Old and new controversies in the alternative treatment of attention deficit Hyperactivity disorder

Division of General Pediatrics, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews (Impact Factor: 3.8). 04/2005; 11(2):116-30. DOI: 10.1002/mrdd.20064
Source: PubMed


Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has become widespread in both referral and primary care populations. We review the purported mechanism of action and available evidence for selected CAM therapies for ADHD. Enduring controversies, such as elimination of artificial food additives, colors, and/or preservatives; the effect of sugar on behavior in children; and the use of EEG biofeedback, have been well studied but lack support as effective sole treatments for ADHD. The initial evidence for some emerging CAM therapies, such as essential fatty acid supplementation, yoga, massage, homeopathy, and green outdoor spaces, suggests potential benefits as part of an overall ADHD treatment plan. More rigorously designed studies are needed to evaluate their effectiveness as single therapy for ADHD.

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    • "A meta-analysis, conducted 15 years ago, concluded that there was no evidence that sugar ingestion caused hyperactivity or impacted cognitive performance [34]. However, a more recent paper was slightly more equivocal with 25% of studies finding some evidence of increased hyperactivity and inattention following sugar ingestion [33]. A qualification is that parental expectancies appear to play a role in this association. "
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    ABSTRACT: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), characterized by impulsivity, distractibility, and inattention, has an estimated pediatric population prevalence of 6-8%. Family physicians and pediatricians evaluate and treat the majority of children with this condition. The evidence-based treatment of choice for ADHD, stimulant medication, continues to be a source of public controversy. Surveys suggest that among parents of children with ADHD, there is considerable interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). These therapies include herbal preparations, mineral supplements, sugar restriction, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Other AD/HD therapies include neuro-feedback, cognitive training, mindfulness meditation, and exposure to "green space." In order to assist physicians and mental health professionals in responding to patient and parent queries, this paper briefly describes these CAM therapies and current research regarding their effectiveness. While investigations in this area are hampered by research design issues such as sample size and the absence of double-blind placebo-controlled trials, there is some evidence that omega three fatty acids, zinc supplements, and neuro-feedback may have some efficacy.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012
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    • "In general, parents seek CAM therapies for their children for various reasons, such as they "feel mainstream medicine has let them down" [[30], p. 573], because a particular treatment was considered ineffective, fear of drug adverse effects and a need for more personal attention [31,32]. Furthermore, parents often prefer to try something 'natural' for their children [20,29,30,33]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Psychostimulants are first line of therapy for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD. The evidence suggests that up to 30% of those prescribed stimulant medications do not show clinically significant outcomes. In addition, many children and adolescents experience side-effects from these medications. As a result, parents are seeking alternate interventions for their children. Complementary and alternative medicine therapies for behavioural disorders such as AD/HD are increasing with as many as 68% of parents having sought help from alternative practitioners, including chiropractors. The review seeks to answer the question of whether chiropractic care can reduce symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD. Electronic databases (Cochrane CENTRAL register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic reviews, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Scopus, ISI Web of Science, Index to Chiropractic Literature) were searched from inception until July 2009 for English language studies for chiropractic care and AD/HD. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to select studies. All randomised controlled trials were evaluated using the Jadad score and a checklist developed from the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) guidelines. The search yielded 58 citations of which 22 were intervention studies. Of these, only three studies were identified for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD cohorts. The methodological quality was poor and none of the studies qualified using inclusion criteria. To date there is insufficient evidence to evaluate the efficacy of chiropractic care for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD. The claim that chiropractic care improves paediatric and adolescent AD/HD, is only supported by low levels of scientific evidence. In the interest of paediatric and adolescent health, if chiropractic care for AD/HD is to continue, more rigorous scientific research needs to be undertaken to examine the efficacy and effectiveness of chiropractic treatment. Adequately-sized RCTs using clinically relevant outcomes and standardised measures to examine the effectiveness of chiropractic care verses no-treatment/placebo control or standard care (pharmacological and psychosocial care) are needed to determine whether chiropractic care is an effective alternative intervention for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2010 · Chiropractic & Osteopathy
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    • "Given that there is such a huge diversity of treatment approaches in relation to each of these conditions (e.g. Sigmundsson et al., 1998; Hyman and Levy, 2005; Levy and Hyman, 2005; Rojas and Chan, 2005), the onus is clearly on treatment providers to produce the evidence in support of the treatment(s) that they are offering. Without such evidence, parents inevitably run the risk of wasting their time, effort and resources, and they and their children may become disillusioned if expectations are repeatedly raised and then dashed. "
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    ABSTRACT: In 2000, the UK's College of Optometrists commissioned a report to critically evaluate the theory and practice of behavioural optometry. The report which followed Jennings (2000; Behavioural optometry--a critical review. Optom. Pract. 1: 67) concluded that there was a lack of controlled clinical trials to support behavioural management strategies. The purpose of this report was to evaluate the evidence in support of behavioural approaches as it stands in 2008. The available evidence was reviewed under 10 headings, selected because they represent patient groups/conditions that behavioural optometrists are treating, or because they represent approaches to treatment that have been advocated in the behavioural literature. The headings selected were: (1) vision therapy for accommodation/vergence disorders; (2) the underachieving child; (3) prisms for near binocular disorders and for producing postural change; (4) near point stress and low-plus prescriptions; (5) use of low-plus lenses at near to slow the progression of myopia; (6) therapy to reduce myopia; (7) behavioural approaches to the treatment of strabismus and amblyopia; (8) training central and peripheral awareness and syntonics; (9) sports vision therapy; (10) neurological disorders and neuro-rehabilitation after trauma/stroke. There is a continued paucity of controlled trials in the literature to support behavioural optometry approaches. Although there are areas where the available evidence is consistent with claims made by behavioural optometrists (most notably in relation to the treatment of convergence insufficiency, the use of yoked prisms in neurological patients, and in vision rehabilitation after brain disease/injury), a large majority of behavioural management approaches are not evidence-based, and thus cannot be advocated.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2009 · Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics
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