This article discusses factors associated with ADHD diagnosis, prescribed medications, the trend of self-medicating with marijuana, natural approaches, research associated with CBD and ADHD, along with general dosage of CBD for chronic health complaints. ADD (attention deficit disorder) is the term commonly used to describe symptoms of inattention, distractibility, and poor working memory. ADHD is the term used to describe additional symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity.
What Are the 3 Types of ADHD?
A: ADHD, Primarily Inattentive Type. People who describe themselves as having ADD most likely have inattentive type ADHD. Symptoms include forgetfulness and poor focus, organization, and listening skills. Inattentive ADHD often resembles a mood disorder in adults, while children may appear to be spacey or uninterested.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM-V), six of the following symptoms must be present to warrant a diagnosis of ADHD, Primarily Inattentive Type:
• Often fails to give close attention to details, or makes careless mistakes
• Often has difficulty sustaining attention
• Often does not seem to listen when spoken to
• Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish projects
• Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
• Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
• Often loses things necessary for tasks/activities
• Is often easily distracted
• Is often forgetful in daily activities
B. ADHD, Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive Type. This sub-type encompasses many of ADHD’s stereotypical traits: a child bouncing off the walls, interrupting class, and constant fidgeting. A smaller portion of children and adults meet the symptom criteria for this type of ADHD.
According to the DSM-V, six of the following symptoms must be present to warrant a diagnosis:
• Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
• Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations
• Runs about or climbs excessively when inappropriate; feelings of restlessness in teens and adults
• Has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
• Appears “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor.”
• Talks excessively
• Blurts out answers
• Has difficulty waiting for their turn
• Interrupts or intrudes on others
C. Combined Type ADHD occurs if you have six or more symptoms each of inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD.
Since 1957, doctors have been treating ADHD patients with psychostimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta. Adderall is a common prescription amphetamine, that works by prolonging the exposure of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine that stimulate the brain. Side effects can include elevated blood pressure, loss of appetite, stomach upset or pain, nausea/vomiting, dizziness, headache, fever, nervousness, and trouble sleeping. As Adderall wears off, depression and suicidal thoughts have also been reported side effects. Some use CBD to reduce anxiety and overstimulation from prescribed medications. Many self-medicate with marijuana for its THC content to help smooth the transition when stimulating prescriptions are wearing off.
Natural Approaches for ADHD
Often parents want to try something natural before resorting to addictive prescribed stimulants to help their children focus in school. Of course, stabilizing blood sugar with a nutrient dense diet consisting of adequate protein (8 grams per 20 lbs of weight scattered thru the day) and mineral rich vegetables is important, while avoiding culprits of hyperactivity, such as red food coloring and sugar. Many parents report improved focus and calming after giving supplemental Omega 3 fats to optimize brain function and minerals such as magnesium to help with relaxation. This makes sense since essential Omega 3 fats are building blocks of calming ‘endocannabinoids’ that are made in our bodies. Deficiency of Omega 3 essential fats is associated with impaired emotional behavior, among many other health complaints (1). Hemp hearts are a great source of these essential fats and can be easily incorporated into foods. Moral of the story, the best outcome for picky eaters is to get creative in finding ways to get them to consume adequate amounts of essential fats, proteins, and magnesium rich greens each day to prevent symptoms of ADHD, instead of relying on CBD alone.
Research associated with ADHD and CBD use
While it was thought that CBD does not stimulate dopamine like ADHD prescription medications (2), there are several studies that show cannabinoids to increase dopamine concentration (3). Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with reward motivated or goal driven behavior and is synthesized from the amino acids, phenylalanine and tyrosine, found in protein rich foods (4). Phenylalanine improves mood, while tyrosine is found to improve working memory when multi-tasking (5). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with decreased dopamine activity (6).
Most studies so far involving CBD and ADHD are associated with patients who self- medicate with cannabis. It has been found that people who exhibit hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention are more prone to use cannabis. Those with hyperactivityimpulsivity type ADHD were found to initiate cannabis use at a younger age, while those with inattention type are said to have a more severe ‘cannabis use disorder’ (7). One small study involved patients diagnosed with ADHD, and oral spray of cannabis containing a THC to CBD ratio of 1:1. This study indicated improvement with attention, cognitive performance, and reduced hyperactivity/impulsivity (8). Further research needs to be done with a larger population.
Stimulating ADHD medications are known to increase heart rate and blood pressure. One study indicated that THC combined with Concerta (Methylphenidate) had an additive effect of further increasing heart rate and blood pressure. This combination may come at the cost of increasing cardiovascular strain (9). Some misuse or become addicted to stimulating ADHD medications. Overdose can be fatal (10).
Some are choosing to use CBD to decrease marijuana and addictive medication consumption. CBD’s effects imply therapeutic benefit for the compulsive nature of addicted individuals (11). These include effects consistent with reducing stress (12), anxiety (13, 14), fears (15), compulsive behavior (16), and depression (17).
As we know, CBD alone has a calming effect. Reduced anxiety helps one to focus on accomplishing tasks. CBD is legal in all 50 states because it is derived from industrial hemp and only contains 0.3% THC. The main side effect of high dose CBD is drowsiness, noted in epilepsy research involving dosages in the range of 200-300 mgs or more. If you or a loved one is suffering from difficulty with concentration, consider trying CBD along with optimizing the diet.
What to look for in a product:
Full spectrum. Organic, 100% Natural-Pure CO2 Extracted, Gluten Free, Non GMO Hemp, and has No Heavy Metals or Insecticides.
American Shaman, NuLeaf, Receptra, R&R Farms 1904
General dosing of CBD for chronic conditions: 10 mg (2-3 times a day)
If a higher dose is needed to achieve health goals, consider the following guidelines from Dr Frank Lucido (medical cannabis expert) and Dr. Bonni Goldstein (a pediatric emergency physician and cannabis expert):
0.5 mg/pound/day in 2-3 doses. Increase 0.5 mg/pound/day at weekly intervals, up to 2-6 mg/pound/day.
For quality CBD products visit our website! Canvashempdispensary.com
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10. National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants
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About the author:
Dr Tiffanie A Jones is a medically trained Naturopathic doctor. A graduate of Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. Her mission is to offer science-based, holistic approaches to improve vitality and quality of life. Some of her research includes how CBD can help with ailments such as depression, anxiety, pain management, and more.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information provided or use of these products is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.