A team of researchers has found that caffeine could actually be a possible treatment for some of the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that’s marked by a pattern of hyperactivity and/or inattention, noted the authors of a study published in the journal Nutrients. It is said to be the “most commonly diagnosed and treated mental disorder during childhood,” affecting 5% of children and 2.5% of adults “in most cultures.”
By 2019, some 84.7 million people from all over the world were affected by ADHD.
Although management of the condition may vary depending on the country, medications for the same tend to be quite “controversial” because of their possible side effects, the researchers said.
“The therapeutic arsenal for alleviating ADHD is limited, and there is a certain degree of controversy around the use of some types of medications and stimulants, especially during childhood and adolescence,” Javier Vázquez of Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), one of the new study’s main authors, said in the UOC news release. “That’s why it’s useful to study the efficacy of other substances, such as caffeine.”
For their work, the researchers conducted a systematic review of animal studies that looked at the effects of caffeine on ADHD-like symptoms. And, they found data supporting caffeine’s potential to improve some ADHD symptoms.
“Overall, the reviewed results show that caffeine treatment increases attention and improves learning, memory, and olfactory discrimination without altering blood pressure and body weight,” the researchers wrote.
The results showed caffeine’s therapeutic potential in these particular symptoms of ADHD, especially during adolescence, the researchers noted. However, the results were rather “contradictory ” when it came to the other hallmarks of ADHD: hyperactivity and impulsivity. As such, further studies may be warranted to clarify caffeine’s effects on these symptoms.
“The results are very positive, but we must be much more careful when prescribing a caffeine-based medical treatment for these symptoms,” Vaquez said, as per UOC. “In diagnoses in which the problem is purely attentional, caffeine may be an appropriate therapy, but if there’s a symptomatological presence of hyperactivity or impulsivity, we must be more cautious.”
The researchers clarified that they are not against ADHD medications, UOC noted. Instead, they are simply looking at other avenues for improving the symptoms of the condition.
In 2020, for instance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved a video game to help treat ADHD.