YOU’VE SEEN THE POP-UP ADS or you’ve heard a lover mention CBD oil as an alternative treatment for ADHD. Every online community and social media platform seems to possess someone praising the compound or offering to sell it. But what’s it, and does it really have any proven benefits for managing ADHD symptoms?
cannabidiol oil, most frequently mentioned as CBD oil, maybe a product of the marijuana plant. The family is named cannabis, and cannabis products can include CBD oil alongside smoked, vaped or eaten products. CBD oil is simply one among quite 85 compounds in cannabis and is regarded by some enthusiasts as having medicinal benefits.
It is not THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound in cannabis that makes euphoria and delivers the “high” of marijuana use. CBD oil isn’t alleged to contain any THC, meaning the oil must be highly refined to form it suitable to be used, and this isn’t a natural product. One reoccurring concern, however, is that some products on the market can have trace amounts of THC present, making them unsuitable to be used by children and teenagers and by any adult concerned about possible addiction.
So what about CBD oil as an alternative approach for ADHD symptom management? Some claim that CBD oil, a cannabis product, are often wont to treat the symptoms of ADHD. There’s limited research showing improvement for a few people that have epilepsy and a few people that experience anxiety who use CBD oil, so it’s thought to even have benefits for people with ADHD.
What the research says
Researching CBD oil specifically for ADHD is comparatively new. Some research has been conducted on smoked and ingested marijuana for ADHD, and therefore the findings generally either don’t indicate a benefit or are inconclusive. For both epilepsy and anxiety, there’s more research that shows promise. A replacement medication made up of cannabis for seizures caused by Lennox- Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome was approved by an advisory committee for the FDA but doesn’t have FDA approval.
- Cannabinoids in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A randomized controlled trial. This was a really small sample study of thirty people with ADHD who received an attempt to cannabinoid/CBD medication. The participants were evaluated for symptom levels and IQ performance on standardized tests. There was an insignificant improvement in cognitive function and symptom reduction and nominal improvement on impulsivity and hyperactivity. The researchers expressed concern that the participants didn’t follow instructions to avoid all other medications or alcohol use that would have affected the study results. The research authors stated that their results were inconclusive.
- Impact of ADHD and Cannabis Use on Executive Functioning in Young Adults. This study showed poor cognitive function outcomes for young adults who began using cannabis before the age of sixteen, including children with an ADHD diagnosis. When evaluated for memory, verbal memory, decision-making, and recall, these young users had poor performance on all points. They made more mistakes when asked to finish questions or tasks. Most concerning, the authors write, “Individuals who initiate use of cannabis before age sixteen could also be at higher risk for developing persistent neuropsychological deficits because their brain remains developing, especially the prefrontal cortex which is related to several executive functions including planning, verbal fluency, complex problem-solving, and impulse control, each with its own developmental trajectory.”
- Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use. A review for The New England Journal of drugs by the National Institute on substance abuse Director Nora Volkow, MD, and her colleagues, details the known health effects of marijuana use. THC may be a concern for health, as are other components of the plant. Adverse effects include decreased cognitive abilities and exacerbated co-occurring psychological state disorders and drug abuse. Dr. Volkow lists several health conditions that may be ready to be treated by cannabis products, including chronic pain and inflammation, MS, and epilepsy. She doesn’t include ADHD as a health concern that will be treated by cannabis products. In fact, she writes, “[H]eavy use of marijuana leads to impairments in memory and a spotlight that persist and worsen with increasing years of normal use.”
Not a natural product
Some advocates for CBD oil claim that its effects on the body are gentler and simpler than medications for ADHD because it’s a natural product, made up of a plant.
The cannabis plant has been selectively grown for generations, and grown in specific conditions, to maximize its different aspects. Industrial hemp is grown for its fibers, which are used for rope and differing types of fabric. Another sort of industrial hemp is grown specifically for its seeds, which are then utilized in some foods and in products contain hemp oil.
Contrary to some marketing claims, CBD oil isn’t made up of industrial hemp plants. Hemp for fiber is harvested before the plant is mature, ensuring stronger fibers, and once a plant begins to make seeds, it stops producing cannabinoids to focus its energy into seed production.
Industrial hemp, due to these needs, cannot produce cannabidiol oil in sufficient amounts for commercial use. Instead, it’s often extracted from phytocannabinoid-rich hemp, which has ideally had THC bred out of it. This plant retains many of the characteristics of the marijuana plant. This plant may be a recently developed variant of the cannabis family and only goes back to the 1990s. To the untrained observer, it resembles the marijuana plant.
CBD oil is often made up of either PCR hemp or from the marijuana plant due to the similarity between the 2 variants. Within the manufacturing process, the plant is broken into pieces and a chemical solvent, a grain or methanol, petroleum, or naphtha, is employed to extract the compounds within the plant. The entire material is decanted and therefore the liquid is mechanically separated, drawing the oils and resins. The solvent is then reused. there’s also a process using CO2 that bursts the plant cells and captures the oils and resins from through a series of filtering chambers. Other extraction methods use heated oils that “cook” both the oil and plant.
The oils and resins are then further refined to separate the CBD from other compounds; This might be a combined mechanical and chemical change. It must even be tested to form sure all THC has been removed, especially when the marijuana plant is employed instead of PCR hemp.
The entire process relies on heavily refining the merchandise to form it suitable for human consumption. And, therefore, the more “pure” the merchandise, the greater the quantity of refining it must undergo. So while synthesized from a plant, it must undergo multiple mechanical and chemical processes to become usable and has little or no resemblance to the plant it started from. The more “pure” the CBD product, the less natural it is–the final product doesn’t exist during a natural form. you can’t chew on a leaf of a cannabis plant and receive any benefits from CBD oil.
Thoughts from an expert
John Mitchell, Ph.D., has heard all about ADHD and cannabis product use. He’s a researcher and professor at the Duke ADHD Program. Isn’t he is not surprised by the present interest in CBD oil for ADHD symptoms and is not impressed by arguments in its favor.
“There is a few efficacy in childhood epilepsy,” he points out, “but once you check out the literature for love or money else, especially psychiatric disorders, there’s not strong support to mention yes, this could be a go-to treatment, especially for ADHD.”
He says the interest stems from people’s desire to possess more choices in treating medical conditions and within the changing perceptions of marijuana use. He points to many states that have made medical marijuana legal and a couple of states that are considering legalizing recreational marijuana use.
“This interest in CBD is beginning more broadly in these perceptions of lack of harmfulness and therefore the changing perceptions of marijuana use generally,” says Dr. Mitchell. “For tons of various disorders—PTSD, ASD, some addictions—[some people] have an interest because it’d have therapeutic effects once you isolate the CBD. But those studies are preliminary. Once you check out the published literature on CBD there’s nothing—it’s limited to at least one study.”
He reminds anyone curious about CBD oil or cannabis products that there haven’t been studies showing effectiveness or safety for these products when it involves ADHD management.
“When parents or adults check out CBD oil for somebody with ADHD, it isn’t just that there is a scarcity of evidence out there immediately,” he says. “There are no treatment studies. There are not any randomized trials that show it works. And there are other treatment options available for teenagers and adults with ADHD. These are unregulated products. If these aren’t well-regulated products, how can we know that we’re really getting what’s being advertised?”
“When parents or adults check out CBD oil for somebody with ADHD, it isn’t just that there is a scarcity of evidence out there immediately,” says researcher Mitchell, Ph.D., from the Duke ADHD Program. “There are no treatment studies. There are not any randomized trials that show it works. And there are other treatment options available for teenagers and adults with ADHD. These are unregulated products. If these aren’t well-regulated products, how can we know that we’re really getting what’s being advertised?”
What about the question of CBD oil a more natural option than a medication? It comes from a plant, after all.
“Natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s less harmful,” says Dr. Mitchell. “If I were a parent, I might want it to be pure. Which suggests it’s actually less natural because it’s to be refined.”
Other considerations, he says, including how well-refined a CBD oil might be—are the THC and other potentially harmful components fully removed—and the very fact that there are not any longer-term studies on CBD oil use for youngsters or adults. He adds that there are well-researched and effective non-medication treatment options, like parent training and lifestyle adjustments, that are shown to be effective in managing ADHD symptoms.
There is also the question of CBD oil becoming a “gateway” to marijuana use by youth. Dr. Mitchell says a young adult who took CBD oil as a toddler won’t see the difference between it and marijuana use for symptoms management. Marijuana use has well-researched effects on physical and psychological state and may make ADHD symptoms worse, he says.
“The literature shows there are harmful effects,” says Dr. Mitchell. “There are impacts on cognitive ability, motivation. Especially for those that are younger and smoking more, there’s an impression on IQ.”
Leaping beyond the info
The research on CBD oil and other cannabis as a possible intervention for ADHD doesn’t show effectiveness for managing symptoms, and truly shows increased mental and physical health risks. There haven’t been any studies on the utilization of CBD oil in children; Neither have there been studies on long-term effects. So while some people are using it and have shared their results publicly, researchers and medical professionals haven’t found evidence that it’s an efficient treatment for ADHD. The research doesn’t show that CBD oil works for ADHD management.
“We don’t need to misrepresent things, and with CBD oil, it’s getting misrepresented,” says Dr. Mitchell. “When people say this works for ADHD, this is often going way beyond the info. That’s too big of a leap.”