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Concerta Vs. Herbal Remedies

By Robin Wood-Moen ; Updated August 14, 2017

Concerta, or methylphenidate, is a prescription-only stimulant medication that works by controlling brain chemical activity. It is generally used in the treatment of attention deficit disorders, although some doctors may prescribe for off-label use for conditions such as clinical depression. It's primary purpose is to balance attentiveness to stimulus, decrease impulsitivity and reduce hyperactivity.

Concerta Side Effects

Concerta is a psycho-stimulant drug. According to Kaiser Permanente's "Drug Encyclopedia," misuse or abuse of stimulant medications can have serious or even fatal side effects. It can cause irregular heartbeats, dangerously high blood pressure, mood instability, altered moods, drug tolerance, drug dependence and can create abnormal behaviors. Concerta should be tapered off rather than stopped suddenly to avoid withdrawal symptoms or added side effects. While there are side effects to taking this drug, switching to an herbal equivalent may not be the best thing to do. A licensed psychiatrist can provide a list of options and make suggestions as to what steps need to be taken to meet individual needs.

St. John's Wort

St. John's wort, or Hypericum perforatum, is an herb native to Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. It has been used for treating neurological conditions dating back to ancient Greece. While it is popular for symptoms of depression and attention deficits, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that there may not be any benefit from its use for those with hyperactivity. According to their reports, researchers discovered that St. John's wort did not perform any better than a placebo. Side effects of St. John's wort include increased sensitivity to sunlight, dizziness, gastrointestinal upset, fatigue, headache, dry mouth, fatigue and sexual dysfunction.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is an herb native to Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has been used for centuries to combat mental fatigue and to improve memory, concentration, anxiety, stress and mood disorders. Group Health states that ginkgo biloba may be beneficial in improving blood flow to the brain, reducing inflammation and working as an antioxidant. However, research is lacking in terms of suggesting ginkgo biloba be used to treat attention deficits. Ginkgo biloba can create increased bleeding during injury or surgery and should not be taken with blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin.

Panax Ginseng

Panax ginseng is an herb native to Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has been used for centuries to treat concentration, memory, stamina and endurance issues. Medline Plus lists Panax ginseng as possibly effective for the treatment of thinking and memory deficits to include mathematical skills, abstract thinking and reaction time improvements for the middle-aged adult. The extract has also shown to be effective in the improvement of memory tasks among otherwise healthy individuals between the ages of 38 and 66. Side effects that may accompany the use of Panax ginseng include insomnia, menstrual problems, pain in the breast, rapid heartbeat, high or low blood pressure, headache, loss of appetite, diarrhea, itching, rash, dizziness, altered mood and vaginal bleeding. There have also been rare reports of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, liver damage, and allergic reaction. Don't use Panax ginseng without your doctor's approval.

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