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NIH National Center for Complementary Health 7/2/19

More than 6 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although stimulant medications have been shown to be helpful for ADHD symptoms, some people also use complementary health approaches.

  • The evidence on whether omega-3 fatty acid supplements are helpful for ADHD symptoms is inconclusive. Some studies have shown modest benefits, but omega-3s don’t work as well as stimulant medications.

  • Melatonin may be helpful for sleep disorders in people with ADHD, and it appears to be safe when used short term. However, little is known about its long-term safety.

  • There’s not enough evidence to support the use of pycnogenol or ginkgo biloba for ADHD.

  • St. John’s wort is no better than a placebo (an inactive substance) for ADHD symptoms. This herb interacts in undesirable and potentially dangerous ways with many medicines.

  • There isn’t enough evidence to draw any conclusions about whether acupuncture is safe or helpful for ADHD symptoms.

  • No firm conclusions can be drawn about whether meditation-based therapies are helpful for ADHD. However, exercise, including yoga, can have short-term benefits on ADHD symptoms.

If you’re considering using any complementary health approach for ADHD for your child, discuss it with the child’s health care provider.

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