Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an active compound in the cannabis plant. CBD oil is gaining popularity due partly to early research that shows that it might be helpful for certain health conditions.
Some anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil can help with the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but there is still very little scientific evidence to back this up.
Anyone thinking of using CBD oil should be aware of the regulations in their area and never replace any standard ADHD treatments with CBD oil before speaking to a doctor.
In this article, we look at whether CBD oil can help treat ADHD. We also discuss the possible risks and whether it is safe in children.
CBD oil is an oil that contains high levels of the compound cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is one of more than 100 active compounds in the cannabis plant.
Most people associate cannabis with another active compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound that makes a person feel euphoric or "high" when they smoke or ingest it.
CBD does not activate the same regions in the brain as THC, so it does not cause a high.
CBD oil may have several potential health benefits because of how it interacts with the body and brain. The human body contains an endocannabinoid system, which includes receptors in the central nervous system. CBD interacts with these receptors, potentially triggering positive effects.
There is little scientific evidence that CBD can help treat ADHD. Additionally, much of the research surrounding ADHD and CBD focuses on cannabis, which contains more than 100 compounds other than CBD.
However, there are anecdotal reports from people saying that CBD oil helps them deal with ADHD symptoms, such as hyperactivity or restlessness. Many people choose to use the substance as part of their ADHD treatment.
A small 2017 study looked at a group of adults with ADHD who were self-medicating with cannabis.
The researchers noted an insignificant improvement in brain function and symptom reduction. There was a very slight improvement in markers of impulsivity and hyperactivity, but not enough to consider the drug more effective than the placebo.
CBD oil might not be a treatment for ADHD, but it may help with managing specific symptoms that many people experience.
Some people with ADHD struggle with anxiety, which can make their symptoms worse. There is minor evidence to show that CBD oil may help with symptoms of anxiety.
A 2016 case study backed up earlier claims by researchers that CBD may help with anxiety and sleep problems in children. Further research will need to explore this effect in a large cohort.
A 2013 study also explored the relationship between symptoms of ADHD and cannabis use. People with subtypes of ADHD that involve symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity were more likely to use cannabis daily to manage their symptoms than people with inattentive subtypes of ADHD.
However, it is unclear exactly what causes this subjective symptom relief. Additionally, this study focused on cannabis as a whole rather than just the CBD compound. More research on ADHD and CBD alone may help highlight its potential as a treatment.
People may have a range of reactions to CBD.
Common side effects include digestive issues, such as an upset stomach or nausea. Some people also experience drowsiness or headaches, especially when taking higher doses. These side effects may go away with time as the person becomes used to the product.
People who inhale CBD through vaping or smoking may also experience lung irritation and coughing.
Researchers have noted that many of the potential long-term effects of CBD oil are unknown. Additionally, it is still unclear whether CBD affects hormones in the body, which may be especially concerning for developing teenagers. Additional research needs to investigate the potential for side effects in these areas.
CBD oil is not subject to the same regulations as medicines, which puts it at risk for contamination. The manufacturers of a product may say that it is pure CBD oil, but it could contain other ingredients, such as THC.
A product may also not contain the amount of CBD that it claims to, limiting its potential therapeutic effect.
Doctors may recommend CBD for children in certain circumstances but will not usually advise it for ADHD.
While there is some evidence to support the usefulness of CBD in children with specific medical conditions, such as epilepsy, there are also major concerns.
A study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence noted that children who use cannabis before the age of 16 years may have a higher risk of cognitive impairment as their brain is still developing. It is not clear whether this remains true for CBD extracts and CBD oil as well.
Children with ADHD are also at a higher risk for substance abuse. Although this may not be an issue for nonpsychoactive CBD oil, other sources of CBD, such as marijuana, may contribute to addiction.
Research from 2014 found that children with ADHD are about 1.5 times more likely to meet the criteria for marijuana use disorder.
Although CBD oil is not marijuana, some parents and caregivers have concerns about the association and may prefer not to introduce the product to a child.
Anyone who thinks that CBD oil may relieve their child's symptoms should talk to a doctor and explore all of their options.
CBD oil is available in a few different forms. The oil is available on its own in some pharmacies and online.
Producers may also create CBD-infused treats and snacks. People who do not like the flavor or texture of the oil may wish to consume it in capsules instead. Those who already smoke or vape may choose to vape CBD oil.
Currently, there are no guidelines on the effective dosages for CBD, so a person should always aim to use the lowest possible dosage to treat their symptoms.
Some CBD oil producers have their own guidelines for dosing, but anyone who is uncertain should talk to their doctor before using the product.
The authors of a 2017 review in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research noted that adults can tolerate doses of up to 1,500 milligrams per day. However, the tolerated dosage will be significantly less in children.
As CBD oil does come from the cannabis plant, many people have concerns about its legality. While CBD products are widely available online, they may not be legal in some regions.
Anyone considering using CBD oil should be aware of the laws and regulations in their area before buying the product.
The research on how CBD use affects the symptoms of ADHD is still limited. More research is necessary to determine the effects of CBD oil, which is not currently a treatment option for ADHD.
Some people still maintain that it helps them deal with the symptoms of ADHD, but more research needs to support its effectiveness and determine any adverse side effects.
Anyone considering using CBD oil for ADHD should talk to their doctor and be aware of the regulations in their area.