Ayurveda and ADHD - An Ayurveda Practitioner's Perspective
By Sangeeta Sirinthipaporn
Last Updated: 15/11/2022
Basic Principle of Ayurveda
As human beings, we are all programmed to rebuild, revitalize and rebalance all the time. So, when we are faced with any health issues on the physical, mental or emotional levels, we need to work towards restoring our balance.
Ayurveda is a science that is rooted in naturally rebalancing and recovering from our ailments with constant focus on balancing the natural elements that we are made up of. Once we achieve and learn to sustain this balance, every system in our being from the physical to the subtle runs optimally.
So what are these natural elements and how do we tune in or comprehend them? Natural elements are present within us and all around us, namely, ETHER, AIR, FIRE, WATER, EARTH. A simple approach to understand elements is to understand their qualities:
- Ether is empty space, subtle.
- Air is cold, dry, light, moving, subtle.
- Fire is hot, light, transforming
- Water is cold, fluid, wet, flexible
- Earth is cold, solid, heavy, gross.
Elements in Action
Through perceiving the qualities we can understand the nature of anything from the food we eat to our environment and our lifestyles.
For example, ice-cream is wet, heavy and cold – so eating ice-cream would increase Water and Earth elements in us bringing with it cold and heavy qualities. If we eat ice-cream everyday, we will keep increasing these very qualities within us. Cold will slow down our digestion and heaviness will make us gain weight.
Similarly, exposing ourselves to too much sun would increase the Fire element within us, making us feel the very same qualities of Fire – namely hot. This will lead to excessive heat in the body making us sweat more as well as being more irritable.
One of the key ways in Ayurveda to approach any disorder is also based on understanding the excessive qualities present physically, mentally and emotionally. This then becomes the basis for charting out the treatment measures starting from pacifying the symptoms to identifying the root cause as well as gradually re-balancing elements to achieve a state of well-being.
Ayurveda and ADHD
Now, let’s take a look at the qualities or symptoms presented in ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) – “overly active” is one of key symptom
(Source: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html). When we look at the qualities of elements above, the closest to Overactive is AIR as it moves all the time. So, in most cases ADHD would require pacifying or balancing the air element.
How do we do that? Simple – Qualities of Air are moving, cold, dry, and light. All we need to do is balance with just the opposite of these qualities i.e. still, warm, moist, grounding. On the physical level, this can be done through diet, environment, lifestyle and therapies:
- Diet – Replace all cold, dry foods like raw leafy veggies, chips, cold drinks with warm and grounding food like soups, toast, and cooked warm meals.
- Environment – Avoid loud noise, excessive television or computers. Encourage nature walks and activities rooted in nature.
- Lifestyle – Stable with not too much movement or excessive traveling.
- Therapies – All warm-moist therapies are helpful like a warm oil massage. Just applying warm olive oil on the feet at bed-time can do wonders with calming.
Balancing the physical body gradually will lead to calming the mind and emotions. This is the first step in restoring and reviving balance.
A Case Study
In my practice over the years, I have come across cases with ADHD-labeled children. In one particular case, as we worked through Ayurveda and Acupressure Reflexology sessions, the seven year old child said that he would like his parents to be together. The mother had moved from another country to get him special needs education for ADHD which was not available in their country. The father could not join them as he had work in his country. Each time his father visited him, his ADHD symptoms were almost nil – he was focused, did not overeat, listened and slept well. Another aspect that the mother changed during this time was to stop looking at her mobile phone when she was with her kid. And, as this little boy improved with more visits from the father and more attention from the mother, he started going to regular school and finally they moved back to their country. So, in this case, the root cause was surely the lack of total attention of both parents towards their child.
The physical changes through the diet, lifestyle and therapies lead to clarity in thoughts and emotions where this child could express his wish that eventually helped the parents work towards fulfilling that need. So, it’s a joint effort from all – the child and his/her most loved ones. Giving Attention is the way to balance Attention Deficiency – just like rain rebalances and revives dry soil.
Summarizing Ayurveda and ADHD
In this world of constant change where we have access to all the gadgets to scatter our attention, it becomes more and more of a challenge to keep our attention focused whether we are children, teenagers or adults. The opposite of scattering is convergence. Therefore, to balance this scattered attention, we will need to practice converging our attention. A very easy way to keep up this practice is to do one thing at a time instead of multitasking: if we are having our breakfast, just focus on the breakfast, not on the chat group or news or an online game on our phone. These little simple practices eventually reprogram the way we perceive and process information we are constantly receiving from this world.
Approaching ADHD or any other disorders through the perspective of natural elements and understanding their qualities is one of the simplest and effective ways of keeping ourselves in harmony with our true nature, thereby sustaining our well-being on all levels.
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