CBD for ADHD and ADD
ADD and ADHD are used to refer to a syndrome characterized by inattentiveness, restlessness, forgetfulness, hyperactivity, among other symptoms. ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder has symptoms such as inattentiveness, poor memory, and distractibility. ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, refers to hyperactivity, impulsivity or excessive restlessness.
Today, doctors use ADHD as the general term for the conditions involving attention deficit, and further subdivide ADHD into three subtypes. The three subtypes are inattentive, hyperactive and combined. ADD falls in the inattentive subtype of ADHD, with sufferers showing no form of hyperactivity.
Both children and adults can show symptoms of ADD and ADHD. People with ADD present themselves as calm while those with ADHD present themselves as excessively active and disruptive. ADD and ADHD is caused by chemical and structural differences in the workings of the brain.
Why is CBD a Good Option for Treating ADD/ADHD?
Both ADD and ADHD are characterized by low levels of dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s cognitive abilities such as memory, attention levels, and mood. Low levels of this chemical cause a manifestation of attention deficit disorder.
Cannabinoids have been shown to improve the transmission of the chemical neurotransmitter in the brain, dopamine, which helps to enhance cognitive processes 1 . CBD helps increase the focus of ADHD patients by making more active the adenosine receptors in their brain, thereby reducing anxiety. It works to minimize the distractions and hyperactivity ADHD patients exhibit 2 .
The properties of CBD to improve the brains cognitive processes have made it useful for treating conditions other than Attention Deficit Disorder. It can relieve anxiety, pain, and depression among other neurological problems.
The Benefits of Using CBD for ADD/ADHD
Medications such as Ritalin and Adderall are usually used in managing ADD/ADHD. However, these medications present various side effects, some of which can be severe and affect a sufferer’s life. CBD, when used to relieve the symptoms of ADHD, causes minimal side effects. Compared to the conventional drugs used for the attention deficit condition, CBD appears safer 3 .
Although CBD oil is derived from the Cannabis plant, it doesn’t have the psychotropic effects or properties that characterize the plant. During the extraction process, THC is removed. THC is a chemical substance that causes the psychotropic nature of cannabis. Because the THC Level is low in CBD oil the “high” feeling is not experienced when CBD is taken.
The benefits of CBD for managing ADD/ADHD go beyond relieving the symptoms. CBD contains antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anti-anxiety properties.
Possible Side Effects of Using CBD to Treat ADD/ADHD
While CBD is generally considered safe, some people will experience some side effects. The side effects include nausea, diarrhea, drowsiness, change of appetite, and a dry mouth. The symptoms are rare, though, and not as severe as the ones caused by the conventional drugs used to treat ADD/ADHD.
CBD Dosage and How to Take CBD for ADD/ADHD
Different ADHD characteristics require different amounts of CBD oil.
American sources recommend that children with ADHD take between five and ten drops of 500mg CBD oil three times a day. This dosage can be gradually increased later and used until the symptoms subside. As a precaution, we do not recommend the use of CBD by children. Please keep your CBD products out of the reach of children.
We recommend following the step-up method described in the book CBD: A patient’s guide to Medical Cannabis” by Leinow & Birnbaum 4 . According to this book, ADD/ADHD patients should start with a microdose of CBD. To find out more about the microdose and how to correctly take your CBD, please read our article on CBD dosage.
Disclaimer: All information on this page is based on studies and experience reports. For legal reasons we at Hemppedia are not allowed to make any specific recommendation regarding the use of CBD products for children.
What Are Studies Saying About the Use of CBD to Treat ADD/ADHD?
In one study of the effectiveness of CBD for ADHD, patients who used CBD oil showed a reduction of hyperactivity, had better sleep patterns and enhanced concentration. The study, which was done in 2014 and involved 30 participants, was conducted by Dr. Eva Milz assisted by Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen. It was done in Germany. All the 30 patients had shown not to respond to drugs or conventional medication for ADD/ADHD. However, they responded positively to CBD 5 .
In yet another study in 2013, CBD oil was presented to self-medicating patients. After some time, the patients reported relief from the impulsiveness and hyperactivity characteristic of the attention deficit disorder they were suffering from. The researchers confirmed the benefits of using CBD to manage the condition, later prescribing it to their patients.
Other studies include a trial conducted in London’s Kings College which involved a random trial of the effects of CBD on ADD/ADHD on selected patients. The patients reported improved cognitive abilities, with reduced hyperactivity and higher focus and concentration.
CBD for ADHD or ADD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain based disorder characterised by inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, although symptom type and severity can vary from person to person. ADD, or attention deficit disorder is very similar to ADHD, but as the name suggests, often presents without hyperactivity as a symptom.
Although ADD and ADHD is usually associated with children it can continue into adulthood. Adults with ADHD may have trouble managing time, be disorganised, have difficulty with setting and achieving goals and often struggle keeping down a job.
Symptoms of ADD/ADHD
ADD and ADHD is characterised by three main groups of symptoms:
- Lack of focus and an inattention to detail
- Carelessness and often making mistakes
- Trouble staying on topic, appears to not be listening to other, and do not follow social rules
- Forgetfulness about daily activities and keeping appointments
- Be easily distracted by others, noises or events
- Seeming to constantly daydreaming
- Fidgeting and squirming
- Inability to sit still, getting up frequently to walk or run around
- Inappropriate running or jumping
- Excessive talking
- Not waiting their turn
- Blurt out answers before someone has finished asking a question
- Frequently interrupt or intrude on others, causing problems in social or work settings
- Start conversations at inappropriate times
- Appear reckless at times, engaging in potentially dangerous activities
ADD/ADHD Medications & Treatment
The usual treatment and care for ADD/ADHD is combination of medications and behavioural therapies to help manage symptoms. To date there is no cure for ADD/ADHD.
- poor appetite
- weight loss
- mood changes
- dry mouth
This form of treatment is particularly useful for children diagnosed with ADHD at a young age. Behavioural therapy aims to provide the diagnosed person as well as those close to them with the skills and strategies they need to help manage and improve symptoms by working to eliminate unwanted or problem behaviours, while teaching and strengthening positive ones.
How can CBD help for ADD/ADHD
Research & Scientific Evidence
Despite the popularity of cannabidiol (CBD), to date, there are no published data or randomised clinical trials that investigated the use of CBD specifically for the treatment of ADD/ADHD symptoms. However, there is some tentative evidence available from other studies.
The double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled experimental trial involved 30 adults with a confirmed diagnosis of ADHD who were randomly decided into a treatment group and control group. Sativex Oromucosal Spray with a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD were administered to the treatment group for a period of 6 weeks during which cognitive performance, activity level and behavioural symptoms of ADHD and emotional lability was investigated.
Although not statistically significant, the researchers found an overall pattern of improvement in ADHD symptoms in the experimental group, and in particular for symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity. They also found trends towards improvements for inattention and emotional lability.
The study consisted of 53 children (45 males and 8 females) aged between 4–22 years of age, who all received between 45 mg and 143 mg of CBD per day for a median of 66 days. The researchers report that symptoms of hyperactivity reduced in 68.4% of participants, remained unchanged among 28.9% and increased among 2.6%. Negative side-effects reported were mostly mild and included sleeplessness and a change in appetite. Similarly, none of the participants were excluded or discontinued treatment nor had adverse effects.
The researchers concluded that there was an overall improvement in hyperactivity symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder, with its efficacy being “non-inferior” to methylphenidate, a medication often prescribed to manage hyperactivity.
The hippocampus is considered to be an important brain area for spatial learning and adaptation with abnormal activation in this area being strongly associated with excessive locomotor activity and hyperactivity – especially in novel environments. Therefore, the researchers targeted the hippocampus by injecting CBD directly into this region and found that the mice reduced displays of hyperactivity in new environments.
They found a significantly reduction in the novelty-induced hyperactivity, leading them to hypothesise that CBD may dampen hyperactive hippocampal circuitries as well as other parts of the brain implicated in ADD/ADHD.
Anecdotal evidence suggest an increasingly popular perception that CBD as well as cannabis itself can be therapeutic for ADHD. Some users even report a preference for CBD and cannabis over prescribed medications due to its more favourable side-effect profile and overall safety.
Despite this, reports from doctor’s who’s patients admitted to trying CBD for managing their ADHD symptoms, it seems that for about half of those trying CBD on their own – regardless of the quantity, quality, or type used – there is no improvement in their symptoms, but also no adverse side-effects. The other half of patients do however see an improvement in symptoms, especially with regards to hyperactivity – often reporting feeling less manic and more able to stay calm.
Similarly, in a study investigating online forums on cannabis use and ADHD, the researchers found that from these online discussions, cannabis is considered to be an effective way of self-medicating for ADHD. For instance, they found that 25% of individual posts indicated that cannabis is therapeutic for ADHD, 8% saying that it is harmful, 5% that it is both therapeutic and harmful, and only 2% saying that it has no effect on ADHD.
CBD as a complementary treatment for ADD/ADHD
CBD may be helpful as a complementary treatment for managing many of the side effects associated with many of the medications, especially stimulants, normally prescribed for ADD/ADHD.
So for instance, CBD has been shown to help modulate mood swings, a side-effect commonly reported with stimulant drugs prescribed for ADD/ADHD. Several studies now show that CBD encourages neural regeneration in areas of the brain responsible for mood regulation. Similarly, CBD prevents the overstimulation of your CB1 receptors, boosting the production of endocannabinoids such as anandamide (aka bliss molecule), while also binding to the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor thought to play a vital role in anxiety disorders.
Similarly, patients suffering from headaches and stomach pains – another common side effect of stimulant drugs – may find relief with CBD since it has been shown that CBD can significantly reduce pain by suppressing the α3 GlyRs receptors responsible for the sensation of pain.
The bottom line is that there is a shortage of scientific evidence regarding the use of CBD for the management of ADD/ADHD symptoms. Similarly, because there are no clinical trials as yet, dosage recommendations are problematic, leaving many patients and their caregivers to have to experiment on themselves.
That is why it is vital that the patient’s treating physician or medical practitioner needs to be consulted before using CBD for the management of ADD/ADHD symptoms. Not only can they assist in assessing dosage recommendations and monitoring of symptoms, but they can also advise with regards to potential drug interactions and side-effects.
Find your personalized CBD dosage
Answer several key questions and calculate the best CBD dosage for your needs with our AI algorithm based on proven science
The future of health
Share and help
your mother father brother sister relative friend
MyDosage isn’t just about you. It’s about all of us. Over time, the app will continue to learn which products and dosages deliver the best results for certain conditions. Meaning every time you give feedback, you’ll be helping someone else find their best dosage faster.
Learn from a trustworthy source
MyDosage provides you with trustworthy and unbiased information about the use of cannabinoids. All based on the most recent science discoveries.
Join our weekly newsletter in which we share the top stories form the world of CBD.