Cannabis for ADHD patients

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ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that has been clinically observed for more than 200 years. There a lot of treatments using opioids and the good news is that it can be treated with marijuana too. Previously, we have explained how cannabis can help with insomnia and anxiety, ADHD can now be included to the list. Traditionally, cannabis  has been known for its characteristic effect of chilling users out, producing for them a state of relaxation and calm. All of them result being helpful for ADHD patients.

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition in which the affected person has trouble paying attention and focusing on tasks, tends to act without thinking, and has trouble sitting still. It may begin in early childhood and can continue into adulthood. Most of the times, ADHD is diagnosed when a child is between 6 and 12 years old. Children with ADHD are frequently labeled as problem children rather than children with a medical problem. There are a lot of NGOs  in Canada focusing on this, so we can be able to help kids sooner. The exact cause of this condition has not been found yet, though it may be related to heredity (inherited genetic traits). According to researchers, ADHD occurs in 4% of adults and 5% of children worldwide. Some of the common symptoms of ADHD are:
  • Squirming
  • Fidgeting
  • Talking too much
  • Trouble getting along with others
  • Daydreaming
Other facts to consider:
  • Executive functioning impairment and mood dysregulation also impact many children and adults with ADHD.
  • Parenting does not cause ADHD, although specialized parents can assist with symptom impairment.
  • Diets and limiting food additives and sugar will not cure ADHD.
  • Treatment for ADHD should always be multi-modal.

ADHD in Canada

  • ADHD is the most prevalent childhood psychiatric disorder in Canada.
  • Approximately 4% or 150,000 young adult Canadians are impacted by ADHD symptoms often impairing their success in post-secondary education.
  • It is estimated that 1.1 million Canadian adults have ADHD.
  • The prevalence rate of ADHD within jail system in Canada is higher that 33%.

ADHD & Cannabis

Conventional treatments might not work for some people experiencing ADHD. Even if they do, some patients don’t want to feel the side effects. This is where cannabis makes its appearance. To understand the link between cannabis and ADHD, it is necessary to understand how cannabis affects the body through a regulatory system known as the “Endocannabinoid System” (ECS). The ECS is spread out across our body, mostly in the nervous system, and plays an important role in bodily functions such as pain regulation, appetite regulation, and control of inflammation. The ECS has two major receptors that each play an important role in how the body reacts to and produces “endocannabinoids” natural compounds chemically similar to cannabinoids, like THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol), that are found in cannabis and help to maintain some body functions. These receptors are known as “CB1” and “CB2.” Cannabis has more than 100 compounds, but we need to focus on THC and CBD. These two components, along with the other cannabinoids interact with our ECS, which temporarily alters the ECS’ functions. How does it affect our body? CBD can activate serotonin receptors, potentially creating an anti-anxiety effect. During the past decade, researchers found that cannabinoids excite dopaminergic neurons and increase dopamine release, another study found evidence that increased levels of cannabinoids combined with CB1 receptor activity are associated with lowered physical activity. According to these researches, cannabis raises dopamine levels in the brain. But not in the the same way as opioids. Cannabinoids increase dopamine levels indirectly by blocking the action of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA reduces neuronal excitability in the nervous system and inhibits dopamine release. And when cannabinoids block the release of GABA, it causes an increase in the levels of dopamine release to occur. It means that, unlike stimulants that excite the dopaminergic system directly increasing the risk of dopamine “burn-out” over prolonged periods of use, cannabinoids instead allow normal dopamine release by blocking GABA. Apparently, this interaction between the endocannabinoid and dopaminergic systems might provide a mechanism for the reported decrease in ADHD symptoms The best part? without the side-effects generally associated with opioids. Even in the US, where medical cannabis is hardly used, some people with ADHD use small amounts of cannabis to improve focus and motivation in the short-term. Cannabis tends to satisfy the ADHD brain’s deficit of dopamine, and makes people feel motivated or engaged in the short-term. Cannabinoids have shown to be effective for treating insomnia and nausea without the side-effects of some medications. Others prefer using cannabinoids as primary treatment for the alleviation of ADHD symptoms itself such as hyperactivity, behavioural problems, anxiety, and depression.  

How to get the best from cannabis?

New to cannabis use? maybe this post can help, however, there are key information you need to keep in mind. Indica-dominant strains can be related with relaxation. On the other hand, sativa-dominant strains are known to be more cerebral and energetic. Strains also contain different levels of cannabinoids. High-THC strains will result in much more of a psychoactive effect, but high-CBD strains are less so. CBD has also been reported to help with focus when it comes to ADHD. Sativa-dominant strains may serve to boost focus and attention, whereas indica-dominant varieties may help to calm down hyperactivity. Although cannabis may be a possible treatment for ADHD, it’s necessary to pay attention to the patient’s conditions, it’s individual and not everybody reacts in the same way, even if it’s the same amount. People experiencing ADHD are more likely to develop substance abuse disorders, and the use of cannabis raises the possibility of addiction and the use of other substances (that, of course, could kill cannabis effect). The best option is to go to the doctor who will prescribe the best strain and dose for the patient’s condition. Cannabis does not necessarily “cure” ADHD, it can certainly help to improve the symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.   Have you try medical cannabis? what was your condition? Comment bellow!

5 thoughts on “Cannabis for ADHD patients

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