CBD has been used to treat certain types of epilepsy, especially Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. In addition, CBD is used by many cannabis users to reduce anxiety. Anxiety disorders have high rates of comorbidity with ADD and ADHD, and CBD helps to reduce it. Nonetheless, CBD for ADD and ADHD is not approved as an effective method to treat attention disorders. To be more precise, CBD is mainly associated with anxiety treatment, which is, as previously mentioned, comorbid with both ADHD and ADD.

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that helps to reduce anxiety. Therefore, people who suffer from ADD and ADHD might find some benefits in the use of CBD.

Many people suffer from concentration problems and anxiety. However, not all people with concentration problems and anxiety have ADD or ADHD.

ADHD and ADD are not well understood and many people suffer in silence from a condition that is not always socially accepted. ADHD and ADD people find it difficult to explain why they lack concentration or why they suffer from chronic boredom.

CBD for ADHD: What’s ADHD?

ADHD or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how you pay attention. ADHD was commonly associated with children, but it does not mean that many adults are free of this neurodevelopmental disorder.

It’s recognized by most health authorities as a mental disorder. However, there are discrepancies in how it is diagnosed and how it should be treated.

ADHD and ADD are generally treated with a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and stimulant medication such as methylphenidate, commonly sold under the name Ritalin or Rubifen.

Children with ADHD experience symptoms such as:

1) Inattentive: many children are distracted, and many children don’t develop ADHD into adulthood. However, children with ADHD have more problems than others to concentrate or stay on task. Also, they tend to daydream and waste time. It seems as if they are often “absent” and forgetful. These children frequently suffer from anxiety due to this lack of concentration.

2) Hyperactive: they feel easily bored and restless. It’s important to remember that not all children and adults with deficit disorders have hyperactivity.

3) Impulsivity: they act instantly without thinking about the consequences of their actions.

Many children are inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive. This doesn’t mean they necessarily have ADHD. For instance, most of children learn to control it whereas other children are incapable of learning how to focus and be less impulsive.

Methylphenidate: Immediate Release vs Extended Release

There are mainly two types of methylphenidate medicines to treat ADHD and ADD: immediate-release and extended-release. Ritalin, for instance, has three types: instant release that has an effect that lasts for 3-4 hours, sustained-release that lasts for 6-8 hours, and long-acting that lasts for 8 hours. Other ADHD medicines such as Adderall has also two versions: immediate-release (4-6 hours) and extended-release that lasts for 12 hours.

Some patients experience better results with immediate-release, while some others have good results with sustained or long-acting forms.

What’s ADD?

Some people have attention deficit disorder but not hyperactivity. ADD is an attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity. It seems as both ADHD and ADD are predetermined by genetic factors in 75% of cases and it’s more common in boys than in girls.

ADD children are not hyperactive, and they may even look shy and introspective. Moreover, they are frequently in their own world, and they don’t display the hyperactive energy present in ADHD children.

How is ADHD and ADD diagnosed?

The standard procedure is a checklist about the child (or adult) behavior. After gathering the information, a specialist will diagnose ADHD if it is clear that the person is easily distracted, has a lack of concentration, impulsiveness, or restlessness. Furthermore, there are many online tests that you can take to check if you might have ADHD or ADD.

ADHD and ADD is problematic because children develop defiant personalities, stress and anxiety and learning problems. In other words, it causes a lot of distress on children. Let’s remind that ADHD and ADD are not exclusively present in children. For instance, many children with ADHD or ADD will continue having this mental disorder in adulthood.

ADHD and ADD on adults

Many adults suffer from this condition, and, quite often, they are entirely unaware of it. For example, they may have difficulties retaining a job, or they might suffer from a lack of concentration while working. This condition is problematic because they often develop anxiety and stress.

Moreover, adults with ADHD usually miss important events and meetings, and they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as reckless driving.

Furthermore, they are also easily distracted, or they have difficulties focusing on one task, especially if they don’t find the task very interesting. This is problematic because it can derail their careers and hence, adding more anxiety in their lives.

It’s quite common that adults with ADHD experience burst of anger and they have more difficulties controlling anger than adults who don’t suffer from ADHD. For example, they may have impulsive behaviors and/or insulting thoughts.

Adults with ADHD and hyperfocus

This is an interesting characteristic of adults with ADHD. They can intently focus on tasks they find of special interest. This means that they can focus on something they like for hours. However, they have a lot of difficulties to focus on tasks they find monotone, uninteresting or boring. This might sound interesting, but the problem is we also need concentration in daily tasks that are “boring”, for instance, preparing documents at work.

Moreover, distractions interfere with the completion of important tasks. In other words, they have difficulties to focus on important events and tasks.

CBD for ADHD: What causes ADHD?

It’s widely accepted that ADHD is a genetic condition that runs in families. However, there are also some theories claiming that exposure to environmental toxins may contribute in the development ADHD. For example, some theories link exposure to lead as a risk factor. According to ADDtitude, children with a gene mutation called HFE C282Y, have more risks to develop ADHD, especially hyperactivity. This gene helps to control the effects of lead in our bodies. This gene mutation is quite common, apparently 10% of the US children have it. Although lead has been drastically reduced over the years, there are still paints and toys that contain lead.

Mayo clinic lists other risk factors such as premature birth, maternal drug use and the aforementioned genetic and exposure to environmental toxins.

The most widely accepted theory is that ADHD is mainly caused by genetics. According to Psycom, “one study found that over 25% of relatives of families with a child with ADHD also had the condition, a much higher rate than in families without a child with ADHD”.

Furthermore, adults with ADHD have fewer active neurotransmitters in areas of the brain where attention is controlled.

ADHD and socioeconomic factors?

There are other studies that have identified socioeconomic factors associated with ADHD. These risk factors include maternal depression, paternal history of antisocial behavior or young maternal age. However, these socioeconomic factors are controversial, and they are not widely accepted by the scientific community.

ADHD and other risk factors

Some studies have found a higher prevalence of ADHD in children who had higher levels of pesticides in urine. Moreover, some European countries have banned some food additives that may cause ADHD and hyperactivity in children.

Furthermore, some studies claim that diets high in sugars and fats may cause ADHD. However, this theory is also controversial.

How can CBD help in the treatment of ADHD?

CBD is not an approved drug for ADHD treatment. ADHD is generally treated with stimulants such as methylphenidate. However, CBD can help with mood swings and anxiety. CBD for ADD and ADHD might help with comorbidities associated with ADHD and ADD. In addition, some studies claim that cannabinoids can help to mitigate impulsive behaviors and hyperactivity.

CBD for ADD and ADHD could be useful to manage anxiety, hyperactivity and burst of anger. Let’s remember that people with ADD and ADHD struggle with concentration but also with depression and anxiety.

In conclusion, CBD is useful to treat comorbidities associated with ADHD and ADD.

CBD for ADHD: Conclusion

CBD for ADD and ADHD can help to treat comorbidities such as anxiety, anger, or hyperactivity. Nonetheless, there are very few studies on CBD and ADHD. Consequently, CBD isn’t an approved drug for this condition.

In conclusion, people with ADHD or ADD might find CBD useful to reduce anxiety or to mitigate mood swings but more research is needed on CBD for ADD and ADHD.

This post was originally published on November 18, 2019. It was most recently updated on February 8, 2021.