Fish oil better than Ritalin? I remain skeptical.

Here’s another story that you can file under the “I’ll take this more seriously when more research is done” category. Apparently fish oil works as well as Ritalin in calming hyperactive, ADHD children.

Before I started writing here, I was a science journalist — I covered developments in the world of science that interested me. I did it for myself and for an established publication. Anyway, I quickly learned to develop a skeptical attitude, particularly when somewhat extreme claims were made. I consider this to be one of those. Things like this set off my BS radar:

Psychiatrist Dr Sami Timimi (CORR) said: ‘It stands to reason that using a natural supplement that has few dangers or side-effects must be preferable to using drugs which have considerable dangers associated with them.

‘This is a non-toxic way of doing something that might make a difference.’

First off, natural supplements can be just as toxic and dangerous as synthetic ones. Second, “natural” substances aren’t usually studied because there simply isn’t a lot of money in them because they can’t be patented. Third, OTC supplements (like herbals and fish oil) aren’t regulated by the FDA, so what you’re actually getting can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer — and from bottle to bottle from the same manufacturer. And yes, I realize this study was conducted Down Under, where the laws might be different.

None of the above are smoking guns when it comes to invalidating this story, they’re just things to keep in mind.

The Australian researchers looked at the effect of eye q (CORR) fish oil capsules on a group seven to 12-year-olds with ADHD.

Some were given the capsules, while others took a placebo or dummy capsule.

Within three months, the behaviour of those on the fish oils had dramatically improved and, by seven months, many of the children were less restless and doing better at school.

If true, this is fantastic news. Until other studies corroborate these findings, I’ll treat this with a healthy dose of skepticism rather than gospel. But it certainly is interesting.

[tags]Medicine, pharmacy, fish oil, omega-3, ADD, ADHD, Ritalin, Concerta[/tags]

2 thoughts on “Fish oil better than Ritalin? I remain skeptical.

  1. A study published in Pediatrics (by english scientists) – says peer-reviewed – the same things… the australien study was designes as the english study… the results were the same.

  2. I’m hearing more and more good things about fish oil. If I didn’t take so many pills now as it is, I would consider adding it to my regimen. As it is, though, I take about six, so I am reluctant…

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