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St. John's Wort: No Help for ADHD

This common herbal supplement might affect brain chemicals. It's used to treat depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

But studies don’t recommend using it to treat ADHD. Recent research finds that St. John's wort has no effect on the symptoms of the disorder.

Other Natural Supplements for ADHD

There’s some evidence that certain natural supplements might help. A combo of American ginseng and Ginkgo leaf improved ADHD symptoms in children ages 3 to 17 in one study. More research is needed to confirm the finding, though.

The natural hormone melatonin might also help children with the disorder who take certain ADHD medications. Researchers say it improved sleep problems in these children. But melatonin doesn’t seem to improve ADHD symptoms.

Natural supplements like GABA and inositol aren’t proven to help against symptoms either. Also, experts don’t know if they’re safe.

Some people think ADHD symptoms happen or get worse because of a lack of something in their diets. But the jury is still out on whether any dietary supplements can affect ADHD symptoms.

Some studies, though, suggest that children with ADHD might not have enough iron. One theory is that supplementing with iron may improve symptoms of the disorder, but that hasn’t been proven.

Check with your doctor before you give your child any supplement. Taking too much iron, for instance, can be toxic -- even deadly.

Also check with the doctor before you use any natural supplement. That includes mega-doses of vitamins or minerals. There's a chance they could do more harm than good, and they may cause problems with prescribed medications.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on April 27, 2015
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