Herbal medicines in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A systematic review

Complement Ther Med. 2017 Feb;30:14-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2016.11.004. Epub 2016 Nov 18.


Objective: The purpose of this review is to identify evidence in herbal therapy in the treatment of ADHD concerning effectiveness and drug tolerability.

Method: For this Medline/PubMed, Scopus and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Central) were searched from their inception to 15 July 2016. Only randomized controlled trails (RCT) with children (0-18years) suffering from ADHD were included in this review.

Results: Nine RCTs with 464 patients comparing herbal pharmaceuticals to placebo or active control were included. Seven different herbs were tested in the treatment of ADHD symptoms. Low evidence could be found for Melissa officinalis, Valeriana officinalis and Passiflora incarnata. Limited evidence could be found for pine bark extract and Gingko biloba. The other herbal preparations showed no efficacy in the treatment of ADHD symptoms.

Conclusion: While there is still a lack of sufficient numbers of RCTs no concrete recommendations for use can be made so far.

Keywords: ADHD; Children; Herbal medicine; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Herbal Medicine / methods
  • Humans
  • Phytotherapy / methods
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal