p>Contributor: Dr. Augustine Provencio, MD CBD and Vyvanse explained. Vyvanse, or lisdexamfetamine by its technical name, treats hundreds of thousands Your complete guide to all things CBD and ADHD, according to the experts.
CBD and Vyvanse
CBD and Vyvanse explained. Vyvanse, or lisdexamfetamine by its technical name, treats hundreds of thousands of children and adults for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the United States every year. ADHD is the most common psychiatric disorder affecting children, yet prescription medications such as Vyvanse can cause severe side effects and also carry a high risk of addiction. Due to this, many people suffering from ADHD are looking into new ways to manage symptoms and side effects, and are exploring how CBD and Vyvanse interact.
If you are considering using CBD for any condition, be sure to do your homework before purchasing. You can find an array of products on amazon and other websites, but it may be hard to make a decision.
Check out my review of the Best All Purpose CBD Gummies you can find on the internet, including many Amazon products.
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Interactions Between CBD and Vyvanse
Contradictory to the calming effects of CBD and THC, medications such as Vyvanse are used as stimulants, aimed at causing a heightened sense of alertness and focus. Vyvanse is also classified as an amphetamine, meaning it is a central nervous system stimulant that brings on an energized, “upper” type of feeling following consumption.
Oddly enough, as Vyvanse is slowly absorbed into the bloodstream, it is biologically converted to the essential components of Adderall. In truth, Vyvanse has no real distinction from Adderall, other than the fact that an amino acid (lysine) that is processed by the body causes the drug to take effect. According to the American Council on Science and Health:
“Vyvanse is the quintessential example of a “pro-drug”—an inactive substance that becomes active only after it is absorbed and then metabolized in the body to give the parent drug [Adderall]. Pro-drugs are better absorbed, taken less frequently, and release the active drug slowly and steadily, which explains why patients who have taken Adderall and switched to Vyvanse often describe the feeling they get as ‘smoother.’”
Vyvanse Side Effects, Risks and Addiction
Despite Vyvanse carrying a lighter sensation for users when compared to Adderall, the risks associated with the drug can be just as dangerous. Currently, the U.S. Government classifies Vyvanse as a Schedule II drug, alongside methamphetamine, heroin, and oxycodone. Vyvanse is also known to be highly addictive and carries a laundry list of side effects such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Dry mouth
How Can CBD Help?
Specifically, Vyvanse, Adderall, and Ritalin patients (or the parents of patients) are drawn to the fact that CBD is known to be safe for children, carries many benefits even for ADHD sufferers, and is completely non-psychoactive… meaning that CBD does not cause a high. Certainly, CBD does not carry the ability to cure ADHD, but its therapeutic properties can assist in the management of symptoms. CBD may also assist in quelling some of the side effects brought on by such medications as Vyvanse, by:
- Managing anxiety,
- Managing sleeplessness,
- Providing neurological protection, and
- Promoting health within the endocannabinoid system.
CBD has even been proven to exhibit neuroprotective behavior towards nerves that have been damaged by amphetamines as well. Conducted by the neurosciences department at the University of Southern Extremadura Catarinense in Brazil, one study observed that the oxidative stress caused by amphetamines was significantly reduced following the administration of CBD.
In addition, it was observed in a similar study that CBD also produced anti-psychotic effects, which could prove beneficial to those suffering from ADHD. However, CBD in both studies did not seem to have an effect on hypersensitive motor functions.
CBD and Vyvanse – Potential Side Effects
There is always much debate over CBD’s ability to affect the P-450 enzyme, which is used to “activate” many pharmaceutical medications within the body. This interaction may cause certain medications to become stronger or weaker in potency. Vyvanse does apply to this process as it is metabolized with the same enzyme, so the utmost caution should be taken when combining CBD and such medications. Even though the same effect can be achieved with something as simple as a grapefruit, it’s best to consult a medical professional to monitor any changes.
Even so, many ADHD sufferers are finding that the key to finding harmony between CBD and Vyvanse is the timing of dosages. As Vyvanse is a stimulant, and CBD can cause a more relaxing effect, it’s understandable that the two should be taken separately. In most success cases, taking CBD two or more hours after a dose of Vyvanse provides the best results, and allows a more “level” feeling for Vyvanse users.
As formal studies regarding CBD and Vyvanse are lacking, many ADHD sufferers are taking the conversation online in order to find out how CBD and Vyvanse interact. Medical professionals, parents of children with ADHD, and adults with ADHD are all participating in the conversation. Generally, most conversations err on the side of skepticism, while others have outlined positive experiences with no adverse effects. One adult reported a very positive experience in using CBD along with Vyvanse, saying that they were able to focus in a way that they never had before.
In one thread, a medical professional stated that their patients reported a foggy and “buzzed” sensation when combining CBD and their ADHD medication (Adderall). Also, the same medical professional suggested that if the need for CBD was necessary, it’s advisable to take the CBD 2+ hours after taking the ADHD medication. Otherwise, taking only a higher dose of CBD at bedtime was ideal, and avoiding a CBD dosage in the morning.
Though it was a somewhat heated conversation, the parent of a 7-year-old with ADHD eventually decided not to administer CBD alongside ADHD medication, as it did not seem to affect hypersensitivity. On the other hand, one commenter on the same forum stated that her 8-year-old nephew experienced significantly positive changes to his ADHD symptoms following the prolonged use of CBD isolate. She also stated that his family saw significant changes in his behavior.
All in all, CBD should not be seen as a cure-all treatment, especially for serious psychological disorders such as ADHD. However, CBD may prove beneficial to those seeking relief from symptoms brought on by ADHD or subsequent medications like Vyvanse.
When CBD is taken with Vyvanse simultaneously, it seems the most ideal situation is spreading dosages apart by 1-3 hours – just enough to achieve a level and balanced ensemble of effects. When in doubt, always consult a medical professional prior to to any changes in your regimen, even in regard to a fully natural substance such as CBD.
Can CBD help with ADHD symptoms?
Your complete guide to all things CBD and ADHD, according to the experts.
Disclaimer: you should always talk to your physician or pharmacist before trying anything new that may affect your health (substances, medication). This guide is simply for reference, and is NOT intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice. Additionally, please note that this article was written from the perspective of a USA citizen. Check with your local cannabis laws for more information on CBD products in your area.
So, CBD is having a moment.
It’s on Instagram ads, I hear it on podcasts. even my local grocery store sells CBD products! But what the heck is CBD? And can it treat or help with ADHD symptoms?
This CBD and ADHD guide is here to give you the scoop.
Everything you need to know about CBD
What does CBD stand for?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, an active ingredient in the marijuana plant. It’s typically made from hemp, which is a non-intoxicating variety of cannabis.
Unlike the main active ingredient in marijuana, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it doesn’t get you high. It’s also known for treating pain and anxiety.
How do you take CBD?
Cannabidiol oil is available in a variety of forms:
- Ingestion: eating products containing CBD oil, such as gummies, candies, or tinctures
- Sublingual: putting the oil underneath your tongue
- Inhalation: smoking hemp or marijuana with high CBD content
- Topical: applying CBD lotions to your skin
If and when you decide to purchase CBD, make sure you know exactly what you’re buying.
Some CBD products also contain THC, which means it can have psychoactive effects. As a general rule, cannabis products with a ratio on their packaging (1:1, 20:1, etc.) contain both compounds. The first number is CBD and the second is THC. So, a 1:1 ratio means the product contains equal amounts of THC and CBD.
CBD and ADHD
How does CBD affect ADHD symptoms?
Much of the medically-reviewed research covers general marijuana use, and not cannabidiol specifically.
A 2017 clinical data review published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found promising positive effects of the compound.
The review confirmed that cannabidiol is indeed safe, with fewer adverse side effects than comparable medications. Though the review focused on epilepsy and psychosis, the safety and efficacy findings can apply to all uses.
A 2014 study compared the executive functioning of neurotypical adults versus those with ADHD who had or had not recently used cannabis. (Keep in mind that this study was about general cannabis, and didn’t specifically look at CBD by itself.)
The study concluded that while ADHDers scored lower on executive functioning than those without ADHD (duh, you already knew that), cannabis did not have a significant effect on that functioning.
Does cannabis make ADHD symptoms worse?
While the data can’t speak for everyone, the 2014 study mentioned above did answer this question with a resounding “no”. However, researchers found that early cannabis use (before age 16) can reduce the capacity for executive functioning, but more research needs to be done in order to determine specifics.
So, does cannabis improve ADHD symptoms?
Now, hold on — I didn’t say that! Let’s look at another study that was inspired by ADHDers who self-medicate with cannabis. Researchers investigated possible benefits of cannabis for ADHD and published their findings in European Neuropsychopharmacology. Again, this study wasn’t CBD-specific, but instead investigated general cannabis use. The results of the small study (30 participants) ranged from positive to neutral. ADHDers using cannabis scored slightly better on cognitive performance and activity levels than the placebo group.
Participants also demonstrated small but promising improvements in:
Research estimates that 25-50% of ADHDers have an anxiety disorder; lucky for us, there’s some evidence that cannabidiol can relieve anxiety. Some people with ADHD praise CBD for its ability to calm their racing anxious minds, which allows them to relax and focus.
You can find resources on using CBD for anxiety relief here and here.
CBD side effects
Cannabidiol is generally considered safe, but some users report undesired side effects, such as:
- Dry mouth
- Feeling lightheaded
In rare instances, CBD can cause liver damage. Because of this, you should proceed with extreme caution if you have liver disease, risk factors for liver disease, or are taking medication that can cause liver problems.
CBD and medication
If you take prescription medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying CBD. It’s always good to consult with your doctor, but I’m also empathetic to fears about being labeled a “drug user” or being otherwise judged by physicians for taking CBD. If you have a good relationship with—and trust—your doctor, I recommend full honesty.
It’s also important to remember that cannabis products aren’t strictly regulated in the same way prescription drugs are. You should only purchase products from trusted, vetted, authorized retailers.
General medication interactions
Here are some common prescription drugs that can potentially interact with CBD. This list isn’t exhaustive and to ask a professional about drug interactions.
Some drugs known to interact with CBD:
- Warfarin: commonly prescribed blood thinner
- Amiodarone: heart rhythm medication
- Levothyroxine: thyroid medication
- Seizure medication: valproate, clobazam, lamotrigine
- Blood pressure drugs: large doses of cannabidiol may interact
- Metformin and heartburn drugs like Prilosec: increase risk of diarrhea
CBD and ADHD medication
Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of research on the interaction with ADHD medications. I did find at least one source that said CBD may worsen the decreased appetite that’s common when taking stimulants. There also appears to be a small risk of decreased efficacy of ADHD medication when taking cannabidiol.
The grapefruit rule
One major caveat to keep in mind is the grapefruit rule: if your medication interacts with grapefruit, you shouldn’t take CBD with it.
Here’s a resource about cannabidiol and medications that interact with grapefruit, but you should check if your specific medication brands apply to the grapefruit rule. I found evidence of some positive interactions between CBD and stimulants, including reduced muscle tension and anxiety.
To read more about CBD and ADHD, check out this resource.
Stimulants and nonstimulants
Below is everything we could find on common ADHD meds (both stimulant and nonstimulant) and their potential for CBD interaction. This list isn’t exhaustive!
- Adderall: Potential appetite loss and reduced efficacy
- Ritalin: Potential interactions at extremely high CBD doses (hundreds to thousands of milligrams); common therapeutic doses are well below this threshold
- Dexedrine: Potential appetite loss and reduced efficacy
- Concerta, Vyvanse: Cannabidiol may prevent proper processing of meds and decrease efficacy
- Wellbutrin: Potential interaction; extent unknown. CBD might increase Wellbutrin’s side effects and/or decrease effectiveness
Is CBD legal?
To paraphrase The Simpsons’ Reverend Lovejoy, “Short answer yes, with an if; long answer no, with a but.”
Federally, all cannabis products are illegal and CBD isn’t FDA-approved (Food and Drug Administration). But 36 states have legalized medical marijuana, and many others legalized recreational use. If you’re in one of those states, CBD is indeed legal and available at dispensaries and other authorized retailers. CBD can be derived from either hemp or marijuana.
Hemp is legal in the USA
Hemp is legal in all states because federal law requires hemp products contain less than 0.3% THC. If marijuana (medical or recreational) is not legal where you live, then products made directly from marijuana are also illegal.
If you’re outside of the USA, I suggest looking up your local marijuana laws.
Should I treat my ADHD with CBD?
First, I want to remind you that I’m not a doctor – simply a woman with ADHD who did a bunch of research about CBD.
As suggested above, you should always check with your doctor before starting any new substance or medication. You could even send them the studies I linked above so you’re both on the same page about current research.
Let’s say you’ve talked to your doc and they approve of you trying CBD. So — should you go for it? That depends on several things.
I take CBD daily for chronic pain; the pain relief helps me focus on work instead of my pain. So in that way, it benefits my ADHD. However, I can’t say CBD specifically helps ADHD-related behaviors. It doesn’t make my symptoms worse, but it’s not a go-to for treatment.
Of course, this is just one person’s experience and shouldn’t influence your own health decisions! But as a daily user, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that.
Here are some circumstance where I think it’d be safe to try CBD:
- It’s legal where you live and easy to obtain
- You’ve had previous positive experiences with cannabis
- Your doctor approves
. and some instances where I think you should not try CBD:
- CBD isn’t legal for recreational use in your state or country
- You have liver disease or are at risk for liver disease
- You’ve had previous adverse experiences with cannabis or CBD
- Your doctor advised against it for health reasons
I hope this humble ADHD and CBD guide has given you some answers and helpful info. Whether you’re already a CBD aficionado, are curious to try it, or know it’s not for you, I hope you find some relief — from CBD or from whatever works for you.
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Ash Fisher is a Portland-based writer, performer and corgi mom. Check out her writing at ashfisherhaha.com.