ADHD, short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is one of the most common mental disorders in the US. Research by the CDC indicated that 11% of American children aged between 4 and 17 had been diagnosed with the condition. The condition isn’t limited to children though as roughly 5% of adults in the US have ADHD. There’s a lot to learn about ADHD, but we have to take a little detour first.
CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is one of the most famous compounds found in the cannabis plant. Although it was discovered in 1940, it only became a household name in the 21st century. CBD became popular because of claims that it could help a person deal with back pain, anxiety and even improve their sex lives.
Several pharmaceutical companies are spending millions of dollars researching whether CBD can be used to treat other conditions. One of the conditions being researched is ADHD. In this article, we are going to look at how far the research has progressed. Join us.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a condition that affects the mental development, brain size and brain activity of someone who has it.
Research has shown that the brains of children with ADHD tend to be 3% smaller than the brains of children without ADHD. This doesn’t mean that children with ADHD are less intelligent than children who don’t have it. Brain size doesn’t affect intelligence.
The main area of the brain affected by ADHD is the frontal lobe. In some people with ADHD, parts of the frontal lobe may take years to fully develop. The frontal lobe is responsible for things such as social behavior, impulse control, and attention. It is important to understand the relationship between ADHD and the brain to fully appreciate the severity of the symptoms.
Symptoms of ADHD
Before we get into the symptoms of ADHD, we need to answer a frequently asked question. Are the symptoms of ADHD the same in adults and children?
While the basic symptoms might be the same in adults and children, they will differ in how they manifest. In children, they tend to be more obvious because they haven’t learned how to cope with them. In adults, the symptoms tend to be less obvious as they have learnt how to cover them up.
ADHD has three main symptoms: impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattention. Despite these being the main symptoms, not everyone diagnosed with ADHD will have all three. The presence of the symptoms also doesn’t mean that someone automatically has ADHD.
One of the main symptoms that a person has ADHD is hyperactivity. In children, this might manifest itself as the child having boundless energy. The children often find it almost impossible to simply sit still and do nothing.
In adults, hyperactivity often manifests as restlessness. Adults with hyperactivity may often find it difficult to sit still at work or when doing other activities.
This is one of the symptoms of ADHD that manifests the same in both adults and children. Inattentive people often misplace objects, fail to pay attention to detail and fail to finish what they begin.
ADHD has been shown to make a person impulsive. In kids, this often comes out as them being unable to wait their turn and they may blurt out an answer without being called upon. In adults, their impulsiveness is usually seen in their life choices. They tend to be more reckless than your average person.
How Do You Know if You Have ADHD?
After reading those symptoms you might be wondering whether you have ADHD. If not you then maybe that coworker who always looks spaced out and is really reckless. You might be thinking of going for a test like you would with other diseases but sadly that’s not how ADHD testing works.
For a doctor to diagnose a child as having ADHD, they need to collect a lot of information on the child’s behavior. They get this from the child’s school, parents and other caregivers. The doctor uses it to compare the child’s behavior to others in the same age range. Doctors also recommend that a child receive a full physical exam before being diagnosed with ADHD.
The FDA recently approved the use of the revolutionary NEBA system in testing for ADHD. NEBA stands for Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid, a system that measures the ratio of theta to beta brain waves. Research has shown that the ratio of theta to beta brain waves is higher in children with ADHD than those who don’t have it.
What Causes ADHD?
One of the biggest medical mysteries is the cause of ADHD. At the moment, researchers are yet to determine the exact cause of ADHD. They do have several probable causes such as genetics, chemical imbalance, and toxins. Scientists also suggest that poor nutrition and substance abuse during pregnancy might result in ADHD.
ADHD & CBD
In recent years, partly due to the popularity of CBD, researchers have been looking into whether CBD can be used to manage ADHD. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence of people using CBD to manage their ADHD but for some people, this isn’t enough. Some people, we included, like to know what the science says.
So what does the science say? Can CBD be used to treat ADHD?
Research is Limited
The first thing we have to acknowledge is that there is very little research on the use of CBD to treat ADHD. Most of the research available at the moment focuses on the effectiveness of cannabis on treating ADHD.
The most comprehensive study on the effectiveness of CBD as medication for ADHD was carried out in 2017. The researchers studied a group of 30 adults who had ADHD. 15 of them were given Sativex Oromucosal Spray, a medication that contains CBD, while the rest were given a placebo. At the end of the study, the researchers reported a slight improvement in the brain function of people who had taken the CBD-infused medication. They also reported a very slight reduction in the severity of the ADHD symptoms.
They concluded by saying that although their study was not definitive, CBD might one day be used in the treatment of ADHD. They also called for more research into the subject so that a definitive answer could be found.
Although CBD might be a long way from being able to treat ADHD, it can help you manage the symptoms of the condition. Let’s look at how it does this:
1. CBD Makes You Calm
One of the worst things about dealing with ADHD is that it makes it very hard for you to be calm. If you have never dealt with this it’s pretty hard to explain, but we’ll try our best. Imagine being on a sugar rush with no end in sight. At first, you might enjoy the boundless energy but you’ll get worn out pretty fast. This is what people with ADHD deal with on an almost daily basis.
Here’s where CBD comes to the rescue. People who have used CBD report feeling really calm a few minutes after using it. The best thing about CBD is that it makes you calm and leaves you completely sober at the same time.
2. CBD Helps You Sleep Better
In most people, ADHD goes hand in hand with insomnia. Most people who suffer from the condition report having trouble falling asleep. And in the rare instances where they do fall asleep, they find it hard to stay asleep. The medication used to treat ADHD has been linked to why it makes some people lose sleep.
Most people who have ADHD are given stimulant medications and they may make it harder for someone to fall asleep. This is why some people are ditching stimulants in favor of CBD. A study published in 2019, indicated that CBD could help people sleep better. 67% of the participants in the study reported sleeping better after they began using CBD.
If you suffer from ADHD and it affects your sleeping patterns, you should consider switching to CBD.
3. CBD Helps You Focus
People with ADHD have a difficult time focusing on a single task and this usually affects their performance in school or at work. Everyone has an idea of how to help people with ADHD focus but what works for some people might not work for everyone else.
However, something that has been proven to work for a lot of people is CBD. Most of the people who use CBD have reported that using it has improved their concentration
4. CBD Can Reduce Anxiety
Although anxiety is not a symptom of ADHD, most people who suffer from ADHD report dealing with anxiety at one time or another. ADHD on its own is pretty bad but when it comes together with anxiety, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. In some cases, anxiety can make it hard for ADHD therapy to be effective.
A 2010 study indicated that CBD could be helpful in managing anxiety, particularly social anxiety disorder. Using CBD could greatly help people who deal with anxiety and ADHD.
Should Children With ADHD use CBD?
Now that you’ve read about the benefits of CBD, you are probably wondering whether you should recommend CBD to a child with ADHD.
Although CBD has proven to be effective in helping children with some conditions, for example, epilepsy, there are some risks associated with using it. Experts have identified addiction as the biggest risk associated with using CBD to treat ADHD.
Children who suffer from ADHD were reported to be at a higher risk of substance abuse than children who did not suffer from it. The fear is that introducing them to CBD when they are young might get them hooked onto cannabis later in life.
More research needs to be done in order to ensure that CBD is safe for children with ADHD.
CBD will go down in history as one of the most revolutionary compounds ever discovered by humans. As pharmaceutical companies continue to pour money into CBD research, more medical uses will be discovered.
If you are considering using CBD for ADHD, you should consult with your doctor. And make sure that you get your CBD from a legitimate source.
Thank you for reading! Be sure to check out “CBD and Dogs: Tips on Dosage & More” for tips on how to apply CBD oil or other CBD related products to your pets at home with success.