ADHD Stimulant Treatment Long Term Benefits

ADHD stimulants are brain antioxidants. That will come as a surprise to many people. The use of stimulants, long term, for ADHD is a concern for patients and parents. The question of whether stimulant use is damaging to the brain is one that is frequently asked. Long term studies have found the stimulants used to treat ADHD to be safe overall and new studies are pointing to possible long term brain benefits from stimulant treatment.

The stimulants improve brain oxygenation and decrease the damage caused by oxygen free radicals in the brain. There is some evidence to suggest that children who take stimulants to treat their ADHD symptoms perform better academically and later in their schooling than kids who are not treated with stimulants. The long term affects of stimulant use with regards to future life outcome measures (such as being gainfully employed as adults, succeeding in college, etc) has not been researched extensively.

There are no long term studies comparing stimulant treatment to other forms of treatment such as behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, supplement therapy, or other interventions but there are at least a few studies that have looked at kids over a 10 year period and concluded that the children that were treated with stimulant therapy achieved better academic results, later in life, than the kids that never received treatment.

The likely biological reason for the improvement in this academic success in youngsters who have been treated with stimulants relates to the stimulant’s ability to improve the brain’s use of oxygen. ADHD Medication act to reduce the oxidative stress on the brain. Several psychiatric and neurological illnesses including schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease have been associated with unfavorable levels of brain oxygen free radicals. It is thought that these oxygen free radicals cause brain DNA damage that, in turn, causes psychiatric and neurologic symptoms.

A study published recently in the Journal of Neural Transmission found that Strattera, the Ritalin (methyphenidate) and the Adderall (amphetamine) family of medications, in the laboratory, can act to significantly decrease an enzyme that indicates high Brain DNA oxidative stress. The authors conclude that Ritalin, Adderall and Strattera help ADHD, at least in part, by decreasing free radical damage to the brain's DNA.

Having a biological basis for the improved outcome seen in people treated, long term, with ADHD medication is important. Many parents and patients, concerned regarding the long term harm that might result from being treated with ADHD medications, may be surprised by these findings as this new information points to just the opposite conclusion, that there may be long term benefits from ADHD medication treatment.

As there are no comparison studies, we do not know if other therapies also decrease the brain's oxidative stress and improve later outcomes for ADHD. Therapies with flavanoids such as Quercetin and Resveratrol have been also shown to decrease oxidative stress in the brain. Other anti-oxidants that have been shown in studies to improve brain function include coenzyme Q10, Ginseng, Ginko-Biloba and dark skinned berries such as cherries and blueberries.

Vitamins may act as anti-oxidants as well. Vitamins C and E, the B vitamins, the Omega-3 fatty acids and zinc have been found to increase cognitive functioning and this may be partly the result of the vitamin's anti-oxidant action. Iron is necessary for proper brain functioning and is an important component of healthy oxygen levels in the brain and has been strongly associated with improved cognitive functioning in people with ADHD.

Supplements such a phosphatidylserine, lemon balm, Bacopa monnieri and vinpocetine may all improve cognitive functioning and may all do so by improving brain oxygenation and by directly or indirectly decreasing the oxygen free radical brain injury.

Stimulants may help the long term outcome of people with ADHD by decreasing oxygen free radical damage to the brain’s DNA. Other therapies may also help but have yet to be studied.  Further research on the outcome of ADHD using various treatment measures is necessary to fully evaluate the risks and benefits of long term stimulant use for ADHD.

Related Post:

Phosphatidylserine Supplement
Bacopa Supplement
Herbs that help ADHD

Thank you for stopping by and giving this webpage a read.  Please support this site by sharing this post, by supporting the sponsors of this site, by shopping at the Amazon Primarily Inattentive ADD Store or shopping at Amazon through my site.  


  1. A recent medical study which I didn't read but read about in the news disproves this pop notion that antioxidants are a great cure for cancer; while this may certainly be true- in excessive amounts as you recommend take fish oil, eat these foods, et cetra can actually CAUSE DAMAGE.
    That is why I always think it is wise to be weary of a recent discovery that currently proves to be benefical to your health because as any scientist or intelligent person knows that definition of truth is constantly changing.
    More to the point your article seems to be entirely of theory and I would sincerely hope anyone reading this would if uncertain NOT DECIDE to take amphetamines for the rest of their life based on this person's theory. In addition to no further studies have shown if adhd can or can't damage the body, the brain, the central nervous system and organs. You have to remember most adhd medications are a medical form of METH, just a "safer" version that still produces the same benefits universally and the same side effects, dangers.

  2. I did not mean to imply that anyone should use stimulants as antioxidants. I feel as though stimulants should be used with great caution and not at all if ANY other ADHD intervention provides symptoms relief. Stimulants are a last resort and should be prescibed with skills based therapy. The patient must be evaluated regularly to determine if the stimulant is still necessary . I am sorry if this post came off sounding like I was recommending stimulants as antioxidant therapy.

    Thanks for keeping me straight!!



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