Dana Ullman (Homeopathy with Edel)
Although Ritalin and other psychiatric drugs given to children with ADD or ADHD may provide short-term benefits, research to date has found that these drugs do not provide long-term benefits. However, even scarier is the fact that even Newsweek(US T.V) noted, “There are no definitive long-studies to reassure parents that this stimulant isn’t causing some hidden havoc to their child.” And many people today believe these drugs do create havoc.
The most common side effects of ADD/ADHD medication are restlessness, anxiety, tremors, headaches, allergic reactions, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, heart arrhythmia, increased blood pressure, and psychosis (including hallucination). Children who take these drugs are also known to experience a reduced appetite, and in part as a result of this, some children experience a dramatic reduction in height. When a drug can have such deleterious systemic effects as reducing a child’s height (See our Child Height Calculator), one has to acknowledge that such drugs can create other significantly serious impacts on the lives of the children who take them.
It makes sense for parents and doctors to explore and even exhaust safer methods of treating for ADD and ADHD before resorting to conventional drugs. Homeopathic medicines provide one viable alternative, and several double-blind studies published in medical journals have confirmed good results and much safer treatment. That said, it should be acknowledged that at present there has been only a handful of studies testing homeopathic medicines and not every study showed efficacy of treatment. However, because some studies have shown benefits of homeopathic care and because these medicines are so safe, it is reasonable to consider homeopathic treatment before resorting to more risky therapeutic measures.
Numerous studies testing Ritalin have found it to be effective in the short-term. The question then becomes: how does homeopathic treatment compare with it?
A study in Switzerland evaluated 115 children (92 boys, 23 girls) with an average age of 8.3 years at diagnosis of ADD/ADHD (Frei and Thurneysen, 2001). The children were first treated with an individually chosen homeopathic medicine. Children who did not improve sufficiently on homeopathy were changed to Ritalin and evaluated after 3 months. After an average treatment time of 3.5 months, 75% of the children responded favorably to homeopathy, attaining an improvement rating of 73%. 22% of the children were treated with Ritalin and attained an improvement rating of 65%.
The children were evaluated according to the Conners Global Index (CGI), which is the most respected scale that measures the degree of hyperactivity and attention deficit symptoms. The children who responded to the homeopathic medicine experienced a 55% amelioration of the CGI, while the children who responded to Ritalin experienced a 48% lowering of the CGI. Three children didn’t respond to homeopathy or Ritalin, and one child left the study before completion. The researchers concluded that homeopathic treatment was comparable in its benefits to Ritalin…and homeopathic medicines simply do not have the side effects that Ritalin has.
Because this study was not placebo controlled, one does not know if the good results are from the homeopathic medicine or from the homeopathic interview (or a combination of them both). In any case, this study showed that 75% of the children with ADD/ADHD benefited from the “package of care” provided by homeopaths, a better result than the “package of care” provided by conventional pediatricians. Although skeptics of homeopathy insist that homeopathic medicines are placebos, these skeptics unwittingly suggest the metaphysical thesis that each homeopath is magically endowed with special healing powers, especially since most people who seek homeopathic treatment experience chronic problems for which long-term conventional medical treatment has not provided adequate resolution.
More research is certainly warranted. In the meantime, readers will benefit from knowing that there are different ways that homeopathic medicine is practiced, and although one style of prescribing these natural medicines may be shown to be effective in one or more studies, these results do not necessarily mean that all methods of using homeopathic medicines are similarly effective. Likewise, when a study shows no obvious benefits from one strategy of using these medicines, this does not necessarily disprove the entire system of homeopathy.
In other words, just because one antibiotic is not effective in treating an infection does not mean that another antibiotic won’t be effective.
The challenge that homeopathy presents is that it, like acupuncture, is largely dependent upon the clinician and his/her knowledge of their system of healing and his/her ability to find the individually chosen treatment for patients and their idiosyncratic ailment. Despite the complexity of providing individualized homeopathic treatment, children will more likely benefit in the long run when their parents explore safer therapeutic measures.
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, MSW, and Robert Ullman, ND, Ritalin Free Kids: Safe and Effective Homeopathic Medicine for ADD and Other Behavioral and Learning Problems, Edmonds, WA: Picnic Point Press, 1996 (Note: The authors of this book are no relation to the author of this article).
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