Does Marijuana Help Fight ADHD? How does marijuana work in the brain of a patient with ADHD, what does the research say, and why do people turn to CBD to treat ADHD?
There are growing voices in favor of the medical use of marijuana calling for the plant to be approved as a treatment for ADHD. Are Marijuana and ADHD Really Compatible - and if so, why?
What is ADHD?
Everyone dreams from time to time during the day and loses attention, especially if they are working on a task that is monotonous or uninteresting. For people with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention is a constant struggle. Once these people start working on something, they have trouble organizing and staying on task. They are often hyperactive and tend to move or talk excessively, often harassing others around them.
People with ADHD also tend to make hasty impulsive decisions without first thinking about them. None of this happens because they are unable to understand the facts or try to circumvent the rules. The brains of people with ADHD simply work differently than the brains of everyone else.
At best, it can be frustrating for them to perform tasks such as school work or (for adults) work-related projects. In the worst case, illness can lead to relationship problems, job loss and failure to fulfill personal potential. Diagnosing ADHD can help people understand why seemingly simple tasks are becoming insurmountable obstacles they face.
The number of people diagnosed with the disease is growing. In 2019, the disorder was diagnosed in 10 percent of American children and 4 percent of adults.
Traditional treatment of ADHD
ADHD was first identified in 1902 by pediatrician Sir George Still (who described the disorder as "an abnormal moral control disorder in children"). Since then, there has been a constant search for a drug that would work permanently. New therapies and medications have emerged for parents of children with ADHD, as well as for people who struggle with the disorder as adults.
For many people, it can be a great help in fighting ADHD therapy. Behavioral therapy can help individuals learn to change certain behaviors, increase their self-control, and increase their self-confidence. At the same time, family therapy can help loved ones learn how to help that person make these changes.
Prescription drugs are often associated with therapy to address ADHD at the level of brain chemistry. Stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall can often provide relief from the symptoms of ADHD, such as forgetfulness, excessive movement, inability to focus, and disorganization.
However, the side effects of these drugs can be frustrating. Patients often experience a huge decrease in appetite, stomach pain, headache, sleep problems and also a feeling of anxiety. This can lead to people with ADHD choosing to cope with the symptoms of their disorder rather than having to deal with the side effects of medications. It is this conundrum that raises the question for many people whether to find out about the possibility of using medical marijuana in ADHD in order to find a balance between the negative effects and effective treatment.
Does cannabis help with ADHD?
Researchers have long focused on the combination of cannabis and ADHD in terms of whether people with ADHD were at higher risk of becoming cannabis users. In recent years, however, attention has focused on the use of cannabis as an alternative to prescription drugs for the treatment of this disorder. Is it possible that ADHD treatment is one of the many health benefits of marijuana?
Cannabis and ADHD can seem like a bad pair because marijuana is often considered a substance that causes forgetfulness and lack of concentration. However, like stimulants, cannabis acts differently on the brains of those who do not have attention deficit disorder.
Marijuana in ADHD brain
How does marijuana work in the brain of a person with ADHD? Due to chemical imbalances, the brains of people with ADHD are overwhelmed and cannot process all the information that reaches them. It's like being in a room with twenty TVs turned on at the highest volume, each playing a different program.
By binding to dopamine particles in the brain and maintaining consistent levels, stimulant drugs can help calm the brain and restore its ability to target. Drugs that overstimulate those who do not have ADHD work the other way around in patients with the disorder. That's why marijuana and ADHD are such a fascinating pair.
Marijuana contains cannabinoids, chemicals that have been shown to treat everything from emotional symptoms such as anxiety to physical symptoms such as chronic pain. These cannabinoids can help increase dopamine levels in the brain. They do it differently from stimulants, but the result is the same: an increased sense of calm, as well as the ability to manage time, organize their activities and perform tasks. The same strain of cannabis that could make a person without ADHD unable to concentrate can help someone function better at work, at home, and in life.
As highlighted in one study, "Adults with ADHD may be a subset of those who experience a reduction in symptoms without cognitive impairment after taking cannabinoids."
Consumption of medical marijuana in ADHD
Proponents of cannabis use in the treatment of ADHD emphasize, in addition to its effectiveness, a wide range of methods of use and dosing. While smoking is a popular method of consuming cannabis, studies warn of lung damage that regular smoking could cause - even for medical purposes. However, as medical cannabis becomes legally available in a growing number of places, patients now have other options.
Those who want to use cannabis to relieve the symptoms of ADHD can take the dose in the form of oral sprays or appropriate drops. The patches can help to deliver the medicine through the skin. Vaporizers allow you to use the cannabis extract without smoke, it is easy to dose and the effect starts almost immediately. Children who consume cannabis for ADHD often use cannabis-containing foods, which make taking medication a pleasant experience.
Possible side effects
Side effects of marijuana use can be:
- dry mouth
To avoid side effects, patients should always start with the lowest possible dose. They should also work with their healthcare providers to determine if a few small doses are needed throughout the day to ensure optimal relief.
Precautions when using marijuana for ADHD
Keep in mind that stopping or changing any medicine should always be done under the supervision of a doctor. People should also refrain from consuming cannabis or concentrates with prescription drugs unless the combination has been approved by their healthcare provider.
Sativa or indica for ADHD?
When it comes to treating ADHD, marijuana is not suitable for everyone. Different strains can have completely different effects. Sativa varieties usually stimulate and uplift, while indica calms and relaxes.
As with most medications for mental illness, many patients have found that it takes time to find the right type of cannabis and dosage that works well enough to relieve them of the symptoms of ADHD. Some find that sativa varieties work well to concentrate and keep up with their tasks, while others need clues to calm their brains and slow down sprinting thoughts. Hybrid strains provide an excellent opportunity for those who want to influence their ADHD with a sativa / indica mixture.
Because there are no strict guidelines for varieties or dosages, finding the right combination is often a matter of trial, error, and experimentation.
CBD and ADHD
In addition to the whole plant, the use of CBD has begun to be considered in the potential treatment of ADHD. CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the many cannabinoids in cannabis. It differs from THC in that it is not psychoactive. Instead, CBD leaves users feeling clear-minded and at peace.
This sedative factor is key to the use of CBD in ADHD and has sparked a discussion about its use as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs for ADHD. Interest in CBD has grown so strongly that some parents have even contacted school authorities about giving CBD oil to children during lessons. Some adults with the disorder report that CBD vapors provide a sense of calm and concentration that helps them complete tasks.
What have research studies found?
Does marijuana help with ADHD, or are there reports of relief only from the effects of placebo? Researchers insist on the need for further studies to understand more about the effects of marijuana use in ADHD. However, initial research has shown promising results. A 2008 study by researchers at the Medical Center at Heidelberg University found that in some people with ADHD, "cannabis use had a positive effect on a subject's performance, behavior, and mental state."
If there are few studies on ADHD and marijuana, there are even fewer on the effectiveness of CBD in ADHD. However, the results of several studies that have been conducted are favorable to CBD supporters. One study showed that CBD inhibited hyperactivity in rats.
Those who suffer from ADHD also tend to experience anxiety and depression as secondary symptoms of the disorder. This makes the already frustrating situation worse. Several studies of the effects of cannabis have shown that it is effective in treating both anxiety and depression. As a result, cannabis treatment has a double impact because it addresses both the primary condition and the secondary conditions that are often caused by the disorder.
Indeed, healthcare providers have begun to view cannabis as a potential treatment for ADHD in both adult and juvenile patients. Some doctors have chosen cannabis as a safer and more natural option for children with ADHD and other neuropsychiatric conditions.
ADHD and marijuana: a world of alternative treatments
For many years, individuals with ADHD faced a daunting choice — struggling with their disorder or struggling with the often unpleasant side effects of stimulant drugs. Medical marijuana for patients with ADHD offers a world of alternatives in terms of effects, strains and methods of use. The use of CBD in ADHD provides even more options without being associated with the whole plant.
While research on this topic has been rare, studies have shown one way - especially when pharmaceutical drugs are not well tolerated, marijuana in the treatment of ADHD can provide relief to those who suffer from this frustrating and sometimes debilitating disorder.
"Everyone dreams sometimes and during the day and loses attention"
"Cannabis and ADHD may seem like a bad couple"
"In addition to the whole plant, the use of CBD has begun to be considered in the potential treatment of ADHD"