Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, has become increasingly common in the U.S. According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, about 5.2% of all children between the ages of 2 and 17 are taking medication for ADHD, and as many as 9.4% of children have been diagnosed with the condition.
As the benefits of CBD oil become more widely researched and understood, many are asking if it could provide a new solution for treating children with ADHD.
Current Treatments, Future Questions
In most cases, children are diagnosed with ADHD after they’ve exhibited behavioral problems in school. They tend to have difficulty functioning at school and in structured activities and may have problems in their relationships with others. They are restless and fidgety, have trouble focusing on tasks and may also have difficulty staying quiet or sitting still.
The common treatment today is medication from stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall, which help correct the levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter that helps regulate our emotional responses to situations, and research has found that low dopamine levels are associated with the symptoms of ADHD.
“The common treatment today is medication, which helps correct the levels of dopamine in the brain.”
While those medications address the issue of ADHD, they also are expensive and have a host of side effects, such as insomnia, nausea, tics and even hallucinations. And, over time, users build up a tolerance to the drugs, which means they need a higher dose to get the same benefit.
Studies show that CBD can help regulate dopamine production in the brain and, unlike the psychoactive properties of THC, it accomplishes this with “no known psychoactive or dependence-producing properties.” Just as it is being considered for helping normalize the cognitive defects associated with disorders such as schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, CBD shows promise for regulating ADHD.
“Studies show that CBD can help regulate dopamine production in the brain”
While no large-scale studies have been done on CBD and ADHD, one 2012 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that CBD could curb hyperactivity and “normalize social investigative behavior” in lab rats. The study of CBD as a solution for ADHD treatment is still young, but results so far have been promising.
Proceeding With Caution—and Hope
Whether or not cannabis can be effective in children with ADHD is an area of research that will gain more attention in the coming months and years. Although CBD oil has been deemed safe for use in treating other ailments in children, such as anxiety and PTSD, no studies have focused on how well CBD works for children with ADHD.
While there’s compelling evidence that CBD can help alleviate symptoms for adults with ADHD, research into how it affects children is lacking. However, as more doctors become educated to the benefits of CBD oil, it is worthwhile for parents of children with ADHD to discuss the options and opportunities of CBD usage with their child’s doctor.