Common treatments for ADHD include talk therapy, medication, and behavior management. However, ADHD medication has some side effects that don’t occur with CBD. For this reason, some people may be interested in using health products such as CBD to manage their symptoms.

All About CBD for ADHD

There isn’t much evidence that CBD can help you manage ADHD. But if you have co-occurring anxiety, CBD might be more beneficial.

cbd oil in dropper

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound in cannabis and hemp plants. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is in every human (and nearly every vertebrate animal) and maintains balance and plays an important role in pain, digestion, mood regulation, and inflammation.

CBD is nonintoxicating, nonaddictive, and associated with certain health benefits. Some people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) report CBD helps with their symptoms, but evidence for this is limited.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition. It can cause symptoms such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty concentrating. It’s a relatively common condition, with an estimated 11% of children, 8.7% of adolescents, and 4.4% of adults in the United States experiencing symptoms.

Common treatments for ADHD include talk therapy, medication, and behavior management. However, ADHD medication has some side effects that don’t occur with CBD. For this reason, some people may be interested in using health products such as CBD to manage their symptoms.

Some people with ADHD say they have successfully self-medicated with CBD. These are stories, though, and not controlled studies. There’s no way to tell if CBD is really what helped or if the placebo effect eased their symptoms instead.

One review of literature on CBD and ADHD concluded that there was a lack of human-controlled studies on the topic.

Another review article discussed the link between dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system and ADHD. Analogous to some conditions such as depression, which may be related to serotonin deficiency, ADHD could be an endocannabinoid deficiency disorder. It’s possible cannabinoids like CBD could affect these conditions — but even so, it needs to be studied further.

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There’s slightly more research on CBD and anxiety. Anxiety and ADHD commonly occur together: People with ADHD are more likely to have anxiety disorders, according to research. Anxiety disorders might also make ADHD more difficult to manage.

While it also needs to be studied further, people often use CBD to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Some older research suggests CBD might be helpful for social anxiety disorder, specifically.

In short, there’s little research to suggest CBD can actually help ease the symptoms of ADHD. Future research could give us a clearer answer.

Some studies and clinical trials have specifically looked at using CBD for children.

Epidiolex, the only CBD product approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) , is approved for adults and children. Epidiolex is a prescription drug for rare, severe seizure conditions.

As a 2017 review notes, there’s a lack of research on cannabinoids in children. Although many parents say they have successfully treated their children with CBD, there aren’t enough studies to confirm its safety.

If you’re looking to use CBD to help your child manage ADHD, it’s important to first consult with their pediatrician.

There are many CBD products out there. While you can find CBD in many forms, it commonly comes in:

  • edibles
  • tinctures and oils
  • beverages
  • topicals

When you use CBD topicals, like creams, lotions, and balms, little to no CBD will enter your bloodstream because it has to permeate your skin. For conditions like ADHD, topicals won’t really help.

There’s so little research on CBD and ADHD that it’s not clear if one form of CBD is better than another. But if you want to take CBD regularly, it can help to experiment until you find a form of CBD that works for you.

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It’s important to purchase high-quality CBD products from brands you trust. Consider opting only for products that have been tested by a third-party lab. These lab reports, also known as certificates of analysis (COAs), should be available on the company’s website.

The lack of research on CBD and ADHD means there aren’t any guidelines on dosage.

It’s usually advisable to start with a small amount of CBD per day and gradually increase this dosage over time. Most CBD brands suggest you start with 10 to 20 milligrams a day. For children, it could be an even lower dosage.

It’s essential to talk with a doctor before using health products of any kind, including CBD. If your doctor or treatment team suggest you use CBD, they can also advise you on the best dosage for you.

There’s often a perception that CBD, being extracted from a natural source, is safer than other kinds of medication.

But “natural” doesn’t always mean “risk-free.” While CBD is considered safe for human use, it does have some potential side effects, including:

  • appetite and weight changes
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach and vomiting

There’s no evidence to suggest CBD could worsen ADHD or related symptoms, like anxiety. But if you experience any of the above symptoms, it may be best to stop using CBD and check in with your doctor.

Certain medicines also interact with CBD. Medications with a grapefruit warning shouldn’t be mixed with CBD. Like grapefruit, CBD can change the way your body processes some medications, which can cause side effects.

Most ADHD medications don’t come with a grapefruit warning, but some anti-anxiety medications do. If you have an anxiety disorder and ADHD and take anti-anxiety medication — it’s key to talk with your doctor before using CBD.

The research on CBD and ADHD is minimal and inconclusive. But many people use CBD to manage their ADHD symptoms and anxiety, which commonly affects people with ADHD.

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Research-backed ADHD treatment options include:

  • skills training and therapy
  • medications
  • self-help strategies

If you have ADHD or suspect you have ADHD, talking with your doctor is a good first step in finding treatment. Together with a healthcare pro, you can find the best way forward for you.

Last medically reviewed on June 15, 2021

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