Medical Marijuana for ADHD

Photo Credit: Jesper Sehested / PlusLexia.com https://bit.ly/2Zf7wdx.

Photo Credit: Jesper Sehested / PlusLexia.com https://bit.ly/2Zf7wdx.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder affecting focus, attention, and behavior. Current treatment options include pharmaceutical stimulant medications that, although they work well for many, can cause side effects like appetite loss, sleep disturbances, and anxiety. Although still unknown, some researchers and physicians theorize ADHD may result from endocannabinoid system, suggesting the cannabinoids found in cannabis can replenish these low levels of endcannabinoids. Many patients and doctors are voicing their support for medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option, however only a few studies exist and more research is left to be desired. One of these studies from 2013 found some adults do in fact use marijuana to treat hyperactivity and impulsivity. Another study, from 2017, used sativex, a medication derived from cannabinoids, to improve hyperactivity and impulsivity in adults with ADHD. This study effectively treated the symptoms without interfering with cognition. Another German study from 2015 involving 30 patients who didn’t respond well to traditional medications like Adderall and Ritalin found cannabis improved sleep and reduced impulsivity in the majority of patients. Cannabis may not only help treat the symptoms associated with ADHD, but when used in combination with the traditional stimulant medications, it can help reduce the side effects associated with those treatments.

Using cannabis, however, does not come without its own risks. People with ADHD may be more likely to develop addiction and substance use disorders, and a study from 2016 found 34-46% of adults who sought treatment to reduce cannabis use were also diagnosed with ADHD. Another study from 2014 found people between 18-22 who were diagnosed with ADHD were more likely to be dependent on marijuana, alcohol, and nicotine, than their peers without. Cannabis use may also interfere with brain development in teens and young adults. One study from 2017 found people with ADHD who also had used cannabis had a thinner cortex around the areas of the brain that control memory, inhibition, and movement. Those with severe ADHD and those who had used cannabis the longest exhibited the thinnest cortex. Despite these studies, there has been difficulty establishing causation and determining the cause and effects of these outcomes. Most of these studies mentioned are correlational.

This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Study: Cannabis Extracts Associated With Reduced ADHD Symptoms

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

According to clinical trial data published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, whole-plant cannabis extracts may be able to improve cognition and behavior in those who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In the randomized and placebo-controlled study, British scientists evaluated the efficacy of cannabis extracts for 30 adults with ADHD, and found treatment improved hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, cognitive performance, activity, and emotional lability. Authors concluded, “ADHD may represent a subgroup of individuals that gain cognitive enhancement and reduction of ADHD symptoms from the use of cannabinoids. These findings provide preliminary evidence using an experimental design for the self-medication hypothesis of cannabis use in ADHD; and support the need for further research into the effects of cannabinoids on ADHD symptoms and impairments.”

This information has been provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study Confirms Marijuana Can Help ADHD

Photo Credit: Amen Clinics (http://bit.ly/1pTNBdk).

Photo Credit: Amen Clinics (http://bit.ly/1pTNBdk).

A recent study conducted by researchers at King's College London in 2016 suggests cannabis spray helps those who suffer from ADHD. The study provided 30 adults with ADHD with either a spray called Sativex or a placebo over the course of four weeks. Sativex is a cannabis-based spray containing a 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD that has been approved for prescription use. Those who received Sativex experienced improved hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, cognitive performance, and emotional stability. Researchers determined, “ADHD may represent a subgroup of individuals that gain cognitive enhancement and reduction of ADHD symptoms from the use of cannabinoids.”

Some scientists theorize cannabis may be effective for treating ADHD because, similar to current pharmaceutical medications already being used for its symptoms, cannabis has the ability to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Additionally, marijuana may have less side effects than traditional medications. 

This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Is Cannabis Good For ADHD?

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

Because some strands of cannabis are known to have relaxation properties, scientists and researchers are beginning to suggest medical marijuana may be useful in easing the symptoms of hyperactivity, lack of focus, and impulsivity that ADHD patients experience. One study from Germany in 2015 pooled 30 patients who did not respond well to Adderall and Ritalin, and found cannabis treatment improved patients' concentration and sleep, and reduced impulsivity. Co-author of the study and psychiatrist Dr. Eva Milz said pharmaceuticals were too demanding on patients, and cannabis allowed patients the "control that helped them in life, love and work, without feeling intoxicated." 

Although further research is desired, these results suggest cannabis can be used alone or combined with stimulants for the treatment of ADHD. Not only could cannabis help manage the symptoms of ADHD, but it could also help manage the side effects of the stimulants like nervousness, loss of appetite, and sleep issues. Dr. David Bearman, however, suggests trying cannabis alone is better than using it to reduce the side effects of a supplementary medication, saying, "One of the important criteria in practicing medicine is to balance the side effects versus the therapeutic effects. The therapeutic effects of marijuana are the same or better than conventional drugs... and the side effects are much less." 

This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

ADHD Patients Successfully Treated with Cannabis

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Clinical trial data presented at the international symposium of cannabinoid therapeutics in September suggests medical marijuana can treat the symptoms associated with ADHD in adult patients. This new data is derived from a clinical trial in which German researchers analyzed the effects of medical marijuana on 30 ADHD sufferers who found conventional therapies were ineffective in treating their symptoms. The researchers reported after cannabis was administered, study participants experienced a mitigation of their symptoms, including "improved concentration and sleep, and reduced impulsivity." In addition, twenty-two of the participants opted for only using marijuana for their symptoms, and chose to discontinue the use of pharmaceutical medications during the study period.

Currently, states that have legalized medical marijuana do not include ADHD as a qualifying condition, and few states allow medical marijuana to be recommended for the condition at a physician's discretion. The new data is significant because it provides clinical support for existing anecdotal evidence and it reveals marijuana is not only effective in treating ADHD symptoms, but also preferable to conventional therapies. 

This information has been brought to you by The Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.