ADHD is one of the most common childhood neurological disorders, with around 6 million children (ages 3-17) being diagnosed between 2016 and 2019. The most common approach to treating ADHD has been a combination of behavior modification and prescription medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall. These medications are not without side effects, however, and many families are eager to learn about alternative solutions. A growing number of parents are turning to CBD gummies and drops as a means of alleviating their children’s ADHD symptoms. But is this appropriate, or even safe? Let’s take a look at the current data regarding CBD for ADHD, and whether or not it is a good option for children. 

What is CBD?

Like THC, Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant. CBD may also be found in hemp, which is similar to cannabis except that it contains far less THC (0.3 percent or less). 

Both THC and CBD act on the brain’s endocannabinoid system to produce a variety of effects on the body. Unlike THC, however, CBD does not exert any appreciable psychoactive effect. The two compounds are often used in tandem in adults to alleviate a wide range of symptoms, both physical and mental. However, higher doses of THC may exacerbate certain symptoms, such as anxiety. Conversely, there is no known dose of CBD that exerts a paradoxical effect. 

Could CBD Treat ADHD?

CBD has demonstrated great efficacy in a long list of medical disorders, from anxiety to chronic pain. At present, however, this list does not include ADHD. 

In theory, it might seem reasonable to try a compound that has a general calming effect on the body in order to alleviate certain symptoms of ADHD. The disorder is, after all, associated with increased activity levels, agitation, anxiety, and inattention. Current research in adults with ADHD is quite limited, however, and most reports of CBD’s efficacy in this regard are purely anecdotal. 

A very small study from 2017 did note improvement in symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity with use of a cannabinoid; however, the adults interviewed were given Sativex, an oromucosal spray that contains both THC and CBD. So we cannot reasonably attribute benefits to one compound over the other. 

Is CBD for ADHD Safe in Children?

Research is also lacking regarding the efficacy and safety of CBD use in children for any reason, including ADHD. There is little information about its effects on brain development, and there is concern about possible adverse effects on other organ systems, like the liver and kidneys. At present, there is only one FDA approved CBD product for minors, and it is used for certain seizure disorders that do not respond to traditional therapies. 

A survey conducted by the University of Michigan interviewed 1,992 parents of children aged 3-18. The study found that seven percent of these parents had given or considered giving their child CBD, and a whopping 73 percent agreed that it may be a good option when other medications don’t work.  

This study suggests two important facts: 1) CBD is easily obtained, and 2) parents don’t know much about it. They should understand that research regarding this compound’s use in children for any reason is severely limited. For this reason, any decisions regarding its use should be between parents and a qualified medical professional. 

As research continues to evolve regarding the use of CBD, we will be able to make more enlightened conjectures on whether or not it is safe for children. Until then, however, CBD should only be administered in certain situations and under the direct recommendation and supervision of your child’s primary care physician.

ADHD Treatment in Destin, Florida

At the Crane Center in Destin, Florida, our caring and highly experienced staff treat ADHD in both children and adults. We tailor each treatment plan to your unique needs, so you can regain your personal quality of life. If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of ADHD or another mental health disorder, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.