Can St Johns Wort Help With Adhd
- Attention Problems and ADHD
- Can St. Johns Wort Help with ADHD?
ADHD is a relatively common diagnosis marked by hyperactivity, behaviour problems, and inability to focus or complete a task. Its 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 is used is a herbal treatment known as St. Johns wort, available from local health food stores. St. Johns wort has received attention in the past for its possible role in treating depression. Does St. Johns wort also help for ADHD?
Although some, but not all, studies have shown that St. Johns wort is as effective as standard anti-depressant medications, at least from this study, it doesnt appear to be effective for treatment of ADHD. This is disappointing in light of parental concern about using prescription medications for ADHD treatment.
Although St. Johns wort would have been an appealing natural alternative with its lack of significant side effects, theres no documented evidence that it works and this controlled study, although small, found no benefit.
How Should I Take St John’s Wort
When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.
If you choose to use St. John’s wort, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.
Do not use different forms of St. John’s wort at the same time without medical advice. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose.
Take St. John’s wort in the morning if this product causes you to have trouble sleeping.
Do not take topical St. John’s wort by mouth. Topical forms of this product are for use only on the skin.
St. John’s wort may increase your risk of serious heart complications or other problems during surgery. If you need surgery, stop taking St. John’s wort at least 2 weeks ahead of time.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. Exposure to light can make St. John’s wort inactive.
It May Be As Effective As Antidepressants
There is strong evidence to support the use of St. Johns wort in the treatment of depression.
In 2016, an in-depth review of 35 studies examined these effects.
It found that St. Johns wort (
- Reduced symptoms of mild and moderate depression more than a placebo
- Reduced symptoms to a similar extent as prescription antidepressants
- Appeared to have fewer side effects than prescription antidepressants
- Doesnt seem to reduce sex drive, a common side effect of antidepressants
However, there was a lack of research on its effects on severe depression.
Another recent analysis looked at 27 studies comparing the effects of St. Johns wort and antidepressant medication. It showed that St. Johns wort had effects similar to those of antidepressants on mild to moderate depression.
It also found fewer people stopped taking St. Johns wort during the studies, compared to antidepressants. This could be due to its fewer side effects .
Furthermore, in one controlled study, 251 people who took 9001,800 mg of St. Johns wort for six weeks experienced a 56.6% decrease in their depression score, compared to a 44.8% decrease in those on antidepressants .
Lastly, another controlled study in 241 people taking either St. Johns wort or an antidepressant found that 68.6% of people experienced a reduction in symptoms with St. Johns wort, compared to 70.4% of those on an antidepressant .
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St John’s Wort No Help For Adhd
A popular herbal remedy for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children actually does little to improve symptoms of the disease, according to a new study. Researchers at Bastyr University in Washington state report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that St. John’s wort, a commonly used botanical to treat depression, does not help children with ADHD to concentrate or curb hyperactivity any more than a rice-protein placebo over an eight-week period. It’s the first such study to tackle the question of St. John’s wort’s effectiveness against ADHD in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.
Led by Wendy Weber, a naturopathic physician at Bastyr, the group decided to study St. John’s wort after the Food and Drug Administration approved atomoxetine an agent that keeps nerve endings in the brain flooded with the neurotransmitter norepinephrine for treating ADHD in children. They knew from previous studies that at least one of St. John’s wort’s active ingredients, hyperforin, has the same effect on brain neurons, and speculated, as have other proponents of alternative therapies, that the botanical might help to relieve symptoms of ADHD without a prescription. But among the 54 children between six and 17 years old involved in the study, those receiving 900 mg of St. John’s wort daily were no better off than those not receiving the treatment when it came to controlling hyperactivity and improving mental focus.
St John’s Wort Fails To Help Kids With Adhd In Study
Children and teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder fared no better on St. John’s wort than they did on dummy pills in a government study, another blow for herbal supplements.
St. John’s wort, pine bark extract and blue-green algae are among commonly used herbal treatments for children with ADHD. They appeal to parents who want to avoid stimulants like Ritalin and other drugs used to help children control their behavior.
ADHD affects more than 4.4 million children, according to government estimates.
But unlike prescription drugs, supplements are only loosely regulated by the government and their makers don’t have to prove they are safe or effective.
“Do an Internet search, and you’ll find a wide variety of herbal products marketed for ADHD,” said lead author Wendy Weber of Bastyr University’s School of Naturopathic Medicine in suburban Seattle. “I’ve found there is very little research on the majority of products out there.”
Weber, working with colleagues at Harvard University and the University of Washington, focused on St. John’s wort because studies in rats found it increases brain chemicals like norepinephrine, which is thought to help focus attention.
Weber reasoned that St. John’s wort might work the same way as the prescription drug Strattera, approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat ADHD. Strattera makes norepinephrine more available in the brain.
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How To Take St Johns Wort
St. Johns wort comes in many forms, including tablets, capsules, teas, extracts and oils for the skin.
The standard strength is 0.3% hypericin .
But given that the FDA does not recognize it as a drug, it is not regulated as such and products can vary greatly in strength.
This makes accurate dosing difficult to determine, but most studies on St. Johns wort and depression have used a dose of 300 mg three times a day .
Capsules or tablets seem to allow for more accurate dosing. Buying it from a reputable source can further ensure accurate dosing.
Accurate dosing can be difficult to determine. The standard strength is 0.3% hypericin, while the standard dose for depression is 300 mg taken three times a day.
What Is The Most Important Information I Should Know About St John’s Wort
Many drugs can interact with St. John’s wort, and serious drug interactions can occur when certain medicines are used at the same time. Do not take St. John’s wort without medical advice if you regularly use other medicines.
Avoid exposure to sunlight while taking St. John’s wort. This product can make you sunburn more easily.
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Dosage And How To Use
St. Johns wort can be obtained from your local health food store in many forms, including capsules, tablets, tinctures, teas and oil-based skin lotions. You can also find St. Johns wort in chopped or powdered forms.
Most products are standardized to contain 0.3 percentage hypericin, but make sure to read the label before making your purchase. Herbal supplements arent regulated, so you need to make sure you take the right product for your needs.
How long does it take for St. Johns wort to work? Know that you will not feel an immediate response. It generally takes a few weeks to several months to feel the benefits of St. Johns wort, so be patient and do not increase your dose without consulting your doctor first.
Most studies on St. Johns wort have been conducted in adults, but one study involving more than 100 children under the age of 12 indicated that St. Johns wort may be a safe and effective way of treating mild to moderate symptoms of depression in children.
If you are thinking about giving your child St. Johns wort to treat depression, you should absolutely consult with a medical supervisor first. Children being treated with St. Johns wort must be carefully monitored for allergic reactions and side effects, such as diarrhea and upset stomach.
What Should I Discuss With My Health Care Provider Before Taking St John’s Wort
Many drugs can interact with St. John’s wort, and serious drug interactions can occur when certain medicines are used at the same time. Do not take St. John’s wort without medical advice if you regularly use other medicines, especially
- an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medicine
- asthma or allergy medicine
- ulcer medicine, or stomach acid reducers to treat heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease .
Ask a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider if it is safe for you to use this product if you have:
- severe depression, or bipolar disorder
- schizophrenia or other mental illness
- Alzheimer’s dementia or
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, especially if you take methylphenidate .
St. John’s wort may harm an unborn baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are pregnant.
St. John’s wort can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using non hormonal birth control to prevent pregnancy.
St. John’s wort may affect fertility . You should not use this product if you are trying to get pregnant.
St. John’s wort may pass into breast milk and may cause unwanted effects in a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.
St. John’s wort should not be given to a child younger than 6 years old. St. John’s wort is thought to be possibly safe for children ages 6 to 17 years old when taken for up to 8 weeks.
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Use In Children Vs Adults
Studies that look at how a medication works for adults can’t always be used to show how it would work in children. There are many factors that determine how a medication or supplement might affect a child, and it’s not necessarily as simple as giving them a lower dose of a drug because they are smaller than an adult.
One example of this phenomenon is the use of prescription antidepressant medications in children. A potential danger of antidepressant use in people under the age of 25 is an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior. While the side effect is uncommon, it was significant enough that the FDA put a black box warning on all prescription antidepressants.
It’s unclear if natural and herbal supplements could carry the same risk. But if St. John’s wort can alter neurotransmitters in a way that’s similar to how antidepressant medications work, the question would be of valid concern for researchers, medical professionals, alternative medicine practitioners, and anyone considering using it.
It’s important to remember that a diagnosis of depression alone is associated with a higher risk of suicide, regardless of treatment. If someone you love is depressed, make sure you know the warning signs of suicide.
If your child is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
What The Research Says About Use In Children
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that the research on St. John’s wort has provided inconsistent results and therefore it doesn’t consider it to be an effective treatment for depression.
However, there have been studies that appear to demonstrate St. John’s wort’s potential effectiveness for treating depressive symptoms in adults, both when compared to a placebo and prescription depression medications such as Zoloft .
When used appropriately, St. John’s wort may be comparable to serotonin reuptake inhibitors in effectiveness and safety for treating depression in adults. However, the use of St. John’s wort for depression in children has not been well-studied.
There have not been many studies specifically assessing the use of St. John’s wort in the treatment of childhood depression.
A study from 2003 included boys between the ages of 6 and 16 found that of the 33 youths in the study, 25 met response criteria after taking St. John’s wort for 8 weeks and didn’t have any major side effects from taking the herb. This data is promising, but doesn’t compare St. John’s wort with placebo. Another study in 2005 found that some adolescents with mild depression might benefit from using St. John’s wort. However, the study did not look specifically at improvement of depressive systems as an outcome variable.
In both studies, the researchers noted the need for additional research to support the findings, particularly with placebo-controlled trials.
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Do I Need A Prescription
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration considers St. Johns wort a dietary supplement and does not approve it for use as a medication.
Therefore, St. Johns wort is available over-the-counter in the U.S. and in many other countries. In some countries such as Ireland, however, a person needs a prescription to get it.
Here are a few common questions about St. Johns wort.
St John’s Wort Side Effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives difficult breathing swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Although not all side effects are known, St. John’s wort is thought to be likely safe when taken by an adult for up to 12 weeks, or by a child age 6-17 for up to 8 weeks. St. John’s wort may be unsafe when taken in large doses.
Stop using St. John’s wort and call your healthcare provider at once if you have:
severe skin rash or irritation
severe sunburn after being outdoors or
Common side effects of St. John’s wort may include:
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
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St Johns Wort Fails To Improve Adhd
KENMORE, Wash. St. Johns wort failed to improve attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms in a recent randomized control trial at Bastyr University :2633-2641). The trial was conducted between March 2005 and Aug. 2006 among a volunteer sample of 54 children, aged 6 to 17 years, who met criteria for ADHD. After a placebo run-in phase for one week, participants were randomly assigned to receive 300 mg of H. perforatumstandardized to 0.3% hypericin, or a matched placebo three times daily for eight weeks. Other ADHD medications were not allowed during the trial. No significant difference was found in the change in ADHD Rating Scale-IV scores from baseline to week eight between treatment and placebo groups: inattentiveness improved 2.6 points within the h. perforatum group vs. 3.2 points with the placebo group hyperactivity improved 1.8 points vs. 2.0 points in the placebo group . There was also no difference between the two groups in the percentage of participants who met criteria for improvement on the Clinical Global Impression Improvement Scale or the number of participants who experienced adverse effects during the study period.Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association commented on the studys findings: The degradation of the product to less than half the amount of the marker compound means the quality of this product was seriously impaired by the end of the study. Overall, this is a study of an uncommon use of St. Johns
Proven St Johns Wort Uses And Health Benefits
1. Works as an Antidepressant
Many studies show that St. Johns wort may help fight mild to moderate depression and anxiety and has fewer side effects than most other prescription antidepressants, such as loss of sex drive. However, there are St. Johns wort drug interactions, so the herb should be taken only under the guidance of a healthcare professional, especially if you already take medications for depression.
In a 2017 meta-analysis including 27 clinical trials and over 3,800 patients, researchers concluded that St. Johns wort has comparable efficacy and safety to SSRIs. Studies show that St. Johns wort uses seem to work as well as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , a popular type of antidepressant that doctors often prescribe first to treat depression, such as Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft.
Researchers arent exactly sure how St. Johns wort works for depression some have suggested that the herb acts similar to a SSRI because it makes more serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine available in the brain. These neurotransmitters help improve your mood and can be responsible for treating symptoms of depression.
In studies using the rat forced swimming test, an animal model of depression, St Johns wort extracts induced a significant reduction of immobility. In other experimental models of depression, including acute and chronic forms of escape deficit induced by stressors, St Johns wort extract was shown to protect rats from the consequences of unavoidable stress.
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