The use of supplements as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has grown in popularity in recent years. The hallmark symptoms of the disorder are difficulty controlling actions and behavior, presenting as hyperactivity and impulsivity, as well as difficulties with concentration and sustaining attention. Though typically managed with prescription stimulant medications and behavioral therapy, dietary supplements may help, too.
OPCs and OPC-3 Isotonix
Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) are compounds derived from plant-based flavonoids. They are in berries, nuts, flowers, beans and red wine, but the highest concentrations occur in seeds, skin and bark of particular plants. Their chemical structure is simpler than other flavonoids, making them more easily absorbed into the bloodstream. As they contain strong antioxidants, OPCs help to act against fat and water-soluble oxidizing agents, reduce inflammation and aid proteins. OPCs are helpful in supporting the vascular system, and relieving allergies, asthma, and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, among other things. They may also be helpful in treating ADHD. OPC-3 Isotonix differs in its delivery method. Isotonix is a method of delivering the medication once in the body. It allows quick and efficient absorption of the compounds into the bloodstream.
OPC-3 Effectiveness for ADHD
A study published in the "Journal of Academic Child and Adolescent Psychiatry" examined the use of OPC in children with ADHD. Its use reportedly helped reduce symptoms of inattention and distraction significantly more than symptoms of impulsive and hyperactive behavior, but changes were seen in both. According to the "Alternative Medicine Review," use of OPC for ADHD is mostly based on anecdotal reports suggesting that symptoms improved while patients were taking OPC supplements. An animal study found that OPC supplements helped improve memory and learning problems as well.
OPC Supplements vs Stimulant Medications for ADHD
A preliminary study conducted by Dr. Marion Sigurdson, a psychologist, used an OPC supplement made from pine bark and grape seed to treat 30 children and adults with ADHD. She said it worked as well as stimulant medication in treating attention and behavior symptoms. Don't take or give your child any supplements without consulting a doctor or pediatrician, however, especially if other medicines have already been prescribed, because of the possibility of interactions.
OPC and ADHD
Although studies have not shown how OPCs work to treat ADHD, lab studies have shown that OPCs may help regulate the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, which are implicated in ADHD functioning. Dr. James Greenblatt, a physician at Comprehensive Psychiatric Resources Inc., says he has found in case studies at his clinic that children with ADHD show improvement in handwriting, behavior and school performance, and changes in EEG, when given OPC supplements. Despite these preliminary findings, no controlled clinical studies have been conducted on use of OPCs and ADHD, so while its use may prove beneficial, there is no definitive research support for it at this time. Check with your doctor if you have questions or are considering the supplement.
- Alternative Medicine Review; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children: Rationale for Its Integrative Management; Parris M. Kidd, PhD; 2000
- Alternative Medicine Review; Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs); 2003
- Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin Complexes: History, Structure, and Phytopharmaceutical Applications