Exploring CBD for treating cognitive and behavioral issues related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Posted on: February 24, 2020
Concrete evidence surrounding the benefits of using CBD for ADHD is currently lacking, but CBD can help treat symptoms related to ADHD.
The Struggles of ADHD
ADHD, otherwise known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects 5-10% of children and 4-5% of adults. It’s characterized by impaired attention, inhibition, and general functioning.
ADHD symptoms can include:
Lack of focus
Difficulty paying attention
Trouble staying on topic while speaking
Not listening to others
Being easily distracted
Hyperactivity symptoms can include:
Trouble sitting still
Constantly in motion
Finding a balance for those diagnosed with ADHD can be a challenge. Traditional pharmaceutical treatments that work for around 70-80% of people with ADHD are known as stimulants.
These medications work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain and help boost concentration and focus while helping to reduce hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. Stimulant medications include Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat, Focalin, Methylin, and Ritalin.
Other options that are less effective and often take longer to see results are known as non-stimulants. The are most often prescribed in cases where traditional stimulants don’t work or cause severe adverse reactions. Non-Stimulant medications include Atomoxetine, Clonidine, and Guanfacine.
While the majority of these medical options work for most people and children with ADHD, these medications are not without their own set of side effects that can often be life-disrupting. It’s no wonder that parents of children diagnosed with ADHD are looking for natural alternatives that can be just as effective without the adverse side effects.
Side effects of ADHD medications can include:
Irritability and moodiness
To further complicate things, people with ADHD are often diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and bipolar issues as well. So in addition to their ADHD medications, many are also prescribed antidepressants to help control their mental health issues in addition to their ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD and the medications used to treat it can often lead to unwanted side effects.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has several functions in both the brain and body. It controls a person’s state of well-being and can affect their mood, motivation, attention, and movement. It also controls the brain’s reward system by dealing out feelings of pleasure. Medications that have shown to be effective in treating ADHD work by increasing dopamine levels.
CBD and Dopamine
CBD has shown an ability to modulate dopamine levels by enhancing or inhibiting how the receptors transmit signals by changing the shape of them. This means that CBD can potentially help control our body’s dopamine levels.
With that said, it’s important to note that there aren’t current conclusive studies indicating that CBD actually increases dopamine levels. Instead, according to Dr. Bearman, who has been hailed as one of the most knowledgeable physicians in the field of medicinal marijuana, cannabis appears to increase the availability of dopamine.
Think of CBD as a controller, helping to dish out dopamine levels in a more effective manner, making it a very promising option for CBD and the treatment of ADHD.
CBD can help better allocate dopamine levels in the brain which makes it a very promising ADHD treatment option.
CBD and ADHD Studies
As far as concrete studies regarding taking CBD for ADHD, there isn’t much available as it stands right now, but there are a few small studies and anecdotal evidence that shows there might be promise in this area.
Researches found a significant improvement in cognitive function and the improvement of hyperactivity and impulses after taking CBD. Even though the sample size of this study was relatively small, the consistent level of improvement is enough to warrant further research in this area.
Anecdotally, this study used various forum posts written by people who tried cannabis to treat ADHD symptoms found that 25% of these forum participants stated that cannabis was beneficial to their symptoms. The study further states that cannabis is considered therapeutic for ADHD, with 74% of users claiming that cannabis helped with their inattentive symptoms.
It’s important to keep in mind that many other factors can come into play when dealing with anecdotal success stories, so these claims should be taken at face value and not scientific fact. However, for people or parents of children dealing with ADHD and the subsequent symptoms brought forth by traditional pharmaceutical medications, CBD is worth giving a try as a natural alternative.
CBD for ADHD is currently lacking large clinical studies, but smaller studies and anecdotal evidence suggest this area needs to be explored further.
CBD for Depression and Anxiety
As we mentioned earlier, those diagnosed with ADHD are often diagnosed with depression and anxiety as well. So while concrete studies into CBD and ADHD are currently lacking, there are more studies into the area of how CBD can help treat other cognitive issues like depression and anxiety that do go hand in hand with ADHD.
Currently, there are published studies that indicate CBD has the ability to lift a person’s mood by helping to regulate serotonin and this study states that it can boost the “feel good” molecule known as anandamide. Additional studies on CBD for anxiety have also shown that CBD can help gate and control anxiety responses, offering a natural and safe alternative therapy option for the management of anxiety disorders.
Is CBD Safe for Children?
You should always discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider to ensure your child’s safety, and be sure to keep in mind that CBD is not the same as medical marijuana as sometimes people tend to confuse the two. With that said, the World Health Organization states that CBD is “generally well tolerated, with a good safety profile,” and that its use poses no “public health-related problems.”
CBD also lacks addictive-inducing behavior and has minimal adverse effects, with the most common effects being fatigue and sedation.
CBD is deemed safe for children, is non-habit forming, and does not induce any psychoactive effects or “high.”
Final Thoughts on CBD for ADHD
Traditionally, people and children with ADHD have to learn to cope with both the symptoms of ADHD and the side effects their medication can induce.
CBD and the treatment of ADHD are currently severely understudied, but preliminary studies and strong anecdotal evidence suggest its effectiveness in the treatment for ADHD and other mental health issues including using CBD for the treatment Autism.