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Can you take CBD for ADHD?

Over recent years, taking CBD for ADHD has been widely discussed in the neurodivergent community. In this blog post, we’ll explore CBD, ADHD and the benefits of taking CBD for ADHD.

Neurodevelopmental disorders are ones that occur due to an anomaly in brain function. It can influence neurological development, which eventually causes difficulty in emotional functioning and cognitive and social interaction.

Most neurodevelopmental disorders are not very well studied, so there is limited research on how the symptoms can be treated.

Since most of these disorders onset at early developmental stages, patients include toddlers and children, and on occasions, the disorder can go undiagnosed until the child reaches adolescence. Although they are mostly permanent, in some cases, children can outgrow these symptoms and live life without further complications related to this matter (1).

There are a number of different types of neurodevelopmental disorders, but the most prominent ones are:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Intellectual disability
  • Schizophrenia 
  • ADHD

Neurodevelopmental disorders are more prevalent in males; however, we still don’t know enough about the gender differences in symptoms. 

There are not many treatment options available to treat these disorders. Some effective interventions can help reduce the symptoms and allow the individual to enjoy a somewhat easier life free of severe symptoms.

What is CBD? 

Cannabidiol, or CBD as it’s more commonly known, is one of many compounds derived from the hemp plant, which is part of the cannabis family and known for its multitude of health benefits.

However, unlike traditional cannabis, it contains less than 0.2% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which provides you with the “high,” which is why it is rising in popularity along with being perceived as a natural alternative to common medications prescribed by medical professionals and those available over the counter at pharmacies and health stores.  

How Does CBD Work

ECS, or the endocannabinoid system, is a complex cell signalling mechanism discovered in the 90s when scientists tried to explore THC’s properties and its effect on the human body.

Research is still being carried out to know the exact functions of ECS, but it helps regulate numerous physiological functions like sleep, appetite, memory, mood, and fertility. The Endocannabinoid system comprises three main components; endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes (2)

Endocannabinoids are chemical compounds produced by the human body’s cells and interact with specific receptors to help the brain carry out numerous functions. CBD and THC have similar structures to the endocannabinoids, so they can also interact with ECS. 

Endocannabinoid receptors are found across the body and offer binding sites to the endocannabinoids. The two most popular endocannabinoid receptors are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are uncovered in the central nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are densely concentrated in the peripheral nervous system, including the immune cells. 

Enzymes work to break down the endocannabinoids which have carried out their function and are ready to be dissolved.  

These receptors carry out numerous functions, including:

  • Appetite and digestion
  • Metabolism
  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep
  • Cardiovascular system function
  • Muscle formation
  • Liver function
  • Reproductive system function
  • Bone remodelling and growth
  • Inflammation and other immune system responses
  • Mood
  • Learning and memory
  • Motor control
  • Stress

The chemical structure of CBD resembles anandamide, one of the endocannabinoids produced by the cells of the human body. CBD does not directly hook to the CB2 receptors like anandamide but allows the reuptake of the endocannabinoid by restricting the activity of enzymes that allows the endocannabinoid to function for a limited time (4).

Since CBD helps in the functioning of ECS, it can promote overall stability and balance by controlling pain, inflammation, and infection.

What is ADHD?

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders affecting children and adults. Commonly caused by risk factors such as brain injury, exposures to toxins at development stages, excessive use of alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy, low birth weight or premature delivery (3), it usually appears in early childhood.

Children suffering from ADHD show impulsive behaviour, difficulty paying attention, or occasionally overactive behaviour (4). Even though it is pretty conventional for children to have focusing problems in the early years, children with ADHD cannot outgrow these symptoms, and they become even more severe on occasion. 

Some common symptoms of ADHD in adults and children include:

  • Inability to concentrate on tasks
  • Forgetting and losing things
  • Excessive physical movement
  • Interrupting conversations
  • Excessive talking
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Difficulty interacting with others

ADHD is broken down into three types: 

ADHD-I: Predominantly inattentive presentation

Individuals with ADHD-I may be unable to finish a task or pay attention to the instructions or details. They can also get distracted very easily.

ADHD-H: Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation

Individuals with ADHD-H may find it very difficult to sit still or find that their mind is constantly racing with lots of thoughts. They can be impulsive, restless and may speak at inappropriate times or over other people during conversations.

ADHD-C: Combined presentation

Individuals with ADHD-C show a combination of traits from ADHD-I and ADHD-H.

ADHD treatment and side effects

To treat ADHD, a combination of medicine and behaviour therapy is recommended for most adults and children. Schools play a crucial role in managing the symptoms of children suffering from ADHD. 

ADHD affects an individual’s ability to focus and pay attention. It can also impact their relationships with others. As children, individuals with ADHD can be disruptive to their peers at school, which is why behavioural therapy is recommended.

For some adults and children with ADHD, the only way to manage their symptoms is with medication. Several licensed medications are available to treat children above six years of age, including stimulants and non-stimulants used to reduce the symptoms.

These medicines can cause side effects, such as sleep issues and decreased appetite (5). For some individuals, these side effects can add to and sometimes worsen their condition. This is when natural remedies, such as CBD, may help individuals with ADHD.

What does the research say about taking CBD for ADHD? 

Using CBD oil for ADHD is a relatively new concept. In the past, some research was conducted on using marijuana for ADHD; however, most of them were inconclusive and did not indicate if it was beneficial.

When taking CBD for ADHD, research has shown that CBD is an essential component of the first medicine made to treat Lennox-Gastrult syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two forms of neurological disorders found in minors. However, the drug cannot be used without a prescription from a licensed medical practitioner. 

Here are the results of two research studies on the use of cannabinoids for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

A 2017 study was conducted on young adults with ADHD who also used cannabis for recreational or medicinal purposes. The study showed poor cognitive function in young adults under the age of 16. Not only this, but they were also found to be poor at verbal memory, working memory, and decision-making.

These individuals made more mistakes and had higher chances of developing persistent neuropsychological deficits. However, with the use of cannabis, a reduction of symptoms was found, along with no cognitive impairments. Although not definitive, the study showed promising research for cannabis use as self-treatment for ADHD. (6) 

The 2019 study ‘The therapeutic Role of Cannabidiol in Mental Health’ researched the use of CBD as a treatment for psychiatric disorders, including ADHD. Although the conclusion included a recommendation for more extensive studies to take place, this study found that CBD was in fact effective for certain symptoms of ADHD (7)

So, can you take CBD for ADHD?  

As we have outlined above, although the research on taking CBD for ADHD is limited, the studies that are out there show promising outcomes for treating symptoms of ADHD.

However, if you or your child are suffering from ADHD, it is essential to consider a few things before using CBD to reduce the symptoms.

The benefits of CBD can vary from person to person, as things such as body weight, individual body chemistry and concentration of the CBD you’re taking (8) need to be considered. Therefore, being patient when finding the correct dosage for your condition is vital.

Also, although CBD is legal in the UK, it is vital to ensure you purchase it from a reputable brand.

As always, here at Prym Health, we bring you the highest quality CBD and nutritional supplements, including CBD oil in various strengths.



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