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Complementary and Alternative Medicine use in Pediatric Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Reviewing the Safety and Efficacy of Herbal Medicines

Abstract

Natural health products (NHPs), including herbal medicines, are a modality of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) commonly used by pediatric patients with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Most families of pediatric patients find NHP treatment to be beneficial; however, clinical evidence of efficacy remains weak or lacking. Evidence of herbal medicine safety is similarly scarce, particularly with respect to herb-drug interactions and adverse events (AEs) associated with concurrent use of NHPs and ADHD prescription drugs. To support both families and physicians managing ADHD care, this review focuses on integrating available data on the safety and efficacy of herbal medicines commonly used by pediatric ADHD patients. In addition to reviewing results from clinical trials, patient surveys, and experimental studies relating to commonly used herbal medicines, the paper discusses adverse event reports involving concurrent use of herbs and ADHD drugs, identified through the FDAble database. While NHP and other CAM offer patients alternative treatment options with potential benefits as well as risks, additional research is needed to support open discussion and evidence-based decision making by families and physicians.

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Correspondence to Cory S. Harris.

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Hajra Mazhar, Emerson F. Harkin, Brian C. Foster, and Cory S. Harris declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Mazhar, H., Harkin, E.F., Foster, B.C. et al. Complementary and Alternative Medicine use in Pediatric Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Reviewing the Safety and Efficacy of Herbal Medicines. Curr Dev Disord Rep 3, 15–24 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40474-016-0074-x

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Keywords

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
  • Natural health products (NHPs)
  • Herbal medicines
  • Adverse events (AEs)
  • Herb-drug interactions
  • Efficacy
  • Pediatric