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The Potential of Cannabis as a Treatment for ADHD & ADD


Cannabis is well-known for its ability to chill users out, putting them in a state of relaxation and calm. When considering conditions like ADHD and ADD, this state appears to be quite ideal for someone who struggles with rapid thoughts, lack of focus, and paying close attention to the mundane but necessary daily tasks. In Michigan, obtaining a medical marijuana card is necessary to use cannabis as a treatment for ADHD and ADD. If you don’t have a card yet, you can easily apply for your medical marijuana card online by filling out a simple form on our website.

Cannabis is proving to be beneficial for a wide range of medical conditions, thanks in large part to plant compounds that interact with specific receptors in the human body that comprise the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Although more research is needed before any concrete conclusions can be drawn, it is possible that this internal system plays an underlying role in ADHD and ADD.

Correct cannabinoid receptor CB1 and CB2 function, as well as adequate levels of the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG, may be required for proper cognitive function and performance. When this system becomes out of balance, symptoms of ADHD and ADD may appear.

What Exactly Are ADHD and ADD?

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a common childhood condition that affects over 6 million children in the United States. There are several variations of the disorder, and it can manifest differently in different people. Lack of attention, drifting focus, difficulty concentrating, and disruptive behavior characterize the condition. Adults can be diagnosed with the condition as well, which may have gone unnoticed during their childhood.

There is frequently some misunderstanding about the distinction between ADHD and ADD. ADD was previously thought to be a distinct condition with symptoms similar to ADHD but without hyperactivity. Following a reclassification, the symptoms that used to constitute the diagnosis of ADD now present as ADHD.

Different Forms of ADHD

The main features of all three of the ADHD types are hyperactivity and inattention. The first kind of ADHD is known as inattentive ADHD, which is a collection of symptoms that was previously classified as ADD. With this type of ADHD, there are no hyperactive symptoms—just a lack of focus.

For both kids and adults, the inattentive component of ADHD can be extremely problematic and have a detrimental effect on their social, academic, and professional lives. A person who is easily distracted, loses focus easily, lacks organization, has trouble following directions, and deliberately avoids tasks requiring a significant amount of mental effort is said to be inattentive. Additionally, when someone speaks to them directly, the person in question might ignore them.

Hyperactive/impulsive ADHD is the second type of the disorder. While hyperactivity and impulsivity are present in this form of the condition, inattention—which is a defining characteristic of the first form of the condition—is absent. Excessive talking, interrupting conversations, fidgeting excessively, appearing to be constantly on the go, and finding it difficult and unpleasant to be at rest are all possible signs of this type of ADHD.

Combination ADHD is the third variation of the disorder, characterized by a person’s combined symptoms of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. 

Research indicates that cannabis possesses the potential to alleviate various health issues, including potential benefits for individuals with ADHD or ADD. If you consider it as an effective solution, you can use cannabis for medical purposes. However, obtaining a medical marijuana card is essential to ensure legal access to medical cannabis while residing in Michigan.

Factors Contributing to ADHD

So, we’ve gone over some of the symptoms of this condition, but what is the root cause? At the moment, however, researchers in the field are still unsure. ADHD is thought to have several causes, one of which is neurological. According to some research, decreased levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine may play a role.

Dopamine is in charge of signal transmission between neurons and is involved in movement, memory, behavior and cognition, mood, learning, attention, and reward systems.

Another possible cause could be genetics and structural differences between brain regions. Individuals with ADHD have been linked to a decrease in gray matter volume.

Traditional Approaches to Treatment

Before we get into what cannabis might be able to do for someone with ADHD, let’s look at what conventional treatments are currently being used. Typically, treatments include a combination of medications and behavioral therapy. The prescribed medications are either stimulants or non-stimulants.

Stimulants are used to increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. To accomplish this, central nervous system stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall are used. Strattera and antidepressants like nortriptyline are non-stimulants that have similar effects.

Those who have been diagnosed with ADHD are also advised to manage their symptoms with exercise, enough sleep, and a healthy diet. Yoga, spending time in nature, and mindfulness meditation may also aid in achieving comparable outcomes.

The Potential of Cannabis as a Treatment Option

Some individuals with ADHD may not respond to conventional treatments. Or even if they do, if the side effects are too unpleasant, customers may look elsewhere. Some people may experience significant relief when trying to use cannabis for self-medication. Based on anecdotal evidence, the herb may help lower hyperactivity and impulsivity, which may improve concentration and lessen restlessness.

There are other types of evidence besides anecdotal ones that suggest cannabis may be used to treat ADHD. Numerous studies and medical professionals have also suggested that the compounds in cannabis may help with the symptoms of ADHD.

Thirty adults with ADHD were given cannabinoid medication as part of a pilot randomized placebo-controlled experimental study, according to a 2017 paper published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology. According to the paper’s authors, conventional medications also enhance dopaminergic transmission, which may be the mechanism by which cannabis has potential therapeutic benefits.

Two groups of participants were formed; one group was given an active treatment, and the other group was given a placebo. The Sativex oromucosal spray was administered in doses to the active group. The product contains 2.5 mg of CBD and 2.7 mg of THC per 100 microliter spray. In this study, the use of cannabinoids was linked to a trend toward improvement in attentiveness in adults with ADHD as well as a significant improvement in hyperactivity and impulsivity.

The study’s findings support anecdotal evidence that suggests using cannabis for self-medication to alleviate some of the symptoms of ADHD.

The Potential Dangers of Self-Medicating with Cannabis

Although cannabis has the potential to be a treatment for ADHD, its use must be evaluated on an individual basis. ADHD patients are more likely to develop substance abuse disorders, and cannabis use increases the risk of addiction and the use of other substances. This is especially true for teenagers, who are more likely to start using cannabis heavily after experimenting with self-medicating.

Adolescent marijuana use can have serious consequences. The brain is still developing until around the age of 25, and heavy cannabis use before this age has been linked to poor cognitive performance and a thinner cortex—a brain region that controls memory and inhibition.

It is recommended to consult with a medical marijuana doctor before initiating the use of cannabis for treating ADHD, ADD, or any other health issues.

Insights into Microdosing

According to some researchers, microdosing may be the best route to take in terms of self-medication, particularly for teens who want to experiment. A microdose is a very small amount of cannabis—so small that the psychoactive effects are either undetectable or very subtle. These small doses may assist users in increasing their focus without taking a large dose that reduces productivity and functionality. 

Strategic Selection of Cannabis Strains

Those considering using cannabis to self-medicate should be aware that different strains can produce a wide range of psychoactive and therapeutic effects. Indica strains are associated with relaxation and a more stoning body high. Sativa-dominant strains, on the other hand, are known to be more cerebral, energetic, and even motivating.

Cannabinoids levels vary between strains as well. High-THC strains produce far more psychoactive effects, whereas high-CBD strains produce far less.

Certain strains may be more beneficial to different people depending on their condition. Sativa-dominant strains may improve focus and attention, whereas indica-dominant strains may help to reduce hyperactivity.