Article by Helena, Greencamp
It seems like we entered the era of ADHD epidemics.
As of 2011, one in ten children between 4 and 17 years of age have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
More than 5% of school children in Canada have it. As you can see, it’s a disease that needs to be approached seriously.
Conventional medication for treating ADHD produce a number of undesirable side effects, which is why more and more patients are turning to an all natural solution — marijuana.
However, the issue of marijuana and ADHD is still somewhat controversial. Why is that so?
Can you imagine telling someone you are giving your child marijuana, as a part of the ADHD therapy? It freaks some people out…Of course, no one wants our children smoking but there are other ways of consuming medicinal cannabis.
Statistics say about 50% of ADHD and ADD sufferers use alcohol or drugs (usually marijuana) to help them relax. In fact, they usually start using the substances at a very young age.
This is all very expected since the conventional drugs for treating ADHD, such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta, cause a number of side effects.
As you probably know, many ADHD patients have been taking marijuana on their own, and most of them are very happy with the results.
So, if the patients swear that they noticed an improvement in their conditions, why are we turning our back to a possible cure?
What exactly is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or shortly ADHD, is a behavioral and mental disorder most commonly affecting young children. Those suffering from ADHD have difficulties paying attention, are more active than usual and have difficulties controlling their behavior.
Initial symptoms appear at a very young age and tend to last six months, but can possibly prolong to even several years.
You can often hear that ADHD is a modern disease since the number of patients has increased dramatically in the last 50 years.
Clinicians are still not sure what really causes ADHD. The latest conclusion that we have is that certain genetic, environmental and social factors do play a big role in developing this disorder.
For example, having a brain trauma or brain infection, premature birth, a dysfunctional family or poor educational system can all lead to developing ADHD in children. It’s also believed that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can possibly cause the baby to get an attention disorder later in life.
Scientists also noticed that dopamine (neurotransmitter responsible for movement and emotional response) deficit is most often connected to ADHD. What actually happens then is that protein transmitters prevent dopamine from going into different cells, diminishing its effects. And this could be a risk factor for developing ADHD.
How would you know if your child (or you) is suffering from ADHD?
Sometimes it’s difficult to identify the disease, since it’s hard to draw a line between normal behavior and ADHD symptoms.
Most common symptoms of ADHD in children are:
- Having trouble paying attention in class
- Being distracted easily
- Forgetting to do homework and tasks
- Getting bored after just a few minutes of doing something
Adults suffering from ADHD would usually have trouble getting organized and controlling their behavior. An adult person with an attention disorder is usually impulse, easily distracted, restless and has trouble starting tasks and learning.
Also, it’s important to point out that adults are more likely to have attention deficit disorder (ADD), which is very similar to ADHD but without the hyperactivity factor.
In the last 60 years, ADHD and ADD patients have been treated with psychostimulant medications such as Adderall, which is very similar to methamphetamine.
This type of drug increases focus and concentration but has a good deal of side effects.
Patients complain about losing appetite, having troubles sleeping and even becoming more restless…
My question is this:
How does a more organic solution, like marijuana, help with ADHD?
Experts on Marijuana and ADHD
As I’ve said many times before, we seriously still need a lot of research on medical benefits of marijuana. And when it comes to ADHD we need even more, since there are almost none covering this issue in vitro.
Even when there is some kind of research, they usually miss the point.
Like the one from 2014 which found that those who experienced impulsivity and hyperactivity are much more likely to use cannabis. Although this is an important piece of information, the research did not look into the exact effects of marijuana on ADHD.
What this study concluded was very logical:
ADHD patients tend to use cannabis as a relief from standard ADHD therapy.
Let me explain:
The usual treatment for ADHD involves medications which are amphetamine and methylphenidate stimulants, as we discussed before in this article.
This type of medications increases focus, but decreases relaxation. Depending on the person, they also have a bunch of side effects, like appetite reduction, nausea, abdominal cramping and insomnia.
So, it’s not surprising that kids suffering from ADHD start using marijuana at a young age, and it’s certainly not surprising that adults are using cannabis to ease their nerves and keep them calm.
One of the few scientists to study the exact connection between marijuana and ADHD was Dr. David Bearman — a very knowledgeable physician in the U.S. in the field of medicinal marijuana.
Dr. Bearman also likes to point out how marijuana is very beneficial in easing side effects of ADHD medications. One good example is using cannabis to increase appetite — loss of appetite is a well known side effect of Adderall.
Some strains are known to increase appetite, so they can reduce those annoying side effects of ADHD drugs.
Also, since those types of drugs make patients more nervous but focused, by taking the strain with relaxing properties they can feel even better.
Dr. Bearman focused his research on the connection between cannabinoids and dopamine regulation in our body and found a potential solution.
According to Dr. Bearman, marijuana appears to increase dopamine, which is usually low in ADHD/ADD patients.