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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

ATTENTION-DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER

St. John's wort may not affect symptoms.

THE QUESTION Parents of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder sometimes seek alternative treatments if medication doesn't adequately relieve symptoms or causes unwanted side effects. Might one common choice, St. John's wort, provide relief?

THIS STUDY randomly assigned 54 youths, 6 to 17 years old, with ADHD to take St. John's wort (hypericum 0.3 percent, 300 milligrams) or a placebo three times a day. No other ADHD medications were allowed. After eight weeks, both groups had recorded, on average, about a three-point improvement (on a 54-point standardized scale) in inattentiveness and hyperactivity. Side effects such as nausea and headaches also occurred at essentially the same rate among those who did and did not take the herb.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Young people with ADHD. About 2 million children in the United States have the disorder, which often is treated with stimulants, to decrease hyperactivity and impulsive behavior and to increase attention, as well as with behavioral therapy.

CAVEATS Different preparations of St. John's wort may not yield the same results. Children and parents were paid up to $75 each for participating in the study. The herbal preparation used in the study was provided by Vital Nutrients Inc., its maker.

FIND THIS STUDY June 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ADHD at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health. Learn about St. John's wort at http://www.nccam.nih.gov.


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© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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