Flawed St. John's Wort Study on ADHD Failed to Use Active Form of Herbal Extract

June 2008


(NaturalNews) On the heels of shocking revelations that top psychiatric research Dr. Joseph Biederman secretly took $1.6 million from drug companies while conducting psychotropic drug experiments on children, it has been learned that Dr. Biederman is now one of the key collaborators behind the latest efforts to discredit St. John's Wort. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and widely reported in the mainstream media, Dr. Biederman and fellow cohorts "concluded" that the St. John's Wort herb is useless in treating ADHD in children.

What's astonishing about this study, as you'll learn in this article, is that all the children used in the study were given inactive forms of the St. John's Wort herb where the active ingredients had been oxidized and rendered useless! In other words, this clinical trial, which was widely reported in the mainstream media with headlines like "St. John's Wort Found Useless!" didn't test the herb's active ingredients at all! It sort of makes you wonder about the agenda of the people running the study, doesn't it?

Keep in mind that one of the study's authors, Dr. Biederman, is not merely on the take from drug companies that sell competing pharmaceuticals, but that he also lied about how much money he was being paid by drug companies, hiding the truth about his income by underreporting $1.6 million he took from psychiatric drug companies. See my report on that here: http://www.naturalnews.com/023408.html

Dr. Biederman has a clear financial interest in promoting patented prescription drugs for brain chemistry disorders while discrediting competing natural alternatives such as St. John's Wort. This blatant conflict of interest was not disclosed by JAMA, nor was it mentioned in the text of the study on ADHD and St. John's Wort. It appears Dr. Biederman would prefer his financial ties to Big Pharma continue to remain secret, even while producing questionable studies that desperately attempt to show that herbs don't work.

Testing Herbs to Treat Fictitious Diseases

Well, beyond the fact that the herb used in the trial was entirely inactive (meaning it was rendered useless even before the study began), there's also another burning issue that questions the credibility of the study: ADHD doesn't exist in the first place!

There is no such thing as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It's something that psychiatrists just made up and voted into existence in order to sell more drugs to children. There is no objective test for this "disease," nor is there any physiological evidence of any kind that it exists at all. Thus, to test an inactive herb on a disease that doesn't exist, and then declare the herb doesn't work is an outrageous example of extreme intellectual dishonesty. And yet it's precisely the kind of sleight-of-hand quackery carried out by modern psychiatry -- an industry that has nothing to offer society other than mind-numbing drugs, medication addictions and chemically-induced violence, obesity and diabetes.

But why let modern psychiatry have all the fun inventing diseases? I could just as easily invent a disease called "Stupid Scientist Disease" (SSD) and then test aspirin on SSD. When I demonstrated that aspirin had no effect on SSD, I could submit the paper to JAMA, get it published, and have the national media report with blaring headlines, "Aspirin Doesn't Work to Treat Stupid Scientist Disease!"

And if they actually print that, then we could move on to test aspirin on "Stupid Journalist Disease," which also appears to be an epidemic in modern society.

How to discredit natural medicine and spread fear, uncertainty and doubt

All this has the effect of making the medicine being tested look bad, which of course was the whole point of conducting this study on St. John's Wort in the first place. Modern medical research is not about pursuing science, nor truth, nor objective understanding about health. It is about pushing an agenda, and it's clear that the agenda of Dr. Biederman and colleagues is about diagnosing more children with more brain chemistry "diseases," then demanding that they all be put on mind-altering drugs, all while desperately trying to convince the public that herbs are useless.

By the way, you can invent your own psychiatric conditions at the click of your mouse by using my free, highly-entertaining Disease Mongering Engine available here: http://www.naturalnews.com/disease-mong...

I had hoped to create a similar online engine where you can randomly generate fictitious scientific papers filled with psychobabble nonsense, but it appears JAMA has already beat me to it...

St. John's Wort, for the record, has been clinically proven to be even more effective than antidepressant drugs for treating mild to moderate depression. That makes it better than all the SSRI drugs ever invented, but you don't hear medical journals reminding anybody about that simple fact, do you? Instead, they go out of their way to test it for the wrong condition -- a fictitious condition! -- as an excuse to simply say St. John's Wort doesn't work for something.


A Disturbing Trend: Bastyr Naturopaths Partner with Dr. Biederman to Discredit Herbs

There's another disturbing trend in all this. The St. John's Wort study was led by Wendy Weber, ND, a graduate of Bastyr University. Bastyr is an "integrative medicine" med school that teaches drug-based medicine combined with more natural modalities. It's one of the top three naturopathic schools in the U.S., and yet to learn that one of its graduates is now collaborating with a psychiatric drug pusher who has been paid $1.6 million by drug companies is more than a bit disturbing.

It indicates that this Bastyr graduate either has no idea about the true agenda of the people she's working with or that she doesn't mind that agenda. Either way, she sort of ends up looking rather silly with her name positioned above the scandalous Dr. Joseph Biederman, a widely-hated Big Pharma disease monger who will hopefully soon be arrested and prosecuted as a common criminal for conducting medical experiments on four-year old children.

In the world of naturopathy, by the way, there is quite a chasm between the more "conventional" N.D.s (like Bastyr graduates) and the holistic, natural, salt-of-the-Earth kind of naturopathic healers who have no sponsoring institution. The Bastyrs of the world are working hard to get naturopathic medical practice legalized in many states, but they're also disliked by the non-accredited naturopaths who end up being labeled criminals for practicing their own brand of natural medicine in those same states.

Many non-accredited naturopaths insist that Bastyr is just a "green" replacement for organized medicine's tyranny. Without a doubt, when people see Bastyr graduates collaborating with top psychiatric drug pushers on a study that clearly seeks to discredit a valuable herb, it just fans the flames of dissent against Bastyr among more holistic practitioners.

What's my take on the issue? I think Wendy Weber must be a complete fool to lend her name to such a study, because the very title of the study presupposes something that's entirely false to begin with: That ADHD is a bonafide "disease" in the first place. She even based the entire scoring of the participants' symptoms on the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV -- the tome of psychobabble "disorders" invented by a truly evil industry that seeks to label every person still breathing with some sort of brain chemistry disorder (and then demand that they all be "treated" with mind-altering drugs that just happen to enrich their corporate sponsors, the drug companies!).

Remember, the DSM-IV is the manual that declares fear of public speaking to be a "disorder." In fact, all the following are "mental health disorders," according to the DSM-IV manual:

Questioning authority (i.e. asking questions of medical authorities)
Feeling overwhelmed by too many tasks (like we all are...)
Being excitable (WHAT?)
Frequently taking risks (like every entrepreneur in the world...)
Inappropriately messy (like my desk...)
Showing excessive stubbornness (No, I'm not stubborn!)
Being argumentative (Oh yeah? Say that to my face...)
Losing things (Where did I park my car, again?)

... and this list continues, including descriptions of virtually every human emotion, thought or behavior. According to the DSM-IV, these are all diseases!

How many of these familiar to you? Don't we all lose our keys from time to time? Don't we all have messy desks (except all you clean freaks, but don't get me started on your cleanliness "disorder" okay?) Don't we all feel overwhelmed from time to time by too many tasks?

This is the great gimmick of modern psychiatry: They just keep naming symptoms, behaviors and thoughts until they find one that you've got! Then they declare you to be "sick" and needing "treatment," and that's when the mind-altering medications begin.

Personally, I'm shocked to learn of a Bastyr graduate lending any credence whatsoever to the DSM-IV manual and the fictitious diseases of modern psychiatry. It is shameful that such a well-educated individual would spend her time and effort in such a futile psychobabble exercise that proves nothing, and I can only hope that Wendy Weber refocuses her considerable talents into a more productive direction in the future. (I also hope that she denounces the actions of Dr. Biederman for lying about the $1.6 million he took from Big Pharma while pushing psych drugs for children... but that's her choice, of course.)


Problems with the trial

Beyond the fatal problem of studying the effects of an herb on a fictitious disease in the first place, this trial suffers from all sorts of other scientific showstoppers. For starters, there were only 54 people used in the results of the trial, with 27 receiving placebo and 27 receiving St. John's Wort. This is a very small sample size to justify any declaration that St. John's Wort doesn't work, especially given the fact that it has been safely and effectively used by tens of millions of people around the world in just the last decade or so.

Secondly, more than 40 percent of the children used in the study had previously used psychiatric medications, so their brains have already been damaged by psych drugs even before the study began! Psych drugs actually cause behavioral disorders and long-term brain damage (which is evidenced by the fact that so many children commit violent acts against themselves and others after taking psychiatric medications). So why would an honest researcher study the effectiveness of an herb on the brains of children that were already damaged by psychiatric drugs in the first place? Unless, of course, they wanted the trial to fail... but we'll get to that later.

Thirdly, the study contains numerous protocol mistakes that distort the final results. For example, six children who displayed a large response to placebo were supposed to have been dropped from the study to isolate the herb's effects from placebo effects, but these kids were accidentally randomized and thrown into the mix anyway, thereby distorting the final results in favor of placebo responders, which makes the herb responders look weaker by comparison. This troubling error in the study is never pointed out, of course, in the mainstream media (whose journalists don't understand science anyway, and can't interpret statistics with any degree of mathematical competence).

A fourth problem in the study is that young males are far more susceptible to the kinds of behaviors that are labeled as "ADHD," compared to young females, and yet in this study, the placebo group consisted of only about 50% males while the herb treatment group consisted of nearly 75% males. In other words, the placebo group was predisposed to a positive outcome simply due to its composition of females vs. males, while the herb treatment group was predisposed to a less-than-favorable response.

And finally, it turns out that the children used in this trial may not have been receiving any active St. John's Wort at all! As stated directly in the JAMA publication for this study:

The product used in this trial was tested for hypericin and hyperforin content at the end of the trial and contained only 0.13% hypericin and 0.14% hyperforin.

Stop the presses! Are you telling me that the St. John's Wort used in this trial contained barely one-tenth of one percent of the active chemical constituents in the herb? Quality St. John's Wort supplements typically contain up to five percent hyperforin, or thirty-five times the amount of active ingredient used in this trial! In other words, the St. John's Wort being tested in this trial was a sub-clinical dose, barely containing any usable St. John's Wort at all!

It's kind of like testing a dose of 2mg of aspirin to see if it has any pain-relieving effect. Of course it doesn't, the dosage is too small!

But it gets even better. As the study text published in JAMA also admits:

Hyperforin is a very unstable constituent that quickly oxidizes and then becomes inactive, which is likely what happened to the product used in this clinical trial.

What the heck? Did the study authors just admit that the St. John's Wort they used in the trial was INACTIVE because it all oxidized? Yes, that's exactly what they said!

Absolutely amazing, isn't it? This study, which was blasted across newspapers, websites and cable news problems, was all based on a study of INACTIVE St. John's Wort given at sub-clinical doses to a group of placebo-biased children diagnosed with a fictitious disease!


A Classic Case of Junk Science

This, friends, is the state of junk science today in our modern medical industry. It is disgusting to see such papers making headline news, knowing that the whole point of this study was clearly to fabricate scientific-sounding lies about the uselessness of a very useful herb, and thereby misinform consumers and drive more people to take drugs for ADHD. I'm not at all surprised, of course, to see that JAMA gladly published it.

Wendy Weber, you should be ashamed of your role in this junk science fiasco, and your authorship of this obviously politically-motivated study brings great dishonor to the university from which you graduated. If you're going to push drugs and discredit herbs by using contorted, intellectually dishonest trials that are engineered to fail in the first place, then you might as well just slap the letters M.D. after your name and stop using N.D. to describe your credentials. Don't parade around as a naturopath if you're pulling stunts like this that result in consumers being gravely misled about the efficacy of herbs for supporting healthy brain function.

For a Bastyr graduate to even take part in a study that lends any credence whatsoever to the DSM-IV -- and all its loopy, made-up descriptions of disorders -- really makes me wonder what's happening in the classrooms over there these days. I've interviewed both Joseph Pizzorno and Michael T. Murray on several occasions, and I've found them to be extremely well-informed, high-integrity individuals who were highly instrumental in the founding and the success of Bastyr University. I couldn't imagine Michael T. Murray ever being involved in such a poorly-designed study that seems to have set out -- from the very beginning -- to obfuscate the efficacy of a valuable herb that's been used for literally thousands of years to support healthy brain function.


How modern medical researchers use sleight of hand to commit fraud

This is a favorite tactic of modern medical researchers who wish to discredit herbs, vitamins or supplements: They simply use sub-clinical doses or poorly-assimilated nutrients that never make it to the bloodstream, then they declare the herb (or vitamin, or nutrient, or whatever) to be useless!

This is exactly what happened in the recent trials that tested Vitamin D on prostate cancer. The headlines touted the sensationalized conclusion that "Vitamin D Has No Effect on Prostate Cancer!" But what was the truth behind the study?

As it turns out, virtually none of the men used in the study showed any appreciable level of Vitamin D in their blood. That's because most of the men studied in the trial didn't take their supplements! It's no surprise that if you don't actually take your vitamin D supplements, they probably won't prevent prostate cancer for you, right? Yet this astonishing fact is NEVER mentioned in the mainstream press reporting on this study. It's just one fact of many that are routinely ignored by a national media more interested in trashing natural medicine than actually reporting anything based on facts.

We saw this same tactic with one study on women's bone health and calcium intake, by the way. The headline blared, "Calcium Found Useless in Preventing Osteoporosis!" but what the study actually proved -- to anyone who bothered to read it -- was that women who don't take calcium supplements don't experience any benefits from them.

No kidding? Gee. And people who buy books but don't read them somehow don't learn anything from them, either.

Supplements don't work if they're still sitting on your shelf. You actually do have to consume them to experience their benefits. This should be obvious to health reporters working in the mainstream media, but sadly, they still don't grasp this rather obvious fact.

Neither did JAMA, it appears, since they went ahead and published this study about ADHD and St. John's Wort even when it turns out that none of the children likely consumed any active St. John's Wort ingredients after all.

By the way, don't you find it curious that the study authors only tested the potency of the St. John's Wort supplements AFTER the study was completed, rather than before? It's almost as if they didn't want to know the potency before they started the trials.

Bad science conducted under the guise of good science is worse than bad science by itself, because it carries disinformation clothed in the credibility of good science and thereby acts as a virus of the mind that infects consumers. That mental virus is driven even deeper by the illusion of authority, thereby making it ever more difficult for consumers to later purge those lies from their belief systems so that they might awaken to the truth about healing with natural medicine.

It is in this way that JAMA, and Wendy Weber, and the mainstream media all perform a great disservice to the American people and further deepen the epidemics of malnutrition, disease and over-medication that threaten the very future of the western world.


Sample headlines from the mainstream media

By the way, here's a sampling of the headlines from mainstream media sources. As you read these, realize that nobody bothered to actually read the study! (Or if they did, they didn't understand it...)

St. John's wort fails to help kids with ADHD
The Associated Press

St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Washington Post

St. John's Wort No Help in ADHD
ABC News

St. John's wort no better than placebo for ADHD, Bastyr study finds
Seattle Times

St. John's Wort No Help for ADHD
TIME Magazine

Herb does not ease ADHD

St. John's wort doesn't help ADHD, study finds

About the author: Mike Adams is a holistic nutritionist with a passion for sharing empowering information to help improve personal and planetary health He has authored and published thousands of articles, interviews, consumers guides, and books on topics like health and the environment, impacting the lives of millions of readers around the world who are experiencing phenomenal health benefits from reading his articles. Adams is an independent journalist with strong ethics who does not get paid to write articles about any product or company. In 2007, Adams launched EcoLEDs, a manufacturer of mercury-free, energy-efficient LED lighting products that save electricity and help prevent global warming. He's also the CEO of a highly successful email newsletter software company that develops software used to send permission email campaigns to subscribers. Adams volunteers his time to serve as the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and practices nature photography, Capoeira, Pilates and organic gardening. Known on the 'net as 'the Health Ranger,' Adams shares his ethics, mission statements and personal health statistics at www.HealthRanger.org