Phytomedicines as pharmacological alternatives in the treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in children

Dey, F 2011, Phytomedicines as pharmacological alternatives in the treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in children, Masters by Research, Health Sciences, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Phytomedicines as pharmacological alternatives in the treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in children
Author(s) Dey, F
Year 2011
Abstract The research reported in this thesis investigated the use of herbal medicines (phytomedicines) for the treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and sleep problems in children. Herbal medicines are commonly used for the treatment of ADHD, yet scientific research on this topic is scarce. The aim of the present study was to address this situation. Numerous scientific studies have investigated the relevant medical drugs, however during the initial planning phase of this project no scientific research was found regarding the use of herbs.

A randomised placebo-controlled double blind parallel clinical trial was conducted. The treatment phase lasted for three months. The participants were children aged from 8 to 16 years who had been diagnosed with ADHD based on DSM-IV criteria. Despite extensive recruitment efforts, only six participants enrolled in the study, and only five of them completed it. All of the participants were male, and three of them were concurrently using orthodox ADHD medication.

Eight herbs were used, and they were administered in two combinations. One combination was given in the morning, and the other was given in the evening. The daytime combination contained ginkgo, bacopa, paeony, and St John’s Wort, and the night-time formula contained valerian, skullcap, passionflower, and chamomile. Both combinations were administered as tablets.

Eight measures were used. They were the Child Behavior Checklist, the Conners’ Parent Rating Scale-Revised, the Conners’ Teacher Rating Scale-Revised, a Side Effects Rating Scale, the Child Attention Problems scale for teachers, a Sleep Diary, the Test of Variables of Attention, and Quantitative Electroencephalography. Information was also obtained from the parents by using the Goal Achievement Scale. Due to the small sample size the major method of data analysis consisted of the visual analysis of line graphs. In addition, statistical analyses were performed for the sleep variables.

The research question was: ‘Do the trial herbs have a beneficial effect on daytime behaviour and sleep problems in children with ADHD?’. It was hypothesised that there would be a positive effect on daytime behaviour. As some improvements in daytime behaviour occurred in the children who took the active tablets, this hypothesis was partially supported. Regarding sleep problems, it was hypothesised that there would be a positive effect on sleep. However, as the sleep data were highly variable, and were inconclusive for the participants who were randomised to the active tablets, this hypothesis was not supported. The overall results of the trial in terms of efficacy are inconclusive.

The present project was an innovative study. Herbal medicines are often used in the treatment of children with ADHD, and also in the treatment of children with other health complaints. However, data directly obtained from paediatric studies are extremely rare in the field of complementary and alternative medicine (Ernst, 2006). Furthermore, the present trial involved qualified herbalists, and a rigorous design was employed. Unfortunately, as noted in the final chapter, there are several limitations concerning this work. These are discussed in detail in the final chapter prior to the thesis concluding with suggestions for future work.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Health Sciences
Keyword(s) ADHD
children,
herbal medicines
phytomedicines
clinical trial
daytime behaviour
sleep
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Created: Tue, 20 Mar 2012, 08:09:51 EST by Guy Aron
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