CBD oil for ADHD: How to use cannabis for ADHD symptoms

Many of us know the common disorder ADHD (or ADD) by its acronym, which stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. When we think about ADHD we are most likely thinking about children, which is reasonable considering it’s one of the most common mental disorders that affect children. (Yes, we will be addressing the issue of cannabis use for children under the age of majority). But adults are also impacted by ADHD and many adults are choosing to use cannabis to treat their symptoms. Here we will talk about the use of cannabis and CBD oil for ADHD symptoms in both adults and children.

What is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common disorder that is characterized by inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the setting) and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur in the moment, without thought).

ADHD is often first identified in school-aged children when it leads to disruption in the classroom or problems with schoolwork. Though it’s important to note that ADHD symptoms, such as high activity levels, difficulty remaining still for long periods of time and limited attention spans, are common to young children in general. The difference in children with ADHD is that their hyperactivity and inattention are noticeably greater than expected for their age and cause distress and/or problems functioning at home, at school or with friends (source).

Symptoms of ADHD

Symptoms in children

Inattention Hyperactivity  Impulsivity 
  • Is easily distracted
  • Doesn’t follow directions or finish tasks
  • Doesn’t appear to be listening
  • Forgets about daily activities
  • Has problems organizing daily tasks
  • Doesn’t like to do things that require sitting still
  • Often loses things
  • Doesn’t pay attention and makes careless mistake
  • Tends to daydream
  • Often squirms, fidgets, or bounces when sitting
  • Doesn’t stay seated
  • Has trouble playing quietly
  • Is always moving, such as running or climbing on things 
  • Talks excessively
  • Is always “on the go” as if “driven by a motor”
  • Has trouble waiting for his or her turn
  • Blurts out answers
  • Interrupts others

Symptoms change and are presented differently in adults:

  • Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Problems at work
  • Trouble controlling anger
  • Impulsiveness
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Unorganized
  • Procrastination
  • Easily frustrated
  • Chronic boredom
  • Trouble concentrating when reading
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Relationship problems

(source)

Traditional Treatment

Behavioural therapy and medication can improve the symptoms of ADHD. Studies have found a combination of both behavioural therapy and medication works best for most people, particularly those with moderate to severe ADHD.

  1. Therapy
    • Behavioural therapy focuses on managing the symptoms of ADHD.
      • For children, treatment usually consists of teaching parents and teachers how to provide positive feedback for desired behaviours and consequences for negative ones. Although behavioural therapy requires careful coordination, it can help children learn how to control their behaviour and make good choices.
      • Adults with ADHD may benefit from psychotherapy and from behavioural strategies that improve structure and organization.
  2. Medication:
    • There are two main types of medication for ADHD: stimulants and non-stimulants.
      • Stimulant medications are highly effective treatments that have been safely used for decades. They include methylphenidate and amphetamines. As with all medicines, children taking these drugs must be carefully monitored by their parents and doctors.
      • Two non-stimulant medications, atomoxetine and guanfacine, have also been shown to be effective in treating ADHD symptoms. These medications are alternatives for those who do not respond well to stimulants or if a non-stimulant is preferred.

Side Effects of ADHD medication

A reason many individuals are looking into cannabis and CBD as a treatment for various ailments is because of the negative side effects associated with traditional medication.

Some of these side effects include;

  • poor appetite
  • weight loss
  • headache
  • mood changes
  • insomnia
  • dry mouth

We have seen the positive impacts of cannabis on appetite stimulation, chronic Pain

including migraine and headaches, anxiety, depression, and sleep.

Miss Envy Cannabis Tinctures

Cannabis and ADHD: CBD oil for ADHD

It may seem counter-intuitive that cannabis could help with concentration given its reputation. But many individuals diagnosed with ADHD report the effective use of cannabis to manage their symptoms. While many individuals choose to treat their symptoms with cannabis over traditional ADHD medication (source).

James Polston, Ph.D. (the Chief Science Officer at Helius Therapeutics; an Auckland, New Zealand, biotechnology company focused on medicinal cannabis research and development) observed there is significant anecdotal evidence and self-reports that CBD oil may help with managing symptoms associated with ADHD, but no randomized controlled trials have been conducted to date.

What People are Saying about Cannabis and ADHD

Many adults with ADHD find that it takes a lot of their emotional energy to get through their workday. Katie, from Vancouver Island, says that after these spurts of focus and productivity she falls into depression and has issues with executive dysfunction. So, she uses cannabis (specifically satvia hybrids) in the evening to help manage her mood as well as help her to be productive at home.

Aubrey also says that the right cannabis product can help them to navigate their ADHD in social situations, or smooth out the experience of using a stimulant-based ADHD medication. Read more about Aubrey’s story in the customer stories section of our blog.

Do you use cannabis to treat your ADHD symptoms? We want to hear from you! Leave us a comment here or share your experience on social media and tag us @miss.enybotanicals. Share your knowledge and help our community grow.

What Researchers Say

Even though there are no randomized clinical trials directly measuring the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment for the symptoms of ADHD researchers are using other data to describe the potential positive impacts individuals are seeing. Hopefully, there will be more clinical data in the near future to confirm these claims.

One main physiological irregularity of ADHD is the brain’s shortage of dopamine. Medications like Adderall and Ritalin stimulate dopamine, thereby promoting concentration, but come with a myriad of unpleasant side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

Dr. David Bearman has studied the relationship between the cannabinoid system and ADHD and discovered potential therapeutic value as cannabinoids interact with the brain’s dopamine management systems.

“Cannabis appears to treat ADD and ADHD by increasing the availability of dopamine,” Dr. Bearman wrote. “This then has the same effect but is a different mechanism of action than stimulants like Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Dexedrine amphetamine, which act by binding to the dopamine and interfering with the metabolic breakdown of dopamine.”

Put simply, the cannabinoids could potentially correct the dopamine deficiency observed in ADHD patients. Cannabis is able to provide the mental slowdown necessary for concentration in many patients. Boring and arduous tasks become more manageable, and mood swings tend to level out. But why?

“The most accepted theory about ADHD rests on the fact that about 70 percent of the brain’s function is to regulate input to the other 30 percent,” Dr. Bearman says. “Basically the brain is overwhelmed with too much information too fast. In ADHD, the brain is cluttered with and too aware of all the nuances of a person’s daily experience.”

Researchers are optimistic about the potential of cannabis to treat the symptoms associated with ADHD. And provide a safer, more effective alternative to medication.

CBD oil for ADHD: Can it be used for children?

Since ADHD is most commonly seen among children, so it’s important to address the potential use of CBD for children under the age of majority. Also, parents of children who have symptoms that are resistant to treatment continue to look for safe alternative treatments.

ADHD and Autism are often connected in both children and adults. This means that those diagnosed with Autism are likely to also be diagnosed with ADHD or vice versa. So, we will look at what doctors and parents say about the use of CBD oil for Autism as it is more widely studied.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario advises doctors to “not prescribe marijuana to patients under the age of 25 unless all other conventional therapeutic options have been attempted and have failed to alleviate the patient’s symptoms.” Despite this, many doctors continue to prescribe anyway and see positive results.

Dr. Michael Verbora, medical director at Canabo Medical Clinic in Surrey, BC, says he has seen “tremendous” success with cannabis therapy. He currently has 10 pediatric patients with Autism who are using this treatment. One of his patients is just seven years old.

As the research catches up with the results we will see more and more doctors supporting the use of CBD for children in controlled situations.

CBD side effects for children

Some people worry about the side effects and possible long-term effects of this treatment. This is a real concern because of the lack of clinical trials. Though Dr. Verbora says, “the worst side effects I’m seeing are a little bit of sedation, but it’s typically nowhere near the traditional pharmaceuticals these same patients would use for their behaviours anyway.” Moreover, many other doctors also support his view and many turn to cannabis when conventional treatment methods fail. (source).

CBD Consumption for Children

Of course, when talking about treating children with CBD we are not talking about having children smoking cannabis. But there are many different ways of consuming CBD other than smoking. These include oral products such as tinctures, oils, isolates, and edibles.

Check out some of these links to see these types of products and learn more about the different ways to add CBD into your treatment plan:

You can also make your own edibles at home with CBD Coconut Oil. Works great at a substitute for butter in baking or add it to many of your favourite meals. Making your own edibles at home not only allows you to easily measure your own dose but also allows you to control how much sugar your children are consuming.

Miss Envy Cannabis infused coconut oil

Also for Autistic children who may have sensory challenges when it comes to food, you can use Miss Envy’s CBD Coconut oil or CBD isolate to get their dose into something they are more likely to eat.

Check out our cannabis recipes section on our website for amazing recipe ideas that are easy to make.

Cannabis and Autism Success Stories

As we discussed above there are many parents, and doctors, choosing to use CBD as a treatment for ASD and having great success. Read some of these stories before deciding what is right for you or your child.

Four Year Old Boy ‘Different Child’ on Cannabis Oil

Marijuana May be A Miracle Treatment for Children with Autism

Richardson Father Risks Freedom to Promote Cannabis Treatments for his Daughter

 

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