Coffee Inattentive ADHD Treatment

Coffee is the mainstay of treatment for the inattentive symptoms that run rampant in our house. This is an amazing drug that has been around for years. Coffee has been recently shown to reduce your risk of developing both Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. There are even scientific reports stating that there are fewer patients with Inattentive ADHD symptoms in South America because both adults and children drink lots of coffee in this part of the world!!

Research studies show that caffeine helps with working memory as well as with maintaining focus. It is thought that caffeine blocks Adenosine receptors in your body and stimulates the production of adrenaline and dopamine. Common Inattentive ADHD medications work by stimulating the production of dopamine. A recent study from the Journal Brain Cognition published in September of this year found that caffeine improved alerting and executive control functioning in a dose-response manner. The best results were obtained using a dose of 400mg.

The adrenaline and dopamine actions of caffeine have been well documented but the Adenosine blocking effects are less well studied. A recent review of studies on Adenosine and caffeine confirmed that caffeine (a nonselective adenosine receptor antagonist) and selective adenosine A2A receptor antagonists can improve memory performance in rodents evaluated through different tasks. These studies confirm the positive roll that caffeine can play in the Inattentive ADHD treatment.

Caffeine is present in many drinks available today. A 5 oz cup of ground brewed coffee contains 85 mg of caffeine, instant coffee contains 60 mg, and Decaf coffee contains 3 mg. A 5 oz cup of black or green tea contains about 30 mg of caffeine. Cola’s have about 18 mg of caffeine per 6 oz serving, and a can of Red Bull contains 80 mg of caffeine. You can find a link with the different caffeine amounts in different drinks and food here:

Caffeine is considered safe in doses as high as 400mg for adults and 250mg for children. I have found it to be a life saver for my primarily inattentive son and I.

You can support this site by buying coffee from this great coffee website.

Brain Cogn. 2009 Sept Caffeine Modulates attention network function, Brunye TT, Mahoney CR, Lieberman HR, Taylor HA


  1. I'm curious. Did you try any of the stimulants prior to coffee? I'm in the position of managing my 13 year old son and my own ADHD-PI. Stimulants have been suggested for both of us and I am wondering if we could manage with coffee like you. Would love to compare notes in the event you wanted to share privately. Thanks for a great blog with thought provoking posts!

  2. This is so interesting! I am going to try this for my 7 year old son with ADHD-PI this week at school. I read a website that said to brew a cup of flavored coffee. Mix it with ice in a blender and add 15-20 grams of protein powder. (I will try chocolate flavor) and make a shake. It says that the caffiene helps the focusing and the protein wakes the brain up. I will have one for myself also. The teacher wants me to put him on medication (his pediatrician gave me a script for Vyvanse)but I cannot get myself to do it after reading reviews. I posted a comment under inattentive ADHD as anonomous if you want to know about Thomas. I will post and let everyone know my findings!

  3. This is very interesting to read. We had been trying, off and on, using red bull/mountain dew-type drinks to see if the caffeine would help. We stopped because we felt like our son was exhibiting signs of overstimulation -- when actually it was the result of Vyvanse!

    We will try the caffeine again to see how helpful it is.

    Is it 400 mg for adults/250 mg for children PER DAY?

  4. One cup of brewed coffee lasts about 5 hours and has about 100mg caffeine. This is a good dose for a 75 pound child. An adult would need two cups every 5 hours or so. Thanks for commenting and for visiting! Tess

  5. This is interesting and I will give it a try. My main problem has to do with selective attention and primarily my inability to keep distracting thoughts at bay (internal distractability). If you share this problem then I would be interested to know if you feel that caffeine helps you with this. Thanks!

  6. I am not sure what you mean by selective attention. If you mean that you pay attention when you have to but get distracted when you are selecting what to pay attention to then yes, I have this as well and coffee helps. Let me know if I got this wrong and thanks for commenting!

  7. Thanks for the excellent information that you're providing on this site. I’m sure you’re helping a lot of people who are looking for answers regarding ADHD. Personally, over two months ago I learned that I have primarily inattentive ADHD and since then I've been researching how I can best treat it naturally. That said, during that time I've been prescribed Adderall to take on a near daily basis and it’s helped considerably. However, my goal is to soon stop taking it because long-term amphetamine use (even if prescribed) won’t cure my ADHD.

    As a result, I've cleaned-up my diet by reducing non-essential carbs, increasing lean proteins, drinking protein powder-mix drinks for snacks, spending more time in the gym, consuming minimal amounts of caffeine, drinking decaf Green/White tea, and becoming better organized.

    Living here in Seattle, ground-zero for Starbucks and coffee-aficionados, I know many people will agree with your comments about how coffee and caffeine minimize ADHD symptoms. I was once one of those people until I learned about the short and long-term physical side-effects from coffee and caffeinated beverages.

    I know that you have the best of intentions for using caffeine as a way to help yourself and your children and for recommending it to others. However, I truly question if using caffeine to minimize ADHD symptoms is going to help in the long-run. One of the problems that people with ADHD have is that their prefrontal cortex does not receive enough blood-flow. And, the caffeine in the coffee constricts blood-flow to the brain by binding to two of the four types of adenosine receptors.
    Though caffeine does boost dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, it stimulates the adrenal glands to pump adrenaline throughout your body --- your body’s natural “fight or flight” chemical --- which can make a person “edgy”. Additionally, this boosts cortisol levels in your body for 12 to 14 hours. Cortisol, a hormone, released by the body during times of stress can be harmful to brain cells, leach calcium from bones (which can lead to osteoporosis & affect a child’s growth), and boost insulin levels in your blood by increasing blood sugar which encourages the storage of excess calories as fat.

    I quit drinking coffee on a regular basis over a year ago and within a week I noticed that I felt more calm, paradoxically possessed more energy, with decreased junk-food cravings, required less sleep & felt more rested when I awoke and, yes, my ability to focus increased. But, that first week without caffeine was TOUGH!!! ! Now I have a cup or two of coffee on the weekends without feeling that I have to have it. That’s a far cry from my former daily consumption of two to three double-tall lattes which I used to make for myself at work using our in-house espresso machine. And, yes, I occasionally miss those days!

    I know what works for one person doesn’t work for another, but it concerns me when I read anyone recommending coffee and caffeinated beverages for children. As the father of a strong, intelligent, creative and beautiful four year old girl, I’m watching for signs that she may have ADHD. If she does have some form of ADHD I don’t understand how giving her any form of caffeine will help her long-term physical, mental and emotional development. Any benefit will be short-lived, will mask her symptoms, and will set her up for addiction to a drug (caffeine). I’d rather work through the issue with diet, exercise, education and organization.

    Though I don’t agree with you on this specific issue, you’re an excellent resource for information regarding primarily inattentive ADHD and I appreciate knowing that I’m not the only one out there dealing with this.

  8. Thanks for you comment. I have found that coffee has helped me tremendously and it is interesting that just yesterday there was a major paper indicating that the health benefits of coffee, in terms of brain anti-oxidant activity and memory are greater that once believed. Coffee is absolutely not for everyone and some people do not get the benefits that I and my son get from it. My son would be on an amphetamine were it not for the coffee and I feel much more comfortable given him coffee. agree with you that it would be preferable to manage his ADHD-PI another way and this summer he is doing a memory and focus program called Attengo. He does not drink coffee when he does not have school. Thanks again for reading and I am glad that you found us and thanks again!!

  9. now i have a child that has adhd. i am fairly new to all this information and i am about to freak out because my daughter is only 5 years old and she has these temper tantrums that are out of this world. no one can calm her. its like she gets mad because she's mad and most of them are in school. i had to pick my daughter up from school like 2-3 days out of a week. she is smart and learns very quickly.i am scared to put her on any medication but the teachers are really concerned about her for this school year. she was seeing a Dr for this and i wasn't able to afford to get her to these appointments. i know she needs to see a dr. for this but how am i suppose to get back and forth. we are in the low income bracket and barely getting bills paid. is there something i can do to make sure she stays calm while she is at school, in the store or just anywhere?

  10. The type of ADHD that causes kids to just lose it and have temper tantrums is usually controlled with the use of classroom accomodations, family accomodations, a healthy diet and medication.

    The school needs to evaluate her and provide her assistance if she is stressing out in the classroom. There is a great book called 'The Explosive Child' that your library system carries that would be really helpful to you. Make sure her diet is not awful (avoid fast food, processed food and sugary drinks)

    Make an appointment with the county health department to get here evaluated by a Pediatrician. The pediatrician can determine if medicine will help and the services should be free if your income is low.

    I know that this is incredibly stressfull !! Hang in there, things do get better. Tess

  11. I am very sceptical that coffee could be beneficial. I am 46 and only a few years ago discovered that Inattentive type ADHD, which I had not heard of before, seemed to explain a hell of a lot about me and why my life has turned out as it has.
    From 19 to about 40 I drank coffee daily, and over those years quite frequently suffered terrible nights of paranoia and insomnia - lying awake at 3am thinking that I had AIDS or cancer, or had infected others with them. Then I gave up coffee and have never had such a night since - except just very occasionally when, tempted by the smell, I 'treated' myself to a cup. Coffee does give you a high, but it's a 'buzzy' inattentive high, where it is even harder to concentrate than it was before. I don't think you should give your kids coffee.

  12. I really am beginning to believe that coffee helps my son and I because we have a specific gene variation that kick our attention in when we are caffeinated. I also am beginning to believe that people without this gene variation will not only NOT be helped by coffee, they may be hindered by it or it may have no effect at all.

    Dr Parker's blog, Core Psychology, speaks a lot about the specific neurotransmitter genetic abnormalities that make one person respond to Ritalin and make another person sick while on Ritalin. That may make one person more attentive while caffeinated and make another person drinking coffee feel as thought they want to 'open a vein'. Coffee is a selective adenosine A2A receptor antagonists that works a bit like the new, non-stimulant drug, Intuniv works. Some people with ADHD-PI have no effect from Intuniv and others have had remarkable improvements.

    The pace is quickening with regards to our understanding of the genetic differences in those of us who have or had ADHD and I believe that as we learn more about these genetic differences we will understand why coffee really helps my son and I but coffee offers you no help at all.

    Thanks so much for your insightful comments. I very much appreciated hearing about your experiences.


  13. Coffee works in the same way other stims do. It inhibits the reuptake of dopamine and increases concentrations in post-synaptic receptors.

    Unfortunately it is also a offers only a temporary boost due to its short half-life. However it can certainly be of great benefit in getting your troops mobilized in the AM and overcoming their morning fog.

  14. "really am beginning to believe that coffee helps my son and I because we have a specific gene variation that kick our attention in when we are caffeinated."

    Be wary of buying into this notion. Until they isolate such a genetic variant (which I can tell you they've tried and haven't succeeded), it's pure speculation as a means of chasing a DRD4 fantasy.

    I chased that wild goose for a while myself. It seemed to dissipate on its own one I adjusted my diet. I happened to love red apples and would eat 3-4 a day - until I realized that they were a bad option due to their skin's permeability to pesticides. I was essentially exacerbating my symptoms with my sweet tooth and now have to buy organic as a result.

    Dr. Mark Hyman is an innovative researcher who remains convinced that the most marked improvement in patients with our symptoms is achieved by making simple dietary adjustments.

    That's been the essential component of my success. I also had such an out-of-control candida problem because of my fructose-rich fruit diet that when my tonsils were removed there were candida growths (thrush) in the extracted soft tissue. This was the cause of about 80% of my sypmtoms. My friend Jenny had the same problem.

    Sorry for the graphic detail, just wanted to offer some insight as to what an epidemic candidaisis is, especially with kids who love sugar. I hope you guys had dinner already - LOL.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.