Alternative treatments for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: does evidence support their use?

Altern Ther Health Med. 2002 Jan-Feb;8(1):68-70, 72-4.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects approximately 2 to 3 million children in the United States. Stimulant medication is one of the most common treatments for ADHD; however, adverse reactions from its use cause many parents to seek complementary or alternative treatments. Many individuals use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) because they are attracted to CAM philosophies and health beliefs, dissatisfied with the process or results of their conventional care, or concerned about adverse effects of stimulants. The success of CAM in treating children with ADHD varies, and parents typically use a trial-and-error method when evaluating CAM. Alternative treatments often include neurofeedback, homeopathy, herbal medicines, iron supplements, and dietary modifications or supplements. Although anecdotal and empirical evidence is surfacing to support the efficacy of these alternatives, further research is needed before they can be regarded as effective, reliable treatments for ADHD. Therefore, the use of more conventional treatments should be considered if alternative interventions prove unsuccessful.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Biofeedback, Psychology
  • Child
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Diet Therapy
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Materia Medica / therapeutic use
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Materia Medica
  • Plant Preparations
  • Iron