Can an Exotic Indian Herb Be Used in Place of Medicine to Treat ADHD?

India Today reports on a clinical study out of Tehran University Medical Sciences in Iran with a focus on saffron. Saffron contains anti-depressant and memory-enhancing properties, and can be as effective at controlling symptoms of ADHD as methylphenidate—Ritalin.

ADHD in India

Presently at least 10 million people are diagnosed in India alone. Children with ADHD deal with challenging behavior such as being hyperactive and unable to control certain impulses.  They may struggle in school.  Presently, children are being treated by stimulant medications such as methylphenidate, et al.  Long term side effects of such drugs in uncertain.

Tehran University Medical Sciences Clinical Trial

India Today reported that Tehran University Medical Sciences of Iran ran the study.  Researchers included 54 ADHD Iranian patients—aged 6 to 17.  They compared the effects of saffron or methylphenidate over a 6-week period.  They randomly assigned the treatments-with dose based on weight. The findings, evidencing no significant difference in effectiveness,  were published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

About Saffron

Saffron, known as a spice and nutritional supplement in traditional medicine, is a particularly effective herbal remedy for the 30 percent of patients who do not respond to or cannot tolerate stimulants like methylphenidate.  Some side effects methylphenidate include nausea, stomach pain, decreased appetite, insomnia, and headache. In addition, a computerized test of attention and activity to standard care can reduce the time needed to make a diagnostic decision on the disorder.

USA Comment

“This is a very interesting study and an intriguing finding. It is worthy of replication and further study to understand the mechanism of action,” says Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology and President of the Child Mind Institute in New York.

Lead Research/Investigator

Sara Baziar, MD

Ali Aqamolaei, MD