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CBD For ADHD: Does It Help?

CBD For ADHD: Does It Help?

As one of the most commonly diagnosed childhood conditions, our understanding of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has grown exponentially over the last few decades [1]. Still, with symptoms that often impact classroom performance and treatment options that aren’t always a good fit for everyone, it’s no wonder parents and adults with ADHD might find themselves curious about the potential benefits of CBD for ADHD. CBD for ADHD, does it help? We can’t say for sure but there is some research we found that may support it as a possible option.

What Is ADHD?

Our culture has come a long way in its understanding and acceptance of neurodivergence. Today we recognize that neurological conditions don’t have to be a deficit and that neurodivergent individuals are often some of our most creative and outside-the-box thinkers.

ADHD is no different. The long list of famous and successful individuals with ADHD includes musicians like Dave Grohl and Justin Timberlake, athletes like Simone Biles and Michael Phelps, actors like Channing Tatum and Emma Watson, and even International Space Station astronaut Scott Kelly [2].

It’s no surprise, really. At any given time, roughly 6.1 million children between the ages of 2 and 17 years old are diagnosed with ADHD in the United States [3]. And 4.4 percent of the adult population is living with ADHD as well [1].

Given those numbers alone, it makes sense that there would be some talented individuals in the mix. But some of the very symptoms that can make ADHD difficult to manage can also be part of a recipe for success.

 

CBD for ADHD: Does it Help? Girl with brown hair playing violin

ADHD Symptoms

ADHD is a neurological disorder marked by physical brain differences that can impact a person’s ability to focus and regulate behavior [4]. Symptoms include [5]:

 Lack of attention to details

 Frequent careless mistakes in schoolwork or at work

 Trouble paying attention

 Difficulties listening

 Failure to follow directions

 Trouble organizing tasks or activities

 Avoidant of tasks requiring sustained mental effort

 Frequently loses things

 Easily distracted

 Forgetful

 Typically fidgets or squirms

 Trouble sitting still

 Difficulty remaining quiet

 Excessive talking

Trouble waiting for turns

 

When equipped with the tools to harness and redirect this energy, people with ADHD can be quite creative and successful. However, without those tools, these symptoms can make success in school and work difficult to achieve.

Traditional Treatment Options

Treatment of ADHD typically includes medication and behavioral supports such as skill training and/or cognitive-behavioral therapy. Roughly 3 out of every 4 children with ADHD in the United States is on some sort of medication to help with their symptoms [3].

The most common types of ADHD medication are stimulants, either fast-acting or extended-release. These medications help to curb ADHD symptoms and allow a person with ADHD to retain focus. But they also carry certain side effects, including [6]:

 Loss of appetite

 Weight loss

 Trouble sleeping

 Social withdrawal

 Tics

 Minor growth delay

Most of these side effects can be treated or relieved with medication adjustments, which is why it is always a good idea to remain in contact with your doctor about what you or your child are experiencing.

CBD For ADHD, How Could It Work?

Still, medication may not be the right choice for everyone. Or it may be that you or your child has found some relief on medication, but are still hoping for better control over your ADHD symptoms or medication side effects.

In that case, you have likely come to wonder whether or not CBD for ADHD could help.

It’s a common question and one that stems from our understanding of how CBD works in general. After all, plenty of people take CBD to help relax and slow down, so isn’t it at least feasible that the same could be true for those with ADHD?

While CBD is essentially the opposite of a stimulant (the more traditional medication treatment for ADHD), it does have purported relaxation benefits. Of course, cannabis use, in general, has also been linked to deficits in attention and cognitive functioning, both of which are symptoms of ADHD as well. While CBD alone doesn’t tend to have these side effects that are most commonly associated with THC, it does beg the question: could CBD oil for ADHD make symptoms better or worse?

What Does The Research Say?

As with most CBD research, our understanding of how CBD might impact those living with ADHD is still in its infancy. Scientists have just in the last few years started exploring this potential treatment option, and the research we have so far is limited.

It was discovered in 2013 that of 2811 current cannabis users found that those with ADHD self-reported a higher level of symptoms when not using cannabis than they did on the day they did use cannabis [7].

In 2017, researchers gathered 30 adult participants with ADHD. These participants were split in half, with 15 receiving Sativex, a 1:1 combination of THC: CBD, and the other 15 receiving a placebo. Results were ultimately insignificant, with one exception: researchers did note that the active participant group experienced a slight reduction in symptoms with no cognitive impairments in response to the cannabis use [8].

And a 2020 study found that medical cannabis patients who also happened to have adult ADHD reported a reduction in ADHD medication and symptoms in conjunction with higher medical cannabis use [9].

It’s worth noting that both of these studies looked simply at cannabis use, to include THC, as opposed to the use of CBD alone. While no research exists looking explicitly into the use of CBD for ADHD, what we do know is that research has found CBD to reduce anxiety scores and improve sleep—both of which may be heightened in patients with ADHD [10].

Is CBD Worth Trying For ADHD?

There is a lot of promising research that speaks to the potential benefits of CBD in treating a variety of different conditions. But when it comes to CBD and ADHD, we don’t yet have enough research to be able to definitively say how CBD might impact ADHD symptoms one way or another. We know a lot more about the benefits of the traditional treatment options available, and most doctors are well-versed in how to help limit the side effects that might result from those treatment options.

That said, CBD has a relatively high safety profile, with very few reasons for concern when trying it [11]. So if you’re disappointed in the results you are seeing from more traditional treatment options, or if you simply want to try something new, there is likely no harm to come from giving CBD for ADHD a try.

We would just advise you to talk to your doctor first, as they should be aware of everything you are taking and could help you to mitigate any potential interactions that could occur.

Adulthood ADHD vs Childhood ADHD

It’s important to note that advice to give CBD for ADHD a try is extended mostly to adults living with ADHD. We don’t yet know enough about the impacts of CBD on developing brains to be able to recommend this treatment option for kids. This is especially true because there also isn’t enough research to indicate CBD might provide benefits that outweigh any potential risks for children with ADHD.

As always, talk to your doctor before adding anything to your treatment routine. This is especially true for parents of kids looking for the best treatment options for ADHD. For now, at least, there are plenty of options to try that the scientific and medical communities know far more about than for example, CBD oil for ADHD.

FAQS

Does CBD help ADHD?

There hasn’t yet been enough research done to definitively answer this question. We do know that CBD could help with the treatment of anxiety and in improving sleep, both of which may be beneficial to patients with ADHD.

Can CBD make ADHD worse?

Similarly, the research simply hasn’t been done to answer the question of whether or not CBD might help or hurt those with ADHD. While CBD doesn’t produce the same cognitive impairments as THC, it is still possible that it could potentially make ADHD symptoms worse as opposed to better. We just don’t know yet.

What medication is best for ADHD?

Stimulant medications are the best-known treatment options for those living with ADHD. These medications help to reduce symptoms and improve focus with limited side effects that are typically easily managed.

How do you calm down if you have ADHD?

Seeing a doctor who specializes in the treatment of ADHD is your best bet in finding relief for symptoms such as hyperactivity and trouble focusing. They can help you to design a treatment plan that works for you, as well as helping you to develop tools for calming your mind when your symptoms might otherwise have you buzzing.

Final Thoughts On CBD For ADHD

It’s always nice when we can conclude that CBD might be a viable treatment option for any number of conditions. Also, as the research around this miracle cannabinoid grows, we learn more and more about the conditions it may be able to treat.

Unfortunately, ADHD isn’t one of those conditions. At least not yet. It is possible that with time and additional research, we will learn about the potential benefits CBD could provide to patients with ADHD. However, for now, it is best to stick to more traditional treatment options and to discuss any issues you may be having with those treatment options with a doctor who could help.

The information provided is for informational purposes only. We do not claim to treat or cure any health ailment or condition. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider before trying any new product. We are not responsible for any adverse reaction(s) you may have to any of the products featured on this site. See our T & C for more information.

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