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St. John's Wort Is Useless For Treating ADHD

Armen Hareyan's picture

A fascinating bit of research in JAMA came out yesterday in which researchers looked into whether there were benefits to treating kids diagnosed with ADHD with St. John's Wort as opposed to treating them with a placebo.

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The study involved only 54 kids, so it's not what I'd call high-powered statistically. Still, what the lead researchers at Bastyr University (a naturopathic medical school just north of Seattle) found was that on some measures the kids on placebo did better than the kids on St. John's Wort. Overall, there was no advantage to using St. John's Wort, not that I've been hearing a hew-and-cry in American culture to treat ADHD in kids with herbs.

One interesting bit: the last two listed authors on the study are Joe Biederman of Harvard, who has of course been in the news lately and is the godfather of the alleged bipolar child paradigm, and Jon (Jack) McClellan of the University of Washington, who is the chief critic in child psych circles of the alleged bipolar child paradigm. At least they were on opposite coasts for the study.

One commentator to this story said "that's hardly surprising; there's no traditional history of using St. John's Wort for children, nor for ADHD, and I can't think of a scientific rationale for its use either. Do they give any reason for picking that herb? Given how hard it is to get funding for complementary medicine research, it seems a waste of effort to me."