Can CBD Help With ADHD? Everything You Need to Know

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopment conditions among children, affecting an estimated 11% of U.S. children. The condition is characterized by having trouble sitting still, an inability to focus, forgetfulness, and disorganization.

Adults can also be diagnosed with ADHD, and about 75% of kids with ADHD will continue to have ADHD symptoms as adults. 

These days, more ADHD patients and parents of children with the condition are curious about whether cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant, can be beneficial in managing ADHD symptoms.

CBD has shown promise for treating some health experts, and many experts believe its calming effects could help those with ADHD. However, research is still emerging and caution should be used.

This article will review the potential benefits of CBD for ADHD, the side effects, and how to source the best CBD products.

Woman adding CBD to tea

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Using CBD for ADHD Symptoms

The federal prohibition on all cannabis products, including hemp, prior to 2018 has limited research on CBD and ADHD. However, there are some studies about the effects of CBD or cannabis on ADHD symptoms. Here’s what they’ve found:

  • A 2020 scientific review gave a grade B, or moderate, recommendation supporting CBD for ADHD treatment.
  • A small 2020 study of 112 adult medical cannabis patients with ADHD found that those who took a higher dose of CBD took fewer other ADHD medications.
  • A small 2017 study involving 30 individuals found that those who used a CBD nasal spray had a small reduction in hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. However, the improvement was not big enough for researchers to definitely say that CBD spray was more effective than a placebo. The researchers called for further investigation.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one prescription CBD medication, which is used to treat epilepsy. Research is ongoing for CBD formulate to treat other conditions.

Benefits of CBD

Unlike THC, which acts on cannabinoid receptors in the brain, CBD acts on opioid and glycine receptors. These receptors regulate pain and the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps us feel good. Unsurprisingly, then, research has shown that CBD can have lots of benefits. These include:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Regulating the immune system
  • Reducing pain
  • Providing antipsychotic effects
  • Reducing seizures 
  • Reducing anxiety

CBD products sometimes claim many additional benefits. However, those listed above have been scientifically proven, while other benefits are often anecdotal or overstated.

Potential Side Effects of CBD

A perk of CBD is that it has very few side effects. CBD does not have any psychoactive effects and it doesn’t have any risk of addiction or abuse. A 2020 scientific review of 22 research studies found no reports of serious adverse side effects. 

However, some people who take CBD will experience minor side effects including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Changes to appetite
  • Stomach pain or nausea

Things to Consider Before Using CBD

Although many CBD products make claims about treating ADHD, there is no definitive research that shows CDB will help most people with ADHD. It’s best to keep your expectations realistic and remember that even if CBD worked well for someone you know, it will not necessarily improve symptoms for you or your child, and it is not a replacement for treatments recommended by your healthcare team.

You should also consider the legality. It’s important to only use a CBD product that contains less than 0.3% THC, in order to comply with federal law. If you are considering CBD for a child, consult laws in your state and consider using an isolate that contains no THC, which is illegal for people under 21 even in states that have legalized cannabis. Be sure to purchase your CBD products from a reputable dispensary or drugstore so that you know exactly what’s in them. 

How to Use CBD

There are no guidelines on how to use CBD for ADHD. CBD oil is widely available and is usually consumed by placing a few drops under the tongue or stirring into coffee or tea. There are also many CBD products available, ranging from supplements to gummies to packaged drinks.

There is also no known dosage for treating ADHD. Many people find they need to experiment to find the right daily dose to manage their symptoms.

If you’re curious about using CBD to treat ADHD, you should talk with your healthcare provider. Although CBD is generally considered safe, it is still a chemical compound that can interact with other supplements or medications.

Remember that CBD oils are mostly unregulated, so there's also no guarantee that a product is safe, effective, or what it claims to be on its packaging. Your healthcare provider should be able to offer dosage and product recommendations that work with your individualized treatment plan.

Summary

CBD shows some promise for helping to manage ADHD symptoms. However, the research is limited and more research needs to be done to confirm effectiveness, dosage, and safety. CBD is generally considered safe and has few if any side effects. If you are considering trying CBD, talk with your healthcare provider and seek out a quality product for the best results.

A Word From Verywell 

The symptoms of ADHD can have a big impact on your life, so it’s normal to look for alternative treatments to supplement your medical treatment plan or manage minor symptoms.

While early research on CBD for ADHD is promising, there are no definitive conclusions yet. If you want to try CBD for ADHD, talk with a trusted healthcare professional. They’ll be able to answer your questions without judgment and craft a treatment plan that is right for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is CBD oil safe?

    CBD is generally considered very safe. It has no psychoactive properties and is not addictive. Some people experience minor side effects like an upset stomach or drowsiness.

  • Can you give CBD oil to children?

    The FDA has approved one prescription CBD medication for treating epilepsy in children. Outside of that, CBD is considered generally safe, but you should consult your healthcare provider and laws in your state before giving CBD to children. 

  • Is CBD illegal?

    CBD is legal at the federal level as long as it is in a form that contains less than 0.3% THC, the other active ingredient in marijuana. The legality of CBD at the state level varies, so be sure to look at laws in your state. 

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8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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