Homeopathic treatment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial

Abstract

An increasing number of parents turn to homeopathy for treatment of their hyperactive child. Two publications, a randomised, partially blinded trial and a clinical observation study, conclude that homeopathy has positive effects in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The aim of this study was to obtain scientific evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathy in ADHD. A total of 83 children aged 6–16 years, with ADHD diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV criteria, were recruited. Prior to the randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover study, they were treated with individually prescribed homeopathic medications. 62 patients, who achieved an improvement of 50% in the Conners’ Global Index (CGI), participated in the trial. Thirteen patients did not fulfill this eligibility criterion (CGI). The responders were split into two groups and received either verum for 6 weeks followed by placebo for 6 weeks (arm A), or vice-versa (arm B). At the beginning of the trial and after each crossover period, parents reported the CGI and patients underwent neuropsychological testing. The CGI rating was evaluated again at the end of each crossover period and twice in long-term follow-up. At entry to the crossover trial, cognitive performance such as visual global perception , impulsivity and divided attention, had improved significantly under open label treatment ( P<0.0001). During the crossover trial, CGI parent–ratings were significantly lower under verum (average 1.67 points) than under placebo ( P =0.0479). Long-term CGI improvement reached 12 points (63%, P <0.0001). Conclusion:The trial suggests scientific evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathy in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, particularly in the areas of behavioural and cognitive functions.

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Abbreviations

ADHD :

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

CGI :

Conners’ global index

CPRS :

Conners’ parent rating scale (long form)

CTRS :

Conners teacher rating scale

DSM-IV :

diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders

K-ABC :

Kaufman assessment battery for children

QCB :

questionnaire of change of behaviour

TAP :

test battery for attention performance

VLMT :

German version of the Rey auditory verbal learning test (RAVLT)

WISC-III :

German version of Wechsler intelligence scale for children

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Acknowledgements

We sincerely thank all patients and families who took part in this trial for the enormous amount of time they sacrificed for travelling, testing and treatment sessions as well as for their patience in observing symptoms. Sincere thanks also to Jacqueline Ryffel and her staff at Spagyros for preparing and mailing the medications and placebos to the patients. Many thanks to Martina Frei for her contribution in the starting phase of the study and to Carol Lim for her substantial help in the preparation of the manuscript. This study was financed by grants of the following foundations and institutions: Gertrude von Meissner Foundation, Basel; Software AG Foundation, Darmstadt; Hans Eggenberger Foundation, Zürich; SNE Foundation, Solothurn; Fondation Homéopathie Pierre Schmidt Genève; PanMedion Foundation, Zürich; Spagyros AG, Gümligen; Gudjons Laboratory, Stadtbergen; Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), Berne.

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Correspondence to Maja Steinlin or André Thurneysen.

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Frei, H., Everts, R., von Ammon, K. et al. Homeopathic treatment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial. Eur J Pediatr 164, 758–767 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00431-005-1735-7

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Keywords

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Homeopathy
  • Individualised treatment
  • Randomised double blind trial
  • Treatment effectiveness