If you are the parent of a child with ADD or ADHD or if you have one of these conditions yourself, I’d encourage you to look at Dana Ullman’s review of homeopathic treatments for children with these conditions published recently in the Huffington Post. Mr. Ullman reviews several studies that had encouraging results.
Findings in a Swiss Study
One Swiss study involving 115 children found that 75% of the children improved on individualized homeopathic treatment. Those who did not respond to homeopathic treatment were given Ritalin. Overall, children in the homeopathic group improved 73% on the Connors Global Index while those receiving Ritalin improved 65%, comparable levels of change. One can fault the study design but these are still impressive results.
Homeopathy vs. Placebo
Some critics argue that the positive effect observed from homeopathic treatment is purely a placebo effect. Another study addressed this issue by doing a double-blinded crossover study comparing homeopathic medicine with placebo. This study involved 62 children with ADD/ADHD who had responded to homeopathic treatment. They were subsequently treated alternately with homeopathy vs placebo. Several different methods of evaluation, including Connors Global Index, parent evaluation scales and teacher evaluation scales, all showed significant differences between homeopathic treatment and placebo, ranging from 28% to 63%.
Another study also compared homeopathic medicines with placebo. This was done in a group of 43 children with ADHD all of whom were either in foster care or had parents under supervision of a social worker, a group of children with additional challenges to treatment. Half were given placebo and half were given an individualized homeopathic medicine. Evaluations were done at ten days and at two months. There were significant differences between the groups at both points in time.
The Sensation Method
One study looked at a newer method of homeopathic treatment, the Sensation method, and found no difference between children given the homeopathic medicine vs. those given placebo. Interestingly, however, both groups showed significant improvement over the course of the study and this was attributed to therapeutic effects of the “overall homeopathic package of care” including the interview and treatment process.
Further Research Needed
As Mr. Ullman mentions, these studies are just a beginning and further research needs to be done. In the meantime, given the benign nature of homeopathic treatment, parents should be encouraged to explore this holistic method of therapy before putting their child on prescription medication. In the twenty years that I practiced conventional pediatrics, I wrote hundreds of prescriptions for stimulant medication for children with ADD/ADHD. In my experience, not a single parent wanted to put their child on medication but did so believing there was no other viable option. There are other viable options including homeopathy.
Long Term Prognosis
One point that Mr. Ullman doesn’t address is long term prognosis. Even the longest of these studies was relatively brief, only 18 weeks, a short period compared to the length of time – usually many years – that children with ADD/ADHD spend on stimulant medications. During the years I’ve practiced homeopathy, I’ve seen many children improve and some actually cured to the point that they no loner require treatment and that anyone observing them would have no idea of their previous diagnosis. This simply doesn’t happen with stimulant medication. In fact, one study Ullman references, looked at long term efficacy of stimulant medication and found no difference between children with ADD/ADHD who had received stimulant medication vs. those who had not.
Homeopathy: Favorable Side Effect Profile
Another reason to consider homeopathic treatment is its favorable side effect profile. In contrast with stimulants that frequently cause sleep disturbance, tics, suppress appetite and growth and leave many children feeling like they’re just not themselves anymore, it’s rare to see any of these or other problems with homeopathic treatment.
Treating the Whole Person
Another benefit which is much appreciated in practice is that homeopathy treats the whole person so at the same time that their attention disorder is treated other problems such allergies, headaches, anger outbursts, anxiety and sleep problems are treated as well.