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 It’s estimated that between 3-6 out of 100 school-aged children in the UK have ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and about 1 in 7 of these will continue to be affected into adulthood. Some people are also diagnosed as adults. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, impulsiveness and being unusually over-active. Some people find that taking prescription medication can help them concentrate. CBD has been suggested as an alternative to prescription medication that might be able to help people with ADHD concentrate more easily.   

What is CBD? 

CBD, cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid. It comes from cannabis plants but it doesn’t get you high in the same way as cannabis. That high comes from a different cannabinoid, THC. In the UK, CBD products are legal as long as they contain no THC. There are lots of other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes present in CBD products. You can buy all sorts of types of CBD products including oils, powders and creams. You can buy different strength CBD products which have different percentages of CBD present. 

What does the science say about CBD and ADHD?  

Studies about CBD and ADHD have had mixed results. Researchers conducted a study in 2017 using Savitex, a cannabinoid medication, to see what effect it would have on 30 people with ADHD1. They found improvements in hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. These results were not statistically significant, which means that they were not large differences, but they were noticeable. The researchers concluded that the calming effects of CBD may have helped contribute to the reduction in feelings of impulsiveness and restless behaviour. They also found no adverse effects of taking Savitex, which they were surprised about because cannabis use is sometimes associated with reduced cognitive function.  

How Does CBD Work? 

Every person has an endocannabinoid system within their body. This system is involved in processes as wide-ranging as digestion, mood and sleep. Your body produces cannabinoids to keep the endocannabinoid system functioning. Some people are deficient in cannabinoids which scientists believe may cause some health problems. When you take CBD, it interacts with receptors in your body which are part of the endocannabinoid system, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mainly found in your brain and CB2 receptors are mainly found in your immune system. Taking CBD appears to help your endocannabinoid system function properly and keep it working as it should.  

Scientists in 2011 found that endocannabinoid signalling was significantly impaired in mice who had gene mutations that are thought to be linked to ADHD2. This gene is related to the dopamine transporter which is linked to the endocannabinoid system because dopamine promotes the release of endocannabinoids. This suggests that CBD may be able to help people with ADHD because ADHD itself could be linked to problems with the endocannabinoid system.  

Side Effects of CBD 

Some people find that taking prescription medication can help with their ADHD although in some cases it can have unpleasant side effects. If you are considering taking CBD, you should consult with your doctor if you are taking any prescription medications. CBD can interfere with some prescription medication because they are both broken down by the same enzymes in the liver. CBD itself has very few side effects. It has been declared safe by the World Health Organisation. The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends taking no more than 70mg a day for adults3. This is a large amount of CBD, equivalent to taking three and a half sachets of Mee Daily. The most common reported side effects of CBD are a dry mouth and a change of appetite but these are usually mild and pass in a few days. It’s important to take high-quality, organic CBD from a reputable company so you know exactly what you’re taking.  

Summarising CBD and ADHD 

The research about CBD and ADHD is still ongoing as scientists continue to learn more about how CBD works. The research so far suggests that CBD may be able to help combat impulsivity and inattention and more studies will be able to help understand that link further. The importance of the endocannabinoid system in helping humans function well and its relation to ADHD is also significant. CBD has very few side effects and can be taken daily without any adverse reaction.  

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