By Bob Condor

Consider a group of parents with school-age children. Chances are you can generate some lively discussion by introducing the topic of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. You would not only get plenty of opinions about whether it is overprescribed, underdiagnosed and the like, but it’s quite possible you would hear some spirited discussion about whether kids should take drugs when identified with the condition.

“Not drugs, but St. John’s wort would be good,” said one mom to me several months back.

Well, maybe not. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported no difference between an eight-week course of St. John’s wort compared to eight weeks of a placebo when treating ADHD in children and adolescent ages 6 to 17. The controlled, randomized, double-blind research was performed at Bastyr University in Seattle, arguably the country’s leading natural health medical school.

Dr. Wendy Weber, a naturopathic physician and lead researcher for the study, was aiming to find out if the highly common practice of parents giving over-the-counter St. John’s wort to children was effective. There is little research to support the herb for ADHD but Dr. Weber and many health professionals have observed the St. John’s wort-ADHD phenomenon.

Problems with your child's hyperactivity? Click here for the Drug-Free, Natural,

ADD/ADHD Remedy Report!

There are some understandable reasons why parents try the herb. About 30 percent of all children who try prescription drugs get no benefit. And, of course, many parents are none too crazy about giving drugs to kids in the first place. It is estimated three to 12 percent of American kids are affected by ADHD.

“These study findings are very significant for consumers,” says Wendy Weber, ND, PhD, MPH, research associate professor at Bastyr University and principal investigator for the St. John's Wort study. “We hope the results of our study will prevent potential drug interactions which can be associated with St. John's Wort by encouraging parents to not give it to their child to alleviate ADHD symptoms.”

This study is the first placebo-controlled trial of St. John's wort in children and adolescents for any condition. Other scientific studies have identified St. John’s wort as a helpful treatment for depression. In fairness, yet other studies have displayed no such positive impact.

“Bob Condor is the Daily Health Blogger for Barton Publishing . He is also the Living Well columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer . He covers natural health and quality of life issues and writes regularly for national magazines, including Life, Esquire, Parade, Self, and Outside. He is a former syndicated health columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of six books, including “The Good Mood Diet” and “Your Prostate Cancer Survivors' Guide.” He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two 11-year-old kids.