There are a great many different mental and behavioral disorders that exist, affecting countless thousands of people. Though they range in severity and intensity, there is one that is likely to be the most infamous: ADHD.
ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a complex disorder. It has massively struggled with misclassification and overdiagnosis in the last decade. Sufferers have to deal with all kinds of horrendous symptoms and effects, leaving them unable to function correctly in society.
However, hope is not entirely lost. In recent years, scientists have theorized that we could be using CBD oil to treat ADHD. So what does the science say when it comes to CBD and ADHD?
First of All: What Is ADHD?
To be able to understand how CBD interacts with ADHD, we need first to understand what ADHD is, to begin with.
ADHD is, simply put, a behavioral disorder that makes it difficult for the sufferer to concentrate. Chronic inattentiveness, endless hyperactivity, and an increase in impulsive actions.
This makes it so that someone with ADHD is not only incapable of paying sufficient attention or remaining present in the moment. They also cannot stop themselves from acting out on their impulses. These can range from sporadic movements and twitches, all the way to needing to immediately express their desire for physical activity in the very worst cases.
As might be imagined, this is most readily apparent in schools. When a child has ADHD, they are incapable of paying attention in class or remaining in their seats. However, it doesn’t just stop there. They might be incapable of eating correctly, falling asleep, or remembering things they are told.
What Causes ADHD?
The condition itself is still pretty unknown neurologically. However, most scientists agree that ADHD is typically caused by a lack of sufficient release of dopamine within the brain. Additionally, it tends to be caused by a general failure of certain brain functions.
One of the main problems ADHD creates is excessive norepinephrine release. This triggers the body to react to everyday situations with a typical stress response. This necessitates way too much energy and far too little attention.
The big problem is that most people only think of ADHD as a made-up condition used to explain away bad behavior. This happens because of a considerable frequency of misdiagnosis in recent years, due to the lack of sufficient classification criteria for the condition.
This meant that many doctors and psychologists were diagnosing people with ADHD when, in fact, they were just badly behaved or were struggling with something in their personal lives.
Thanks to this enormous increase in the number of diagnoses, many people think of ADHD as this fake condition. In reality, though, there are plenty of people struggling with it as a genuine, extremely distressing condition.
So, what are we doing to stop it? What kinds of treatment options are available for people living with ADHD?
What Are We Doing Currently to Treat ADHD?
Currently, experts treat ADHD with a mix of both medications and cognitive behavioral therapy. By combining drugs that seek to alter brain function with psychoanalytic techniques, doctors hope to retrain the brain to not suffer from ADHD anymore.
Ritalin and Adderall are two of the most common treatments for ADHD. Both deal with the outward symptoms of the condition and try and make day to day life more bearable. The way the drugs work is by regulating the release of dopamine, as well as the rate at which the brain releases norepinephrine.
An exciting consequence of both drugs, however, is the fact that they also improve cognitive abilities to help people living with ADHD to focus. This means that users experience a much larger memory capacity, as well as a compulsive desire to be working on or completing something.
This might sound wonderful, but remember that these drugs are changing your brain functions and overloading parts of your brain to try and compensate for the brain’s failures in other ways. This means they can not only become incredibly addictive, but they can also be dangerous for your long term brain development.
You start getting used to the effects of these drugs, even once your ADHD symptoms have abated. Eventually, this leads you to constantly use these mind-altering substances. Many people use them as a study aid or concentration tool, so much so that Adderall is infamously a popular street drug in competitive universities.
These drugs become frequently misused, as well as being massively overprescribed. This has led to a severe addiction epidemic that results in thousands of people hooked on pills that alter their mental state unnecessarily.
If only there were some other, better way. Could we be using natural CBD oil to try and treat ADHD instead?
How Does CBD Oil Work with ADHD?
The idea of using CBD oil to try and treat ADHD is still a somewhat contested subject in the USA and around the world. This is primarily because of its inherent stigma.
Though there are plenty of people that use CBD oil to treat all manner of different conditions these days, there are still plenty that fear CBD oil as being far too close to marijuana in chemical composition.
However, this is slowly changing, with more people and scientists gradually realizing CBD’s potential uses.
The problem persists with ADHD, though. This is because of how cannabis and all cannabis-related products look in the public eye.
When taken recreationally, people think of cannabis use as being inherently lazy and not related to concentration. Considering its reputation, it makes sense that people might hesitate to prescribe cannabis to those struggling with ADHD.
CBD and ADHD: The Research
Certain studies, like this one by the University of Washington for the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, state that marijuana is potentially dangerous for people with ADHD. It increases the intensity of ADHD symptoms, as well as increasing the chance of developing cannabis misuse disorders.
However, CBD is not cannabis just because cannabis contains CBD; CBD does not produce the same effects that THC does, and is thus a completely separate thing when compared to cannabis usage.
Current scientific studies into the potential for using CBD oil to treat ADHD are few and far between, sadly. One study by John T. Mitchell et al. for PLOS One looked at a variety of different online posts and discussions around ADHD and using cannabinoids to deal with symptoms.
The study found that, out of 268 separate internet forum threads, many people found it to help treat symptoms. In contrast, only around 8% found it hindered them.
Another study, this time in an established medical journal, the Journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, found similar findings. Though the data was not entirely consistent and only represented early stages of testing, adults with ADHD experienced a reduction in symptoms and intensity of their condition when they took a drug containing CBD as its primary ingredient.
While general cannabis use seemed to result in no particular change in symptoms, those that took CBD overwhelmingly discovered their symptoms become far more manageable.
CBD Oil’s Collaborative Effects – What Else Can It Do?
However, there is one more important thing that many people skip over when considering the benefits of CBD in treating ADHD; its general effects on the body. CBD is well known for being able to heighten mood and generally help alleviate issues related to poor mental health. It is also incredibly effective at treating addiction.
A study by Silva et al. for the Journal of Clinical Nuclear Medicine found that people with ADHD experienced some of the same neurological behaviors as those suffering from substance abuse problems.
A lower density of striatal dopamine transporters, known as DAT, causes a massive reduction in mood and possible attitude. It also reduces general executive function. This could be one of the reasons that people with ADHD struggle with their mood and require such extensive medical treatment. This is potentially how CBD can help treat people with ADHD, because it can help tackle these very same issues.
Various studies, such as a seminal study by Gonzalez Cuevas et al. for the journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, discovered that CBD helps treat people suffering from addiction and substance abuse issues by helping improve their DAT density.
This means that CBD can help treat ADHD in much the same way as it can treat those with addiction. It encourages the brain to not only fix itself but also to adapt neurological patterns to behave correctly and make sure the brain releases the proper amount of dopamine.
Final Thoughts on CBD for ADHD
ADHD is one of those conditions that struggles with proper classification. Too many people think negatively of it, even though it is a real condition that millions suffer from daily. Even worse, doctors prescribe sufferers far too many drugs to try and deal with it; drugs that are not only potentially harmful but also extremely addictive.
Currently, the quantity of research on CBD oil and its effects on ADHD is still relatively low. However, scientists across the globe are beginning to look at it and take it seriously.
Various studies point towards the idea that CBD can help treat ADHD not directly, but through association. It can help deal with the symptoms by promoting healthy brain activity, as well as better dopamine release.
However, we don’t know 100% for sure if it will work as effectively as frequently prescribed drugs.
Until the point that greater scientific consensus is reached, we at least know one thing. CBD oil seems capable of improving the lives of those with ADHD; even it is only enough to make their symptoms more bearable.
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