Using oils to Defeat ADHD &  Sharpen Your Mind,

by Dr. Stewart Gillespie*, Osteopath, Functional Medicine, Clinical Nutritionist, Medical Intuitive  , for Living Healthy Series,

ADHD: in my opinion probably the most over-diagnosed condition in the US.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) are neurological and behavior-related conditions that cause difficulty in concentrating, impulsiveness and excessive energy.

According to the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health, “the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD is increasing, but it is unclear why.” Most physicians and research indicate the increase in ADHD is directly linked to the food we eat.

Symptoms of ADD/ADHD

The severity of symptoms can vary greatly from individual to individual, depending on environment, diet, and other factors. Remember we do not treat these symptoms but use them as guides to help us discover the underlying cause.

Children may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms of ADHD/ADD :

  • Difficulty in concentrating and diminished focus
  • Easily distracted
  • Easily bored
  • Difficulty organizing or completing tasks
  • Prone to losing things
  • Doesn’t listen
  • Difficulty in following instructions
  • Fidgety behavior, squirming
  • Extreme difficulty being still and/or quiet
  • Impatience

Adults may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms of ADD/ADHD

  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating on a task, project, or conversation
  • Overwhelming emotional and physical restlessness
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Prone to anger and a hot temper
  • Disorganized
  • Low tolerance of people, situations, and surroundings
  • Unstable relationships
  • Increased risk for addiction

Root Causes of ADD/ADHD:

Without treating the cause we become dependent on the medications that are designed to suppress rather than increase ones vibration.

#1 Environmental factors: by far the most overwhelming factor, as your internal environment affects everything from your gut to your brain.

ADHD Foods to Avoid

  • Sugar – This is the primary trigger for most children, and some adults with ADHD. Avoid any forms of concentrated sugar including candy, desserts, soda, or fruit juices.
  • Gluten – Some researchers and parents report worsening behavior when their child eats gluten, which may indicate sensitivity to the protein found in wheat. Avoid all foods made with wheat such as bread, pasta, and wheat cereal.  Look for gluten-free or even grain-free alternatives.
  • Conventional Dairy – Most cow milk dairy contains A1 casein that can trigger a similar reaction as gluten and therefore should be eliminated. If problematic symptoms arise after eating dairy, discontinue use. Goat’s milk however does not contain the protein, and is a better option for many individuals with ADD/ADHD.
  • Food Coloring and Dyes – Children with ADHD can be sensitive to a variety of food dyes and colorings, therefore all processed foods should be avoided. Coloring and dyes appear in nearly every commercially processed food. Food dyes can be found in sports drinks, candy, cake mixes, chewable vitamins, and even toothpaste! Most of these are banned in countries outside of the US.
  • Caffeine – While some studies have shown that caffeine may help with some ADHD symptoms, it is wise to minimize or avoid caffeine, as these studies have not been validated. In addition, the side effects of caffeine, including anxiety, and nervousness, can contribute to the symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
  • MSG and HVP (hydrolyzed vegetable protein) – These two additives are believed to decrease dopamine levels in both children and adults. Dopamine is associated with the brain’s pleasure and reward systems. For individuals suffering with ADD/ADHD, balanced levels of dopamine are essential.
  • Nitrites – Commonly found in lunchmeat, canned foods and many processed foods, nitrites are linked to an increase of childhood Type 1 Diabetes, certain types of cancer, and IBS. In addition, it can cause rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, and restlessness which worsen ADHD symptoms.
  • Artificial Sweeteners – Artificial sweeteners are just bad for your health, but for those living with ADHD, the side effects can be devastating. Artificial sweeteners create biochemical changes in the body, some of which can harm cognitive function and emotional balance. They are basically poison to the brain
  • Soy – Soy is a common food allergen and can disrupt hormones that cause ADHD.
  • Personal Food Sensitivities/Allergens – Eliminate the top 7 allergens, including soy, wheat, and conventional dairy mentioned above, as well as peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and shellfish. In addition, eliminate any foods or beverages that are personal allergens. This might include papaya, avocados, bananas, and kiwis (for those with latex allergies), and/or coriander, caraway, or fennel (all from the same family), and/or chocolate.

#2: History of IBS

The first question I ask patients both adults and children is not what their diet is like, or their family history, but have they ever had any digestive problems: acid reflux, a gut infection,  Crohns Disease, constipation.  This is so common. You must think of your gut as your second brain or as an extension of your brain, as whatever is going on in the gut will affect your brain, it really is that simple.

Certain gut infections like candida or clostridia (like food poisoning, colitis etc) actually block the formation of neurotransmitters in the brain, I see this all the time in practice. A patient will come in with a focus problem, but fix the constipation problem and the focus returns.

#3 Genetic

One of the ways by which our bodies make our neurotransmitters is through a process called Methylation. Methylation is also how our bodies get rid of toxins in the body also. ADHD has been linked to people who do not methylate properly, and therefore have a build up of toxicity within the brain and also an reduced capability to make their brain hormones. The MTHFR mutation may be responsible for this, appropriate testing for this is recommended, but is seen on your blood work as an elevated Homocysteine level. Appropriate intervention is through methyalated B12 and methylfolate, which has shown great results.

#4 Heavy Metal Poisoning

Toxicity testing has shown elevated amounts of heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic for people with this condition. It is also one of the reasons why vaccinations have been linked to ADHD and autism due to their mercury content. But there are also plenty of heavy metals within our processed food supply, fluoride in toothpastes, chlorine in tap water, bromine in bread that, without proper dietary intervention , we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Hair analysis is a very simple way to test for this. Then a simple chelation therapy that rids our bodies of heavy metals can see remarkable changes in mood and focus. Essential oils like “metals out”  along with Miraclay, a clay that absorbs toxins and metals, are also extremely effective.

The most common treatment of ADD/ADHD today is using medications such as Ritalin and Adderall both of which have been linked to suicidal thoughts and personality changes. Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant that can cause nervousness, agitation, anxiety, insomnia, vomiting, an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and even psychosis.

Adderall is an amphetamine that is highly addictive with prolonged use. Side effects include tremors, hallucinations, muscle twitches, high blood pressure, fast or irregular heartbeats, and extreme mood swings.

With these side effects, it is easy to see why so many people are seeking effective natural cures. The good news is there are natural remedies for ADD/ADHD that are both effective and without the scary side effects of prescription medications.

 Top Foods for ADHD

  • Additive-free, Unprocessed Foods –-Due to the toxic nature of food additives, it is best to eat unprocessed, whole foods. Additives including artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and colorings may be especially problematic for those with ADD/ADHD.
  • Foods High in B-Vitamins –-B vitamins help maintain a healthy nervous system. Make sure to include organic wild animal products and lots of green leafy vegetables in your diet. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Vitamin B-6 is needed for the body to make and use essential brain chemicals including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. In fact, one preliminary study has found that B-6 is slightly more effective than Ritalin in improving behavior!(6) Incorporate wild tuna, bananas, wild salmon, grass-fed beef, and other foods rich in Vitamin B-6 for the improvement of ADHD.
  • Poultry –-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps the body to synthesize proteins and aid in the production of serotonin. Serotonin plays significant roles in sleep, inflammation, emotional moods, and much more. In many individuals suffering from ADD/ADHD, imbalances in serotonin levels have been indicated according to the University of Michigan Health System.  Serotonin is related to impulse control, and aggression, two of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD. Serotonin is a gut hormone, so any child with a history of digestive disorders will have this underlying issue.
  • Eat Breakfast –-For some people, and especially those with ADHD, breakfast helps the body properly regulate blood sugar and stabilize hormone fluctuations. Eat a breakfast that contains at least 20 grams of protein. Try my Thin Mint Protein Smoothie that has 20 grams of protein from whey. It is a tasty and filling way to “break the fast”.
  • Wild Caught Salmon and Tuna –-Not only are they rich with Vitamin B-6, they are packed with Omega 3 fatty acids. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a clinical trial indicated that lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids had more learning and behavioral problems (like those associated with ADHD) than boys with normal levels of Omega 3s. Individuals, including children, should consume wild salmon or tuna at least twice per week.

 Top 5 Natural Remedies for ADHD

#1 Fish Oil (1,000mg daily) – The EPA/DHA in fish oil are critical for brain function and are anti-inflammatory. Supplementation has been shown to reduce symptoms and improve learning.

#2 B-Complex (50 mg daily) – Children with ADHD may need more B-vitamins to help with the formation of serotonin, especially Vitamin B6.

#3 Multi-Mineral Supplement (including zinc, magnesium, and calcium)  – 500 mg calcium, 250 mg of magnesium, and 5 mg zinc 2x daily.  All play a role in relaxing the nervous system and a deficiency may exacerbate symptoms.

#4 Probiotic (25-50 billion units daily) – ADHD may be connected to digestive issues, therefore taking a good quality probiotic daily will help maintain intestinal health.

#5 GABA (250 mg 2x daily) – A calming amino acid, ask your doctor before taking GABA as it can interact with other medications.


 ADD/ADHD Remedy

Rhodiola Rosea has been proven effective at improving the focus of both adults and children. It works by increasing the sensitivity in the neurological and nervous system that produces serotonin and dopamine, which are both essential for effective ADHD symptom control.

Essential Oils for ADHD

According to a study published in the American Medical Association Journal, essential oils of vetiver and cedarwood are very effective in improving focus and calming down children with ADHD.

For memory and concentration, rosemary and peppermint oils have been shown to improve alertness while enhancing memory.

For a calming effect,  Ylang Ylang  and lavender are proven effective, while Frankincense brings emotional wellness, clarity, and heightened cognitive function.

Lifestyle Changes for Children with ADHD:

Exercise is really the best lifestyle activity anybody can do to relieve symptoms of ADHD. Get Active!

My FAVORITE Essential Oils for ADHD

I want to talk about something else I think is incredible — essential oils for ADHD.  In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Vetiver oil had a 100 percent effective rating on treating ADHD and Cedarwood oil an 83 percent effective rating. The most effective essential oils are

Vetiver and  Cedarwood: Take two drops of vetiver oil, two drops of cedarwood oil, and just rub them on a child’s neck or your own neck and then up around the temple area. If you need to dilute it a little bit, you could use some coconut oil; rub that on the area, and that’s going to help improve focus as well.

Lavender:  2-3 drops on wrists or neck will calm the child

Peppermint:  2-3 drops on wrists. It has a tendency to give energy but also heal

Rosemary  which improves  memory: 2-3 drops on solar plexus

Ylang Ylang:  Rub 2-3 drops on your heart or thymus. Your mood will improve immediately.

Frankincense: 2-3 drops on ankles or  rub under your feet for emotional wellness.

Miraclays: Absorbs toxins and metals, and is suitable for chelation.

  • If you feel that you have been helped by this article but are still unsure how to proceed and how to get the proper testing please feel free to sign up for a free 15 minute consult. at [email protected], visit my website at

Disclaimer: The information in this handout is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from any disease, illness or injury should consult with a physician.