ADHD, or simply hyperactivity, is a common problem in children that often persists into adulthood. Feelings of inner turmoil, impulsivity and attention disorders can make life very unpleasant. Let’s describe the potential benefits and whether CBD is even appropriate to use for ADHD.
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CBD and ADHD
Research on CBD as a treatment for ADHD is very limited. Mostly the overall effect of cannabis has been investigated, with very little research on pure isolated CBD. Cannabis use in ADHD is independently associated with reduced attention, inhibition and functioning. For this reason, many researchers hypothesized that cannabis use would exacerbate existing ADHD symptoms. However, there is no evidence to support or contradict this.
One 2016 study (link to study) examined the relationship between ADHD, depression, and marijuana use in college students. Although the researchers found that some students used marijuana to manage depressive symptoms, its overall effect on these symptoms was unclear;
A 2013 study of various subtypes of ADHD (link to study) and cannabis use produced interesting results. After collecting data from 2 811 current cannabis users, the researchers found that people who used cannabis daily reported symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity when they were not using cannabis. However, more research is needed to truly understand what benefits, if any, CBD may present for ADHD.
Substance use disorder
Other research on cannabis and ADHD focuses on ADHD as a risk factor for substance use disorder.
One 2014 study (link to study) evaluated cannabis use and ADHD symptoms in 376 college students. The researchers found that both current and childhood inattention problems were linked to cannabis use and addiction. They also found that participants who demonstrated hyperactive-impulsive behaviors in childhood began using cannabis earlier than participants who did not;
A separate 2017 study (link to study) evaluated 197 students in the same age range. She has written extensively on the role of impulsivity in young adults with ADHD and risk factors for alcohol and drug abuse. The researchers concluded that young adults with ADHD are more likely to use alcohol and recreational drugs.
How CBD works
When you consume CBD oil, compounds bind to two receptors in the body. These receptors, known as cannabinoid receptors type 1 (CB1) and type 2 (CB2), have a direct effect on specific parts of your body. CB1 is more abundant in the brain and is directly related to epilepsy. CB2 is more abundant in the immune system and is linked to pain and inflammation. CBD compounds seem to lead your body to use more of the cannabinoids it produces naturally. An increase in the use of naturally occurring cannabinoids can lead to a number of benefits, including reduced anxiety and reduced hyperactivity.
Side effects of traditional ADHD treatment
Traditional ADHD medications fall into two categories: stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulant treatment for ADHD is quick and widely used. In fact, 70-80% of children in the U.S. with ADHD see their symptoms decrease when taking this type of medication.
However, stimulant drugs are not without side effects, they include lack of appetite, weight loss, headaches, mood changes, insomnia and dry mouth;
Although non-stimulant drugs are less likely to cause side effects, they do occasionally occur and can include lack of appetite, weight loss, headaches, mood changes, upset stomach, dizziness and fatigue;
Stimulant and non-stimulant medications are by prescription only. To start using them, you will need to see a doctor and undergo regular check-ups;
Side effects of CBD
CBD has been shown to be well tolerated in doses up to 1,500 milligrams per day. Due to a number of factors, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours to feel its effects. Side effects of CBD may include an upset stomach, drowsiness, or changes in appetite or weight;
CBD can interact with many medications, so it is imperative to consult a doctor if you are taking any medications;
Since the evidence for CBD’s effect on ADHD is anecdotal and CBD has not been studied specifically to treat ADHD in children, it is best to talk to your child’s pediatrician before giving CBD to your child. There is a lot of research going on regarding CBD and the effects of CBD on a variety of diseases and disorders, including ADHD, will likely be explored in the near future;