Could cinnamon cure or at least assist with managing children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? We were intrigued when one of our readers emailed us told us “I have an autistic child with ADHD. Cinnamon has helped her focus better in school and get good grades. She eats more now and is very calm all day”. This prompted us to take a closer look if Cinnamon could help with ADHD and what the supporting evidence was.
As any parent who has dealt with an ADHD child can attest, this is an extremely challenging situation. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 3% to 5% of children have ADHD. Some experts, though, say ADHD occurs in 8% to 10% of school-aged children but this could be the result of misdiagnosis since some hyperactive children may exhibit ADHD like symptoms but not true ADHD. Misdiagnosed children with ADHD maybe exhibiting symptoms of a poor diet laden with sugar and coloring, lack of exercise, watching excessive amounts of TV and the like.
Parents come to the end of their wits trying to solve the issue of ADHD. Many do not want to take debilitating drugs that make their child lose their zest for life. Often the child becomes like a Zombie, dull and lifeless in emotion when drugged up, not to mention the sheer cost of medication. As a result many people turn to alternative treatment options like Cinnamon for ADHD.
FIVE REASON WHY CINNAMON MIGHT WORK FOR ADHD
1. Aromatherapy - All indications are that Cinnamon has a powerful effect on the brain. The best real study we could find was this ADHD study of twenty children out of Taiwan, which found Cinnamon aromatherapy is a safe and convenient method for children with ADHD. The test results indicated significant benefits, but read the complete report so you understand it. We think it presents an exciting possibility. When you consider that some studies show cinnamon maybe effective for other brain related illnesses like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s this is seems within the realm of possibility.
2. Mood enhancer – We know Cinnamon has a calming effect on people and puts them in a good mood.. ADHD children are often hyperactive unable to focus or sit still. According to this study by Dr. Bryan Raudenbush (Director of Undergraduate Research and associate professor of psychology at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, WV). Cinnamon may keep you more alert and decrease your frustration when you are behind the wheel. We think the same can be applied to often frustrated and angry ADHD children.
3. Cinnamon Anti-oxidants could help – Another factor why Cinnamon might be beneficial for ADHD children is due to its anti-oxidant properties which are high at least according to this article. Why would a powerful anti-oxidant help with ADHD? Children with ADHD have apparently been shown to be under increased oxidative stress. The suggestion is that the absence of an antioxidant-rich diet, may damage delicate brain cells. So taking cinnamon which is a powerful anti-oxidant may help to control ADHD. Not direct scientific proof but proof by extrapolation.
4. Blood sugar Control with cinnamon could help ADHD – Children with ADHD may be particularly sensitive to sugar and may experience a rapid drop-off of in blood sugar levels after eating sweets or processed carbohydrates. This sugar low may manifest itself as a symptom of ADHD. According this Natural News Story “Excess sugar will interfere in the child’s cognitive function and in his or her behavior in the classroom, at home, and with peers”. Cinnamon being a blood sugar modulator may have some benefits for ADHD children or those who exhibit ADHD like symptoms.
5. Dopamine and cinnamon – Recent controversial studies like this cited here show that the brain chemical, dopamine, may play a role in ADHD. Dopamine apparently is an important chemical that carries signals between nerves in the brain. It is linked to many functions, including movement, sleep, mood, attention, and learning. Higher dopamine levels are better. ADHD children tend to have lower levels of dopamine. A Rush university study related to Parkinson found that those who ingested cinnamon had only a 15% decrease in striatal dopamine when injected with MPTP which is a neurotoxin to test the hypothesis. The conclusion we can infer is that Cinnamon is very effective in maintaining dopamine levels. Of course another article like this challenges that dopamine can have any effect on ADHD children. We are inclined to believe that dopamine levels does have an effect of causing some level of ADHD.
HOW WE WOULD USE CINNAMON FOR ADHD
If you want to try Cinnamon as part of an overall program of ADHD symptom mitigation, by all means give it a shot. It is a fairly safe method that will cost little money. Even if it only has a placebo effect, the idea is to improve the quality of life for you and your child. If a placebo effect with cinnamon can do that, why not.
A. Cinnamon Oil Aroma Therapy – Recommended
In the case study we cited, they used 1% cinnamon as the aromatherapy substance, which was 1mg cinnamon oil in 100ml water put in a special bottle with an electric light control. We would suggest mixing 1-2 drops (for a bedroom size space) Ceylon Cinnamon Bark oil with ¼ cup of water if you use our aroma diffuser. Remember to use for no more than 3 hours. You don’t want to overdo things. Start with one drip mixed with a ¼ cup to begin with and then you can try two drops as necessary. But whatever you do don’t put too much Ceylon Cinnamon Bark Oil which is extremely powerful. You will not even realize how powerful it is until later. Too much will overpower your senses and cause breathing difficulties. Always use Ceylon Cinnamon Bark Oil and not the Ceylon Cinnamon Leaf Oil for this purpose since Ceylon cinnamon Bark is very refined and has the high levels of cinnamaldehyde that studies indicate works better for this type of brain related treatment option.
B. Cinnamon Powder – Recommended
This is a very convenient way to take Cinnamon. But remember a child can only take lower levels of cinnamon. The US dept. of health recommends no more than 6g (1.20 tsps.) for 6 weeks or less with a period of rest in between, perhaps a week. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) established a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.1 mg/kg body weight. What does that mean in real life?. That means an adult who weighs 150lb can take 1.36 tsps. of cinnamon according to the European guidelines. We have done a rough chart because converting mg (which is a measure of weight and a tsp which is a measure of volume) is tricky. Obviously slight variations when measuring as long as it is within 5-10% is perfectly acceptable. So these are approximates and by no means exact.
|100 lb||0.96 tsp|
|75 lb||0.68 tsp|
|50 lb||0.45 tsp|
|25 lb||0.22 tsp|
The second question is how to do give it your child. They are not going to just swallow cinnamon powder and that would be a bad idea anyway since Cinnamon swallowed plain will more than likely damage the stomach lining. The best way is to make cinnamon powder tea (by adding powder to hot water and filtering it after three minutes) ) or mixing it up in their food. Cinnamon French Toast, adding to oats, make a smoothie and other creative ways come to mind.
C. Cinnamon stick Tea – Recommended
Another great way to take some cinnamon tea is by brewing a cup of Cinnamon stick tea as listed here on our recipe page. Sometimes you need to mix it up a bit even if it takes some time to brew a nice cinnamon stick tea. Besides it is far less messy than the powder to make a tea. You can make a big jug, keep it the refrigerator and give it to your child to take to school. It really is quite refreshing.
So how much of this tea can you give your child you ask. We would say a cup per day would be fine, assuming you use about ¾ of a three inch long cinnamon stick per cup.
D. Cinnamon Black Tea infused with Bark Oil – Not recommended
This is a great tea for adults, but giving children especially very young children caffeine (which our black tea has) is not recommended, even though our Tea contains very little caffeine compared to an energy drink or Coffee. Read this article on caffeine for children. If you are an adult with ADHD the black tea infused with the bark oil should be acceptable and well within the tolerable intake levels, unless you are allergic to caffeine.
E. Cinnamon Tablets – Not Recommended
We are not great believers of cinnamon tablets for the reason we list here. But some parents give their child a 500mg cinnamon tablet daily. It’s your choice. Children’s stomachs linings are especially fragile so high doses of cinnamon introduced directly into the stomach can be corrosive. And you won’t know how bad until much later.
PRECAUTIONS AND RISK FACTORS
Always consult a physician before giving your child cinnamon in any form. An allergy test for Cinnamon is always a good idea because for a small minority of people Cinnamon can create a rash or breathing difficulties. Do not use Cinnamon if there is a family member who is pregnant. And use Ceylon Cinnamon since all other types of cinnamon like Cassia Cinnamon has high levels of Coumarin which can cause liver damage as explained here.
Could trigger worse hyperactivity in some – Some articles like this says hyperactivity can increase with cinnamon. Another article from the UK also says Cinnamon can trigger hyperactivity and headaches in people. This maybe the case for a small minority of people who are allergic to Cinnamon. If you put too much cinnamon bark oil in the aroma diffuser for example, it will give you a headache, burn your eyes and cause breathing difficulties. Less is more.
Most Doctors will dismiss this idea of taking cinnamon for ADHD but you should at least get an a Doctors opinion and test for allergies if you decide to try it. Cinnamon is not a drug but a all natural product and well worth a try in the absence of sensible cure. The main thing is to take Ceylon Cinnamon and avoid the tablets, even Ceylon cinnamon tablets.
If you do decide to try cinnamon for your child with ADHD start slowly. Meaning reduce even the recommended dosage for children in half and keep an eye out for an reactions. Give them Cinnamon three times per week and then perhaps five times per week and then finally the maximum dosage as we have outlined here. You should always have a period of rest on the weekends because cinnamon can accumulate toxicity in your body and increase body heat which can affect organ function. Having a weekend rest will also ensure that the body does not develop an immunity to the beneficial effects of cinnamon.