ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
High Birth Weight Doubles Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
A Winning Strategy to Beat Spring Sporting Injuries
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
CANCER
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Breast Self-Exam Rates Go Up With Counseling
CAREGIVING
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
With Age Comes Greater Risk of Hypothermia
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Vitamin D Vital for the Heart
Go Healthy, Not Hungry for Holiday Eating
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Clear Skies Have Become Less So Over Time, Data Show
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
EYE CARE, VISION
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
FITNESS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Healthy Living Adds Years to Life
Autumn Chores Often Hazardous
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
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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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