CBD Oil For Adhd Reddit

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CBD is growing in popularity, and there are many over-the-counter skin products infused with CBD. While CBD can provide some pain relief to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, experts say there needs to be more research. CBD and THC are both cannabinoids, but they can have differing effects on the body. Learn more about the differences in the effects and benefits of CBD vs, THC. Cannabidiol oil, often referred to as CBD oil, is a product of the marijuana plant. Does it really have any proven benefits for managing ADHD symptoms?

CBD for Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis: What You Should Know

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the two well-known chemical compounds or cannabinoids found in marijuana or hemp. But unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it doesn’t give you a “high.” Instead, it has a mellowing effect with pain relief. Lately, CBD has been gaining popularity and trending in the health wellness sector with a wide variety of creams, lotions, oils, vape pens, or edibles like gummies or candies.

The internet is littered with information that claim CBD as a natural treatment option for a host of conditions including skin-related disorders like psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.

Reported health benefits include relief for:

But does it work as well as claimed? Jim Snedden says that for him, it did.

Snedden, 55, was living in Connecticut in 2005 when he first noticed his legs were very dry and itchy. Soon, the itch migrated to his hands.

“I was waking up all bloody because I was digging at it,” recalls Snedden who now lives in Goshen, NY.

In 2007, after he moved to upstate New York, he had another severe flare-up. Initially, he chalked it up to change in water, but it was confirmed as psoriasis. By 2012, he had developed psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Knowing it was a “destructive disease,” Snedden asked his doctor to put him on a biologic, a powerful, genetically engineered drug that’s designed to lower or stop inflammation in your body. It kept his psoriasis symptoms at bay. But the deep, bone-aching pain from the arthritis lingered.

“I have days where I can’t pick things up. I’m dropping things all day because my fingers hurt really bad,” Snedden says.

For years, he took prescription opiates to manage the pain, but they stopped working. In 2018, his daughter, who has fibromyalgia, a condition that causes pain all over the body, urged Snedden to look into cannabidiol (or CBD) as an option for pain relief.

He did. “It did a lot of good,” Snedden says. He’s cut out all the opiates from his treatment regimen.

Does CBD Really Work for Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis?

Doctors and other experts who are keeping a close eye on the growing demand for CBD say it’s hard to know for sure.

“While there are some theories to suggest CBD may have benefits for psoriasis, there is a complete absence of rigorous trials in people to prove their safety and efficacy for treatment of psoriasis,” says Joel Gelfand, MD, in an email to WebMD. Gelfand is a professor of dermatology and director of the Psoriasis and Phototherapy Treatment Center at University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

However, Adam Friedman, MD, professor and chair of dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC, says there’s “enough mechanistic data” to argue the potential benefits of CBD for psoriasis or PsA.

Friedman explains that when CBD enters your body, it binds with several receptors including receptors called endocannabinoids that affect pain, itch, and inflammation. There are two types of receptors in the endocannabinoid system: cannabinoid type 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2). THC binds with CB1 located in the central nervous system, which gives you the fuzzy feels when you take marijuana, and CBD binds with CB2.

When CBD binds with the CB2 receptor found on immune cells throughout the body, it has effects on the body’s immune function.

“When CBD binds to various receptors, CB2 and others, from an immune perspective, what it does is it induces inflammation resolution,” Friedman says. Meaning it activates signals in your body that makes the cells that cause inflammation to change and subside.

In terms of psoriasis, according to Friedman, CBD can reportedly stimulate the secretion and recruitment of cells that are important to remove skin cell debris and to allow your skin to mature and heal properly.

In a 2019 study, 20 participants with psoriasis or atopic dermatitis, another skin-related disorder, were asked to apply a CBD ointment on affected skin twice daily for three months. The CBD ointment, without any THC, was able to improve skin hydration and elasticity. It also improved participants’ quality-of-life when it was measured against the Psoriasis Area Severity Index.

In a recent 2020 study, 50 people with scalp psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis, a type of condition that causes dry, flaky skin mostly on the scalp, were asked to use a shampoo with CBD for 2 weeks. The shampoo was able to reduce itching, burning, the severity of the inflammation in the scalp.

But Friedman notes that there’s a lot more research to be done to see the full extent of CBD’s impact on your body. “Our understanding of the endocannabinoid system is incomplete.”

Moreover, Friedman says when it comes to cannabinoids like CBD and THC, if you’re buying over-the-counter creams and other topics products infused with it, it may not be getting absorbed properly through the skin barrier. This is because “cannabinoids are lipophilic.” This means they are likely to stay in a fatty environment — something your top layer of skin has plenty of. So if you apply a cream on your skin, only “a fraction of it” may actually get through.

“Purposeful delivery [of CBD] is what you have to think about versus asking ‘do cannabinoids work?’” Friedman says.

CBD and Potential Risk

Studies done on CBD to date are not conclusive. The lack of tests on safety and effectiveness is also because of the confusion around government regulations around CBD. It’s made it hard to study the plant and its potential use, risks, and benefits. Laws for legal access to CBD differ from state to state. So there are a lot of CBD-infused products on the market that are not regulated by the FDA.

“Due to current lack of FDA regulation for CBD, retailers may not adequately disclose the amount of THC in their products, potentially resulting in a positive drug screen. Also, CBD products are available for purchase online with little consumer safety oversight and can contain unknown and potentially dangerous elements,” says James Ralston, MD, a dermatologist at Dermatology Center of McKinney in Texas.

In fact, the FDA has served citations to several companies selling CBD-infused products or food supplements over safety concerns.

In 2017, one study looked at 84 CBD products manufactured by 31 companies and sold online in 2016, to see how accurate the labels were about the ingredients. Turns out, nearly 43% of the products were under-labeled, meaning they had 10% more CBD that advertised. Around 26% of the products were over-labeled, meaning they had 10% less CBD than advertised. Only about 31% of the products were accurately labeled.

Cynthia Covert, 52, from Moreno Valley, CA has been living with PsA since 2003. Covert has tried both THC and CBD products. Both have helped her manage her pain to a certain degree. But CBD products, she says, have too much hype surrounding it. She blames the market that’s flooded with CBD products to meet the growing demands.

“When it comes to CBD alone, I think it’s way too much hype, and it really does disappoint me. Because I know everyone just wants to make money off it, whether it’s the person who’s affiliated with it, or a salesman for it.”

Besides inaccurate ingredients on CBD products, research shows that there may be potential side effects to CBD use. It can:

  • Cause liver injury
  • Interact with other medications that can cause serious side effects
  • Lead to physical injuries if mixed with alcohol or other drugs that can alter your brain activity
  • Affect fertility in men or male offspring of women exposed to CBD as seen in some animal studies

There are also a lot of unanswered questions that scientists are trying to figure out when it comes to CBD use. This includes:

  • What happens if you take CBD daily for a long period of time?
  • How much is too much CBD?
  • Can different methods or types of CBD such as creams, gummies, oils, etc., affect you differently?
  • What effect does CBD have on the developing brain of children?
  • How does CBD affect a fetus or a breastfed newborn?

Things You Should Be Aware of Before You Try CBD

If you’re thinking of trying CBD for relief from psoriasis or PsA, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Before you try, talk to your doctor about it. Snedden spoke to his neurologist, a doctor who specializes in nerves, brain, and the spinal cord before he decided to try CBD. He also gets frequent migraines and has three herniated discs. He was worried about some of his prescription drugs mixing with CBD.

“Talk to your doctor first because anything can interact with anything,” Snedden says.

Do your research beforehand. Friedman says he urges anyone who wants to try CBD to first do their “due diligence” in researching all they can about CBD and the different brands and methods.

“I think the easiest is to go on Google or whatever search engine and type in Department of Health medical cannabis program,” Friedman says especially if cannabis is legalized in your state.

If you’re going to buy CBD products online or over the counter at your local drugstore, research and write down a few things to check on the labels before you buy it. Once you buy it, Friedman says it’s always a good idea to test it out.

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“I typically tell patients to start by doing a test site on a small area for a couple days to make sure that it doesn’t cause irritation or allergic reaction. If they tolerate it, then they can apply to affected areas twice a day, ongoing,” Friedman says.

Start low and slow. When Snedden first started using CBD, it was a bit of a learning curve, especially with what type to use and how much. He researched online on what types or brands would work best. He tried three different types before he found that worked best for him — a tincture, an alcohol-based liquid extract that you put under your tongue.

“I started with one drop and I wasn’t really noticing anything. So I decided to take two drops and it was fine. I started to sleep through the night, I was able to relax. A lot of the pain was gone,” Snedden says.

It’s important to remember that each person reacts different to CBD so it’s always good to start small and see how it goes.

Manage your expectations. CBD isn’t the same as THC. It won’t deliver quick results and it’s definitely not a “cure all.” You may have to continue your regular treatments for psoriasis and PsA and compliment it with approved CBD products to help with the pain.

“If you’re going to use CBD, you can’t go in with the expectation that it’s going to relieve all your pain. And that it’s not going to relieve your pain as soon as possible like an opiate would or smoking a joint. What you are going to get though is a wonderful muscle relaxation,” Covert says. “You’re going to sleep better [and] you’re going to be less stressed. All those things over time will lead to a decrease in pain.”

However, if you notice any allergic reaction or side effects on your skin after CBD use, tell your doctor about it.

Show Sources

National Psoriasis Foundation: “CBD for Psoriasis and PsA.”

FDA: “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD,” “FDA warns 15 companies for illegally selling various products containing cannabidiol as agency details safety concerns,” “FDA Warns Companies Illegally Selling Over-the-Counter CBD Products for Pain Relief.”

Karger Journals: “Efficacy and Tolerability of a Shampoo Containing Broad-Spectrum Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Scalp Inflammation in Patients with Mild to Moderate Scalp Psoriasis or Seborrheic Dermatitis.”

La Clinica Therapeutica: “Anandamide Suppresses Proinflammatory T Cell Responses In Vitro through Type-1 Cannabinoid Receptor-Mediated mTOR Inhibition in Human Keratinocytes.”

JAMA: “Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online.”

Cedars Sinai: “CBD: What You Need to Know Before You Try.”

Adam Friedman, MD, professor and chair of dermatology, George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Joel Gelfand, MD, professor of dermatology and of epidemiology; vice chair of clinical research and medical director, Dermatology Clinical Studies Unit; director, Psoriasis and Phototherapy Treatment Center, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?

Both come from cannabis, but THC is psychoactive and CBD is not

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

Cannabis contains over 113 different chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two types of chemical compounds derived from cannabis. In recent years, interest has grown in the potential health effects and benefits of cannabis. Much of this interest has centered on these two cannabinoids.

This interest will likely grow as cannabis and marijuana products become legal in more states. A number of different products have emerged that contain CBD, THC, or both that are designed to alleviate ailments such as stress, anxiety, and insomnia. To understand these products’ side effects and potential benefits, it is important to first understand the differences between CBD and THC.

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol, usually referred to as CBD, is the second most prevalent chemical compound found in cannabis. First discovered during the 1940s, CBD has recently become more popular as a natural treatment for a range of conditions. It can be derived from hemp or from marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD still contains trace amounts of THC, while marijuana-derived CBD may contain more.

What Is THC?

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), THC activates the brain’s reward system by signaling the release of the brain chemical dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood and pleasure. By triggering a higher-than-normal release of dopamine, THC causes people to experience feelings of euphoria. THC is often administered by smoking marijuana, but it can also be found as an ingredient in capsules, edibles, and oils.

CBD vs. THC: Key Differences

THC and CBD have an effect on the endocannabinoid system, a system that plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis. Researchers are still working to understand the ins and outs of this complex system, but they do know that it is associated with processes including memory, appetite, sleep, mood, and fertility.

While THC and CBD share similarities, there are some key differences between the two compounds.

Psychoactive (produces a high)

Sourced from marijuana

Non-psychoactive (does not produce a high)

Typically sourced from hemp

CBD vs. THC: Psychoactive Properties

CBD and THC affect different receptors in the brain. Because of this, CBD typically does not have psychoactive effects—in other words, it won’t cause you to get high.

THC, on the other hand, does have psychoactive effects. It is the compound that produces the high that people associate with marijuana.

CBD vs. THC: Chemical Structure

Both CBD and THC have a chemical structure that is similar to the body’s natural endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that act in the brain.

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that relay signals between nerve cells in the body. They play an important role in a wide range of functions including sleep, pain, appetite, mood, and the immune system.

CBD and THC have the same molecular structure, but there are differences in how these molecules are arranged that are responsible for the differing effects they have. By mimicking endocannabinoids, they bind with receptors and cause different effects in the body.

CBD vs. THC: Sources

While CBD can come from either hemp or marijuana, it is often derived from hemp in order to avoid the addition of larger amounts of THC. THC, on the other hand, is derived from marijuana.

CBD that comes from marijuana may contain more THC, which may not be ideal for people who are trying to avoid THC. Some CBD products that are produced from cannabis, for example, may contain more THC than the label suggests.

CBD vs. THC: Potential Benefits

While research on the potential health benefits of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids is still in the early stages, there is evidence that these substances may be helpful for conditions including:

  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Symptoms of HIV/AIDS
  • Pain
  • Opioid dependence
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBD)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Movement disorders

While CBD and THC often have similar effects and are often used to treat many of the same ailments, there are some differences.

CBD is often used to alleviate symptoms associated with:

  • Anxiety
  • Inflammation
  • Migraines
  • Seizures

THC, which may be administered as medical marijuana, may be used to alleviate symptoms of a number of conditions. It may be helpful for conditions such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea; it may help alleviate nausea caused by cancer treatment
  • Pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraine headaches
  • Poor appetite; including appetite problems caused by cancer treatment
  • Tremors

CBD vs. THC for Pain Relief

Both CBD and THC can both be beneficial for pain relief. Because THC has psychoactive effects, it may produce more immediate pain relief. However, CBD can help reduce inflammation, which is useful for long-term effectiveness. Some evidence suggests that taking both CBD and THC may provide the greatest pain relief. In one study, people who took a combination of CBD and THC experienced greater pain relief than those who took THC alone.

FDA-Approved Medications

While cannabis itself has not been FDA approved to treat any condition, there are a few drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that contain CBD or THC.  

  • Epidiolex contains CBD and has been approved to treat seizures associated with two severe types of epilepsy—Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
  • Marinol and Syndros are drugs that contain dronabinol, a synthetic THC. These drugs are used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy during cancer treatment.
  • Cesamet contains nabilone, a synthetic substance that is similar to THC. This drug is used to treat weight loss and appetite problems associated with chemotherapy and HIV/AIDS.

CBD vs. THC: Side Effects

Some research suggests that CBD and THC are generally safe and result in few side effects.

However, while these substances appear safe, that does not necessarily mean that you won’t experience some unwanted effects. Some adverse effects that have been reported include:

  • Changes in mood and appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Feelings of anxiety or other mood changes
  • Nausea and dizziness

THC use may also result in unpleasant side effects such as increased heart rate, dry mouth, and memory loss.

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Marijuana itself can have a number of short-term and long-term adverse effects, including impaired short-term memory, altered judgment, and impaired coordination. Research also suggests that marijuana can alter brain development and may lead to cognitive impairment.

NIDA also notes that THC alters how the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex function. These areas of the brain are important in the formation of new memories and the ability to shift attention from one thing to the next. This not only affects a person’s ability to learn and form new memories, but it also makes it difficult for people to perform difficult tasks.

Legality of CBD and THC

When choosing CBD or THC products, it is also important to consider their legality. Both marijuana and THC are included in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, which means that they are not legal under federal law.

As of July 2020, 33 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted policies allowing medical marijuana and products containing THC to be prescribed by a doctor. Some states also allow recreational use of marijuana and THC-containing products.

Although CBD in certain forms is legal in most states, the specifics of the legality of any THC or CBD product can vary from one state to the next. Several states have also approved the use of marijuana and THC for recreational purposes.

Because the laws regarding the use of cannabis and cannabis products are rapidly changing, you should always check your state’s laws before using products containing CBD or THC.

How to Take CBD and THC

Both THC and CBD can be consumed in a number of different forms. THC may be consumed as marijuana by smoking, but a number of other cannabis products are also available including:

  • Oils
  • Tinctures
  • Sprays
  • Vape products
  • Edibles including gummies and chocolates
  • Beverages containing marijuana oil

Like THC, CBD can also be consumed in a number of different forms. CBD oils can be formulated for vaping, although there have been recent concerns about the health dangers posed by vaping.

It can also be added to lotions and salves to apply to skin. It is important to note that the effects of these topical products will be localized since they are not being ingested.

CBD can also be taken orally as a tincture, oil, capsule, or spray. Edible CBD products are also popular and include gummies, candies, and beverages.

When choosing CBD products, it is also important to consider its formulation. Isolate products contain only CBD. Broad-spectrum products contain other cannabinoids with the exception of THC, while full-spectrum CBD products contain CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids.

Which One Should You Take?

The product you choose may depend on the effects you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to reduce stress or sleep better, for example, CBD may provide benefits without the negative side effects associated with THC. THC might be a better choice for symptoms or conditions for which the substance has demonstrated benefits, such as tremors or poor appetite.

The Entourage Effect

Some research suggests that the potential therapeutic effects of THC and CBD tend to be greater when the two cannabinoids are taken together at the same time. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect.

Taking CBD along with THC has also been shown to help reduce some of the unwanted effects that THC may have. For example, one study suggests that CBD may potentially reduce some of the negative cognitive effects of regular cannabis use.

For example, people who use cannabis, particularly when it has high THC levels, may have a greater risk of experiencing psychiatric symptoms such as paranoia, anxiety, and psychosis. Studies have found, however, that CBD may help mitigate these effects.

One study found that CBD helped block some of the potential psychiatric effects of THC. The authors of the study suggest that such findings have important implications for the use of cannabis products. People who are prone to unwanted side effects, for example, may be able to still gain the potential health benefits by sticking to products that are low in THC and higher in CBD content.

It is also important to remember that CBD and THC work in a number of different areas of the brain, and researchers do not yet fully understand the effects that these cannabinoids have, either alone or in conjunction with one another.

Some evidence suggests that the combined effects of CBD and THC may be dependent on dose. A 2019 study, for example, found that low doses of CBD actually played a role in amplifying the psychoactive effects of THC, while high doses of CBD reduced THC’s effects.  

Drug Testing CBD or THC

Because THC is the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, it can be detected on most standard drug tests. CBD may be detectable as well, but many drug tests are not designed to look for cannabidiol.

However, many CBD products do contain trace amounts of THC. While these amounts are small, they may still be detectable if you are consuming large quantities of CBD or if the products you are using contain more THC than the packaging label claims.

Research has found, for example, that as many as 70% of CBD products are mislabeled and contain significantly more THC than labels suggest. Because of the lack of regulation of these products, it is difficult to know exactly how much THC you are actually getting.

There is no way to tell between THC and CBD based on appearance, smell, taste, or texture. Purchasing products from reputable manufacturers and retailers may help ensure that you are getting the type of product you want.

Both THC and CBD are stored in body fat, which means that both can potentially be detected on drug tests for some time after you have stopped using them.

Before You Take CBD or THC

THC and CBD may also have an effect on some health conditions and can interact with certain medications, so you should always use caution before taking these products. These substances might impact how medications are metabolized by your body. They can also heighten feelings of anxiety in some cases.

Before choosing a THC or CBD product, it is important to check your state laws to ensure that these products are legal where you live. Federal law mandates that hemp-derived CBD products should contain less than 0.3% THC, but even those trace amounts are still illegal in some states.

A Word From Verywell

Both THC and CBD may have a number of benefits, but you should always talk to your doctor first before you try any products containing these cannabinoids. Both CBD and THC hold promise for alleviating symptoms and even treating some medical and mental health conditions, but research in this area is still relatively new and further investigation is needed.

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Cannabis (marijuana) and cannabinoids: what you need to know.

Perry D, Ton J, Allan GM. Evidence for THC versus CBD in cannabinoids. Can Fam Physician. 2018;64(7):519. PMID: 30002029; PMCID: PMC6042662.

Volkow ND, Baler RD, Compton WM, Weiss SR. Adverse health effects of marijuana use. N Engl J Med. 2014;370(23):2219-2227. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1402309

Morgan CJ, Schafer G, Freeman TP, Curran HV. Impact of cannabidiol on the acute memory and psychotomimetic effects of smoked cannabis: naturalistic study: naturalistic study [corrected] [published correction appears in Br J Psychiatry. 2010 Nov;197:416]. Br J Psychiatry. 2010;197(4):285-290. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.110.077503

Bonn-miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling accuracy of cannabidiol extracts sold online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

CBD Oil For Adhd Reddit

Karen Sampson Hoffman

YOU’VE SEEN THE POP-UP ADS or you’ve heard a friend talk about CBD oil as an alternative treatment for ADHD. Every online community and social media platform seems to have someone praising the compound or offering to sell it. But what is it, and does it really have any proven benefits for managing ADHD symptoms?

Cannabidiol oil, most often referred to as CBD oil, is a product of the marijuana plant. The plant family is called cannabis, and cannabis products can include CBD oil along with smoked, vaped, or eaten products. CBD oil is just one of more than 85 compounds in cannabis and is regarded by some enthusiasts as having medicinal benefits.

It is not THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound in cannabis that creates euphoria and delivers the “high” of marijuana use. CBD oil is not supposed to contain any THC, meaning the oil needs to be highly refined to make it suitable for use, and therefore is not a natural product. One reoccurring concern, however, is that some products on the market can have trace amounts of THC present, making them unsuitable for use by children and teens 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, can be used to treat the symptoms of ADHD. There is limited research showing an improvement for some people who have epilepsy and some people who experience anxiety who use CBD oil, so it is thought to also have benefits for people with ADHD.

What the research says

Researching CBD oil specifically for ADHD is relatively new. Some research has been conducted on smoked and ingested marijuana for ADHD, and the findings in general either do not indicate a benefit or are inconclusive. For both epilepsy and anxiety, there is more research that shows promise. A new medication made from cannabis for seizures caused by Lennox- Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome was approved by an advisory committee for the FDA, but does not have FDA approval.

    . This was a very small sample study of thirty people with ADHD who received a trial cannabinoid/CBD medication. The participants were evaluated for symptom levels and IQ performance on standardized tests. There was insignificant improvement on cognitive function and symptom reduction, and nominal improvement on impulsivity and hyperactivity. The researchers expressed concern that the participants did not follow instructions to avoid all other medications or alcohol use that could have affected the study results. The research authors stated that their results were inconclusive. . This study showed poor cognitive function outcome for young adults who began using cannabis before the age of sixteen, including young people with an ADHD diagnosis. When evaluated for working memory, verbal memory, decision-making and recall, these young users had poor performance on all points. They made more mistakes when asked to complete questions or tasks. Most concerning, the authors write, “Individuals who initiate use of cannabis before age sixteen may be at higher risk for developing persistent neuropsychological deficits because their brain is still developing, especially the prefrontal cortex which is associated with 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 article for The New England Journal of Medicine by National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow, MD, and her colleagues, details the known health effects of marijuana use. THC is a concern for health, as are other components of the plant. Adverse effects include decreased cognitive abilities and exacerbated co-occurring mental health disorders and substance abuse. Dr. Volkow lists several health conditions that might be able to be treated by cannabis products, including chronic pain and inflammation, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. She does not include ADHD as a health concern that can be treated by cannabis products. In fact, she writes, “[H]eavy use of marijuana results in impairments in memory and attention that persist and worsen with increasing years of regular use.”
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Not a natural product

Some advocates for CBD oil claim that its effects on the body are gentler and more effective than medications for ADHD because it is a natural product, made from 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 different types of cloth. Another type of industrial hemp is grown specifically for its seeds, which are then used in some foods and in products contain hemp oil.

Contrary to some marketing claims, CBD oil is not made from industrial hemp plants. Hemp for fiber is harvested before the plant is mature, ensuring stronger fibers, and once a plant begins to form seeds, it stops producing cannabinoids to focus its energy into seed production.

Industrial hemp, because of these needs, cannot produce cannabidiol oil in sufficient amounts for commercial use. Instead it is often extracted from phytocannabinoid-rich hemp, which has ideally had THC bred out of it. This plant retains many of the characteristic of the marijuana plant. This plant is 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 can be made from either PCR hemp or from the marijuana plant because of the similarity between the two variants. In the manufacturing process, the plant is broken into pieces and a chemical solvent, a grain or wood alcohol, petroleum, or naphtha, is used to extract the compounds in the plant. The whole material is decanted and the liquid is mechanically separated, drawing off the oils and resins. The solvent is then reused. There is also a process using carbon dioxide 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 could be a combined mechanical and chemical process. It must also be tested to make sure all THC has been removed, especially when the marijuana plant is used rather than PCR hemp.

The entire process relies on heavily refining the product to make it suitable for human consumption. And the more “pure” the product, the greater the amount of refining it must go through. So while synthesized from a plant, it must go through multiple mechanical and chemical processes to become usable and has very little resemblance to the plant it started from. The more “pure” the CBD product, the less natural it is–the final product does not exist in a natural form. You cannot chew on a leaf of a cannabis plant and receive any benefits from CBD oil.

Thoughts from an expert

John Mitchell, PhD, has heard all about ADHD and cannabis product use. He is a researcher and assistant professor at the Duke ADHD Program. He’s not surprised by the current interest in CBD oil for ADHD symptoms and is not impressed by arguments in its favor.

“There is some efficacy in childhood epilepsy,” he points out, “but when you look at the literature for anything else, especially psychiatric disorders, there’s not strong support to say yes, this should be a go-to treatment, especially for ADHD.”

He says the interest stems from people’s desire to have more choices in treating medical conditions and in the changing perceptions on marijuana use. He points to several states that have made medical marijuana legal and a few states that are considering legalizing recreational marijuana use.

“This interest in CBD is coming out more broadly in these perceptions of lack of harmfulness and the changing perceptions of marijuana use in general,” says Dr. Mitchell. “For a lot of different disorders—PTSD, ASD, some addictions—[some people] are interested because it might have therapeutic effects when you isolate the CBD. But those studies are preliminary. When you look at the published literature on CBD there’s nothing—it’s limited to one study.”

He reminds anyone interested in CBD oil or cannabis products that there have not been the studies showing effectiveness or safety for these products when it comes to ADHD management.

“When parents or adults look into CBD oil for someone with ADHD, it’s not just that there’s a lack of evidence out there right now,” he says. “There have been no treatment studies. There are no randomized trials that show it works. And there are other treatment options available for kids and adults with ADHD. These are unregulated products. If these are not well-regulated products, how do we know that we’re really getting what’s being advertised?”

“When parents or adults look into CBD oil for someone with ADHD, it’s not just that there’s a lack of evidence out there right now,” says researcher John Mitchell, PhD, from the Duke ADHD Program. “There have been no treatment studies. There are no randomized trials that show it works. And there are other treatment options available for kids and adults with ADHD. These are unregulated products. If these are not well-regulated products, how do we know that we’re really getting what’s being advertised?”

What about the question of CBD oil being a more natural option than a medication? It comes from a plant, after all.

“Natural doesn’t necessary means it’s less harmful,” says Dr. Mitchell. “If I were a parent, I would want it to be pure. Which means it’s actually less natural, because it has to be refined.”

Other considerations, he says, include how well-refined a CBD oil might be—are the THC and other potentially harmful components fully removed—and the fact that there are no longer-term studies on CBD oil use for children or adults. He adds that there are well-researched and effective non-medication treatment options, such as 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 a young person. Dr. Mitchell says a young adult who took CBD oil as a child might not see the difference between it and marijuana use for symptoms management. Marijuana use has well-researched effects on physical and mental health and can 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 who are younger and smoking more, there is an impact on IQ.”

Leaping beyond the data

The research on CBD oil and other cannabis products as a possible intervention for ADHD does not show effectiveness for managing symptoms, and actually shows increased mental and physical health risks. There haven’t been any studies on the use 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 have not found evidence that it is an effective treatment for ADHD. The research does not show that CBD oil works for ADHD management.

“We don’t want to misrepresent things, and with CBD oil, it is getting misrepresented,” says Dr. Mitchell. “When people say this works for ADHD, this is going way beyond the data. That’s too big of a leap.”

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