The Efficacy of Cannabis in Managing ADHD 

Could marijuana help you manage your ADHD? The jury is still out on how cannabis as a whole affects ADHD symptoms, but some specific cannabinoids have proved promising in scientific studies. Let’s take a closer look at the current research on how cannabis, CBD, and CBN may affect ADHD. 

Could Cannabis Help Manage ADHD? 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), previously known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder that comes with a range of symptoms. Adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may experience: 

  • Disorganization 
  • Issues with executive functioning 
  • Issues with impulse control
  • Restlessness or hyperactivity 
  • Trouble focusing on tasks
  • Trouble managing moods

People with ADHD are also more likely to have certain mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, and certain mood disorders. 

ADHD is a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment. The standard treatment options for ADHD are prescription medications and therapy. Stimulant medications are the most commonly prescribed medications. These work by boosting and regulating dopamine and norepinephrine, two of the body’s neurotransmitters. 

Cannabis plants can also affect neurotransmitters–especially dopamine and norepinephrine. This has caused some to wonder if cannabis could serve as an alternative treatment for adult patients with ADHD. 

Research on Cannabis and ADHD 

The current research on how cannabis affects ADHD is mixed. 

Two notable scientific studies found that many people with ADHD say cannabis helps them manage their symptoms. A 2016 study that reviewed 268 forum threads found that “25% of individual posts indicated that cannabis is therapeutic for ADHD.” Participants in a 2022 study reported that cannabis has beneficial effects on ADHD symptoms like hyperactivity and impulsivity. They also reported a reduction in adverse effects from their prescription drugs for ADHD.

One 2017 study had mixed results, finding that THC boosts dopamine in the short-term, but may dull dopamine release long term. Other studies found a lack of evidence for using cannabis for ADHD. A 2019 study found that cannabis had a similar effect to the study’s placebo, while a 2023 systematic review concluded that there currently isn’t enough evidence to recommend trying cannabis for ADHD due to “lacking” and “inconclusive” research. 

Currently, most of the evidence for using whole cannabis flower for ADHD symptoms is anecdotal evidence. Some regular cannabis users say it has positive effects on their ADHD symptoms, but we need more research to understand why.  

Research on CBD and ADHD 

The research on how CBD affects ADHD is also lacking. However, other CBD research suggests it could be an effective treatment for anxiety, a very common comorbidity for those with ADHD. A significant amount of research suggests CBD could help treat social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety symptoms. 

Research on CBN and ADHD 

A very promising 2020 study found a surprising link between reduced ADHD symptoms and high doses of cannabinol (CBN). The study found that medical cannabis patients with ADHD who consumed high doses of CBN reduced their ADHD medication intake while simultaneously reporting less severe ADHD symptoms. 

More research is needed to fully understand how cannabinoids like CBN interact with ADHD, but this study provided an interesting new avenue to explore. It also underscores the need for more clinical studies that take specific cannabinoid dosages and ratios into account. 

The Future of Cannabis and ADHD Research 

While some evidence suggests CBN may help ADHD symptoms, much more research is needed on the topic of cannabinoids and ADHD. The scientific evidence for CBN as an alternative therapy for ADHD is still minimal, while the research on cannabis and CBD has been inconclusive. We simply need more data to determine how cannabinoids may affect ADHD symptoms. 

The good news is that there are now more cannabis research studies and clinical trials than ever before. We look forward to seeing what future studies say about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. 

In the meantime, if you want to try a cannabis product for ADHD, be sure to talk to your doctor before doing so. You should always talk to a medical professional before trying a product, including a natural supplement, for a physical or mental health condition. Your doctor can help ensure the product you’re considering works with your overall treatment plan.

November 30, 2023

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