You've read or heard a friend talk about CBD oil as an alternative treatment for ADHD. In every online community and on every social media platform there seems to be someone promoting the active ingredient or offering to sell it. But what is CBD, and does it really have any proven use in treating ADHD symptoms?
Cannabidiol oil, most commonly called CBD Oil is a product of the marijuana plant. The plant family is called cannabis, and cannabis products can include CBD oil as well as products that are smoked, vaporized, or eaten. CBD oil is just one of the 85+ compounds in cannabis and is considered medically effective by some enthusiasts.
It is not THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound in cannabis that creates euphoria and the “high” of marijuana use. CBD oil is said not to contain THC, which means that the oil must be highly refined to make it suitable for use and is therefore not a natural product. However, a recurring fear is that some of the products on the market may contain traces of THC, making them unsuitable for children and adolescents, as well as adults who are concerned about potential addiction.
So what about CBD oil as an alternative approach to treating ADHD symptoms? Some claim that CBD oil, a cannabis product, can be used to treat the symptoms of ADHD. There is limited research showing that taking CBD oil results in improvement in some epilepsy sufferers and people with anxiety.
What the research says
Research into CBD oil specifically for ADHD is relatively new. Some research has been done on smoked and ingested marijuana for ADHD, and the results generally either do not suggest any benefit or are inconclusive. There is more research out there that is promising for both epilepsy and anxiety. A new cannabis-made drug for the treatment of seizures caused by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome has been approved by an FDA advisory committee but has not yet been approved by the FDA.
Cannabinoids in Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder: A Random Study. It was a very small sample study of thirty people with ADHD who received trial cannabinoid / CBD medication. The participants were examined in terms of symptoms and IQ performance in standardized tests. There was insignificant improvement in cognitive function and symptom reduction, and a nominal improvement in impulsivity and hyperactivity. The researchers expressed concern that participants did not follow instructions not to take any other medication or drink alcohol, which could have affected the study results. The research authors said their results were inconclusive.
Effects of ADHD and cannabis use on cognitive skills in young adults
This study showed that young adults who started cannabis use before the age of sixteen, including young people diagnosed with ADHD, had poor results on cognitive functions. These young users performed poorly on all points in the assessment of working memory, verbal memory, decision-making, and memory. They made more mistakes when asked to solve questions or assignments.
Most worryingly, the authors write: “Individuals who start cannabis use before the age of sixteen may have a higher risk of developing persistent neuropsychological deficits because their brains are still developing, particularly the prefrontal cortex that is associated with various executive Functions such as planning, verbal dexterity, complex problem solving and impulse control are related, with each of these functions having its own development curve. "
Harmful effects of marijuana use
A review article for the New England Journal of Medicine by the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, and her colleagues describes the known health effects of marijuana use. Like other components of the plant, THC is harmful to health. The adverse effects include decreased cognitive abilities and the worsening of co-occurring mental disorders and substance abuse. Dr. Volkow names several health conditions that cannabis products could treat, including chronic pain and inflammation, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. ADHD, she does not count among the health problems that can be treated with cannabis products. Rather, she writes, "Heavy marijuana use leads to memory and alertness impairments that persist and worsen with years of regular use."
Not a natural product
Some proponents of CBD oil claim that its effects on the body are gentler and more potent than those of ADHD medications because it is a natural product made from a plant.
The cannabis plant has been selectively bred and grown under certain conditions for generations to optimize its various aspects. Industrial hemp is grown for its fibers, which are used for rope and various types of fabrics. Another type of industrial hemp is grown specifically for its seeds, which are then used in some foods and in products that contain hemp oil.
Contrary to some advertising claims, CBD oil is not made from industrial hemp plants. Hemp for fiber is harvested before the plant is ripe for stronger fiber. Once a plant begins to produce seeds, it stops producing cannabinoids in order to focus its energy on seed production.
Due to these requirements, industrial hemp cannot produce cannabidiol oil in sufficient quantities for commercial use. Instead, it is often extracted from phytocannabinoid-rich hemp, from which, ideally, THC has been bred. This plant retains many of the properties of the marijuana plant. This plant is a recently developed variant of the cannabis family and only dates back to the 1990s. To the untrained observer, it is similar to the marijuana plant.
CBD oil can be made from both PCR hemp and the marijuana plant, as the two variants are similar. In manufacturing, 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. All of the material is decanted and the liquid is mechanically separated, stripping off the oils and resins. The solvent is then reused. There is also a method that uses carbon dioxide which bursts the plant cells and traps the oils and resins through a series of filter chambers. Other extraction methods use heated oils that "boil" both the oil and the plant.
The oils and resins are then further refined to separate the CBD from other compounds; this can be a combined mechanical and chemical process. It will also need to be tested to ensure that all THC has been removed, especially if the marijuana plant rather than PCR hemp is used.
The whole process relies on a heavy refinement of the product to make it suitable for human consumption. And the “purer” the product, the more refining it has to go through. So even though it is synthesized from a plant, it has to go through several mechanical and chemical processes to become usable and bears little resemblance to the plant it came from. The "purer" the CBD product, the less natural it is - the end product does not exist in a natural form. One cannot chew on a leaf of a cannabis plant and enjoy the benefits of CBD oil.
John Mitchell, Heard All About ADHD and Using Cannabis Products. He is a researcher and assistant professor on the Duke ADHD Program. He is not surprised at the current interest in CBD oil for treating ADHD symptoms and is not impressed with the arguments in favor of it.
“There's some effectiveness at that Childhood Epilepsy"He says," but when you look at the literature on other topics, particularly psychiatric disorders, there is no convincing evidence that this should be a drug of choice, especially for ADHD. "
He says the interest stems from people's desire to have more choices about treating diseases and from changing perceptions of marijuana use. He points to several states that have legalized medical marijuana and some states that are considering legalizing recreational marijuana use.
"The interest in CBD shows in the perception of harmlessness and in the changed perception of marijuana use in general," says Dr. Mitchell. “A lot of different disorders - PTSD, ASD, some addictions - [some people] are interested because isolating the CBD could have therapeutic effects. But these studies are preliminary. If you look at the published literature on CBD, you won't find anything - it's limited to a single study.
He advises anyone interested in CBD oil or cannabis products that there have not yet been any studies showing the effectiveness or safety of these products in treating ADHD.
“When parents or adults consider CBD oil for someone with ADHD, it's not just that there is a lack of evidence at the moment,” he says. “There are no treatment studies. There aren't any studies that show it works. And there are other treatment options for children and adults with ADHD. These are unregulated products. If the products are not well-controlled, then how do we know that we are really getting what is being advertised? "
What about the question of whether CBD oil is a more natural option than a drug? After all, it comes from a plant.
“Of course doesn't necessarily mean it's less harmful,” says Dr. Mitchell. “If I were a parent, I would want it to be pure. That means it's actually less natural because it has to be refined. "
Other considerations, in his opinion, include how well refined a CBD oil is - whether the THC and other potentially harmful components have been completely removed - and the fact that there are no long-term studies of the use of CBD oil in children or adults gives. He adds that there are well-researched and effective non-drug treatment options such as: B. Parent training and lifestyle adjustments that have been shown to be effective in treating ADHD symptoms.
The question also arises whether CBD flowers can be an “entry point” into marijuana use for young people. Dr. Mitchell says that a young adult who used CBD oil as a child may not see the difference between using CBD oil and using marijuana to treat symptoms. Marijuana use has well-researched effects on physical and mental health, and can make ADHD symptoms worse, he says.
“The literature shows that there are harmful effects”. “There are effects on cognitive skills and motivation. This has an impact on IQ, especially in younger people who smoke more.
Go beyond the data
Research on CBD oil and other cannabis products as a possible intervention in ADHD shows no effectiveness in managing symptoms and even points to increased psychological and physical health risks. There are no studies on the use of CBD oil in children, nor have there been any studies on its long-term effects. Although some people use CBD oil and have publicly shared their results, researchers and medical professionals have not found any evidence that it is an effective treatment for ADHD. Research doesn't show that CBD oil is suitable for treating ADHD.
"We don't want to get things wrong, and CBD oil gets it wrong," says Dr. Mitchell. “When people say it helps with ADHD, it goes way beyond the data. That's too big a leap. "