A chief chemical compound found in the hemp plant, cannabidiol, or CBD, has begun to attract attention for its medical and therapeutic effects. And though the research is in early stages, many patients report that CBD can have profound positive effects on the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If you think cannabidiol might help with your ADHD symptoms, it’s important to know what the current research says about everything from potential benefits to side effects. We’ll walk you through some of the documented benefits of using CBD to treat ADHD so that you can have an informed conversation with your doctor about what’s right for you.
4 Benefits of Using CBD Oil for ADHD
- Relaxed Feelings
- Reduced Impulsivity
- Increased Dopamine
- Improved Sleep
It’s important to remember that CBD is just one of the key compounds found in the hemp and cannabis plants. If you’re worried that using CBD to treat ADHD symptoms can have psychoactive effects or produce a feeling of being high, it should ease your mind to know that the psychoactive effects of the cannabis plant are associated with a different compound—tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Unlike THC, which is the active compound associated with marijuana, cannabidiol does not produce a high or have any hallucinogenic or psychoactive properties.
What CBD does offer is an interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which helps maintain a sense of balance within the body and regulate the production of several key brain chemicals. In fact, the endocannabinoid system is a key player in many physiological functions that underlie symptoms of ADHD, like memory, cognition, mood, concentration and more. According to some ADHD patient reports, using CBD can help stimulate the body’s production of its own endocannabinoids, which may help reduce everything from anxiety and pain to inflammation and even some of the common symptoms associated with ADHD, like hyperactivity and impulsivity.
One thing is clear from the medical community: cannabidiol treatment at this time should be confined to the treatment of adult ADHD symptoms. Because of the lack of research into the specific mechanism of action, along with long-term effects, CBD is not recommended to treat ADHD symptoms in children.
Can You Take CBD Oil for ADHD?
Yes, you can. CBD products are widely available, and you do not need a prescription in order to purchase them. While the research on the medicinal benefits of CBD is in the extremely early stages, there is documentation that some ADHD sufferers find a therapeutic effect from using CBD.
In most patients, ADHD causes an inability to pay attention or maintain focus, sometimes along with an intense physical restlessness that may make it difficult to concentrate on work or school. Because cannabidiol has been shown to relieve feelings of anxiety in some patients, there may also be reason to explore CBD’s effects on the similar symptoms of ADHD.
Though not much research on treating ADHD with CBD exists, one 2012 study showed that mice with symptoms of hyperactivity, including a reduced attention span, began to exhibit “normalized” behavior when treated with CBD. Another study from 2020 showed that higher doses of medical cannabis were associated with a decreased use of ADHD stimulation medication in adults.
It’s important to note that much of the connection between CBD and ADHD has historically come from the reports of individuals with ADHD who self-medicate with cannabidiol. It’s also important to keep in mind that ADHD often goes hand in hand with other challenges, like anxiety and restlessness, both of which have been shown, at some level, to improve with CBD treatment.
While this offers hope that more research will show a more direct link between CBD use and improved ADHD symptoms, it’s wise to talk with your physician before treating ADHD symptoms on your own. This is especially true if you’re currently taking medication for any other medical condition, some of which may react adversely with cannabidiol.
4 Benefits of Using CBD Oil for ADHD
Let’s take a closer look at some of the reported benefits of using CBD to treat symptoms of ADHD.
1. Relaxed Feelings
It’s no small thing that ADHD is often accompanied by anxiety. Some studies have shown that CBD has great promise in treating a wide variety of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. In addition, it has a bit of an antidepressant effect. These combined effects can help generate overall feelings of calm and well being.
2. Reduced Impulsivity
One of the key symptoms of ADHD is extreme impulsivity, which may be reduced by using CBD as a treatment. One study of ADHD subtypes, conducted in 2013, showed that out of nearly 3k participants, those who did not self-medicate using cannabis reported a higher incidence of hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, which may indicate that participants who used marijuana to self-medicate found relief from symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity.
In addition, a 2017 pilot study of 30 adults with ADHD found that cannabidiol was associated with small improvements in hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention among participants. Continued research may reveal additional details about how CBD helps reduce impulsive behavior.
3. Increased Dopamine
Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter produced by our brains. It activates the brain’s pleasure center and leads to feelings of satisfaction, reward, and wellbeing. In addition, dopamine helps regulate mood, improve memory and focus, and support learning, planning, and productivity.
Some patients with ADHD also have lower than typical levels of dopamine, which can greatly affect focus and concentration. Because CBD can encourage the production of anandamide, a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in the body that helps regulate both dopamine and serotonin, cannabidiol treatment ultimately can help increase a patient’s dopamine levels.
4. Improved Sleep
While sleep is essential for overall good health and wellbeing, patients who deal with anxiety, ADHD, and other mental health issues often can find it difficult to relax and fall asleep at night—or they may find it difficult to stay asleep once they fall asleep, failing to get the deep and restorative sleep they need for optimal health.
Studies have found that CBD may have an overall calming effect on the nervous system, which not only helps with feelings of peace and wellbeing during the day, but also can help the nervous system transition into a stage of deep, restful sleep. And while research remains in early stages, there is some indication that CBD therapy may help patients overcome sleep issues such as excessive daytime sleepiness, insomnia, or REM sleep behavior disorder.
And in addition to better overall health and wellbeing, improved, more restful sleep often can help patients with ADHD better manage symptoms, such as poor focus, impulsivity, and hyperactivity during the day.
What Forms of CBD are Used for ADHD?
CBD oil is generally the most common form of treatment, though CBD also is available in a supplement or capsule form, or even as CBD gummies. There is no current research comparing the efficacy of different types of CBD delivery methods. If you’re trying CBD for the first time, oil is a good way to begin, since it allows you to know exactly what dosage you’re getting, and you can start with the smallest dose possible and work up until you find the dose that provides a therapeutic effect without adverse side effects.
Before buying any CBD product, be sure to make sure the company has a positive reputation. Look for products
- Clearly labeled as to be free of herbicides or pesticides
- Registered or certified by a State agency to verify potency
- Clearly labeled with a reference to third-party testing to back up the safety of the CBD
While CBD also can be inhaled, we recommend avoiding this delivery method. Inhaling CBD puts the compound into the bloodstream faster, which might not be a good idea if you’ve never used it before. Also, in general, the medical community has significant concerns about the inhaling or vaping of CBD— including the likelihood of breathing difficulties, long-term lung damage, and even death. It is much safer to take CBD orally, through either an oil, a CBD tincture, or a capsule.
What is the Recommended Dosage for ADHD?
It’s important to keep in mind that because CBD is not an FDA-approved medical or therapeutic ADHD treatment, the FDA has issued no guidelines when it comes to effective dosage. And remember that research into treating ADHD with CBD is scarce and still largely in early stages, though one 2018 study has suggested that a single 300-milligram dose may be enough to reduce anxiety. In addition, CBD has been shown to be well tolerated at doses of up to 1,500 milligrams per day.
The best way to find your ideal CBD dosage is through a process known as titration or stepwise dosing. Starting with a minimum baseline dose, you’ll gradually increase your dosage (usually every three days) until you find your most effective dose. The most effective dose will be the dose that provides the most therapeutic effect with the least amount of adverse events or side effects. A good place to start is with a five to ten milligram dose, one to two times per day, providing a total daily dose of 10 to 20 milligrams. After a seven-day base period, gradually increase dosage by five milligrams every three days until you reach the effect that’s best for you.
It’s important to remember that everyone responds differently to CBD treatment, so you may have to experiment a bit to find the dosage—whether pure CBD oil, CBD soft gels, or CBD capsules—that is ideal for your body and your particular symptoms. There is no standard CBD dosage for every person or for every condition. As always, it’s important to speak with your doctor about your desire to treat your ADHD symptoms with CBD, and to work with them to develop a plan to find your ideal dose.
CBD is a Promising Option for Those Living with ADHD
While there is certainly optimism around CBD’s ability to manage the symptoms of ADHD, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between CBD and ADHD. Until then, make sure to talk with your doctor if you’re considering treating ADHD symptoms with CBD. They can help you understand the legal requirements of your state and talk with you about proper dosing.
If you’re ready to try CBD for ADHD, consider shopping FarmerAndChemist.com. We offer a wide variety of high quality CBD products that could provide a bit of relief for your ADHD symptoms. Our pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are more than happy to help if you have any questions! Just visit our store in Midvale, Utah or call us at 385-900-8997.