Have you ever had one of those days when everything seems a little more difficult? Where you lose your keys, then your wallet. Where do you feel moody, restless and constantly distracted at work or school. While for many of us these are common experiences, for people with ADHD syndrome they can become a daily struggle.
Could CBD help with ADHD syndrome? At the moment there is little / no research on the subject. However, studies have examined the therapeutic potential of CBD for some symptoms associated with the disease. The results are preliminary but suggest promising avenues for further investigation. We go into details.
What is ADHD syndrome?
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health defines it as “a brain disorder characterized by a continuous pattern of inattention and / or hyperactivity impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development”.
While the exact causes of the ADHD syndrome are unknown, it can be influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors. On a structural level, people with ADHD may show key differences in some areas of the brain. Several studies also suggest that the dysregulation of the dopamine neurotransmitter may play a role .
There are three main types of ADHD syndrome: inattentive type, hyperactive type and combined type. While they appear slightly differently, all three can adversely affect quality of life.
Symptoms of ADHD syndrome
The ADHD syndrome is characterized by multiple problems with executive functioning. People with ADHD syndrome often find it difficult to concentrate and struggle with emotional regulation.
The ADHD syndrome of inattentive type is sometimes called ADD (attention deficit disorder), since hyperactivity is not present. This variant is more common in women and girls. Symptoms include:
- – The difficulty in focusing and ease in distraction
- – The difficulty in staying organized
- – Forgetfulness
- – Frequent loss of objects
- – Poor time management
Hyperactive ADHD syndrome is more common in boys and men. Symptoms include:
- – Restlessness and agitation
- – Poor impulse control
- – Excessive speaking and interrupting others
- – Nervous energy
- – Decreased sense of danger
People with the combined type ADHD syndrome show symptoms that are both inattentive and hyperactive.
The ADHD syndrome often causes problems with school and work. The disorder can hinder professional goals and adversely affect personal relationships. This can lead to low self-esteem and depression. In fact, the ADHD syndrome often occurs along with other disorders. Common comorbidities include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders and learning difficulties. The effects of some of these conditions can worsen the symptoms of the ADHD syndrome, leading to a vicious and demoralizing circle.
Diagnosis and therapy
ADHD syndrome is often diagnosed during childhood and symptoms may appear as early as preschool. That being said, many people are not diagnosed until adulthood. Late diagnosis of the ADHD syndrome is more common with the inattentive type, since the lack of hyperactivity can make the symptoms less obvious.
Usually, ADHD syndrome is treated with stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) and amphetamines (Adderall, Dexedrine, Vyvanse). Many people with ADHD syndrome report a paradoxical calming effect of stimulants. However, the exact treatment mechanism is not clear. As dopamine increases, stimulant drugs can address the dopaminergic dysregulation that is thought to be related to the ADHD syndrome.
Unfortunately, these drugs can create a potential addiction. They can also cause unwanted side effects. Patients may experience insomnia, muscle tension and anxiety, as well as rare but serious side effects such as hypertension.
Benefits of CBD for ADHD syndrome
Although no primary research has been conducted on CBD and ADHD syndrome, secondary research indicates that CBD may be useful in alleviating some symptoms associated with the disorder. It could also help reduce the side effects of regular medications for ADHD syndrome, such as insomnia.
Remember: you should always talk to your doctor before starting a new treatment or combining CBD with other drugs.
The role of the endocannabinoid system
Many adults with ADHD report self-medication with cannabis. A related study investigated the effects on cognitive performance and emotional regulation. The researchers found that adults with ADHD “may represent a subset of individuals experiencing reduced symptoms and no cognitive impairment following cannabinoid use”. This indicates that people with ADHD may respond differently to cannabinoids.
The study was somewhat inconclusive and focused on the entire cannabis plant rather than on the CBD in particular. However, it raises questions about a possible relationship between the ADHD syndrome and the endocannabinoid system (SEC). A second study published in 2013 also touched on this topic. It established indirect support for a link between endocannabinoid receptors and regulatory control associated with ADHD.
What is the endocannabinoid system ? The SEC is a regulatory system composed of cellular receptors and neurotransmitters known as endocannabinoids. It is present throughout the body, including the brain, and has been shown to modulate numerous biological processes. CBD interacts with the SEC through multiple mechanisms. If a link between the SEC and the ADHD syndrome is confirmed, CBD could be a fruitful area for research into natural treatments for the disorder.
ADHD syndrome and anxiety
About 50% of adults and 30% of children with ADHD also suffer from anxiety . Anxiety can exacerbate some symptoms of ADHD syndrome, such as restlessness and difficulty concentrating. Attention and impulsivity problems can make social interactions difficult, leading to stress and poor self-confidence. People who suffer from both ADHD and generalized or social anxiety disorders may therefore feel bombarded by a real storm of symptoms.
The CBD could offer shelter from this storm. A 2015 study found that subjects with social anxiety disorder (or social phobia) showed an increase in negative self-assessment during public conversations. However, this increase was almost eliminated when CBD was administered.
Another study found that CBD is safe and effective in treating anxiety in a 10-year-old girl with post traumatic stress disorder. Since the ADHD syndrome often occurs at a young age, it is noteworthy that this study involved pediatric administration of CBD. That being said, it is one of the few studies to do so. If you have a child with ADHD, be sure to consult a doctor before deciding to administer CBD.
ADHD syndrome and poor quality of sleep
Many people with ADHD syndrome struggle to sleep well at night. One study found that 67% of the subjects suffered from some form of insomnia. The exact nature of this connection is unknown, but multiple factors could contribute to restless nights.
For some, insomnia is a common side effect of many stimulant medications. People with ADHD may also have trouble calming the mind during the night. Since insomnia aggravates the symptoms of ADHD, this could lead to a vicious circle.
The CBD shows promise for supporting sleep. The same study that looked at anxiety in a young patient with PTSD also noted improvements in sleep quality. This is supported by further research that traces a link between CBD, anxiety and sleep.
In some paradoxical way, CBD can also fight excessive sleepiness during the day. This could make it an attractive option for people with ADHD who suffer from sleep disorders and daytime fatigue.
ADHD syndrome, impulsivity and substance use disorder
Many adults with ADHD syndrome are more sensitive to substance use disorder. This can make health workers unwilling to prescribe stimulant drugs that are addictive. Substance use disorder is a chronic disease with recurrent development . It is characterized by: “susceptibility to stress, high anxiety and impulse control disorder”. In particular, these symptoms share common elements with some types of ADHD syndrome. Both diseases have also been linked to dopamine.
The studies have shown that the CBD “strongly modulates” the mesolimbic dopamine system. CBD has also shown promising results as a treatment for addiction , reducing drug-seeking behavior and impulsiveness in animal guinea pigs. While the link to the ADHD syndrome has yet to be established concretely, this could present an interesting area for future scientific research.
CBD and the ADHD syndrome: Pathways for further research
ADHD syndrome is a complicated disorder that has yet to be fully understood. The researchers studied a variety of potential genetic and environmental causes, but only a few rigorous determinations were performed. Dopamine appears to play a role, but its exact influence mechanisms are not clear and other factors are probably present.
Part of the problem is that the ADHD syndrome presents itself as a set of different and often variable symptoms, many of which mimic other disorders. This is further complicated by the fact that the ADHD syndrome often manifests itself together with depression, anxiety, substance use disorder and other diseases that overlap in the final picture.
Meanwhile, CBD is becoming increasingly popular as a potential treatment for a wide range of disorders. While research to support its therapeutic potential is largely preliminary, it is nevertheless promising. The diversity of CBD effects is probably due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, which appears to play a regulatory role in many different biological functions.
Therefore, CBD and ADHD syndrome seem to share a level of complexity when it comes to their mechanisms of action. Basically, the possible benefits of CBD seem to overlap with many symptoms of the ADHD syndrome (and its comorbid condition).
Although no studies have focused on CBD as a treatment for ADHD syndrome, both are the subject of growing scientific research. We can certainly expect new discoveries to emerge in the future. If you have problems with anxiety, insomnia, impulsiveness or other frustrating symptoms associated with ADHD, consult your doctor to try CBD oil .