Early research suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may help patients with epilepsy. It is also believed to relieve pain, anxiety, mood disorders, and even acne. But what about ADHD or ADD? So far, research linking CBD oil to ADHD symptom relief does not exist. That isn’t stopping patients from trying it.
What Is CBD? Does It Help ADHD?
“I bought one vial for $50 that contained 30 gel tablets, and I took all of them over a few weeks,” says Mitchell’s patient, who preferred to remain anonymous. “I’d never tried CBD or any type of cannabis before, and I felt no changes. But I didn’t have any adverse effects, either.”
Is CBD Legal? Is It Safe?
With all that profit on the horizon, why so few studies? At least partially to blame is the legality of CBD; it’s difficult to attain a federal grant to study a federally illegal drug. Politics also come into play, as do lingering public perceptions of cannabis as a gateway drug that may lead to serious mental disorders, lethargy, or both.
A 2019 study also published in “Frontiers in Pharmacology” studied the effects of CBD on mice. The mice selected for the study were deficient in the AMPA receptor, which is found in the central nervous system, rendering them a suitable model for hyperactivity disorders such as ADHD. The researchers found that CBD infused into the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for spatial learning and adaptation, reduced displays of hyperactivity in a new environment. This study suggests that CBD may dampen hyperactive circuitries in the hippocampus and other parts of the brain.
Polston also underlined that CBD oil boasts an improved safety profile over traditional pharmaceutical therapies for ADHD: “Cannabidiol has been shown to have one of the most beneficial safety profiles that one could ask for in a pharmacological intervention. The obvious benefit that CBD oil may have over first-line medications is that it could be much safer, with none of the abuse liability or concerns for addiction that accompany amphetamines and stimulants.”
Anecdotal evidence and self-reports that CBD oil may help with managing symptoms associated with ADHD. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
While everyone may experience one or more of these symptoms at some point during their lives, ADHD is diagnosed when the symptoms are pervasive or disruptive enough to create ongoing problems in everyday life.
The mechanism by which cannabinoids increase dopamine in the central nervous system is distinctive to how stimulants achieve this effect. “Cannabinoids may represent a novel approach toward dopaminergic regulation in the ADHD population,” he explained.
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