There is a lot of interest in using alternative medicine to treat ADHD. A lot of people have problems with the commonly prescribed stimulants such as Ritalin or Alderall so they are looking for other treatments.
One alternative approach to treating ADHD has relied on the use of
Compound Herbal Preparations (CHP) derived from traditional
Chinese medicine. Practitioners of this approach believe that
such preparations have important cognitive enhancing properties
because they supply essential nutrients, fatty acids,
phospholipids, amino acids, B vitamins, minerals, and other
micronutrients that are important for optimal brain growth and
development. As a treatment for ADHD, the idea is that many
individuals with ADHD have deficiencies in essential nutrients
that compromise healthy brain development and result in ADHD
symptoms. Providing these nutrients via an appropriately prepared
herbal compound thus has the potential to be therapeutic and
reduce these symptoms.
Active ingredients in the CHP — brand name Nurture &
Clarity — included Paeoniae Alba, Withania Somnifera, Centella
Asiatica, Spirulina Platensis, Bacopa Monieri, and Mellissa
Officinalis. All raw herbs used in the preparing the compound were
approved by the Israeli Ministry of Health as safe, food-grade herbs.
At the follow-up assessment, data was obtained on 73 of 80 children
who received the CHP compared to only 19 of 40 who received placebo.
The significantly greater drop-out rate among placebo-treated
children reflected the greater number of parents who were not
satisfied with their child’s response and who withdrew to pursue
Results from the TOVA were analyzed in 2 primary ways. First,
within each group, researchers tested whether there was significant
improvement from pre-test to post-test. Then, they directly compared
CHP vs. placebo differences controlling for age and sex. Because
preliminary analyses indicated that results were consistent
across different ADHD subtypes, i.e., inattentive,
hyperactive-impulsive, and combined, children with each subtype were
combined in all analyses.
The active ADHD herbs in Nurture and Clarity include an herb called
Brahmi. Bacopa or Brahmi is a very old, often used, trusted and
respected herb in ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. It is
used in India by families to help their children excel in school and is
often taken as a tea before important exams. It is available on Ebay in
a product called Mentat that has been studied extensively in clinical
trials in India and found to help with attention. Studies documenting
the effectiveness of Mentat for cognitive function can be found on the Himalayan Herbal Site.
Lemon balm was also part of the ADHD herbal medicine. Lemon balm acts as
a relaxing or calming agent. It is available in stores as lemon balm
Lemon balm works because it is thought to be a potent inhibitor of GABA
transaminase. This GABA transaminase has been found to be elevated in
people with hyperactive ADHD.
The herbal ADHD supplement in the study also included Paeoniae Alba, or white peony. This is also available as
White Peony tea.
According to the study Paeoniae Alba works by improving the information
transfer function of the cholinergic neuron synapses, and enhancing
Nurture and Clarity contains Spirulina, also known as blue-green algae.
This substance is rich in essential fatty acids, B vitamins, many other
vitamins, zinc, and all the essential amino acids. The researchers of
the Nurture and Clarity study reported that, " Preliminary evidence
supports the idea that supplementation with these nutrients may help to
ameliorate ADHD". It is available in stores and can be taken in
tablet and powder form.
The other herbs for ADHD in Nurture and Clarity included Centella
Asiatica or Gotu Kola. This herb in other studies has demonstrated
increased neurite elongation, dendritic growth, and improved learning
The last main ADHD herb in the product is called Wathania somnifera. It is also known as ashwagandha
or Indian Ginseng. This herb has been shown to normalize the HPA axis
and the neuroendocrine system and to increase acetylcholine receptor
capacity and acetyl cholinesterase (AChE) inhibitory activity according
to the Nurture and Clarity study. Remember from the earlier post on
cortisol that folks with ADHD may have a faulty neuroendocrine response
that may be a cause of ADHD symptoms. It is generally taken in