Many people use natural detox products to help rid their body of toxins because research consistently finds that natural substances can have surprisingly powerful effects on human health. For example, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital have found that a supplement containing a specific antioxidant may be able to improve some of the behavioral problems associated with neurodevelopmental issues in children.
The antioxidant called N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) appeared to lower irritability in children who fall on the spectrum of these orders, and it reduced their repetitive behaviors. This is important, because these are two common problems associated with neurocompromised children.
The scientists set out to look for alternative therapies to treat irritability in these patients because the drugs that are currently being used can come with unpleasant side effects, such as weight gain. The researchers made it clear that when they say "irritability" they are not talking about whining or yelling, but serious issues such as throwing things, kicking and hitting.
"One of the reasons I wanted to do this trial was that NAC is being used by community practitioners who focus on alternative, non-traditional therapies," said researcher Antonio Hardan, M.D. "But there is no strong scientific evidence to support these interventions. Somebody needs to look at them."
During the 12 week trial, children who received NAC decreased their irritability scores from 13.1 to 7.2 on the Aberrant Behavior Checklist. While this change was not as significant as that seen in kids on more powerful medications, the scientists say that this suggests that NAC might be a good alternative to try before "jumping on the big guns."
The researchers are planning further studies to determine the potential benefits of NAC and other antioxidants for children with neurodevelopmental disorders.