The Many Ways CBD Could Help with ADHD and ADD
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) rates have been on the rise in recent decades. While there is much discussion about why this is the case, the stats speak for themselves. In 2003, roughly 8 percent of children ages four to eleven were diagnosed with ADHD, and it rose to 11 percent by 2011. The rate of diagnosis in children under the age of five increased 50 percent between 2007 and 2012.
There are a couple of theories for the increase disorders across the United States. It could be due to improved techniques of diagnosis or potentially linked to overdiagnosis. Another theory postulates that it’s based on changing lifestyles; children tend to spend way more time inside in front of screens than they did even a decade ago.
Whatever the cause, there is a now a quest for appropriate treatment. Traditional medications such as Adderall and Ritalin are stimulatory and easily abused. Their long-term use of Adderall in particular has also been linked to some mental health issues. Alongside the rise in diagnosis, there has been a 40 percent rise in prescription rates.
Cannabinoids Have a Proven Track Record for ADHD
The increased reliance on pharmaceuticals is why some people have decided to try a different approach to tackling their own ADHD/ADD. Instead of using a possibly addictive drug, many adults have turned to cannabis and cannabinoids to hone mental clarity, focus their attention, and reduce impulsive behaviors.
A recent survey of cannabis use in individuals with ADHD found they were much more likely to self-medicate with cannabis. However, the psychoactive components of medical marijuana can often lead to other problems. Another study concluded that upwards of 46 percent of people seeking treatment for cannabis addiction also had ADHD.
Cannabis has been used for years by people self-medicating their attention deficit disorders, but based on the research, it could lead to unsafe habitual use. Are any other cannabinoids useful? The newest cannabinoid to hit the market, cannabidiol (CBD), may just be the solution everyone is looking for.
CBD and ADHD/ADD
Cannabidiol is one of more than a dozen or more known cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike its THC counterpart, it does not cause a “high” or alter someone's state of mind in noticeable ways. Instead, it has many known medicinal characteristics that have propelled it into popular culture as an alternative therapy. Many adults are implementing a CBD ADHD self-medication plan, and are reporting positive results.
According to Dr. David Bearman, a physician working for Medical Marijuana 411, as early as 1998, people were trying to get ADHD and ADD onto the list of acceptable medical cannabis use. Back then, there was little knowledge of or popularity for CBD products, hence the focus on traditional medical cannabis.
However, in 2017, CBD oil has become extremely popular. It could be the next big breakthrough for ADHD treatment because it is much safer to use than THC. CBD also is legal in all 50 states (and many countries), and offers a supportive benefit for the endocannabinoid system. While dozens of case studies are available online, there is little rigorous research done so far into either THC or CBD for treating ADD or ADHD.
The Role of the Endocannabinoid System with ADHD
According to Dr. Bearman, ADD and ADHD could be caused by a lack of endocannabinoids within the system. Without the proper level of endocannabinoids floating around, neurotransmission becomes too quick to process. He calls it “a rapid-fire assault” on the cerebral cortex. Flooding the mind with too many neurotransmitters triggers a focus on just one. This could cause problems of inattention, obsession, and hyperactivity in people with ADD and ADHD.
Cannabidiol replicates the body’s natural endocannabinoids and may work as a sort of replacement therapy. By returning the cannabinoid balance to normal, CBD may slow the rapid-fire transmissions, thereby allowing people more time to process each thought and sensory experience.
For a more in-depth look into how the endocannabinoid system works with CBD, check out the article “How Cannabinoids Interact with Their ECS Receptors”
Because CBD benefits many aspects of endocannabinoid function, there could be many other ways by which CBD may help alleviate ADD and ADHD.
The endocannabinoid system is intrinsically involved in the formation, protection, and recall of memories. A Short-term memory problem is a common trait among people with ADD or ADHD. It's natural for them to forget tasks, assignments, or experience other memory impairment. In some studies, CBD has shown positive benefits for neurodegeneration boost and memory recovery.
In some preliminary animal studies, researchers have noted a link between CBD treatment and learning. In one study, mice were given CBD and then were measured to have improved spatial learning capabilities when compared with the control group. In another animal model, lab mice were shown to have better adaptive-learning capabilities.
It's also extremely common for people with ADHD or ADD to have some sort of anxiety disorder. In fact, some studies estimate the number to be roughly 50 percent. The usefulness of CBD oil as an anti-anxiety medication has been well-documented. One theory about its potential for people with ADD or ADHD is that by treating the underlying anxiety, there is added benefit for attention and hyperactivity.
Although the current research is limited, the number of people already using CBD and other cannabinoids for self-treatment in cases of ADD and ADHD is compelling. There are many possible avenues open for further study into the potential of CBD as an alternative therapy for attention disorders.