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Can acupuncture help me to manage the symptoms of ADHD

Although autism and ADHD are now among the most common mental health conditions diagnosed in the UK, there is still a surprising lack of public awareness about them and even less understanding about how their impact can be mitigated by complementary therapies such as acupuncture.

In truth, there is little formal  evidence to show how acupuncture might be used to help those diagnosed with autism or ADHD to manage the effects of their condition – but there are studies that indicate it may help lessen the symptoms of ADHD.

It’s thought that acupuncture for ADHD may help to manage symptoms such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention – all common symptoms or behaviours associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and this would seem logical, given acupuncture’s power to enhance relaxation and general well-being.

How can acupuncture assist with symptoms of ADHD?

ADHD is not regarded as an illness in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) but is seen instead as an imbalance of the Heart-Mind – something that acupuncture has been shown to be effective in addressing through the rebalancing of Qi energy.

There is also research to show that acupuncture can also have a positive effect on brain activity by improving brain glucose metabolism and reducing activity in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex.

This calming effect is not only beneficial for dialling down the symptoms of ADHD but is also good for general wellbeing, enabling better organ function and strengthening the immune system.

Some of the data that is available suggests treatment may help people with ADHD to feel less symptomatic and less dependent on stimulants, whilst a 2018 Karger-published study into self-reported symptoms (subscription required) suggests acupuncture may in some circumstances and depending on the patient be more effective than the ADHD medication methylphenidate (Ritalin).

It must be remembered, though, that none of these results relate to randomised control trials (RCTs) which are needed to reach a clinically reliable conclusion.

Does acupuncture work for children with ADHD?

Again, there have been no formal clinical trials, but researchers who evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture as a treatment for ADHD in an analysis of 10 studies including 876 young people found that acupuncture treatment was successful in lowering symptoms of hyperactivity.

Additionally, the acupuncture group tested experienced few negative events, and in certain cases acupuncture was linked to a measurable decrease in negative medication reactions and even after the therapy sessions were over, acupuncture’s effects persisted.

If nothing else, the results of these studies demonstrate that acupuncture, whether used in conjunction with conventional medicine or as a stand-alone therapy, can have a positive impact on reducing conduct issues, learning issues, hyperactivity-impulsivity, and hyperactive symptoms in children with ADHD.

And because acupuncture does not conflict with the medication many patients are prescribed, it can play the role of a painless and harmless integrative treatment that enhances any ongoing clinical care.

Is acupuncture for ADHD safe?

When administered by a licenced and experienced professional, acupuncture is a safe treatment that is generally considered to be risk-free. Performed properly, acupuncture should be completely pain-free, and is commonly found to be  highly relaxing.

If you or an adult family member has been diagnosed with ADHD and you’re looking for alternative solutions to help manage the daily symptoms that can often be challenging for both the individual and those around them , acupuncture may well be an effective option for you to consider.

If you decide to explore the benefits that acupuncture can bring, it’s important to make sure you are treated by a qualified and experienced acupuncturist who will take the time to understand the patient’s medical history and general health.

Here at The Acupuncturists, we’re always happy to talk to people about the treatment and whether it’s right for them. There’s no hard sell and we don’t charge for advising you – our priority is to give you the information you need to make an informed decision about your health and care.

Why not drop us an email or give us a call and see if we can help you to take the right step forward in your health plan?

Please note, we do not treat children at The Acupuncurists. There are many online resources detailing clinics and practitioners specialising in paediatric acupuncture, including


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