Food and Behaviour Research

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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and complementary/alternative medicine

Sawni A. (2008) Adolesc Med State Art Rev.  19(2): 313-26, xi. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here


The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has increased both by parents and health care providers. Despite scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of stimulants in the treatment of ADHD, the use of stimulants has received negative publicity and, for many parents, is worrisome. Concerns regarding adverse effects and the prospect of long-term use of pharmacologic treatments make many parents uncomfortable thus they seek "alternative treatments." With the information explosion produced by the Internet, marketing for alternative therapies such as herbal remedies, elimination diets, and food supplements for ADHD has increased.

Many people use CAM because they are attracted to the CAM philosophies and health beliefs, dissatisfied with the process or results of conventional treatments, or concerned about adverse effects of stimulants. Although some scientific evidence exists regarding some CAM therapies, for most there are key questions regarding safety and efficacy of these treatments in children. The aim of this article is to provide a general overview and focus on the evidence-based studies of CAM modalities that are commonly used for ADHD.