Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins for the Treatment of ADHD
Article by James Greenblatt, MD, and originally published on The Science of Psychotherapy.
It was 1534, and the crew of French explorer Jacques Cartier were in trouble. They had been ship-bound for months and surviving off meagre rations during their exploration of the eastern Canadian coastline for what would become the French empire’s vast claims to North America. The inevitabilities of life at sea had caught up with them in devastating fashion: Cartier’s men had scurvy. For many seafaring adventurers in that Age of Exploration, the cumulative effects of scurvy were intensifying and worsening preludes to a horrible disease, and often death. Vasco da Gama had lost two-thirds of his crew to scurvy in 1499, and in 1520, while attempting a trans-Pacific voyage, Ferdinand Magellan watched his ranks thin by 80% as scurvy claimed the lives of his men (Lamb, 2011).
However, it seems that luck was on Cartier’s side, as he had befriended a tribe of Quebecois Native Americans in his explorations. Wise in the plant lore of their ancestors, they offered Cartier and his men a medicinal tea brewed from the needles and bark of special pine trees. To Cartier, the healing of his crew surely was not insignificant, and his journal entries are testament to the fact that this mysterious tea saved his men. The ramifications of the Quebecois’ kindness also led to one of the most exciting breakthroughs in the field of nutritional psychiatry: the ancient wisdom of the Native Americans shared with Jacques Cartier in the 1500s has been shown by modern science to be an effective treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017), an estimated 6.4 million children aged 4 to 17 are diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their lives, reflecting a 41% increase in the last decade alone. ADHD is characterized by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity–impulsivity that interferes with an individual’s functioning and development. Despite the thousands of scientific research papers published on the illness and diagnosis of ADHD, the etiology and treatment recommendations from medical and psychiatric professionals have changed little over the years.