., Sarris, J., Neale, C., Scholey, A. & Stough, C. (2012). The cognitive-enhancing effects of Bacopa monnieri: a systematic review of randomized, controlled human clinical trials. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18(7):647-52.
Romm, A. & Romm, T. (2000). ADHD Alternatives: A natural approach to treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
Ross, S. (2015). Valerian Root and Lemon Balm Extracts: A Phytomedicine Compound Improves Symptoms of Hyperactivity, Attention Deficits, and Impulsivity in Children [Abstract]. Holistic Nursing Practice, 29(6):391-5.
Shinomol, G., Muralidhara, B.M. (2011). Exploring the role of “Brahmi” (Bacopa monnieri and Centella asiatica) in brain function and therapy. Recent Patents on Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Drug Discovery, 5(1):33-49.
Stough, C., Scholey, A., Cropley, V., Wesnes, K., Zangara, A., Pase, M., Savage, K., Nolidin, K., Lomas, J. & Downey, L. (2013). Examining the cognitive effects of a special extract of Bacopa monniera (CDRI08: Keenmnd): a review of ten years of research at Swinburne University. Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, 16(2):254-8.
Winston, D. (n.d.). Attention Hyperactivity Disorder. http://www.herbalist-alchemist.com/item/Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder-1180 Similar recording available to AHG members at https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/members/2012-symposium-recordings
Winston, D. & Maimes, S. (2007). Adaptogens: Herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.