OHSU psychologist wins Foundation grant to study micronutrient treatment of ADHD in young people

Contact: Jessica Pratt                                                         FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Communications Manager                                                         November 10, 2017


(Wilsonville, OR) – Principal investigator Jeanette Johnstone, PhD, Instructor & Licensed Psychologist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University will head up an 8-week randomized controlled trial to evaluate the use of a broad-spectrum micronutrient to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in young people. The treatment consists of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants and the study is the first of its kind based in North America.

Stimulant medication is a first-line treatment in the United States for ADHD despite common side effects including sleep disturbance, appetite suppression, mildly stunted growth, and cardiovascular changes, among others. Also, stimulants are not effective for some. These concerns have resulted in a strong public desire for the development of alternative treatment options. Several lines of evidence suggest that symptoms of ADHD respond well to treatment with nutrient supplementation, but more research is needed.

Jeanette Johnstone, PhD
Jeanette Johnstone, PhD

“Many parents are interested in alternatives to stimulant medication for their children who have been diagnosed with ADHD,” said Dr. Johnstone, “but few alternatives have been well-researched. This multisite clinical research trial allows us to replicate studies conducted overseas and extend the findings by beginning to examine for whom, and how, the treatment might work.”

Dr. Johnstone will collaborate with Dr. Brenda Leung at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, Dr. Barbara Gracious, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Jeffrey Research Fellow at Ohio State University, and Dr. L. Eugene Arnold, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral health at Ohio State, to document the safety and effectiveness of this micronutrient combination in American and Canadian youth and lay a foundation for understanding how it works at the metabolic level. Researchers will collect biological samples as well as interview parents and youth to rate their symptoms, functioning and overall experience of the treatment.

The project was awarded an “Expanding the Science and Practice of Recovery-Based Mental Health Care & Supports” grant, funded through the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, by a person with lived experience of the mental health system. When asked about the motivation and hope for their gift, they replied, “I meet a lot of people who feel shamed and angry and traumatized by their experience with the mental health system. This was certainly my personal experience.

‘We are hoping these grants will help better care gain traction, develop an evidence base, and become widely available to help people get through episodes of crisis without becoming “mental health patients” and inspire others in the philanthropic world to join in and help change the system.”

The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care is a U.S.-based community foundation with funders, grantees and volunteers from across the globe. We envision a world in which all people have hope, knowledge, tools, a sense of community and access to care to recover from mental health and trauma challenges. We connect donors from around the world to independent research projects and innovative programs that lead to recovery.

Grant proposals were reviewed by the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Council and grantees were selected by its Board of Directors.


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2 Responses


    1. Judith, this particular grant is aimed at studying micronutrient treatment of young people diagnosed with ADHD. As a Community Foundation we are only limited by what our donors fund. We will share your comment with our micronutrient fund advisor and researchers.

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