A new short-term pilot study in children and teens 6-17 years old with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has shown saffron to be as effective at controlling symptoms as methylphenidate, the commonly prescribed drug Ritalin. Saffron may be a promising herbal alternative for treating ADHD, particularly for the 30% of patients who do not respond to or cannot tolerate stimulants like methylphenidate, as reported in an article published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
The article entitled "Crocus sativus L. Versus Methylphenidate in Treatment of Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Randomized, Double-Blind Pilot Study" was coauthored by Sara Baziar, MD, Ali Aqamolaei, MD and colleagues from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran. The researchers note that saffron also has anti-depressant and memory-enhancing properties. They compared the effects of Crocus sativus L. to methylphenidate in 54 patients over a 6-week period and showed no significant difference in effectiveness as well as similar frequency of adverse effects.
"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.