If we sound like a stuck record, it’s because the reality of CBD research often boils down to the same story – there’s lots more of it to be done.
In many ways, we’re living cannabinoid groundhog day (CGD for short?!)
With or without our made-up acronyms, it’s clear that when examining ADHD research, the condition is a relative enigma.
On balance, significantly more studies have considered the impact that general cannabis consumption might have on ADHD symptoms rather than explicitly zooming in on the cannabinoid which stars in this blog: our trusty friend CBD.
This is likely because it’s relatively common for people living with ADHD to self-medicate with recreational cannabis while using CBD oil for ADHD is less common.
That said, a handful of research (as well as a plethora of anecdotal evidence) indicates the potentially promising impact of using CBD oil for ADHD symptoms.
Let’s explore! In this blog, we’ll consider:
- Will CBD oil help with ADHD?
- Whether children can be given CBD (spoiler: it’s a grey area)
- How to use CBD for ADHD
- Tips for choosing the best CBD for ADHD
So, without further ado…
In this guide:
What is ADHD?
Let’s get the basics locked off.
ADHD is typically diagnosed in childhood between the ages of 6 and 12, but often people aren’t diagnosed until much later in life.
In fact, the prevalence of ADHD among adults in the US rose by 123% between 2007 and 2016. In the same time period, child diagnosis jumped by just 0.78% in comparison.
Whether we’re simply more aware of the potential for ADHD to affect adults – or whether the condition ADHD is becoming generally more common – the reality effectively remains the same: more people worldwide are learning to live with the condition.
Individuals with ADHD have structural differences in five different parts of the brain. It typically manifests in symptoms including difficulty concentrating and restless, impulsive behaviour, to the extent that these symptoms considerably impact an individual’s life.
ADHD is often seen alongside other mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
The cause is currently unknown but is thought to be genetic, and there’s currently no cure – treatment typically involves a combination of prescription medication and therapy.
Can CBD help with ADHD symptoms?
Since one of the effects of CBD is that it can help promote a sense of calm, it makes sense that the supplement might benefit those who struggle with ADHD.
One strand of research into ADHD considers the role of endocannabinoids and how the regulation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is related to the disorder. While there’s no definitive indication (yet), it’s been proposed that dysfunction of the dopamine system (linked to the ECS) can explain clinical manifestations of ADHD.
But what does that have to do with CBD?
Well, endocannabinoids are naturally occurring receptors in the body. While still little understood, they are believed to manage functions such as sleep, mood and neurological responses, including pain.
One theory is that CBD attaches itself to our endocannabinoid receptors. Another is that the compound prevents endocannabinoids from breaking down, thus promoting homeostasis in the body.
So, if ADHD conditions are related in some way to the functioning – or malfunctioning – of the ECS – we can begin to consider the potential therapeutic value of CBD in promoting better wellness in people living with ADHD.
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Can you use CBD for ADHD children?
CBD for children with ADHD is a bit of a grey area and a topic not without controversy.
Firstly, there’s no shaming here. We know that all parents simply do what’s best for their children – we’re just here to offer safe and balanced advice.
While some evidence supports the usefulness of CBD in children with specific medical conditions, such as epilepsy, there are also significant concerns.
A study in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal noted that children who use cannabis before 16 years may have a higher risk of cognitive impairment as their brain is still developing.
Due to a lack of research specifically around CBD, it’s unclear whether this remains true for CBD extracts and oils, too.
CBD can’t be bought by anyone under the age of 18 in the UK. But this hasn’t stopped some parents from purchasing it for their children in the hope it might promote wellness and offer symptom relief for various disorders.
In fact, a survey of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) found that 40% had given their children CBD oil.
But the medical community remains unsure.
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children issued a statement in response to the growing popularity of CBD oil. In short, the hospital neither supports nor condemns parents giving CBD oil to their children.
What is clear is that anyone considering giving CBD to their child should consult a medical professional before doing so.
And remember that CBD isn’t medicine – in the UK and Europe, it’s regulated as a food supplement under the Novel Foods Act.
How to use CBD for ADHD
When using CBD oil for ADHD symptoms, it is most often consumed via oral ingestion or vaping CBD.
Both are popular methods for consuming CBD for ADHD – partly because both options have high levels of bioavailability; this is the rate at which the active ingredients in CBD reach the bloodstream and are absorbed into the body.
So high bioavailability means more CBD is absorbed, with quicker effects – winner!
We’d say oral CBD is considered less likely to cause side effects, so it’s always a good place to start.
What is the correct CBD dosage for ADHD?
There aren’t currently any formal guidelines on how to take CBD oil to treat traditional ADHD symptoms such as poor concentration and chronic impulsivity.
When determining your CBD dosage for ADHD for the first time, it is recommended to start with a low dose and increase slowly.
This will allow you to get used to the feeling and determine what dosage is right for you.
The strength of CBD oil also makes a big difference to the results. We recommend starting with a CBD strength of around 500mg per 10ml.
A symptom diary can help you feel more connected and mindful as you start your journey with CBD oil. It can also help you to develop the ideal CBD oil dosage for ADHD based on your needs.
Tips to choose the best CBD for ADHD in the UK
If you are looking to integrate CBD into your wellness routine and start using CBD for ADHD, the first thing you need to decide on is the type of CBD to use.
We are big fans of broad-spectrum CBD, as it contains a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes without any THC. This will allow you to experience the entourage effect, which many believe is the secret to maximising the benefits of CBD.
We also recommend looking for CBD that has been blended with additional beneficial ingredients that can support ADHD symptoms. For example, our Flow CBD Oil with Ashwagandha combines CBD with ashwagandha to induce a state of calm.
In addition, when buying CBD for ADHD in the UK, we’d always advise making sure that the product:
- Has a certificate of analysis, including a cannabinoid, heavy metals and pesticide analysis
- Is lab tested, ideally by a third-party
- Has a short ingredient list consisting only of cannabinoids, terpenes and a carrier oil
What are the potential side effects of taking CBD oil for ADHD?
Now that we better understand the relationship between CBD and ADHD, let’s consider possible side effects.
While CBD is generally well-tolerated, it can cause side effects. These include
- Reduced appetite
It’s important to note that CBD can interact with other medications, including blood thinners and some antidepressants.
Therefore, anyone considering taking CBD for ADHD should first consult a medical professional.
Final thoughts on CBD and ADHD
We know you’re likely sick of hearing it (us too!), but more research needs to be conducted before we can answer the question: can CBD help with ADHD?
What we can say is that both anecdotal evidence and a selection of small scientific studies indicate a potential relationship between endocannabinoid system function and neurological conditions, including ADHD.
However, there’s not enough clinical evidence to support the idea that CBD oil for ADHD can help treat the condition – or its associated symptoms.
As always, it should be reiterated that CBD should be considered as one component of a multifaceted therapeutic tool kit that supports wellness – not a medical solution.