CBD for ADHD: Benefits and More
CBD (cannabidiol) oil is a product made from the cannabidiol plant. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of 80 or more different cannabinoids found in this cannabis plant. It is non-psychoactive, which means it does not give the “high” feeling that THC does.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved CBD oil products to treat any conditions, but research shows CBD could be beneficial for some health issues, including arthritis, migraine, depression, insomnia, and inflammation. Research into CBD for treating these conditions is still in its infancy.
The Growing Problem of ADHD
CBD oil has also attracted attention for the role it could play in treating ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), a condition common in children that makes it hard for kids to focus and control their emotions.
Children with ADHD have problems listening in school and often struggle to learn due to problems with focus and sitting still. Despite a high potential to learn, their hyperactivity and inability to stay focused limit their school performance and are a source of frustration for parents.
Adults can have ADHD too. Estimates show around 5% of adults have this condition. Most adults with ADHD had it during childhood too, and it continued into adulthood. Unlike children, adults with ADHD are less likely to be hyperactive, but often have problems, focusing on tasks and completing them. Plus, adults with ADHD have difficulty remembering instructions and information. Some ADHD sufferers are impulsive. This may manifest as overspending, buying things they don’t need, and thrill-seeking behavior. Mood swings are also common.
There are several prescription medications available to treat ADHD, but they don’t work well in every case, and the medications have side effects. Could CBD be a non-prescription treatment for this condition?
CBD Oil for ADHD
One way CBD oil could help ADHD is by reducing anxiety. Kids with ADHD are often hyperactive and anxious, and CBD oil may have a calming effect that improves their hyperactivity symptoms. Some studies show CBD oil relaxes people with anxiety and improves sleep too.
According to research, CBD may improve ADHD by altering levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Some research shows that people with ADHD have low levels of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with feelings of reward and that plays a role in learning, memory, focus, and mood.
Some prescriptions for treating ADHD increase dopamine, and CBD oil may help by boosting dopamine too. Studies show that CBD may interact with serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin plays an important role in mood, learning, and appetite.
Cannabinoids interact with endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and nervous system. By doing this, they influence mood, sleep, pain, and learning. How these pathways work is complex.
What Do Studies Show?
One randomized-controlled study of 30 people showed that those who took CBD/cannabis experienced small improvements in hyperactivity, impulsivity, and cognitive function, but the improvements in cognitive function weren’t significant. Based on concerns about the subjects not avoiding other medications that affect cognitive function, like alcohol, the researchers felt the results were inconclusive.
One problem with the limited research on cannabis and ADHD is that many studies use the whole cannabis plant rather than isolated CBD. It would be advantageous to have randomized clinical trials that focus only on the CBD component.
Does CBD Have Side Effects?
The side effects people experience with CBD oil are usually mild, and include fatigue, nausea, appetite changes, diarrhea, and headaches. Since high-quality CBD oil doesn’t contain THC, the component that causes a high, you don’t get the psychoactive effects.
Still, there are concerns about giving CBD oil to children, since there’s a lack of quality research. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a drug that contains CBD to treat hard-to-control seizures in children with a condition called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Based on current information, CBD oil is safe and well tolerated by all ages. Avoid taking it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding without consulting your physician first.
The Bottom Line
Despite a lack of well-conducted studies on CBD for ADHD, there’s lots of anecdotal evidence that people who use it can focus better and are less hyperactive and impulsive. With this much anecdotal evidence, more research in this area would be helpful.
“CBD Oil for ADHD? What the Research Says – CHADD.” //chadd.org/attention-article/cbd-oil-for-adhd/.
CBDClinicalTrials.com. “CBD Oil for ADHD – October 2021”
“Adult ADHD: Symptoms, Statistics, Causes, Types and Treatments.” webmd.com/add-adhd/adhd-adults.
“What You Need to Know About CBD for Children.” 21 Nov. 2019, healthline.com/health/childrens-health/cbd-for-children.
“FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products ….” 22 Jan. 2021, fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd.