Studies about CBD Oil & ADHD/ ADD [Simplified Research Papers]

Many of you may have heard anecdotes on how Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has helped them or their children overcome Attention Deficit Disorder (or ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). But, that shouldn’t be the basis of trying out a drug, even if it’s supposed to be a “natural” or a non-pharmaceutical one.

We should only rely on hard scientific facts, proven by research and clinical tests. We must remember:

Some research and studies have suggested that CBD may help patients:

But, does it have any positive impact on people, especially children with ADD or ADHD?

Before we discuss that, we first need to understand what is ADD or ADHD and why it occurs only among some individuals.

ADD/ADHD – A Brief

ADD and ADHD are neurodevelopmental disorders that affect around 6-9 percent of children and young adults worldwide. It also occurs among some adults, but only among around 5 percent of the global population.

Generally speaking, Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD is a disorder in which a person is unable to focus his or her attention on current tasks, and in turn, learn new things.

In the case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (or ADHD), the individual also lacks control over his or her impulses and actions. They act or speak in ways that are socially deemed as inappropriate or even irresponsible. They are basically not in control over their own elements.

Symptoms/manifestations of ADHD are:

Such issues often wreak havoc on a child’s life. They may lead to:

Later on in their lives, they face further problems in establishing meaningful relationships and achieving their goals in life, despite normal or superior intellectual abilities.

Why does it happen: ADD/ADHD often tends to run in the family, ie, it is usually genetically inherited. Scientists are divided over the reasons why it occurs only among some people.

Some researchers have concluded that people with ADHD may have an imbalance in the level of a neurotransmitter in the brain, called dopamine (or that this chemical doesn’t work properly).

Other studies have suggested the possibility that certain areas of the brain, particularly the gray matter, may be smaller among people with ADHD, compared to other areas.

Why dopamine is significant: Dopamine controls process like attention, memory, as well as pleasure and reward reactions. Cannabinoids have a lot to do with these aspects of our bodily functions.

Usual Treatment: Doctors generally prescribe stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall to children with ADD/ADHD to help correct their dopamine levels in the brain.

However, they may have unpleasant side effects. Owing to this, many parents look for alternative treatment methods. This is where CBD oil, which is believed to have a calming effect on the mind, comes into play. 

Research into CBD oil for ADD/ADHD or the lack thereof

At the very onset, let’s be clear that there haven’t been any large-scale or extensive research or clinical trials carried out on the effects of CBD on patients with ADD or ADHD. Additionally, it is also not known if it is safe for children since very little human trials have been conducted.

That being said – let us look at the little work that HAS been done.

Unfortunately for those looking to treat patients with ADD or ADHD, these four case studies are the only research work that has been carried out and published on this subject.

However, Dr. David Bearman, MD, University of Washington School of Medicine, who is considered to be a “clinically knowledgeable physician in the field of medicinal marijuana”, claims that “cannabis appears to treat ADD and ADHD by increasing the availability of dopamine, [which] has the same effect but is a different mechanism of action [than] stimulants like Ritalin”.

Research-based Safety Concerns

Even as some studies seem to back the claim that CBD, and cannabis in general, has therapeutic effects on patients of ADD and ADHD, there are still some very critical safety concerns – both for children and adults.

Safety concern of CBD oil For Children

As apparent in the studies cited above, no definitive clinical tests relating to CBD’s effects exist so far. Besides, the tests (4) have also suggested that the potential harmful effects of using cannabis for treating ADD/ADHD on children far outweigh any potential benefits. Since children are, by nature, more vulnerable, it is not advisable to self-medicate them with cannabinoids. Even if you consider CBD oil as comparatively safe, there is no denying that traces of THC remain in all CBD products.

For Adults

Research shows a direct relationship between marijuana dependence and ADHD, ie to say, marijuana addiction or dependence may heighten symptoms of ADHD and even create ADHD-like symptoms among people who did not previously suffer from this disorder.

These conclusions are in conformity with the earlier discussed studies, owing to the fact that NO SPECIFIC DATA is available regarding treating ADD/ADHD with CBD alone.  

Final Thoughts: What does the research say about CBD & ADHD

Cannabidiol oil has reportedly helped quite a few children suffering from epilepsy. However, there is no substantial data available on CBD’s effect on children with ADD and ADHD. Although researchers admit that treating ADHD with cannabis products may show short-term improvements in symptoms, they firmly believe that it can potentially worsen the underlying disorder in the long run. Since ADD/ADHD is an ongoing disorder and not disease that can be cured within days, the long-term effects of any kind of treatment must be considered before initiating it.

Until and unless more evidence of CBD’s usefulness in treating ADHD is found through scientific investigation, it is not safe to self-medicate. Also, taking into consideration children’s inability to efficiently tolerate cannabinoids, and the lack of a suitable regulation for CBD products in the market, it is best to follow your doctor’s advice with regards to your child’s health.

Cannabinoid: Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that act directly and/or indirectly on the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help the body maintain stability and health. Our bodies make their own cannabinoids – called endocannabinoids because they are produced internally – to work on cannabinoid receptors, while CBD and THC are cannabinoids found in nature — in plants of Cannabis Sativa species – hence called phytocannabinoids. Our body’s endocannabinoid system that responds to the cannabinoids with the help of its cannabinoid receptors was discovered during the ongoing research on cannabis in 1988; hence the name.  Also read: CANNABIDIOL 101: ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS 2019

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“I Use Weed for My ADHD”: A Qualitative Analysis of Online Forum Discussions on Cannabis Use and ADHD; John T. Mitchell, Maggie M. Sweitzer, Angela M. Tunno, Scott H. Kollins, and F. Joseph McClernon1, Karen Lidzba, Editor; Published May 2016;