A natural essential fatty acid supplement is claimed to be an effective co-therapy treatment for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), even those known to be resistant to Ritalin (methylphenidate).

Researchers found that the natural EPA & GLA essential fatty acid supplement Vegepa E-EPA 70 was found to bring significant improvements in restlessness, aggressiveness and concentration in children and young people with ADHD.

ADHD is said to affect about 3-9% of school-aged children and young people in the UK.

The double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial, published in the Journal of Child Neurology, recruited 94 children clinically diagnosed with ADHD, who had been on Ritalin for six months or more, and standard behaviour therapy, but had reported no improvement in behaviour or academic learning.

These children were then randomly assigned to receive supplementation with either two daily capsules of EPA & GLA, in the essential fatty acid supplement Vegepa, or a placebo. All children continued to take Ritalin daily.

After six months, significant improvements were found in the treatment group when compared to the placebo group in the areas of restlessness, aggressiveness, completing work and academic performance. Statistically significant improvements in the following areas were not found at three months but were shown at six months, highlighting the critical point of length of treatment regime: inattention, impulsiveness and cooperation with parents and teachers.

Professor Basant K Puri, of Imperial College London, a scientist and clinician who researches nutritional medicine, said: "Whilst previous studies have reported mixed outcomes of omega-3 supplementation in ADHD-diagnosed individuals, this is the first study to report highly significant findings from a combination of EPA with GLA.

"The efficacy of pure ethyl-EPA in combination with GLA further supports the concept that EPA is the primary omega-3 responsible for the psychoactive and neuroactive properties associated with fish oils. Further studies are certainly warranted, but these results are consistent with previous research on pure EPA [depression]. They would indicate that specific supplements can offer safe, natural and effective solutions either as alternatives to conventional drug treatments or as effective co-therapies."

Posted by Dan Parton