Evidence for CAM to treat depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been reviewed by researchers at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, in Kenner.

Here’s what we know.


  • St. John’s wort
    • Strong evidence supports its use.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids and S-adenosyl-l-methionine
    • Growing support as potential adjuncts to conventional therapies.
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone, inositol, folate, and saffron
    • Evidence is insufficient to support an antidepressant benefit.


  • Kava
    • High-quality supporting evidence.
    • But its use is discouraged because of safety concerns over its potential to cause liver toxicity and drug interactions.
  • Valerian and inositol
    • Preliminary evidence supports their use.
  • St. John’s wort and passionflower
    • Little research support.

Jet lag, or shift work

  • Melatonin
    • Likely to be useful.
  • Valerian
    • Little evidence of benefit.


  • No evidence supports CAM

The bottom line?

It’s useful to stop for a moment and take stock of the state of CAM research. However, there are differences of opinion on some of these topics.

For example, earlier this year, researchers from Duke University in North Carolina reviewed the evidence and concluded “Available data suggest that melatonin is a well-tolerated and efficacious treatment option for pediatric patients with chronic sleep-onset insomnia and ADHD.”

5/25/10 11:27 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.