ADHD and cannabis treatment are garnering more attention as states continue to legalize medical marijuana. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by symptoms such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. Traditional treatments for ADHD include psychotherapy, behavioral interventions, and medication. ADHD affects 11% of school-aged children and an estimated 4.4% of adults.
While some individuals with ADHD may report subjective improvements in symptoms when using medical marijuana, there is limited large-scale scientific evidence to support its effectiveness as a primary treatment for ADHD. The available research and most studies have been small-scale or anecdotal in nature. However, the anecdotal feedback from those who use marijuana to treat their ADHD symptoms has been largely positive.
Those who are considering using cannabis should keep in mind that ADHD is a complex condition with various underlying neurobiological factors, and different individuals may experience different symptoms and respond to treatments differently. This complexity makes it challenging to identify a one-size-fits-all treatment approach whether it’s with traditional pharmaceuticals, marijuana, or a combination of both.
And, even though marijuana has been used medicinally for thousands of years, we are just getting started with applications of current research to prove the effectiveness of marijuana in treating a wide range of ailments and conditions. With a lack of large-scale research, references are limited to feedback from those who have been using it, historical documentation, and patient feedback. These resources show that many who report their experiences say that it not only helps to reduce their use of pharmaceuticals but it also reduces restlessness and inattention and improves focus and impulse control.
Symptoms of this condition include the inability to focus, lack of impulse control, the inability to sit still, lack of attention to detail, lack of sustained attention, poor listening (even with no distractions), fails to follow through on tasks, difficulty with organization, time management, and deadlines, avoids tasks requiring sustained mental effort, loses things necessary for tasks or activities, easily distracted including unrelated thoughts, and forgetful in daily activities.
There isn’t much broad research on using cannabis for ADHD because federal research on cannabis has been restricted by the drug’s Schedule 1 status (drugs not currently accepted for medical use that have a potential for abuse). However, some research does exist, including:
It’s important to note that marijuana contains many active compounds, including the two that are most well-known tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), which can have different effects on the body and mind. THC is primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana, while CBD is non-intoxicating. Anecdotal evidence and existing research indicate that have potential therapeutic properties.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): THC is a psychoactive component that gives the “high” associated with cannabis. It acts on the areas of the brain that control focus, coordination, and reaction time.
Cannabidiol (CBD): CBD is a non-psychoactive component in cannabis and hemp (a type of cannabis plant that contains 0.3% or less THC). It acts on different areas of the brain and can counteract the effects of THC.3 CBD has been shown to help regulate brain activity.
Our bodies have a system called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that acts as a receptor to the many cannabis compounds, including THC and CBD and explains how the plant provides a medicinal effect.
While recreational marijuana can contain both THC and CBD along with other cannabinoids and terpenes, consumer-grade CBD is required to have less than .03% THC (technically, this is hemp which is why it can be sold in retail stores designated as CBD sellers). Medical marijuana — which must be recommended by a physician licensed by the state and provided by a designated medical marijuana pharmacy — can contain more THC depending on what condition it’s being used to treat and is formulated into different combinations to more effectively treat specific conditions. If you smoke or consume street cannabis or cannabis purchased illegally, you are likely consuming both THC and CBD along with other unidentified compounds, since there is no quality control or batch control.
If you or someone you know is considering medical marijuana as a treatment for adult ADHD, it is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about both ADHD in adults and medical marijuana. The physicians and healing specialists at The Healing Clinics can provide personalized guidance based on the latest research and the individual’s specific symptoms.
While current research is limited to small-scale studies and anecdotal evidence reported from those who use cannabis to treat their ADHD, your primary care physician and your medical marijuana doctor can help guide you to find out if medical marijuana might be effective for you. For more information, please contact The Healing Clinics or click the button to get started.