Will St. John’s wort Help Children With ADHD?

January 13th, 2009

ADHD is a relatively common diagnosis marked by hyperactivity, behavior problems, and inability to focus or complete a task. It’s thought that up to five percent of children suffer from ADHD with boys being more commonly affected than girls. No one knows exactly what causes this disorder although environmental toxins and a genetic predisposition have both been proposed.

Many parents are reluctant to use prescription medications to treat children with ADHD due to concern about potential side effects. For this reason, many parents have turned to alternative remedies to treat their kids. One such remedy that’s used is a herbal treatment known as St. John’s wort available from local health food stores. St. John’s wort has received attention in the past for its possible role in treating depression. Does St. John’s wort for ADHD work?

St. John’s wort in treating children with ADHD

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this year assessed the role of St. John’s wort in treating children with ADHD. A group of fifty-four children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD were given St. John’s wort or a placebo three times a day for a period of two months. At several points during the study and at the end of the two month period, the children were clinically evaluated for changes in their symptoms as well as to determine any adverse reactions to the herb. Although there were no adverse reactions, the investigators found no improvement in symptoms in the group given St. John’s wort  relative to the placebo group.

St. John’s wort for depression in children

Although some, but not all, studies have shown that St. John’s wort for depression is as effective as standard anti-depressant medications, at least from this study, it doesn’t appear to be effective for treatment of ADHD in children. This is disappointing in light of parental concern about using prescription medications for ADHD treatment.

Conventional drug treatment of St. John’s wort has characteristically included stimulants such as Ritalin and short acting amphetamines such as Dexedrine. Although the majority of children do respond to these medications, side effects can include insomnia, personality changes, and problems with social interactions. Behavioral therapy is also generally used in conjunction with medications.

Although St. John’s wort for ADHD would have been an appealing natural alternative with its lack of significant side effects, there’s no documented evidence that it works and this controlled study, although small, found no benefit. Although there’s been some focus on dietary changes such as limiting sugar as an ADHD treatment, this also hasn’t been proven to be effective. The role of food additives such as preservatives and food coloring has also been proposed to play a role in ADHD symptoms. Limiting processed and packaged foods may be worth a try to see if the symptoms improve.

The bottom line? Disappointingly, there’s no real evidence that St. John’s wort for ADHD treatment works.

Learn more about help for parents with their children’s health at Child n’Parent.

By:   Vanessa Lee

Entry Filed under: Child Health

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Welcome

Calendar

August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Most Recent Posts