ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Healthy adults have potential autoimmune disease-causing cells
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
CANCER
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
Family History Key Player in Brain Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Distance No Bar to Kidney Transplants in Remote Areas
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
DIABETES
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
DIET, NUTRITION
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
For Fitness, Cutting Calories May Not Be Enough
TV Food Ads Promote Bad Diets
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Global Warming May Bring More Respiratory Woes
U.S. Diet Needs Heart-Felt Overhaul
Global Warming Biggest Health Threat of 21st Century, Experts Say
EYE CARE, VISION
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
FITNESS
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Eat Light - Live Longer
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
The Yearly Flu Shot Debate
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
The Unmedicated Mind
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
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St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- St. John's wort isn't effective for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, a new study finds.

Published in the June 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study compared St. John's wort to a placebo in children aged 6 to 17 and found the herb wasn't any more effective than the placebo.

"To my knowledge, this is the first placebo-controlled study of St. John's wort for ADHD. We believed that some parents were using it to treat their children, and there was a potentially plausible biological mechanism, so we went into the study not knowing what we were going to find," said study author Wendy Weber, a research associate professor in the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Wash.

But, said Weber, "in our study, a pretty standard dose of St. John's wort didn't provide benefit."

She added that most herbal supplements, and especially St. John's wort, have the potential to interact with other medications, which is why it's important to consult your child's doctor before trying anything new. In the case of St. John's wort, said Weber, it increases the metabolism of other drugs.

Previous studies of St. John's wort in children with depression have had mixed results, according to the study. The herb has been found to affect the metabolism of the brain chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. A medication (buproprion hydrochloride) sometimes used to treat ADHD, though not FDA-approved for that purpose, acts in a similar manner on these chemicals.

Because there appeared to be a potential biological explanation for the use of St. John's wort in ADHD, and because the authors suspected that parents were already using the drug for that purpose, they designed a small randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of St. John's wort.

Fifty-four children between the ages of 6 and 17 who met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD were recruited for the study. During the first week, all of the children were given a placebo, and none were allowed to take ADHD medications. Those who had been taking prescription medications underwent a "washout" period before the start of the study to make sure they had no medication left in their bodies.

After the initial placebo period, half of the group was given 300 milligrams of St. John's wort or a placebo three times daily for eight weeks.

The researchers found no statistically significant differences between the groups.

Funding for the study was provided by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

"This was an extraordinarily good study that highlights the need for parents to be as critical of complementary and alternative medicines as they are about conventional medicines," said the author of an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal, Dr. Eugenia Chan, director of the ADHD Program at the Developmental Medicine Center at Children's Hospital Boston.

"Parents are typically very leery of stimulant medications, whereas with some of the herbs and dietary supplements, which we don't necessarily know what the side effects are, parents have a harder time being critical. It may be that because they're herbs or supplements, they're not equated with medication or that they seem natural, and natural must mean safer," Chan said.

"The evidence is definitely lagging far behind the interest," said Chan, who added that may be why some physicians are leery of alternative therapies, because without studies, it's difficult for them to weigh the risks and benefits of a treatment.

Chan said that it's important to keep your child's physician well-informed about any therapies they're using because of the potential for adverse interactions.

"If a family is very interested in using alternative and complementary medicine, it's very important to find a physician who will work with them," Chan advised.

More information

To learn more about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, visit the National Institute of Mental Health.



SOURCES: Wendy Weber, N.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., research associate professor, School of Naturopathic Medicine, Bastyr University, Kenmore, Wash.; Eugenia Chan, M.D., M.P.H., instructor, pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, assistant in medicine, and director, ADHD Program at the Developmental Medicine Center, Children's Hospital Boston; June 11, 2008, Journal of the American Medical Association

Last Updated: June 11, 2008

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