If you or your child finds it hard to concentrate, you're not alone. Over six million children have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In most schools, it's one of the most pressing mental health issues among young people, and millions are prescribed Adderall or other powerful narcotics to help manage ADHD.
But for some children, CBD may be more effective and less impactful on growing minds and bodies than the potent narcotics that are regularly given to children to help manage their ADHD. It's why many parents are starting to turn to the power of CBD to help with concentration or focus. As opposed to ADHD drugs that may actually increase stress and anxiety levels, which are already common afflictions among students.
Adderall for ADHD
The most common ADHD treatment is known under the brand name Adderall. It's a stimulant designed to increase attention and concentration by raising levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. This can help dial up the focus in the prefrontal cortex, which is the brain's decision making center. By elevating norepinephrine and dopamine, Adderall increases focus and makes ignoring distractions easier.
Unfortunately there's a tradeoff with Adderall. Because it's a stimulant, many children suffer from debilitating side effects, such as feeling nervous, headaches, GI issues like nausea and constipation, and weight loss. Others may report feeling dizzy or have difficulty speaking or breathing. More serious side effects include agitation, developing tics or becoming confused with hallucinations and paranoia.
CBD for ADHD
While studies are limited, what we do know about CBD and Adderall is that they can both help manage the symptoms of ADHD. Due to Adderall's serious side effects, many children may be looking for another way to help manage their ADHD. Others use CBD to help treat Adderall withdrawal or to manage the nausea and other side effects of Adderall. According to studies, this kind of self-medicating suggests that CBD does help manage the symptoms of ADHD as well as help counteract some of the side effects of taking Adderall.
In fact, one study from 2017 found that those who took a CBD based medication had a reduction in ADHD symptoms without any cognitive decline or impairments. Another study from 2020 showed that consuming cannabis with higher doses of CBD led to a reduction in ADHD symptoms.
As the science is ongoing, there are many anecdotal examples of ADHD patients using CBD for ADHD, as well as using it to help mitigate the side effects of Adderall. And because ADHD is also commonly seen alongside anxiety and depression, taking CBD for ADHD has other benefits beyond the treatment of ADHD symptoms.
As our knowledge base grows, it is shown that CBD can help with concentration and anxiety, and in a pinch it can even help keep that next panic attack at bay. For some, CBD also seems to act as a mild antidepressant, reducing negative feelings and allowing sufferers to lead a better, more well-adjusted life. Another big benefit of CBD for ADHD is that side effects are far and few between, and they're very mild compared to strong narcotics such as Adderall.
Even super-high doses, of up to 1,500 mg per day, are overwhelmingly safe, which is more than we can say for the meds that are traditionally prescribed for afflictions such as ADHD, anxiety and depression. Negative interactions are possible with THC (the cannabinoid that is a psychoactive compound), but CBD-only dosages are not associated with an increase of ADHD symptoms.
Using CBD for ADHD
As CBD is commonly sold in convenient tinctures and vapes that allow easy dosing, its relatively straightforward to use CBD for managing ADHD. But if you're wondering how much CBD to take for focus, it's not quite that simple. Beginners are advised to start low and build up their dosing until it's effective at managing their ADHD symptoms.
Even high doses are unlikely to cause any problems or side effects, though for a more immediate onset, CBD should be smoked or vaped as opposed to ingested. You may feel the effects of the CBD quicker because smoking or vaping brings the CBD into the bloodstream via the lungs. That said, there are some concerns about the safety of vaping and smoking, so a tincture with a dropper remains the ideal delivery method.
A 2018 study showed that taking a single 300 mg dose of CBD for ADHD was enough to reduce anxiety and other symptoms. While you may not need that amount of CBD, it's easy to determine the perfect dose when utilizing the droppers found in most tinctures. Generally, it's best to start with the lowest recommended dose, then build up to a dosing that works for you and the management of your symptoms.
What About CBD for Young Children?
While CBD may be a great option for adults and older children, what about young children that may be more sensitive to the effects of CBD? While we're still learning more about the effects of CBD for ADHD in young kids, what we can say is that Adderall and other common drugs seem to be far more disruptive to the developing brain and body than CBD.
The FDA has approved CBD-based products for the treatment of epilepsy in both children and adults, further illustrating that CBD is not harmful, even in high doses. Parents report that CBD helps their children sleep, alertness and mood as CBD is used to help treat ADHD, autism and PTSD, among others.
But before starting a CBD regimen, it's important to talk to your child's doctor so that you can make an informed decision. CBD is used by many to help deal with all sorts of ailments, and it just may be the trick to help your child overcome their battle with ADHD.