Over time cannabis has become increasingly accepted in the medical community, with the attitude of cannabis turning from a negative stigma to a life saving medicinal option. We already know cannabis can help those who suffer from mild to severe anxiety, that both THC and CBD can reduce pain in the body and that it can even help enlighten your daily yoga sessions. Cannabis has gone from the ‘devils lettuce’ to a natural and potent remedy that can help solve a variety of medical issues. With the evidence building of the true benefits of marijuana we continue to explore the positive effects marijuana can have on other ailments that people suffer from on a daily basis. This is what brings us to the question, does marijuana help with ADHD? With 4 percent of the adult population and 5 percent of children in the world suffering from ADHD, we found ourselves asking if marijuana can benefit the common downsides that are associated with ADHD.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a brain disorder that effects hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. ADHD is when your brain develops an impairment of its executive functions, impairing things like impulse control, focusing and organization skills. Common misconceptions around ADHD lead people to believe that it is a behavior disorder, a mental illness or a leaning disability. In fact it is a developmental impairment of the brain’s self management system. Common ADHA symptoms include:
- Lack of attention
- Focus issues
- Inability to manage time
- Lack of impulse control
- Exaggerated emotions
- and executive dysfunction
ADHD is usually diagnosed in children but can continue through both adolescence and adulthood. There are three different types of ADHD:
Those who have predominantly inattentive ADHD they usually have a very hard time focusing, completing tasks and following instructions. It is common to experience symptoms of inattentiveness then it is impulsivity and hyperactivity. If you suffer from predominantly inattentive ADHD you can experience behaviours such as:
- inability to follow directions
- quick to boredom
- cannot focus on a task
- cannot organize thoughts
- trouble learning new information
- process information less accurately
Predominantly Hyperactive-impulse ADHD:
Predominantly Hyperactive-impulse ADHD is when someone shows symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsive actions, showing signs of inattention. This can be present in children and who are known to be disruptive in classroom settings especially. They usually show signs of:
- fidgeting and restlessness
- constant talking
- constantly on the go
- blurt out unnecessary comments
Combined hyperactive-impulsive ADHD:
This is the most common type of ADHD, those who suffer from combined hyperactive-impulsive ADHD display inattentive features and hyperactive symptoms. Combining a degree of issues such as inability to pay attention, impulsiveness and hyper energetic tendencies.
Cannabis and ADHD
ADHD can be very disruptive, it can bring on things such as aggression, irritability, impulse behavior, forgetfulness, anxiety and mental issues. ADHD can also cause a physiological irregularity in the brain, reducing dopamine which is a chemical neurotransmitter which influences both memory and attention. Prescription medications such as Adderall and Ritalin help produce and stimulate dopamine which helps those who take it with concentration and better focus. The downfall to these commonly prescribed medications are the harsh side effects and withdrawal symptoms. This is what lead Dr. David Baearman a cannabis researcher to look into the correlation between adhd and marijuana and the possibility of cannabinoids found in cannabis to help influence those with ADHD. In his research on adhd and marijuana he discovered that cannabinoids have potential therapeutic values and how it can directly interact with the brains dopamine management system. When using weed for adhd it has shown that it has the ability to increase dopamine, providing the same effect as both Ritalin and Adderall but a different approach. Opposed to adhd and marijuana prescription medications act by binding dopamine and interfering with the metabolic breakdown of dopamine. With weed for adhd however the cannabinoids that are found in the plant help correct the dopamine deficiency in a more natural way, providing a mental slowdown that is required for things like concentration and making more mundane tasks more manageable. This allows for the brain to relax and not feel as overwhelmed with the vast amount of information that we experience throughout a day. When suffering from ADHD the brain becomes cluttered and is too aware of everything happening during times where concentration is required. Weed for adhd slows down the brain and helps hinder some of the nuances a person with ADHD cannot filter on a day-to-day basis.
Another indicator that weed for adhd can help manage the symptoms of ADHD comes from a study done in the Journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. In this study cannabinoid medication known as Sativex oromucosal spray was given to 30 adults with ADHD, this spray is an extract of cannabis. Those administered with the spray claimed they experienced some relief when it came to both hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms. The test also included a placebo group to ensure results were more accurate and those who weren’t part of the placebo group reported higher inhibition and a better handle on their ability to remain focus. Ruth Cooper who was the lead author of the study claimed “I think in the future if more evidence could be shown that it has greater effects in larger trials, it would become a common treatment.”
Celeste Thirlwall who is a doctor and sleep specialist says that when someone has ADHD their nervous system in inflamed, leading him to believe that the anti-inflammatory benefits from cannabis can help reduce the inflammation of the nervous system. Many who suffer from ADHD don’t get the deep sleep they brain requires to function at the right level and when the brain lacks that deep sleep issues such memory problems can occur. This is why he recommends patients to use a medical marijuana for adhd to help ease the inflammation and to help get a deeper and restful sleep.
CBD for ADHD
ADHD is a common occurrence in young children, which makes the use of THC rich cannabis a none option, it is however an option to consider using CBD oil which contains 0 psychoactive effects and none of the side-effects brought on by THC. Some of CBD’s most prominent features is fighting anxiety, calming the nervous system, providing better sleep and increasing dopamine levels. This is all due to CBD and it’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system, which is a connecting unit in our body with both the brain and the nervous system.
A study published in the Swiss Journal: Frontiers in Pharmacology reported on a study that provided 53 children and young adults between the ages of 4-22 who suffer from ADHD for 66 days. The results showed:
- Self injury and anger improved in 68 percent of the patients but increased in 9 percent
- Hyperactivity fell in 68 percent of patricpants, remained unchanged in 29 percent and increased in 3 percent
- Anxiety fell 47 percent and increase in 24 percent
The study indicates that CBD can have positive effects on those with ADHD with little to no side-effects Though more studies need to be conducted the signs point towards positive interactions between CBD and ADHD.
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