Does CBD Oil Help ADHD?

Gina of La Jolla, CA writes in about her 16 year-old son who has ADHD. They’ve gone the route of prescription meds, but can’t seem to escape the myriad of side effects. And, she wants more info about CBD Oil.

Dr. Patel,

I have a 16 year-old son with ADHD.

It’s been a struggle over the years. I got complaints from teachers that he doesn’t manage his time well, he works in an impulsive and chaotic way, and he doesn’t finish tasks that he starts. And, his grades are witness to the fact that he’s struggling academically.

Both his teachers and I have to unfortunately suffer through his unpredictable mood.

After countless visits to the principal’s office, the school asked me to consider medication. The trial and error process to get him on the right meds has been frustratingly long. And, no matter which medication we try, we can’t escape the myriad of side effects.

We’re at the point where my son is refusing to take the medication. He says he feel lightheaded & dizzy on the meds. I’ve also noticed that he barely has an appetite. He’s lost a lot of weight. And, he’s become a terrible sleeper. He stays up til wee hours of the morning. He says the medications also give him anxiety. There have been a couple times when he’s come close to having a panic attack. And, quite frankly, I’ve seen the medication take the joy out of his life. He doesn’t show affection. He just isn’t himself on the medication.

I took the time to read through the side effects on the printout the pharmacy gave. And it scared the daylights out of me. It mentioned that it could affect his heart, his growth and make him psychotic.

To make it worse, he’s started using marijuana off the streets. And, I’m just beside myself. He says it helps him focus at school and concentrate on his schoolwork. And, that it doesn’t make his anxiety worse or give him panic attacks. But, I don’t like the idea of my son using marijuana, but I’ve consulted with his pediatrician about CBD Oil. Unfortunately, she didn’t know much about it.

When I turned to Google, I just felt overwhelmed, lost and confused. There is so much information out there. I don’t even know where to start. I’m hoping you can help.

Gina
La Jolla, CA

Gina, here’s what I’m going to tell. Medical marijuana or CBD Oil are not necessarily a “magic bullet” for ADHD. But, there are several studies on Cannabis in general that show that it can help to ease the symptoms of ADHD. And, I have also treated patients who have shown improvements with their symptoms. So, let’s dive into the research and then into the specific results my patients have experienced.

By the way, before I get started I want to clarify what what ADHD stands for – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.


CBD Oil for ADHD: The Research

A study published in 2016 in the United Kingdom looked into the impact of Cannabis on ADHD. Specifically, they were looking at the effect of the medication Sativex on ADHD. Sativex is a pharmaceutical medication that’s essentially a Cannabis extract with approximately equal amounts of THC and CBD. It’s administered as a spray under the tongue.

Of the 30 participants selected for the study, half were given were Sativex and the other half were given Placebo. It’s important to note that in the study the titration of Sativex was individualized to each participant. The titration, in this particular study, took 2 weeks. Although, note, that with my patients when I walk them through The Patel Protocol, it doesn’t take more than a day to go through the titration process. The participants then continued to take either Sativex or Placebo for another 4 weeks.

Ultimately, the researchers measured several different factors – cognitive performance, the symptoms of ADHD & emotional lability.

There was no difference in cognitive performance between the groups, although what’s surprising is that there was no decline in cognitive function with the group who took Sativex. Because, generally, Cannabis use is associated with impaired with cognitive function.

In regards to the symptoms of ADHD, there was a nominally significant improvement in hyperactivity and impulsivity. And there was a trends towards improvement with inattention.

Overall, the participants who took the Sativex reported feeling more calm and had improved focus and concentration.


CBD Oil for ADHD: The Results

Alright now let’s talk about the results I’ve seen in my patients. The results that patients experience can vary because the symptoms they experience also vary. So, what I’m going to present to you is a range of results my patients have experienced.

  • Feeling more calm and relaxed
  • Better frustration tolerance
  • Fewer out-burts
  • Better management of anger
  • Less impulsive
  • Less restless
  • More focused
  • Improved concentration
  • Maintain interest
  • Complete tasks
  • Greater clarity in thinking
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced or eliminated panic attacks
  • Improved academic performance

Now, how does the use of CBD Oil affect the use of prescription medications? Most of the patients that come in to see me are generally already off their prescription medications. And, are looking to manage the symptoms of ADHD with just CBD Oil. Overall, patients prefer CBD Oil to prescription medications because of the more tolerable side effects. With prescription medications, patients often complain about a range of side effects like stomach pain, sweating, irritability, insomnia, heart palpitations, headaches.

And, I do want to make a point here that research has shown significant interactions between Cannabis and Methylphenidate when used together. Specifically, when used together Cannabis and Methylphenidate can increase strain on the heart. It increases the heart rate and the force with which the heart pumps.

Now, I also want to mention that the research that’s been done so far used either just THC products or products that had a combination of both THC & CBD products. Clinically, what I’ve found is that it’s higher amounts of CBD that helps to relieve the symptoms of ADHD – and that’s whether the CBD is derived from marijuana or from hemp.

So, overall, though Cannabis does not necessarily “cure” ADHD, it can certainly help to ameliorate the symptoms associated with ADHD.

Alright, Gina, I hope that helped.

 


 


Research Referenced: