Herbal medicines used to treat symptoms of ADHD

Different herbals are used to treat symptoms of ADHD including Ginkgo biloba, American ginseng, Bacopa moniera, and Pycnogenol™, a patented product made from the bark of the French maritime pine tree. Certain herbals probably work better than others. Findings of a small placebo-controlled study suggest that a compound herbal formula containing Ginkgo biloba and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) improves symptoms of ADHD. A plant-derived medicine widely used in Ayurvedic medicine (i.e. the traditional medicine of India) called “Brahmi” (Bacopa monnieri) has general beneficial effects on symptoms similar to those seen in ADHE, however most studies have not been done on individuals actually diagnosed with ADHD. Further, the only placebo-controlled trial done on individuals diagnosed with ADHD failed to show greater benefit of Bacopa over placebo in tests of short-term memory, working memory, executive processing, planning, problem solving and information processing speed.

Preliminary findings from open trials suggest that the extract of French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) bark improve ADHD symptoms. In one placebo-controlled study 61 children and adolescents who were randomly assigned to be treated with a standardized bark extract (Pycnogenol™) 1mg/kg/day for one month experienced significant and sustained improvements in hyperactivity, inattention and visual-motor coordination compared to children taking a placebo. ADHD symptoms returned to pre-treatment levels one month after Pycnogenol was discontinued. Large well-designed studies are needed to replicate these preliminary findings and determine optimal dosing strategies before this botanical extract can be recommended as a first-line treatment of ADHD. In addition to the above herbals, several Chinese medicinal compound herbal formulas are used to treat symptoms of ADHD (see separate blog in this series).

To learn more about herbal medicines and other non-pharmacologic treatments of ADHD and how to use them safely and effectively to treat your ADHD symptoms or those of your child, read my recently published e-book, ADHD–the Integrative Mental Health Solution.

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