Should You Take CBD for ADHD?
CBD also known as Cannabidiol is one of many active ingredients found in the Cannabis and Hemp plant. Many are unaware that the Cannabis plant has a male and female part. The male version of the plant is more commonly referred to as the “hemp plant” whereas the female version of the plant is commonly referred to as marijuana. The chemical properties of CBD are often confused with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Both compounds have a similar chemical make-up although the arrangement of their molecules are different allowing for a different effect on the body.
CBD oil is more commonly extracted from the hemp plant. It is known that the hemp plant contains high amounts of CBD coupled with a THC content below 0.3%. There are several ways that CBD can be ingested ranging from edibles, tinctures and many others. It is important to know whether or not the CBD was derived from cannabis or the hemp plant in order to yield the results that you are expecting.
Does CBD oil help with ADHD?
It is important to understand that CBD is not suitable for treating ADHD although it can potentially relieve symptoms of ADHD.
Research exploring the effects of CBD on ADHD symptoms is relatively new.
However, according to new research CBD for ADHD can potentially relieve symptoms although the conclusion at this time is very unclear.
CBD leverages the endocannabinoid system in the brain in order to achieve homeostasis in the body. CBD binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors in order to trigger chemical responses in the brain that assist in regulating symptoms related to anxiety, stress and hyperactivity. With that being said, it is unclear whether or not this process is effective in people diagnosed with ADHD.
The majority of research collected on the effects of CBD on ADHD focuses on Cannabis. Many researchers argue that cannabis would worsen ADHD symptoms due to its psychoactive effects.
A study taken in 2016 tested the effects of cannabis use on ADHD subtypes delivered inconclusive results. The researchers collected data from 2811 cannabis users found that individuals who refrained from using cannabis regularly reported symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity when sober. This conclusion may suggest that cannabis could reduce hyperactivity symptoms, or could pose the idea that hyperactivity could be a withdrawal symptom of reduced cannabis use.
The research concludes that CBD for ADHD should not be considered treatment but can treat symptoms that are consistent in people who suffer from ADHD. AN example of this is anxiety; anxiety is common amongst individuals suffering from ADHD. A 2016 case study tested the ability of CBD to help with anxiety and sleep challenges in young people. Research found that there was little evidence that spoke to the efficacy of this method, however, it is recommended that more research is done on this subject.
In addition to this study, an alternative study focusing specifically on the relationship between ADHD symptoms and cannabis users yielded some interesting results. Researchers concluded that people diagnosed with subtypes of ADHD that show symptoms related to hyperactivity and impulsivity found cannabis to be an effective way to manage those particular symptoms and were more likely to use cannabis to manage these symptoms.
What is the CBD Dosage for ADHD?
The dosage for CBD can vary based on several factors. It is important to understand what symptoms you are trying to treat and how different variables could affect your experience using CBD.
There are 4 major variables that will assist you in choosing a CBD dosage for ADHD.
Concentration: It is important to understand how concentrated the CBD product is. For example, a CBD oil tincture that contains 1000mg of CBD in comparison to a product that contains 500mg requires a different dosage amount.
Tolerance: An individual that has a history using cannabis may be more tolerant of the CBD molecule. It is possible that an individual that this person may require a higher dosage amount in order to yield the results that they are expecting
Health Ailment being treated: More serious health concerns may require a higher dosage amount than minor health concerns.
For more instructions on dosage amounts for chronic health illnesses, you should always consult your physician first. However for more information on cbd dosage for ADHD, please see our dosage chart.
Is CBD oil for an ADHD child a good idea?
CBD can be good for children but can pose risks for children with ADHD.
There is evidence that speaks to the efficacy of CBD reducing ADHD symptoms however some research suggests that children ingesting cannabis before the age 16 could increase their risk of cognitive impairment during these crucial years of their body development. However, there is not enough research done on CBD isolates to draw conclusions on the efficacy of CBD alone. More research is required.
In addition to this research, children consuming cannabis products at a young age do run a higher risk of substance abuse. A study taken in 2014 concluded that children with ADHD are 1.5 times more likely to suffer with marijuana use disorder.
All in all, there is not enough research to prove that CBD pure isolate oil would yield the same effects. It is important to differentiate between the psychoactive properties in THC compared to the non-psychoactive properties of CBD in order to draw a fair conclusion.
It is recommended that you consult your physician before giving CBD to your child. If this approach appeals to you please see our dosing chart for CBD dosage for ADHD children.
It is inconclusive as to whether or not CBD is an effective way to treat ADHD symptoms. The reason for this is because there is not enough research that has tested the efficacy of CBD itself but instead research is focused on the efficacy of cannabis. CBD could potentially propose a great holistic alternative to managing symptoms related to ADHD. It is important to note that this is not considered to be an effective treatment for ADHD itself. It is always recommended that before making any changes to your treatment methods that you consult a physician first. CBD pure isolate oil provides a great option for individuals who are looking to benefit from the properties of the CBD molecule without yielding any psychoactive effects.
CBD oil and ADHD
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that is often diagnosed in children around the age of seven. The characteristic symptoms of this condition include excessive restlessness, inattention, and impulsiveness, although those with ADHD may also experience mood instability, trouble coping with stress, depression, or anxiety.
While everyone may experience one or more of these symptoms at some point during their lives, ADHD is diagnosed when the symptoms are pervasive or disruptive enough to create ongoing problems in everyday life.
ADHD medications and treatment options commonly used to manage symptoms include stimulants, non-stimulants, or anti-depressants. These may be accompanied by side effects such as sleeplessness and lack of appetite along with an increased likelihood of heart problems, psychiatric issues, and addiction.
ADHD medications and treatment options that are commonly used to manage symptoms include stimulants, non-stimulants, or anti-depressants. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Many parents of ADHD children are concerned about the adverse effects of first-line medication and are open to trying alternative treatments. Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has garnered attention in recent years, with numerous anecdotal reports indicating it may help to ease anxiety and a variety of health conditions.
Studies that have investigated medicinal cannabis products such as Sativex as a treatment for ADHD have found it helped to alleviate symptoms such as hyperactivity and impulsivity; however, specific research into CBD oil is scant at present.
It has been hypothesized that CBD may help increase dopamine levels. Individuals with ADHD often have lower levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain. CBD has been shown to modulate the mesolimbic dopamine system, which may help enhance cognitive processes such as learning, mood, memory, and attention.
CBD also possesses anxiety-reducing properties and may help to relieve anxiety among those living with ADHD.
A 2018 study published in the Swiss journal “Frontiers in Pharmacology” reported on the experiences of parents who administered oral CBD oil to their children diagnosed with ADHD. Fifty-three children and young adults between the ages of four and 22 received CBD for a median of 66 days. Self-injury and rage improved in 68% of the participants but worsened in 9%. Symptoms of hyperactivity fell in 68% of participants, remained unchanged in 29%, and increased in 3%. Anxiety fell in 47% of children but increased in 24%. Adverse effects included sleeplessness and change in appetite, but they were noted as mild.
Preclinical studies and reviews indicate that CBD oil may help in the management of specific symptoms associated with ADHD, such as hyperactivity and anxiety. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
A 2019 study also published in “Frontiers in Pharmacology” studied the effects of CBD on mice. The mice selected for the study were deficient in the AMPA receptor, which is found in the central nervous system, rendering them a suitable model for hyperactivity disorders such as ADHD. The researchers found that CBD infused into the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for spatial learning and adaptation, reduced displays of hyperactivity in a new environment. This study suggests that CBD may dampen hyperactive circuitries in the hippocampus and other parts of the brain.
A 2017 review published in the peer-reviewed “Global Drugs and Therapeutics” discussed CBD as a treatment for pathologies associated with autism spectrum disorder, such as anxiety and behavioral problems. The authors of the study noted that CBD could help to normalize social deficits and cognitive impairments, protect against hippocampal cell death, and improve cognition. The authors also pointed out that CBD reduced anxiety in both animal and human models when administered at moderate doses of about 300 milligrams.
Brett Bartel, an adult living with ADHD, began taking a hemp-derived, full-spectrum CBD oil in April 2019 and has noticed a definite improvement in his symptoms. “I’ve been using CannaFocus,” he said. “It calms my mind in the evening and helps me sleep and I feel more awake and alert, better able to focus during the day.”
Eva Romano Olive’s son has been regularly using CBD oil after being diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder,sensory processing disorder, and social pragmatic language disorder, which is similar to Asperger syndrome “He was a nightmare for the school and daycare, got suspended twice, and almost kicked out,” she said.
Olive said that caring for her son was a constant battle, but the day that she gave him CBD, she cried when it helped. “He usually got five ‘smiley faces’ a day, because he mostly got negative reports, and the first day I used 500 milligrams of Charlotte’s Web, he got 35 smiley faces.”
After two weeks, some of the old behaviors returned, such as hitting, spitting, and meltdowns, so Olive increased the dose. She also emphasized that a change of diet significantly helped with managing ADHD symptoms.
Anecdotal evidence and self-reports that CBD oil may help with managing symptoms associated with ADHD. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
“Currently he takes 10 drops of Charlotte’s Web, and now I add in blueberry terpenes. He has been amazing in school,” she reflected. Olive notes that her son builds a tolerance to the CBD products after about three months, so she changes brands often.
Harriet Riley, whose name has been changed for this article, had a less favorable experience with CBD oil. “I tried it on my grandson, who is 11, for his ADHD. It didn’t work out that great,” she explained. “He became very emotional at school, and we had to take him off it. It could have been another medication that didn’t go well with it, though.”
What the experts say
James Polston, Ph.D., is the Chief Science Officer at Helius Therapeutics, an Auckland, New Zealand, biotechnology company focused on medicinal cannabis research and development. Polston observed that there is significant anecdotal evidence that CBD oil may help with managing symptoms associated with ADHD, but that there have been no rigorous clinical studies to specifically investigate CBD oil as a treatment for ADHD.
However, Polston acknowledged that scientific inquiry continues to investigate using CBD oil to manage the symptoms of ADHD. “There are many different ideas circulating about how CBD might help with the symptoms of ADHD,” Polston explained.
“Cannabidiol is now known to reduce inflammation, which has been shown to be a contributing factor in ADHD, depression, and autism spectrum disorders.”
Cannabidiol is now known to reduce inflammation, which has been shown to be a contributing factor in ADHD. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Polston also pointed to the work of Dr. David Bearman, an anesthesiologist in Goleta, California, who advocates dopaminergic regulation in the treatment of ADHD. “Traditional drugs used to treat ADHD typically work by increasing levels of dopamine in the central nervous system. Dr. Bearman has stated that cannabis appears to treat ADD and ADHD by increasing the availability of dopamine.”
The mechanism by which cannabinoids increase dopamine in the central nervous system is distinctive to how stimulants achieve this effect. “Cannabinoids may represent a novel approach toward dopaminergic regulation in the ADHD population,” he explained.
Polston also underlined that CBD oil boasts an improved safety profile over traditional pharmaceutical therapies for ADHD: “Cannabidiol has been shown to have one of the most beneficial safety profiles that one could ask for in a pharmacological intervention. The obvious benefit that CBD oil may have over first-line medications is that it could be much safer, with none of the abuse liability or concerns for addiction that accompany amphetamines and stimulants.”
On the other hand, CBD may not be as effective as traditional therapies, nor has it been studied for long-term effects. “However, considering that cannabis therapies have been around for thousands of years and adverse reactions are quite rare, the main disadvantage is most likely that it may not work for that individual person,” Polston said.
Animal studies and reviews indicate that CBD oil may help in the management of specific symptoms associated with ADHD, such as hyperactivity and anxiety. Anecdotal reports affirm the usefulness of CBD oil. However, until large-scale clinical studies and randomized controlled trials have been carried out, the benefits remain inconclusive.