Microsoft word - adhd, which herbs are beneficial
: ADHD, which herbs are beneficial?.
: ActivMind Research Team
: This article reviews the current evidence for herbs and plant extracts that show
any benefits when used as alternative therapies for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
or ADHD in Children. Herbal and natural remedies range from Standardized Plant
Extracts such as BE55, Sedative Herbs, Kava, Gingko Biloba and St. John’s Wort. Whilst
scientific studies have been conducted in various mental disorders, reliable studies in
ADHD are few. The current evidence points to Standardized Plant Extracts as a potential
natural alternative for ADHD in children.
Herbal remedies have been used for a long time for their sedative or anti-anxietyproperties as well as their possible enhancement of memory and cognition. Some of thedifficulties in assessing the potential of some of these natural alternative treatments forADHD include:
1. The lack of good scientific studies2. The lack of standardization and dosing3. Comparison with conventional medicines in clinical setting are rare
However, this article attempts to list some of these natural herbal alternatives and thecurrent evidence.
Standardized Plant Extracts
Standardization of herbs or plant extracts is important for comparing herbal therapy withconventional medicines. Standardization is also important for the delivery of the correctdose in a consistent manner, especially in children.
BE55 is one such standardized plant extract. Scientific research has shown that
BE55 enhances the cholinergic nerve transmitter system that is associated withimproved memory. BE55 also increases blood circulation and oxygenation ofbrain cells. Clinical studies in children showed an improvement in learning tasks.
As a natural supplement, BE55 showed significant improvements in logicalmemory in elderly with age associated memory impairment. BE55 helps improveprotein activity and protein synthesis, especially in brain cells, which can helpdecrease brain ageing. BE55 aids in repair of damaged nerve cells and improvesnerve function.
In a study conducted in 36 children in the 8-10-year age group were selected for a
double-blind, randomized trial. While 19 were given 50 mg of BE55 twice daily,17 others received placebo. After 12 weeks of treatment, the children weresubjected to a battery of specialized tests. The data revealed a significant
improvement in the areas of sentence repetition, logical memory, and pair-associative learning (matching things that go together; e.g., "test" and "grade") inall 19 ADHD children who took BE55. Evaluation did not occur until four weeksafter withdrawal from BE55 usage, indicating that it had a lasting effect. Therewere no side effects reported (1).
Sedative herbs are quite popular because of the frequency of sleep problems in childrenwith ADHD (2). The most popular sedative herbs include chamomile (3), lemon balm,valerian, passion flower and hops.
Herbal teas, which contain chamomile, spearmint, lemon grass, and other herbs &flowers are considered to be a safe and effective way to help a child relax.
Chamomile has been widely used in children and adults for thousands of years fora variety of health conditions. However, their chronic use because of stress shouldbe considered as a possible sign that the child has an underlying problem thatneeds to be addressed (4). Some cases have been reported of diminished ironabsorption, atopic dermatitis and allergies in children with hay fever (3).
Valerian has long been used for sleep disorders and anxiety. Valerian has beenshown to be more effective than placebo in improving sleep in clinicalrandomized trials with adults (5). However, to date there have been no controlledtrials to evaluate valerian in pediatric sleep problems or ADHD. Studies suggestthat valerian is generally safe to use for short periods of time (for example, 4 to 6weeks). Valerian can cause mild side effects, such as headaches, dizziness, upsetstomach, and tiredness the morning after its use. The use of valerian and lemonbalm combinations has been studied in randomized controlled trials in adults withsleep disorders and insomnia with positive results and without daytime sedationor rebound phenomena (6). Lemon balm has not been studied in children withsleep disorders or ADHD.
Passion flower is used to treat insomnia in adults (7). In combination withvalerian, it has been shown in a randomized controlled trial to benefit patientswith adjustment disorders and anxious mood. Hypersensitivity vasculitis andaltered consciousness have been reported.
Hops is used as a mild sedative and/or hypnotic agent, but there are no clinicalstudies of its use for insomnia or anxiety disorders. Allergy and disruption ofmenstrual cycles have been reported (7).
Kava has been used to help people fall asleep and fight fatigue. Kava is alsoreputed to have anti-anxiety, sedative and muscle relaxant properties, withoutadverse effects on cognitive function or mental acuity. Several clinical trialssuggest that kava lactones may be useful in managing anxiety and tension (8).
There are no clinical trials about the use of kava in ADHD. Kava use has been
associated with side effects that include an itchy, scaly rash (kava dermopathy),muscle weakness, coordination problems and serious liver dysfunction. A safetyassessment conducted by Health Canada resulted in a stop-sale order issued inAugust 2002 for all products containing kava (9).
Ginkgo biloba is commonly used for peripheral vascular disease, cerebralischemia
vasoregulating activity, platelet activating factor antagonism, changes in neuronmetabolism, and free-radical scavenging properties (10). Today, people useginkgo leaf extracts hoping to improve memory; to treat or help preventAlzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. Because of promising effects onadult cognition, concentration and memory (11), ginkgo formulations are used fortreating ADHD, but no clinical studies have been reported. Side effects includeheadache, dizziness, palpitations, gastrointestinal upset and allergic skin reactions(10). Ginkgo should not be used with anticoagulants or antiplatelet agents (suchas acetylsalicylic acid) and should be avoided in patients with bleeding disorders(10).
Blue-green algae are a source of B-complex vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium,magnesium and all 22 amino acids (4). There are no clinical trials of blue-greenalgae in ADHD. Algae may get contaminated by microbes, heavy metals, sewageand animal feces. Moreover, some species produce their own toxins. Main sideeffects include nausea, diarrhea, weakness, numbness and tingling (12).
St John’s Wort
St. John's wort has been used for centuries to treat mental disorders and nervepain. St John’s wort is used as a herbal antidepressant, and a recent meta-analysisshowed that it was as effective as standard antidepressants, with fewer side effects(13). Recent reports have suggested that there are interactions with variousprescribed drugs such as theophylline, warfarin, cyclosporine and oralcontraceptives (14).
A recent study published in 2008, showed no additional benefit beyond that ofplacebo for treating symptoms of ADHD (15)
1. The Times of India, March 29, 1998.
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3. Berry M. The chamomiles. Pharm J. 1995;254:191–3.
4. Chan E, Gardiner P, Kemper KJ. “At least it’s natural.”. Herbs and dietary supplements inADHD. Contemp Pediatr. 2000;17:116–30.
5. Lindhal O, Lindwall L. Double blind study of a valerian preparation. Pharmacol BiochemBehav. 1989;32:1065–6.
6. Dressing H, Riemann D. Insomnia: Are valerian/Melissa combinations of equal value tobenzodiazepine? Therapiewoche. 1992;42:726–36.
7. Wong AHC, Smith M, Boon HS. Herbal remedies in psychiatric practice. Arch Gen Psychiatry.
8. Volz HP, Kieser M. Kava-kava extract WS 1940 vs. Placebo in anxiety disorders – Arandomized placebo-controlled 25-week outpatient trial. Pharmacopsychiatry. 1997;30:1–5.
10. Kleijnen J, Knipschild P. Ginkgo biloba. Lancet. 1992;340:1136–9.
11. Hornig M. Ginkgo biloba for attention and memory disorders. Alt Med Alert. 1998;1:137–9.
12. NCAHF Growing concerns over blue-green algae. National Council Against Health FraudNewsletter. 1996;1:1.
13. Linde K, Ramirez G, Mulrow CD, Pauls A, Weidenhammer W, Melchart D. St John’s wort fordepression – An overview and meta-anlysis of randomized clinical trials. BMJ. 1996;313:253–8.
14. Ernst E. Second thoughts about safety of St John’s wort. Lancet. 1999;354:2014–5.
15. Weber W, Vander Stoep A, McCarty RL, et al. Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) forAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity
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