Lots of people have been using and reusing CBD to cure minor diseases and ease the symptoms of health conditions. But could there be possibilities in CBD for ADHD? Today, CBD oil is big on the market for those seeking a more natural and organic treatment to their conditions; it has a scientifically proven basis and is believed by some to help with symptoms of epilepsy, cancer, Parkinsons, arthritis, and other diseases, as well as cosmetic purposes such as improving skin condition and treating acne.
There is even slowly growing evidence on the subject of whether CBD oil can help with the treatment of ADHD, though most experimentation on the matter has been done with marijuana as a whole, and not the isolated CBD compound. Research demands are always increased when it comes to treatments for children; however, CBD is a great hope for those who do not want to expose their children to treatments with heavier medicine such as Adderall or Ritalin. CBD is safe and side-effect free for adult usage — as well as a cost-effective option, according to individuals who use it.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is one of the many chemical compounds found in the marijuana leaf, cannabis sativa. It is the most well-known compound of marijuana, along with THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is searched by people who look for a “high” due to its psychoactive effects. Unlike THC, CBD does not offer such mind-altering effects and because of that, it is used to relieve pain and ease other symptoms, also avoiding the side effects from other prescribed medications.
CBD is extracted from the marijuana leaf and diluted in a carrier oil such as coconut or hemp seed, and, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Controlled Substances Act, it is legal as long as it has no traces (below 0.3%) of THC. Because of that, its popularity has been growing exponentially and it’s predicted to be a multi-billion dollar industry by 2020.
To date, the FDA has approved 3 CBD-based medications, but because the industry is moving faster than the bureaucratic process, no other medications have yet been approved in the US. However, CBD is not a controlled substance so many people, appreciating the reported lack of side effects or psychoactive affects, are trying it for a variety of uses.
Even though CBD has been shown in some research to significantly better the symptoms of conditions and diseases, the research on whether it helps with ADHD is still scarce. This is because there is not much experimentation done with the isolated compound, but rather marijuana as a whole. However, research facilities in Israel and UCLA are ramping up research into CBD. They are trying to understand its potential to ease a number of conditions. Since both marijuana and ADHD are linked to impaired attention, inhibition, and functioning, it is believed that CBD should affect attention deficit symptoms. On top of that, CBD has been reported to, in many cases, ease the symptoms of other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is estimated to affect 5% of children and 3% of adults globally (Polanczyk et al, 2007). It is described as a brain disorder and characterized by symptoms such as an ongoing pattern of inattention and hyperactivity that obstruct functioning or development, especially in children. ADHD is caused by chemical irregularities in the brain due to genetics, showing abnormalities in the communication between the neurons and brain functions, which were supposed to be facilitated by neurotransmitters. These irregularities affect the way we coordinate attention and the levels of dopamine in our body, resulting in an immense difficulty to focus on daily tasks and to stay still for long periods of time.
There is no cure for ADHD, but there are many treatments used to ease the symptoms. The traditional medications used to treat ADHD fall into two categories: stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulants are prescribed medications such as Adderall and Ritalin, which are fast-acting and more widely used; however, they show extreme side effects such as insomnia, loss of appetite, mood changes, weight loss, or headaches. CBD would be a stimulant treatment that takes a little longer to be effective and does not present such severe side effects, and so is being considered a possible substitute for the harsher treatments.
In a randomized study of adults with ADHD done in 2017 (Cooper et al., 2017), researchers noticed an improvement in the areas of impulsivity and hyperactivity. However, there were no discernable effects on cognitive performance and measurement of attention. This is interesting because the dosage used in this experiment contained THC as well as CBD rather than the segregation of the latter, proving that more research needs to be done before such a compound can be prescribed as a treatment for such condition. However, the results are promising.
Many people who suffer from ADHD tend to “self-medicate” and say that marijuana does indeed help them with their symptoms. Researchers think that the use of CBD in linked to enhanced dopaminergic transmission (Cooper et al., 2017), facilitating the communication between the nerves and the brain functions. Since CBD has a calming effect on those who take it, researchers think that it does indeed facilitate the decrease of hyperactivity on people with ADHD.
Preliminary research has indicated that CBD itself, isolated from the other compound of marijuana, is not addictive. So it relieves an old concern of doctors. Patients with ADHD tend to have a higher tendency to develop addictions. Doctors must, therefore, be careful that the medications they prescribe do not have a high rate of abuse. However, as doctors are learning that CBD is not addictive, it makes it an increasingly attractive option for such individuals.
Conversely, there has been a significant increase in the pediatric usage of stimulant medication for treating ADHD. Over the period 1996-2008, such usage increased at an overall annual growth rate of 3.4% (Zuvekas & Vitiello, 2012), and the rapid spread of treatments like these began to create some controversy among pediatricians. There is also an ongoing debate about employing cannabis medication for ADHD on children. As with any medication for children, we must consider the possible effects it might have on their long-term growth. Again, the isolated CBD compound shows no negative signs on people’s development.
Future Hope of CBD for ADHD
The usage of CBD as a treatment for ADHD is a complicated debate. Many people with the condition independently report that it helps them with their symptoms. There is a larger discussion regarding substance-abuse tendencies among ADHD patients. Also, the long-term effects marijuana can have on the development of children and adolescents.
Yet, CBD is different than marijuana as a whole since it lacks many of the negative compounds of the plant. We must perform more research and experimentation on the matter to make sure it is profitable and safe. So far, for those who self-medicate, it has shown benefits on the matter of easing their hyperactivity.
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