A study in the March issue of The Journal of Pediatrics reviews the medical literature to provide information about the effectiveness of some of the most common herbal supplements for children. Researchers reviewed studies published from 1960-2003 that tested the effectiveness of common herbal supplements. While many popular herbal supplements have not been evaluated in systematic studies, they found useful information on Andrographis paniculata, evening primrose oil and valerian.
Andrographis paniculata is an important therapeutic plant in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for the common cold, flu and other respiratory infections. One study evaluated children who were given A. paniculata supplements for three months. Although no evidence of the supplement’s effect was observed in the first two months, a 70% reduction in the number of colds was seen in the third month.
Evening primrose oil is commonly used for skin disorders, premenstrual syndrome and arthritis because of its high concentration of essential fatty acids. Results of studies have suggested that evening primrose oil supplements may significantly improve the severity of dermatitis in children. Evening primrose oil supplements may also be associated with an improvement in performing certain tasks by children who are hyperactive.
Valerian is the most widely recognized herbal sedative and has been used for children with hyperactivity and sleep disorders. One study assessed valerian’s effect on boys with developmental deficiencies and hyperactivity problems. After the children were given nightly doses for 2 weeks, they experienced an increase in total sleep time and sleep quality.
Journal of Pediatrics, Mar 2, 2005