For Those Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD & ADHD) Cannabidiol (CBD) May Be Another Tool in the Fight | cannabisMD

For Those Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD & ADHD) Cannabidiol (CBD) May Be Another Tool in the Fight

CBD for ADHD and ADD

Untreated Attention Deficit Disorder, and its sister Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, are significant psychological diagnoses. For adults diagnosed with ADHD or ADD, even basic and routine tasks of life can be dramatically undermined. Fortunately, Cannabidiol – called by its acronym CBD – may offer alleviation from the effects of this medical condition.

As an adult living with ADD, I extend my immediate sympathies to you if you’ve recently been diagnosed as an adult, or if your child has recently been determined to have the condition by a psychologist or physician. ADD is certainly no fun, and unless one takes the effort to alleviate the condition through a proper strategy, facilitated by participation with a competent healthcare practitioner, those affected by the condition will likely have impairments throughout the majority of their lives.

So, what is ADD? ADD is defined as a developmental disorder, affecting a significant number of both adults and children in the United States. It’s imperative to understand despite what you may have been told: ADD – and ADHD – are real disorders, evidenced by clinical evaluation by medical professionals, displayed by a multiplicity of studies reaching back decades. It is a serious medical fact. If you’re reading this, having recently been diagnosed or have had your child diagnosed, and are having concerns about the validity of the diagnosis, it is always best to find a discerning Doctor, who specializes explicitly in the treatment of ADD.

What characterizes ADD symptoms? Dr Daniel G Amen, a prominent physician, describes in his book “Healing ADD”, five “hallmark symptoms”:

  • Short attention span
  • The classic symptoms of inattention are the most defining features of this disorder
  • Distractibility
  • To pay attention can often be a monumental task
  • Disorganization
  • The appearance of carelessness with regard to work and school
  • Procrastination
  • This can be so severe as to prevent the obtaining of many life goals
  • Poor internal supervision
  • People diagnosed with ADHD often have enormous problems with impulse control

It can be easily noted from this list that for individuals with ADD, it takes significant effort to sustain attention in even daily normal tasks. People with ADD have brains that highly impair their ability to maintain focus, to keep order in their lives, and disrupts their timely completion of work or school work. These impairments can reach into other aspects of one’s life which will be discussed later.

Since ADD, for the majority of patients, is a lifelong, chronic ailment, it can only be mitigated through a proper treatment strategy. According to Dr Amen, such a strategy is largely straight-forward for general health: getting sufficient exercise, taking a multivitamin, avoidance of excessive neuro-stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine, etc. Dr Amen also suggests evaluation for the possibility of other learning disabilities that may be present concurrently with an ADD diagnosis. It is also important to have your physician evaluate certain factors that may have markers in blood work (such as the thyroid) that might be indicative of a differing treatment methodology (Amen 2013).

For parents and loved ones of those affected by ADD, it can be both frustrating and heart wrenching to see children, spouses, or friends struggle with the disorder. Parents can watch children spend hours trying to push through homework only to produce partially finished or entirely disorganized material, full of seemingly careless mistakes. Spouses of those with ADD will often have to deal with the headache of their significant other’s inability to handle any aspects of the household’s finances as one example. For many affected by ADD, impulsivity and a lack of impulse control can be truly detrimental to grades, work place security, relationships, and other common elements that most have little to no problem handling.

Facing an Adulthood of Impairment

Though ADD or ADHD is often thought of as childhood problem, attention deficit disorder in adults affects millions of Americans. Left untreated, adults with adult attention deficit will face enormous hurdles attempting to compensate for the effects of the malady. According to Dr Russell A Barkley, a clinical professor of Psychiatry, writing in the book “Taking Charge of Adult ADHD”, of all cases in which ADHD was diagnosed in his clinics and studies, 98% had symptoms starting before age 16.

In an ADD diagnosis, according to medical literature published by PubMed, brain maturation is delayed, and hemispheric communication between the two halves is abnormally facilitated. It constitutes concrete medical evidence for the disease’s medical foundation. In another study published by The Lancet, and interpreted in an article by Vik Adhopia “researchers found those with ADHD had smaller brain volume in five subcortical regions, as well as an overall smaller brain volume.” (Shaw P1 2007) (Adhopia 2017)

Unfortunately, according to Dr Barkley, the majority of patients diagnosed with ADHD or ADD will continue to have symptoms well into adulthood – with up to 11 million American adults with clear clinical indications of the disorder. As a way to outline what an adult living with ADD faces, Dr Barkley provides a list of impairments that will likely sound very familiar to those affected (Barkley 2010):

  • Poor functioning at work
  • Frequent job changes
  • Risky sexual behavior/increased teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unsafe driving
  • Difficulties managing finances
  • Problems in dating or marital relationships
  • Possible antisocial behavior
  • Generally less healthy lifestyle

It’s not difficult to extrapolate how ADD can be so problematic for adults with the disorder. As an adult with ADD, I can personally attest to the immense difficulty of getting through even some basic tasks that others would conduct without a second thought.

Reading this, either as a person diagnosed or as the parent of a child diagnosed, your heart is likely sinking, but you should realize that much of the social stigma surrounding ADD is merely a result of ableist assumptions rather omnipresent in society, that ADD is not necessarily related to intelligence, and that, according to Dr Barkley, with successful treatment, those with ADD can have access to as normal a life as any other person.

How the Cannabis plant may be the key to freedom

As natural treatment options become more available to the public, virtually any medical or psychological condition can be benefited through the use of certain natural substances. In the case of ADD, there are several differing suggestions in relation to diet and supplementation. Dr Amen, for example, suggests a diet low in carbohydrates, emphasizing higher protein and fat content (though this is not always the case for certain ADD types). Food additives and synthetic ingredients could also play a role in the disorder. Dietary management is undoubtedly a major factor and must be part of any treatment strategy.

If you are considering natural options, however, augmentation of your approach to the disorder with CBD may offer significant benefits. But, what is CBD?

CBD is an antipsychotic phytonutrient extracted from the Cannabis plant. It constitutes one of the most major members of the cannabinoids, which are chemical agents found within the Cannabis plant, making up a large portion of all present. CBD’s major health benefits are derived from its effects upon what’s called the Endocannabinoid system, which are composed of varying neurotransmitters and receptor sites present in the nervous system of the human body. (WebMD 2009)

The endocannabinoid system has far-reaching effects, helping to regulate many important functions. A study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cites cannabidiol for its “well-documented biological effects of potential therapeutic interest, such as antianxiety, anticonvulsive, antinausea, anti-inflammatory and antitumor properties”. The varying medicinal properties of CBD oil, indicate its extraordinary versatility in combating a number of problematic symptoms resulting from a multiplicity of differing illnesses. (Pal Pacher 2008)

It should be clear even from the nature of ADD itself that CBD oil may offer significant benefits in symptom reduction. ADD is often given a prefix descriptor – “constellation” – highlighting ADD’s high degree of variability of symptoms that point to issues of disturbed executive function. In this case, ADD is more akin to a syndrome, due to the fact that those suffering from the illness express a broad range of neurobiological difference in the manifestation of the disorder. One patient may have ADD expressed through problems of severe anxiety, another through a tendency towards aggressiveness and hostility, or another through serious depression or obsessive compulsion. Dr Amen, for example, cites a possible number of 7 “forms” of ADD that often cluster together in their symptom expression. Though there is not a significant amount of scientific data – due to certain regulatory obstacles and the relative novel presence of CBD within American markets – there is an abundance of testimonial literature, positing the effectiveness of CBD for this issue by both parents of children with ADD, and adults suffering from the disorder (Amen 2013).

The Best Recommendations for CBD usage

Purchasing a CBD concentrate comes with a variety of hurdles. A significant amount of disinformation regarding CBD products can cause certain consumers to question whether they’re obtaining a legal product. With CBD oil, you can be assured that – unless your product indicates otherwise – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the agent responsible for the “high” in controlled substances, will not be present.

Generally, you’ll find that CBD oil is obtained from either the controlled Marijuana – cannabis sativa – plant, or the Hemp plant. CBD extractives coming from the former will almost always contain THC, while the latter does not. Additionally, CBD oil is a legal product due to its lacking of THC, whereas oil containing THC is subject to certain legal restrictions contingent upon certain State laws. You can find CBD oil in many common health foods stores, whereas oils with THC may require a visit to any number of medical marijuana dispensaries. Unfortunately, because legal restrictions affect access to the aforementioned, unless consumers enact pressure on lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana through changes in medical marijuana laws, most individuals will have difficulty finding this product. Further, petitioning to Washington DC may result in laws changing at a federal level, enabling universal access across the United States.

It should also be noted that while the Hemp plant is often the source of CBD, Hemp oil itself is not a CBD oil product. Hemp oil is a great supplier of a number of very important omega fatty acids, which are healthy fats that the body utilizes for a broad range of purposes, but this is largely its primary purpose for consumption and should not be ingested if one is attempting to intake CBD for medicinal purposes.

When evaluating a product, you’ll need to take into consideration the extent to which you’ll want to begin ingesting CBD. For the conservative consumer, a product with a smaller amount of CBD concentration may be the route decided upon, gradually increasing the dosage until the adequate level of benefit is felt. For less cautious individuals, a much higher degree of concentration will permit less constant dosing throughout the day, providing a greater degree of convenience.

Certain medical conditions have explicitly indicated dosing ranges. For example, for multiple sclerosis, WebMD indicates the use of 2.5 mg of cannabidiol per dosage. Since there is not a large degree of scientific literature yet establishing the amount one should likely consume for ADD, you may consider a very low dose and increasing until you’re at a comfortable level of intake.

It, of course, goes without saying that any time one considers a product for medicinal benefit, speaking to your healthcare provider is most appropriate. You and your physician or psychologist are the best suited to determine you or your child’s best interest. For additional information concerning the treatment of ADD or ADHD, CannabisMD allocated a website specifically for this disorder alone – you can think of it as your one stop for information on this disorder.

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