Over 28 million prescriptions for ADHD drugs were written in the United States in 2004 alone! By 2008 this had jumped over 39 million! Hyperactivity and related conditions are Americans number one psychiatric ailment in children. Ritalin is one of the most common drugs prescribed to these children. Ritalin (an amphetamine drug), confusingly is a drug which would make those without autism hyperactive seems to help those who suffer from hyperactivity slow down. Ironically this is the principle of homeopathic medicine (like cures like). This principle can be seen in in number of conventional drugs like digitalis (for the heart), allergy shots and vaccination. These drugs are not however homeopathic as they are not highly diluted or succussed. Ritalin can and does provide short term benefits to some children. It does however not provide long term benefits.
Common side effects of anti-psychotic or psychiatric drugs are restlessness, anxiety, tremors, headaches, allergic reactions, dizziness, abdominal pain, increased blood pressure, heart arrhythmia and hallucinations. Drugs are also known to reduce childrens appetites, dramatically reduce their height and cause liver dis-function.
Based on this information it makes sense to try homeopathy first! Homeopathy is safe and inexpensive and although some studies do not show efficacy it surely must be worth trying?
Although more research is warranted it is important to point out that there are many different styles of homeopathy. So if the style of homeopathy you have tried didnt help, perhaps another style might? Each Homeopath has different strengths and finding the match with your child is key! The example given in this piece from Dana Ullman is that in conventional medicine if one antibiotic doesnt work, it doesnt mean another antibiotic wont be effective.
A Study in Switzerland evaluated 115 children (92 boys and 23 girls), average age 8.3 years with a diagnosis of ADHD / ADD with homeopathy and Ritalin. After 3 months 75% of the children had responded favourably to homeopathy. (Frei and Thurneysen 2001)
The children who responded favourably were evaluated on the Conner Global Index (CGI) and achieved a 55% amelioration. Three children didnt respond to homeopathy and one left the study. There was no placebo-controlled element to this study so it is unclear if the children benefited from homeopathy directly or the complete package of care.
Another Study, this time a Double Blind, Randomised, Crossover Study published in the European Journal of Pediatrics concluded that homeopathy had positive effect in children with ADHD and ADD. 83 Children aged 6 to 16 were treated with individualised homeopathic prescriptions and 62 patients achieved at least 50% improvement on the CGI. (Frei, Everts, von Ammon et al 2005)
Interestingly, children only met with the homeopath once and follow ups were carried out with parents only. This strategy highlights effectiveness beyond the package of care
To conclude, the Cochrane Collaboration, an Internationally respected Group of researchers evaluated and concluded that homeopathic medicines have been shown to be effective in the treatment of children with ADHD and ADD. They do however state that there is little evidence. The challenge for homeopathy is to carry our further research and to increase and improve research protocols continually. I think in terms of my own case work and therefore empirical research; homeopathy helps children with ADHD and ADD. Surely homeopathy is worth trying before giving your child a cocktail of drugs?