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Natural Supplements Suffer Another Biased Media Report

Posted Jul 03 2008 4:12pm
My friend, Tara Parker Pope, one of the best science reporters in America, recently wrote a column in the New York Times on non-drug options for ADHD. About 2 and 1/2 million (!!) kids in the US alone take stimulant drugs for this condition. But nearly one-third experience really problematic side effects. As Ms. Pope points out, a 2001 report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that for more than 10 percent, the effects could be severe. (How severe? In 2006 the FDA ordered that Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta and other stimulants carry warnings of risk for sudden death, heart attacks and hallucinations in some patients.)

No wonder parents are looking for natural alternatives.

Many try dietary changes- giving up sugar, processed foods and food additives. Fish oil is one of the most promising. Andrew Stoll, MD at Harvard has found that nearly all these kids (as well as people with behavior and attention problems in general) are nearly all extremely low in omega-3's. (It's amazing the things that can improve when you take a gram or two of fish oil every day.) My friend Daniel Amen, MD, designed a supplement calledNeuro-Linkwhich can be very effective. It's designed to support neurological and cognitive function and optimize neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and GABA, and it's not just for kids.

But don't expect natural treatments to get a fair hearing in the press anytime soon. Recently, the conservative Journal of the American Medical Association- a major source for most of your doctor's information- published a study of St. John's Wort and concluded that it worked no better than a placebo to counter ADD. But, as Ms. Pope points out, the trial lasted only 8 weeks. Even prescription drugs can take up to three months to show a measurable effect.

Talk about stacking the deck.

But don't get me started.

I don't doubt that pharmaceuticals are life saving for some- emphasis on some- of these kids. But why not try a less problematic intervention first? I'd certainly try a whole foods diet, plenty of protein, no sugar or processed foods,fish oilandNeuro-Linkbefore I went to a pharmaceutical that comes with a warning on the possibility of heart attacks and hallucinations.
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