Drinking Tea for ADHD - Does It Really Work?

It has been mentioned by many people that drinking tea may be a helpful alternative to prescription medication for treating ADHD/ADD symptoms in both adults and children.

But is this true or is it just hype? Specifically, what is the scientific evidence that tea actually works?

Most people would think that drinking tea, which contains caffeine, would make ADHD symptoms much worst. Some would say it is crazy.

But hold on a minute. Many, if not all, prescription ADHD medications are actually stimulates as well. Indeed, prescription stimulant drugs are still the "standard" treatment options in adults and children with ADHD symptoms.

If this is the case, then caffeine found in various types of tea would represent potential treatment options in dealing with ADHD symptoms.

Let's take a look at some studies and find out how the caffeine may be a useful alternative to try out...

Research Studies on Using Tea to Manage ADHD Symptoms

Experts Liu, Liang and Kuang working at the Mental Health Center of West China Hospital have proposed that drinking tea may be a useful alternative to prescription medication in the management of ADHD symptoms.

In part, they recognize that many adults don't seem to have all of their ADHD symptoms resolved even if placed on prescription ADHD medications. They believe this is, in part, due to the adults not taking the medication on a consistent basis.

Since many types of teas contain caffeine, a known stimulant, they believe that it could work much like prescription stimulants for reducing ADHD symptoms.

Here's the reference to this paper:

using tea for adhd reference #1

It is know from other studies that caffeine found in coffee and other food sources have been tried by parents for treating children suffering for these hyperactivity symptoms.

Caffeine is known to cut down on fatigue, boost alertness, enhance concentration and to help improve brain function.

Indeed coffee or beverages high in caffeine content are often mentioned as being "worth" a try.

The good news is that there is little risk to the child in doing a little "experiment". This is true as long as the dose used is reasonable (to be discussed below).

Worst case, he or she will simply become hyperactive instead. At least you will know that it did not work.

The interest in using caffeine for ADHD management came from several studies done in animal models. Scientists were able to use a specific type of rats that develops spontaneous high blood pressure as an experimental model for ADHD. These rats show symptoms similar to ADHD/ADD sufferers.

With these rats, researchers can test out drugs and natural remedies to see if they would eliminate or reduce the symptoms.

Rats given varying doses of caffeine show reduced ADHD symptoms and from these observations, scientist speculated that it might also work in humans.

Specifically the rats given caffeine in their diet were able to better recognize and pick out patterns and well as showing improved memory capacity.

Here's the published paper that showed this.

adhd management with tea reference 2

There are no clinical trials on using tea or caffeine for treating ADHD/ADD yet but with the positive benefits seen in animals, some interested researcher may investigate this further.

In the meantime, it can be considered safe to try it out as a home remedy for ADHD to see if would really work in your specific case.

What is a Good Dose to Start With?

The exact caffeine content in tea various from brand to brand.

It is best to stick with one brand and one method of steeping it to ensure consistent results.

If tea is not something your child likes to drink, consider using coffee instead. Even beverages such as cola's would work (minus the sugar content!)

The drawback from using tea? You don't know the exact amount of caffeine your child is taking.

Although this is not a huge concern, some parents would want to know what the dose of caffeine used is.

Another option, for those parents who desire to know exactly the amount of caffeine given, is to use caffeine tablets. These tablets usually come as 100 mg per tablet.

You probably can accurately split the tablet down to a quarter so you'll end up with 25 mg of caffeine per quarter tablet. With this, you can increase or decrease the caffeine dose by 25 mg steps.

And if your child is unable to swallow a tablet? How about making a suspension or using caffeinated beverages with a known amount of caffeine content.

Could You Make a Liquid Suspension for Maximum Accuracy in Dosing?

mortar bottleAbsolutely. This is exactly how compounding pharmacists create accurate liquid dosage formulations using tablets. It's also especially useful for children who are unable or unwilling to swallow tablets.

By making a liquid dosage form, you can get extremely accurate in the dose given to your child, right down to the milligram.

Your local pharmacist would probably be more than happy to sell to you supplies such as an empty bottle, syringes and measuring cups for a nominal fee.

For example, you could dissolve two 100 mg caffeine tablets in 100 mL of water (or other flavored drinks). The concentration would become 200 mg/100 mL. That means for each mL, you will get 2 mg of caffeine. Shake well before using it.

Make sure you clearly label the bottle so that it is not mistaken for something else!

If you are unsure on how to proceed, seek the help of your local pharmacist.

It is a good idea to consult with your health care professional if you are planning to use caffeine supplements for managing ADHD/ADD symptoms.

What Other Beverages I can Use?

It is true that tea is not the only drink that contains caffeine. Any other caffeine-containing foods or drinks would work just as well.

For example, the 5-Hour Energy drink contains 190 mg of caffeine per 57 mL (the entire small bottle). Red Bull contains 113.6 mg of caffeine per 355 mL. And Full Throttle contains 141 mg per 473 mL.

Be aware of the sugar content to ensure that your or your child do not get too much sugar in the process of getting caffeine.

Bottom Line

Thinking of giving tea to your child for reducing ADHD symptoms?

Give it a try. Studies suggest that it might be effective in some children and adults.

You won't know unless you try it.

If it works, stick with the same brand of tea along with the same method of steeping it.

This will ensure consistent caffeine content from cup to cup.

If tea is not your cup of tea, then try using coffee or caffeinated beverages instead.