Five teas I use to manage my ADHD
Do you like tea? I do. Though winter is almost over, so I don’t drink as much of it. I should, though, as it helps me drink more, over all, because it tastes better than plain water, and I usually drink tea on top of my eight glasses of water a day.
I also use certain teas to help with managing my ADHD symptoms. There are different ways in which teas can be helpful. Some help because of ingredients they have. This might sound a bit strange to some people, but it’s well established that plants can be very helpful with all kinds of problems (like sage tea is supposed to help with swaeting, even though I don’t know if that actually works). For some other teas, they work for me because I make them part of a ritual. Might also sound strange, but ritualising certain things doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with witchcraft and what not. It’s actually a pretty basic way of structuring parts of life, like bed time rituals for children.
Anyway, medical teas are a great way to help with all kinds of problems, from sore throat to menopausal symptoms. However, just so we’re clear here: Teas can never replace proper medical treatment (except maybe if you have a cold, because medical treatment doesn’t actually do that much there, either). But they can be helpful nonetheless.
For ADHD, I don’t believe that teas can help as much as medical treatment. Specialized medication and therapy are just a lot more effective than any “natural” treatments can ever be. I still use teas, in addition to medication, though, to manage some of my ADHD symptoms, or just help me cope with my ADHD. Here’s a list of the teas I like to use for specific ADHD symptoms:
For waking up: Green tea with matcha
I love this. Green tea has all kinds of positive properties, but mostl importantly to me, it contains caffein (or the equivalent for tea), and I like it a lot better than black tea. Matcha gives me an extra energy boost, which is why I usually pick green tea blends with matcha in them. I use green tea to help me wake up fully, espacially on days when I just can’t seem to do that on my own. I find it works very well for days, when my alarm went off in the completely wrong phase of my sleep cycle, and I can’t seem to get out of that zombie state.
You might not find this suggestion useful, if you drink coffee, but if you’re like me, and don’t tolerate coffee too well, you might want to try this.
For headaches and anxiety: Peppermint tea
Peppermint oil helps with headaches, which I get quite a lot. I’m not sure whether or not they’re ADHD related, but a lot of it is definitely tension related, which, for me, has a lot to do with my ADHD.
Apart from headaches, the smell of peppermint tea helps me feel calm, without making me feel sleepy. This might be highly individual, though. For example, my boyfriend can’t stand the smell of peppermint, because it reminds him of toothpaste. So you might want to try out different herbs, to see if something has that effect for you. Other herbs that have a reputation for beeing calming: Chamomile, lemon balm, passion flower, and St. John’s Wort, though this one might interact negatively with your ADHD meds, so check for that before you try it.
For Insomnia: Valerian, hops, or sleepy time tea
I’ll admit that I feel like a good part of this is placebo, because the ritual of brewing and drinking the tea before bed is helpful in calming down and getting mentally ready for bed. Valerian is well known for it’s calming effects, tough (except on cats, it very much doesn’t calm cats…), so you can rely on it to help with sleeping. Hops is also well known to cause sleepyness, which is one of the reasons beer can make people tired. Most sleepy time teas have a combination of other herbs, that are supposed to be calming, like lavender, neroli or chamomile. These can be helpful, but I don’t think they have as much of a medical effect as the other two.
Anyway, I don’t really like the taste of most of these teas (I really don’t like valerian), but I still use them, when I have trouble falling asleep. This works pretty well for me, so you might want to give it a try. As these teas make me sleepy, I don’t use them during the day, except when I’m stressed out of my mind and can’t stand it anymore.
For relaxation: Spiced teas
Now, this comes down to conditioning and placebo effects, but it works well for me. I have a really nice, spicy Chai tea (which I know isn’t an actual thing, but it’s what it says on the box), that I started drinking two years ago in the fall. Back then, I was in between jobs, meaning that I was home, but had already signed the contract to start my new job in December. So I was really relaxed. I love fall anyway, I had just decided to give up the carreer that was driving me toward burnout, I knew where I was headed next, so it was a time to take a breath, recover from all the stress, and just relax. That’s also when i started seriously planning and researching self-employment, and got the idea to start a blog.
Anyway, back then, I used to make myself a cup of tea in the morning, sit down at my desk, and do a bit of work, all very relaxed and calm. The tea I was drinking had this nice, intense, spicy smell, which my brain started to associate with this calm, relaxed, productive mood. Which is why it now produces that feeling, any time I smell that tea. This is pretty basic conditioning, actually, but it works like a charm. Strong smells are a great way to trigger certain feelings or reactions, so this is a useful tool if you want to be able to do that. This works with any intensely smelling tea, so you can choose something you really like.
I now use this tea to help me feel relaxed, but also productive, because that’s what the smell of it is associated with in my brain. I still drink it primarily during fall and winter, though, to keep the effect up, and also because I can’t really drink hot tea during summer.
For boredom induced cravings for sweets: Sweet teas with stevia
I’m honestly not a fan of sugar replacements, such as stevia. (Though, you do you, obviously.) But in this case, I like to use it anyway. There is a series of (admittedly terribly artificial) teas that I like, and use to appease my brain when it’s bored and wants candy. (You know the mood.)
Obviously, drinking some sweet tea is way better than eating an entire bar of chocolate. So this can be seriously helpful in surviving these cravings.
Personally, I love working teas into my ADHD management, because the process of brewing and drinking them makes it feel meaningfull and almost ritualistic. Which is great for ADHD brains, because structure. But also, I like having these little moments that allow me to give meaning to certain parts of my life. I feel like, having a hyperactive brain, I often just don’t get a chance to do that, because I’m hardly really in the present, mentally speaking. Boiling water, pouring it on the tea and letting it steep, while it starts smelling of the ingredients just offers lots of chances to “be in the moment”, to consciously feel, see, and smell what is happening. That way, it becomes meaningful to me, and by assigning that meaning to specific parts of my life, like sleep, relaxation, or waking up, I can use these teas to manage my ADHD.
Do you have any teas that you use to manage your symptoms? Tell me about it in the comments!
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