Research shows that the health benefits of CBD can be used to help relieve a range of symptoms caused by a multitude of conditions; from acne to epilepsy. CBD–or Cannabidiol–is a natural compound derived from the Cannabis or hemp plant. Though derived from cannabis, CBD products (that do not also contain THC) have no psychoactive properties. Hemp-derived CBD, of course, contains less than 0.3% THC by law. Current research is promising for a wide range of applications, even for the symptoms of serious conditions like asthma, dementia, and diabetes, but what about attention disorders? Can CBD for ADHD offer relief of symptoms, or the condition itself?
Research on CBD for ADHD is very new, and there have been no conclusive findings. While more research is crucial before making any concrete suggestions, many parents of children with ADHD as well as adults with ADHD are seeking holistic and sustainable symptom relief for themselves or their loved ones. Is CBD for ADHD a viable option? We explore the current science, explain CBD dosage for ADHD and recommend the best CBD products for ADHD. We then go on to cover the potential side effects, review how CBD interacts with commonly prescribed ADHD medications, and answer some FAQs.
What is ADHD?
ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. People with ADHD may be overly active, or may have trouble focusing and controlling impulses. A 2016 study estimates that 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD. Symptoms of ADHD include inattention (difficulty maintaining focus, difficulty with organization, forgetfulness), hyperactivity (excess physical movement, fidgeting, trouble with interrupting, etc) and impulsivity (acting without forethought, difficulty negotiating urges).
The cause of ADHD is unknown, but there is some evidence that genetics may contribute to this condition, as it is common that persons with ADHD will also have a relative with the disorder. National Health Services states that people who were born prematurely, who have epilepsy, or who have suffered early brain damage may be at risk of developing ADHD. Diagnosis for adults relies on self-reported monitoring of symptoms via a checklist as well as medical examination to rule out other conditions. For children the process is similar, but relies on systems of checklists and gathering information from parents, teachers, and other relevant community or family members, in addition to medical and behavioral examinations.
Experts recommend a combination of therapy and prescribed medicine to be the most effective management system for symptoms of ADHD. Many of the drugs prescribed to treat these symptoms are stimulants, designed to increase activity in the brain in those areas ADHD affects most, the centres of behavior and attention. These medicines can have severe side effects however, such as decreased appetite, mood swings, increased blood pressure, trouble sleeping, etc. Behavioral therapy and family education are important supplements in an effective symptom-management plan.
Some children, teens, or adults with ADHD may experience symptoms of other conditions alongside ADHD such as: anxiety disorder, depression, sleep problems, autistic spectrum disorder, or learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
Can CBD oil help with ADHD?
Research on the effectiveness of CBD oil for ADHD is still relatively new. There have been exciting developments in adjacent fields of study with potential for overlap with ADHD; in 2018 the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first drug with an active ingredient derived from the cannabis plant, to treat rare and severe forms of epilepsy. A 2018 nation-wide study states that, “Epilepsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are strongly associated; however, the underlying factors contributing to their co-occurrence remain unclear.” The links between epilepsy research and ADHD research suggests that CBD for ADHD could, in the future, become better understood as a possible symptom-management option for individuals and families dealing with ADHD.
One small randomized controlled trial in 2017 found that adults with ADHD who were received doses of Sativex, a cannabinoid medication which contains both THC and CBD, showed a minor reduction in ADHD symptoms with no cognitive impairments. It must be noted that further medical studies need to be conducted before conclusive statements can be made. While this study is encouraging, the alleviation of symptoms for individuals was not demonstrably significant and may be attributable to placebo effect.
A 2020 study found that consumption of higher doses of medical cannabis was associated with ADHD medication reduction in adults. The products which contained a higher dosage of CBD were associated with lower ASRS score (Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale).
Many more comprehensive studies must be undertaken before any health professionals would consider recommending CBD oil for ADHD. Since CBD is known for its numerous potential health benefits and relaxation properties however, there is some anecdotal evidence which supports CBD as a means to treat symptoms of ADHD. Some of our CBD buying guides already cover associated symptoms of ADHD: anxiety and depression, as well as trouble sleeping or calming down.
Does CBD interact with ADHD drugs?
It’s possible for CBD to interact with a number of different prescription medications, over the counter drugs, or supplements. CBD and grapefruit share a property which causes them to interfere with enzymes that are vital to drug metabolism. Discuss with your doctor before you use CBD, and check to see if there are any ‘grapefruit warnings’ on any of your supplement or prescription bottles.
Side effects of CBD
CBD is naturally occuring and well known for its limited side-effects. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic state that the most common side effects of CBD use are dry-mouth, fatigue, diarrhea, and appetite changes. Some people may experience an upset stomach or a loss of energy when they first start taking CBD orally, but starting with a lower dose may help reduce your risk for these side effects. If you experience any discomfort or side effects, discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
How to use CBD for ADHD
If you are thinking of trying out CBD for ADHD, here’s what you need to know. To receive the benefits of CBD, you can ingest it orally or apply it topically. If taking CBD in the form of an oil, hold under the tongue for 60 to 90 seconds to ensure full absorption.
There haven’t yet been enough studies completed to yield results that would help inform a guide on how to best use CBD to manage symptoms of ADHD such as: hyperactivity, inability to focus, and fidgeting. However, when using CBD your body is able to utilize more of the naturally occurring cannabinoids in the body which can promote a range of benefits, including decreased anxiety and relief from excess energy.
Check out our comprehensive dosing guide for more information about the best doses for similar symptoms such as anxiety. It is always best practice to start with a smaller dose and gradually increase to allow your body time to get used to the oil and reduce the risk of side effects.
Best CBD Products for ADHD
1. cbdMD Gummies
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CbdMD provides independently tested, high-quality, THC-free CBD gummies. These low-dose delicious gummies are easy to integrate into your routine and may help alleviate symptoms associated with hyperactivity and inattention.
2. Charlotte’s Web Calm Gummies
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This lemon balm infused gummy contains 60mg of CBD and promotes both calm and focus, which may help users alleviate symptoms of inattention experienced by those with ADHD. It can also be used as a sleep aid, which could be useful for those dealing with excess energy or who have trouble winding down.
3. CBDPure Hemp Oil
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This organic, non-GMO CBD oil is free of any contaminants or additives, quality tested by an independent third-party lab to ensure high quality. This oil is a great starter product for someone new to CBD, it’s a low dose that will help newbies start slow and monitor the effectiveness of CBD oil for symptoms of ADHD.
There currently aren’t any formal guidelines on how to use CBD oil to treat ADHD symptoms such as hyperactivity, inability to focus, and fidgeting. However, when using CBD your body is able to utilize more of the naturally occurring cannabinoids in the body which can promote a range of benefits, including decreased anxiety and relief from excess energy.
A 2018 study suggests that a single 300-mg dose may be enough to reduce anxiety, which may be of assistance to people with ADHD. It is always best practice to start with a smaller dose and gradually increase to allow your body time to get used to the oil and reduce the risk of side effects.
CBD has been federally legal in the United States since 2018. Although there is much anecdotal evidence that kids can take CBD with few side effects, research into the effects of CBD on developing minds and bodies is ongoing. In general, you should only give your kids CBD under the recommendation, and supervision, of an experienced physician. Check out our guide for the Best CBD oil for Kids in 2021.