How Does Cannabis Help With ADD and ADHD?

Both adults and children are seeking out CBD to help aid in symptoms of ADD and ADHD. Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorders are extremely common, affecting between 6% and 11% of U.S. children in America.

The most common medical treatments for anxiety in the U.S. are the use of pharmaceutical drugs like stimulants (amphetamines), antihypertensive drugs, and cognition-enhancing medications. However, it’s important to realize that these pharmaceutical drugs often have severe side effects and are not your only option for treatment. In addition to self-care and therapy, many people incorporate CBD into their treatment regimen for natural, plant-based ADD/ADHD relief.

Much of the research concerning CBD for ADHD is still limited, and we still need more evidence before CBD can be established as an official treatment for these disorders. While we could always benefit from more research on CBD and ADHD, we’ve looked into a few medical studies that have been conducted over the past six years for reference. These studies evaluated CBD’s medical efficacy in treating those who suffer from ADD and ADHD. We will address the results below.

What Studies Exist to Support the Use of CBD in ADD and ADHD?

Although THC’s impact on cognition and focus has been researched for decades, experts did not begin to dig into the true therapeutic values of CBD until recently. One important study outlines the strong anecdotal ties between cannabis and ADHD treatment. 

This study may have contributed to the newfound interest in CBD for ADHD. Another reason is the lack of psychoactive effects CBD produces, which is important to note since ADHD often displays itself during childhood. To date, there have been a couple of studies that show great improvement in symptoms of ADHD when using CBD regularly. 

Because CBD has been identified as a wake-promoting agent, researchers are interested in the mechanism through which CBD interacts with the brain. Because the endocannabinoid system is directly involved with most neuro-processes, many experts agree that there may be a strong tie. 

For this reason, more research on CBD for ADHD is underway, and researchers all over the world are interested in uncovering exactly why and how to use cannabis to treat the condition. For now, the following studies help us understand the ties between cannabis and ADD and ADHD:

1. Cannabidiol and clozapine reverse MK-801-induced deficits in social interaction and hyperactivity in Sprague-Dawley rats.

A 2012 study looked at the effect of cannabidiol on rats treated with MK-801, a custom formula designed to mimic the effects of ADHD. “Results showed that the MK-801- (0.3 mg/kg) treated rats displayed reduced social investigative behavior, hyperactivity as well as reduced attention span. Pretreatment with the phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (3 mg/kg) not only normalized social investigative behavior but increased it beyond control levels. Both cannabidiol and clozapine inhibited MK-801-induced hyperactivity.”

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2. Cannabinoids in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a randomised-controlled trial.

A 2016 randomized study gave 30 adults diagnosed with ADHD either a “placebo or Sativex Oromucosal Spray, a cannabinoid medication containing a 1:1 ratio of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to cannabidiol (CBD). In the intention to treat analysis, Sativex treatment was associated with a nominally significant improvement in hyperactivity/impulsivity and a trend for improvement in inattention. There were further indications for improvement in activity and cognitive performance, and emotional liability. 

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3. “I Use Weed for My ADHD”: A Qualitative Analysis of Online Forum Discussions on Cannabis Use and ADHD

A unique study of anecdotal evidence from 2016 gives great representation of the use of cannabis for ADHD “…Clinical and anecdotal evidence suggest an increasingly popular perception that cannabis is therapeutic for ADHD. Given that the Internet is increasingly utilized as a source of healthcare information and may influence perceptions, [a 2016 study] conducted a qualitative analysis of online forum discussions, also referred to as threads, on the effects of cannabis on ADHD to systematically characterize the content patients and caregivers may encounter about ADHD and cannabis.”

The study found that, “Twenty-five (25%) percent of individual posts indicated that cannabis is therapeutic for ADHD, as opposed to 8% that it is harmful, 5% that it is both therapeutic and harmful, and 2% that it has no effect on ADHD. This pattern was generally consistent when the year of each post was considered. The greater endorsement of therapeutic versus harmful effects of cannabis did not generalize to mood, other (non-ADHD) psychiatric conditions, or overall domains of daily life. Additional themes emerged (e.g., cannabis being considered sanctioned by healthcare providers).”

The study went on to conclude, “Despite that there are no clinical recommendations or systematic research supporting the beneficial effects of cannabis use for ADHD, online discussions indicate that cannabis is considered therapeutic for ADHD-this is the first study to identify such a trend.”

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Which CBD products help with ADD and ADHD?

As you design a cannabidiol-infused wellness regimen to help combat symptoms of ADD or ADHD, you should note that CBD has not been proven as an effective treatment for the disorder. Still, many people have reported improvement in ADHD symptoms when using CBD regularly. In other words, using CBD as a preventative is the first step to total symptom relief. After establishing a regular dosing routine, you could additionally use CBD to manage acute flare-ups. 

There are multiple CBD products that you can choose from, but for managing ADD or ADHD, we recommend ingesting full spectrum CBD oil daily in the form of a tincture or gel capsules. 

These two products feature the same main ingredient—full spectrum CBD oil. Choosing between the two means determining which dosing style works best for you. Tinctures are easily dropped under the tongue, and gel capsules are swallowed, just like any other pill. Just be sure the product you choose also utilizes high-quality MCT oil, which is crucial to the body’s ability to effectively break down and absorb CBD. 

After establishing a preventative routine, you may find that you still need an easy way to use CBD for managing acute flare-ups. There are many products that may help you achieve relief from these sudden symptoms, and choosing is based on your own preference. 

Whether it’s caused by stress, a big life event, or something else  – we recommend vaporizing CBD isolate to combat these acute flare-ups. CBD isolate is a version of CBD that is 99% pure, and when vaporized it can deliver fast-acting relief to the entire body. 

Additionally, you can simply increase your regular dose of CBD gel capsules or tinctures to manage these acute flares. Just keep in mind that they will take significantly longer to take effect than the 10-minute onset achieved with vaporized CBD.

In order to most effectively manage ADD, ADHD, and related symptoms, many people find that the best approach involves a combination of CBD products.

What is the correct CBD dosage to help treat ADD and ADHD?

Choosing the best dose for you requires careful consideration of your unique biological factors, like weight and tolerance to cannabinoid-based supplements. Additionally, you may need to increase your dose for more severe cases of ADHD or ADD or to manage severe flares. 

We suggest those suffering from ADD or ADHD start with 15mg per day of CBD. If this dosage doesn’t bring complete relief, we suggest increasing by 5-10mg until the desired effects are achieved. CBD tinctures make it easy to measure doses in small increments, so they may be a great option for those who are testing out different doses. 

CBD gel capsules, however, offer pre-measured doses that make it convenient to take CBD daily. There’s no harm starting with the lowest dose (like a ten-milligram capsule) and increasing by that increment since you can’t overdose on CBD and it poses no risk of serious side effects. 

From here, you can increase your dose slowly until you experience complete relief. Don’t forget that with ingestible CBD products you’ll experience a delayed onset time – it can take up to 90 minutes for the effects to peak. That means you need to allow plenty of time between doses to the effects before you make any adjustments to the amount of CBD you are taking. 

CBD vaporizers require a slightly different approach, as it can be difficult to measure the exact potency of CBD in every puff. Instead, try measuring the amount needed to experience relief from symptoms by the “number of puffs” needed. This is simple because vaporized CBD kicks in quickly, usually in ten minutes or less. This offers a great opportunity to slowly monitor the effects and stack on doses until you learn how much CBD you need. 

A Note About CBD and Drug Interactions

CBD’s safety profile has been scrutinized and confirmed by various leading organizations, including the World Health Organization. While CBD may be safe for most adults, it’s important to note the chance of interaction between CBD and other medications. CBD is metabolized by cytochrome P450 live enzymes, the same liver enzyme group needed to metabolize the majority of prescription medications. CBD may make some medications less effective by reducing the number of liver enzymes available to metabolize the substance.

These interactions could include many of the prescription medications taken for ADD and ADHD, like stimulants, which are metabolized by the same liver enzyme group. These interactions between CBD and other medications are not known to be dangerous, but it could reduce the efficacy of medications, which could potentially be dangerous if the medication is meant to treat severe symptoms. 

This effect is only temporary, and many people find that they can avoid interactions altogether by spacing out their CBD dose from other medications. Many people find that the interaction is insignificant at low to moderate doses of CBD. If you take medications or have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, you should talk to your doctor about CBD first to ensure there’s no chance of adverse drug interactions.