State officials say they have paid more than $13,000 to a nutritionist to treat 19 hyperactive children with herbal mixtures containing licorice root, catnip and alcohol.
The state Department of Children and Family Services regional office in Springfield began referring children in state care to the Decatur nutritionist about 18 months ago, agency spokeswoman Jo Warfield said Wednesday.The office's two top administrators are also being treated by the nutritionist, I.J. Organ of Creative Counselors.
Warfield said 19 children were treated with the herbs after regular treatments failed. Four children still receive treatments.
"It didn't work for all kids, and it wasn't continued for the kids it didn't help," she said.
The regional office cares for about 1,500 children, so the nutritional treatment is rarely used, she said.
Dr. Glen Aylward, a pediatric psychiatrist for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, said medical research doesn't support using catnip and other herbs to treat hyperactivity.
"Some people will treat hyperactivity with just about anything, unfortunately," he said. "But catnip isn't, by any means, a routine treatment."
Organ said her treatments have helped calm the children brought to her by foster parents. She said alcohol is a minor ingredient, used in just a few mixtures.
"Catnip has been used for centuries to calm nerves," she said. "As for the mainstream (medical community) . . . when George Washington was alive, the mainstream medical community felt that bleeding was a legitimate treatment."