A review of studies on Chinese herbal formulas used to treat ADHD identified 34 controlled trials (published in Chinese or English language journals) that compared traditional Chinese herbal treatments and methylphenidate (i.e. Ritalin) in children diagnosed with ADHD. The authors concluded that Chinese medicinal herbals were at least as effective as stimulant medication for short-term symptom management and possibly more effective than stimulants over the long-term. Some studies included in the review reported improved response when Chinese medicinal herbals were combined with methylphenidate.
Studies on the effectiveness of Chinese herbals for symptoms of ADHD are limited by poor methodological quality of most studies included in the review, differences in study designs, the likelihood of publication bias, and few long-term studies. In addition, all studies reviewed were conducted in China and included only Chinese subjects, thus positive group expectation may play an important role in treatment response. Large high-quality studies in China and Western countries in ethnically diverse populations are needed to confirm findings before Chinese herbal formulas can be recommended as treatments of ADHD in children.
To learn more about Chinese herbal formulas 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.