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CBD oil for ADHD: Does it work?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an active compound in the cannabis plant. CBD oil is gaining popularity due partly to early research that shows that it might be helpful for certain health conditions.

Some anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil can help with the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but there is still very little scientific evidence to back this up.

Anyone thinking of using CBD oil should be aware of the regulations in their area and never replace any standard ADHD treatments with CBD oil before speaking to a doctor.

In this article, we look at whether CBD oil can help treat ADHD. We also discuss the possible risks and whether it is safe in children.

A sample of CBD oil that could be used to treat ADHD.

Share on Pinterest CBD oil contains high levels of cannabidiol, which is an active compound in the cannabis plant.

CBD oil is an oil that contains high levels of the compound cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is one of more than 100 active compounds in the cannabis plant.

Most people associate cannabis with another active compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound that makes a person feel euphoric or “high” when they smoke or ingest it.

CBD does not activate the same regions in the brain as THC, so it does not cause a high.

CBD oil may have several potential health benefits because of how it interacts with the body and brain. The human body contains an endocannabinoid system, which includes receptors in the central nervous system. CBD interacts with these receptors, potentially triggering positive effects.

There is little scientific evidence that CBD can help treat ADHD. Additionally, much of the research surrounding ADHD and CBD focuses on cannabis, which contains more than 100 compounds other than CBD.

However, there are anecdotal reports from people saying that CBD oil helps them deal with ADHD symptoms, such as hyperactivity or restlessness. Many people choose to use the substance as part of their ADHD treatment.

A small 2017 study looked at a group of adults with ADHD who were self-medicating with cannabis.

The researchers noted an insignificant improvement in brain function and symptom reduction. There was a very slight improvement in markers of impulsivity and hyperactivity, but not enough to consider the drug more effective than the placebo.

For more information and resources on CBD and CBD products, please visit our dedicated hub.

CBD oil might not be a treatment for ADHD, but it may help with managing specific symptoms that many people experience.

Some people with ADHD struggle with anxiety, which can make their symptoms worse. There is minor evidence to show that CBD oil may help with symptoms of anxiety.

A 2016 case study backed up earlier claims by researchers that CBD may help with anxiety and sleep problems in children. Further research will need to explore this effect in a large cohort.

A 2013 study also explored the relationship between symptoms of ADHD and cannabis use. People with subtypes of ADHD that involve symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity were more likely to use cannabis daily to manage their symptoms than people with inattentive subtypes of ADHD.

However, it is unclear exactly what causes this subjective symptom relief. Additionally, this study focused on cannabis as a whole rather than just the CBD compound. More research on ADHD and CBD alone may help highlight its potential as a treatment.

People may have a range of reactions to CBD.

Common side effects include digestive issues, such as an upset stomach or nausea. Some people also experience drowsiness or headaches, especially when taking higher doses. These side effects may go away with time as the person becomes used to the product.

People who inhale CBD through vaping or smoking may also experience lung irritation and coughing.

Researchers have noted that many of the potential long-term effects of CBD oil are unknown. Additionally, it is still unclear whether CBD affects hormones in the body, which may be especially concerning for developing teenagers. Additional research needs to investigate the potential for side effects in these areas.

CBD oil is not subject to the same regulations as medicines, which puts it at risk for contamination. The manufacturers of a product may say that it is pure CBD oil, but it could contain other ingredients, such as THC.

A product may also not contain the amount of CBD that it claims to, limiting its potential therapeutic effect.

Doctors may recommend CBD for children in certain circumstances but will not usually advise it for ADHD.

While there is some evidence to support the usefulness of CBD in children with specific medical conditions, such as epilepsy, there are also major concerns.

A study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence noted that children who use cannabis before the age of 16 years may have a higher risk of cognitive impairment as their brain is still developing. It is not clear whether this remains true for CBD extracts and CBD oil as well.

Children with ADHD are also at a higher risk for substance abuse. Although this may not be an issue for nonpsychoactive CBD oil, other sources of CBD, such as marijuana, may contribute to addiction.

Research from 2014 found that children with ADHD are about 1.5 times more likely to meet the criteria for marijuana use disorder.

Although CBD oil is not marijuana, some parents and caregivers have concerns about the association and may prefer not to introduce the product to a child.

Anyone who thinks that CBD oil may relieve their child’s symptoms should talk to a doctor and explore all of their options.

CBD oil is available in a few different forms. The oil is available on its own in some pharmacies and online.

Producers may also create CBD-infused treats and snacks. People who do not like the flavor or texture of the oil may wish to consume it in capsules instead. Those who already smoke or vape may choose to vape CBD oil.

Currently, there are no guidelines on the effective dosages for CBD, so a person should always aim to use the lowest possible dosage to treat their symptoms.

Some CBD oil producers have their own guidelines for dosing, but anyone who is uncertain should talk to their doctor before using the product.

The authors of a 2017 review in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research noted that adults can tolerate doses of up to 1,500 milligrams per day. However, the tolerated dosage will be significantly less in children.

As CBD oil does come from the cannabis plant, many people have concerns about its legality. While CBD products are widely available online, they may not be legal in some regions.

Anyone considering using CBD oil should be aware of the laws and regulations in their area before buying the product.

The research on how CBD use affects the symptoms of ADHD is still limited. More research is necessary to determine the effects of CBD oil, which is not currently a treatment option for ADHD.

Some people still maintain that it helps them deal with the symptoms of ADHD, but more research needs to support its effectiveness and determine any adverse side effects.

Anyone considering using CBD oil for ADHD should talk to their doctor and be aware of the regulations in their area.

Is CBD legal? Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal federally but still illegal under some state laws. Cannabis-derived CBD products, on the other hand, are illegal federally but legal under some state laws. Check local legislation, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved nonprescription CBD products, which may be inaccurately labeled.

CBD oil is a popular alternative remedy for a variety of medical conditions. In this article, learn about whether it can help treat ADHD and whether it is safe for children to use.

CBD for ADD and ADHD

Overview of ADD & ADHD

ADD and ADHD are used to refer to a syndrome characterized by inattentiveness, restlessness, forgetfulness, hyperactivity, among other symptoms. ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder has symptoms such as inattentiveness, poor memory, and distractibility. ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, refers to hyperactivity, impulsivity or excessive restlessness.

Today, doctors use ADHD as the general term for the conditions involving attention deficit, and further subdivide ADHD into three subtypes. The three subtypes are inattentive, hyperactive and combined. ADD falls in the inattentive subtype of ADHD, with sufferers showing no form of hyperactivity.

Both children and adults can show symptoms of ADD and ADHD. People with ADD present themselves as calm while those with ADHD present themselves as excessively active and disruptive. ADD and ADHD is caused by chemical and structural differences in the workings of the brain.

Why is CBD a Good Option for Treating ADD/ADHD?

Both ADD and ADHD are characterized by low levels of dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s cognitive abilities such as memory, attention levels, and mood. Low levels of this chemical cause a manifestation of attention deficit disorder.

Cannabinoids have been shown to improve the transmission of the chemical neurotransmitter in the brain, dopamine, which helps to enhance cognitive processes 1 . CBD helps increase the focus of ADHD patients by making more active the adenosine receptors in their brain, thereby reducing anxiety. It works to minimize the distractions and hyperactivity ADHD patients exhibit 2 .

The properties of CBD to improve the brains cognitive processes have made it useful for treating conditions other than Attention Deficit Disorder. It can relieve anxiety, pain, and depression among other neurological problems.

The Benefits of Using CBD for ADD/ADHD

Medications such as Ritalin and Adderall are usually used in managing ADD/ADHD. However, these medications present various side effects, some of which can be severe and affect a sufferer’s life. CBD, when used to relieve the symptoms of ADHD, causes minimal side effects. Compared to the conventional drugs used for the attention deficit condition, CBD appears safer 3 .

Although CBD oil is derived from the Cannabis plant, it doesn’t have the psychotropic effects or properties that characterize the plant. During the extraction process, THC is removed. THC is a chemical substance that causes the psychotropic nature of cannabis. Because the THC Level is low in CBD oil the “high” feeling is not experienced when CBD is taken.

The benefits of CBD for managing ADD/ADHD go beyond relieving the symptoms. CBD contains antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anti-anxiety properties.

Possible Side Effects of Using CBD to Treat ADD/ADHD

While CBD is generally considered safe, some people will experience some side effects. The side effects include nausea, diarrhea, drowsiness, change of appetite, and a dry mouth. The symptoms are rare, though, and not as severe as the ones caused by the conventional drugs used to treat ADD/ADHD.

CBD Dosage and How to Take CBD for ADD/ADHD

Different ADHD characteristics require different amounts of CBD oil.

American sources recommend that children with ADHD take between five and ten drops of 500mg CBD oil three times a day. This dosage can be gradually increased later and used until the symptoms subside. As a precaution, we do not recommend the use of CBD by children. Please keep your CBD products out of the reach of children.

We recommend following the step-up method described in the book CBD: A patient’s guide to Medical Cannabis” by Leinow & Birnbaum 4 . According to this book, ADD/ADHD patients should start with a microdose of CBD. To find out more about the microdose and how to correctly take your CBD, please read our article on CBD dosage

Disclaimer: All information on this page is based on studies and experience reports. For legal reasons we at Hemppedia are not allowed to make any specific recommendation regarding the use of CBD products for children.

What Are Studies Saying About the Use of CBD to Treat ADD/ADHD?

In one study of the effectiveness of CBD for ADHD, patients who used CBD oil showed a reduction of hyperactivity, had better sleep patterns and enhanced concentration. The study, which was done in 2014 and involved 30 participants, was conducted by Dr. Eva Milz assisted by Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen. It was done in Germany. All the 30 patients had shown not to respond to drugs or conventional medication for ADD/ADHD. However, they responded positively to CBD 5 .

In yet another study in 2013, CBD oil was presented to self-medicating patients. After some time, the patients reported relief from the impulsiveness and hyperactivity characteristic of the attention deficit disorder they were suffering from. The researchers confirmed the benefits of using CBD to manage the condition, later prescribing it to their patients.

Other studies include a trial conducted in London’s Kings College which involved a random trial of the effects of CBD on ADD/ADHD on selected patients. The patients reported improved cognitive abilities, with reduced hyperactivity and higher focus and concentration.


  1. Häußermann, Klaus, and Ute Wagner. „Cannabidiol: the rising star among the cannabinoids?.“ Pharmakon 5.2 (2017): 123-128. [↩]
  2. Anand Gurrajan, David A Taylor and Daniel T Malone: „Cannabidiol and clozapine reverse MK-801-induced deficits in social interaction and hyperactivity in Sprague-Dawley rats“ In: „Journal of Psychopharmacology.“ Nr. 26(10), 2012, S. 1317-32. doi: 1177/0269881112441865 [↩]
  3. Iffland, Kerstin, and Franjo Grotenhermen. „An update on safety and side effects of cannabidiol: a review of clinical data and relevant animal studies.“ Cannabis and cannabinoid research2.1 (2017): 139-154. [↩]
  4. Leinow,, L. and Birnbaum, J. (2017). CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis. North Atlantic Books. [↩]
  5. Milz, Eva, and Franjo Grotenhermen. „Successful therapy of treatment resistant adult ADHD with cannabis: experience from a medical practice with 30 patients.“ Abstract book of the Cannabinoid Conference. 2015. [↩]

Treating ADD or ADHD with CBD cane prove effective when used correctly. CBD helps increase the focus of ADHD patients by enhancing the dopamine levels