CBD for ADHD: Can It Help?

CBD for ADHD: Can It Help?

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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects one in 20 American children. Currently, there is a debate in the medical world about the causes of ADHD. One school of thought is that it may stem from social and cultural factors. In contrast, others believe that it is a behavioral disorder common to children regardless of geographic or cultural influences. 

ADHD typically presents itself in one of three forms:

Those with predominantly inattentive presentation find it hard to organize themselves, finish tasks, pay attention to details, listen to instructions and follow conversations. This person is easily distracted and forgetful when it comes to details and routines.

There are also those with predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation, which many think about when they picture a child with ADHD. This person will fidget a lot and find it challenging to sit still for long periods due to perpetual restlessness. As a result, they will be more impulsive, speaking out of turn and more prone to interrupting others. Children with this sort may even act out physically by grabbing things, running about and climbing things.

Then, there is the combined presentation where someone will have symptoms of both of these types in equal amounts. 

Currently, a variety of prescription medications are being used to treat people with ADHD in different combinations. These include stimulants, non-stimulants and sometimes antidepressants. These result in unwelcomed side effects, including sleep problems, decreased appetite, delayed growth in children, headaches, stomach aches and general moodiness or irritability.

Many parents of children with ADHD and adults living with ADHD themselves are looking for alternative treatments with fewer variables and side effects. Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) are two naturally derived compounds found in hemp plants that are gaining increased attention in this area. 

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How Cannabinoids May Help

Cannabinoids are molecules found in the hemp plant that mimic and function similarly to ones naturally produced by your own body. Those are called endocannabinoids, where the prefix “endo” means within or inner. 

Both cannabinoids and endocannabinoids can bind to special receptors present throughout your body. Of note are CB1 and CB2 receptors that form the structure of your endocannabinoid system (ECS). CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system and CB2 with the peripheral nervous system, but they have both been detected in varying numbers throughout the body.

Your body also produces natural enzymes capable of breaking down both endocannabinoids and cannabinoids after they finish “talking” to your body via CB1 and CB2 receptors. This way, they can be disposed of and the process can start fresh again. 

Hemp plants are amazing because they contain more than a hundred different cannabinoids. CBD is the most abundant in the majority of industrial hemp strains. At Head & Heal, we also cultivate a CBG-dominant strain of hemp which is possible because we are a farmer-owned, farmer-grown operation. 

woman using head and heal organic cbd oil

A CBG option, not found in many places, is available from Head & Heal in our Focus CBG oil, which may offer neuroprotectant properties and promote mental alertness, something of value for many dealing with ADHD symptoms. 

CBD and CBG are both of interest for those looking for freedom from symptoms of ADHD, which we’ll discuss more now.

What the Research Says About Cannabinoids and ADHD

A randomized controlled trial conducted in the UK examined the effects of cannabinoids in ADHD patients and was reported on in 2017. In this study, half the patients received an oral spray containing a 1:1 ratio of CBD to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), while the others received a placebo. Although researchers admit this was not statistically significant, those in the active group trended better for cognitive performance and activity level. 

A secondary set of examination criteria did show nominally significant improvements. This was in the areas of lessening or improving the symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity, inhibition and inattention. 

A case report published in 2018 examined the therapeutic use of cannabinoids by an adult Finnish man over a five-year period. He received a diagnosis of combined presentation of ADHD at 33 years of age and used popular prescription medication as his primary form of treatment for six years. Then, finding they were not working for him, and the side effects were too great, he opted for alternative therapies. 

The cannabinoids present in the medications he used granted him relief from many of his ADHD symptoms without adverse effects. For example, the report states he had reduced hyperactivity, improved focus, improved impulse control and better frustration tolerance.

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Are CBD and CBG the Right Choice?

We can’t make the decision for you about whether adding or transitioning to supplements like CBD and CBG is the right choice. We highly recommend looking at the studies out there and consulting your child’s pediatrician or your own doctor. If they’re unsure, seek a second opinion from a healthcare practitioner familiar with cannabinoids and ADHD to get the best advice possible. Never discontinue any current medications before consulting the prescribing physician. 

After this process, when you decide to try CBD for yourself or your child, know that you have a wide variety of options available to you. CBD oil allows for sublingual delivery via the provided dropper or for it to be mixed in with a liquid like water or fruit juice if this method is too difficult or uncomfortable, especially for children. Another option is CBD capsules, which can be taken orally with a glass of water like other supplements or vitamins. And then, we have CBD flower for the more adventurous types, which present an exciting opportunity for cooking and infusing. 

head and heal organic hemp flower

Whichever method you decide to use, our best advice, which will indeed be echoed by any reputable healthcare professional, is to start low and go slow. With consistent, daily use, you’ll be able to up serving sizes weekly as needed, but don’t be in a rush. With a bit of patience and consistency, the benefits will come if CBD is right for you.