boyBy Robert Locke

Are there really alternatives to stimulants for ADHD?  We may start by asking ourselves how reliable are the statistics of trials for any drug on the market to-day, including those for ADHD.

A doctor investigates

Ben Goldacre, a doctor himself and now full time epidemiologist has written a book called “Bad Pharma’ which exposes the crooked world of the so called rigorous testing of all drugs.  It also shows that practically all the pharmaceutical funded research is distorted to suit the company making that particular drug.

Skewed results?

Just two years ago, researchers at Harvard  found that the trials sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies (all 500 of them) were 85% positive about the effects of new drugs. Compare that with government funded trials and the figure drops to 50%.

Goldacre has examined carefully all the evidence and has painstakingly researched his subject and as he was a doctor himself prescribing these drugs, his book cannot be ignored. All is not well in the pharmaceutical world and that includes all the anti depressants, the blood pressure drugs and of course, the psychostimulant drugs for ADHD.

These drugs actually are effective BUT,..

Now this does not mean that stimulant drugs are useless! Far from it. We can see the results in kids and they can really improve their focus and concentrate at school. But we know nothing about the long term effects on the child’s brain, the dangers and risks of side effects and a whole host of other issues which we do not have the answers for.

I think that is why Goldacre’s book is so important because it raises our awareness of the limitations of any drug we take. He is merely pleading for more transparency and honesty and that can only be a good thing.

Is homeopathy a valid alternative?

Fast back to the world of homeopathy (over 200 years old) where there is very little scientific evidence that these medicines are effective. But the results speak for themselves in that thousands of lives were saved in the great cholera epidemics in Russia and London. Patients treated with the homeopathic remedies had a much higher survival rate than those who were treated with conventional medicine at the time.

More recently there are well documented trials where ear infections in children, osteoarthritis and mild depression were more successfully treated with homeopathy.

Homeopathic remedy trials are riddled with flaws

But the trials conducted for homeopathy are full of methodological flaws and defects and will just not stand up to rigorous examination.  There are also very small in scale and as soon as large scale studies are done, the effects seem to disappear and many people perhaps rightly conclude that this is just the placebo effect.

Placebo effect?

That placebo effect is also present in conventional medicine and we should be aware of that. It is a fact and scientists have shown that big red pills full of sugar and water are more effective than smaller, lightly colored ones!

It is not easy to get the full story

Getting the facts is no easy task whether you want to go for the mainstream amphetamine like drugs (yes, they are controlled, just like cocaine and other recreational drugs) or try homeopathy.  The choice is up to you.

One major factor is of course that there are no health risks at all with homeopathy whereas there are well documented cases of some health risks for children on the ADHD psychostimulants like Ritalin and Vyvanse.

Monitor your child


The real test is to see how your child is doing. Whether he is on the psychostimulant drugs or on homeopathic remedies, these are the points you should be noting:-

is he or she less distracted and more focused?

is there an improvement in behavior?

are there troubling side effects like sleep challenges, appetite and stunted growth?

have you noted an increase or lessening of anxiety and depression?

is he happier?

does he have any zombie like symptoms?

is he irritable and jumpy?

is he calmer and more relaxed?

has his personality changed?

The bottom line

Let’s face it. Each child is different and I know children who have been transformed by taking the conventional meds and have had no real troubling side effects. I also know children who have turned into unhappy and sad children and are plagued by sleep and appetite problems.  Some of the latter might do better on homeopathic remedies but there is no guarantee, I can assure you. As I said, you can monitor your child and see what is best for him.

The bottom line is whatever helps my child to be better at school and to behave in a socially accepted manner. Meds, drugs and remedies are just one part of a complex treatment program. But I am also aware that there is a lot more I can do to help him or her cope. That will be another article!

About the Author:

Robert Locke is an award winning author and has written extensively on ADHD and related child health problems. You can visit this page on ADHD natural treatment to find out more.

Follow Us

Families Online Magazine

Staff writers at Families Online Magazine strive to bring yourelevant and helpful information for your family's relationships and health and wellbeing, Experts provide monthly advice columns about parenting babes to teens, education, finance, and budgeting, health and family fun activities. Featured columns include What's for Dinner Ideas, Are we there yet? Family travel and the hilarious Family Funny Stuff column.
Follow Us Online MagazineAges and StagesAddiction,ADHD - ADD,HealthBy Robert Locke Are there really alternatives to stimulants for ADHD?  We may start by asking ourselves how reliable are the statistics of trials for any drug on the market to-day, including those for ADHD. A doctor investigates Ben Goldacre, a doctor himself and now full...Parenting and Family Fun Activities for Kids