Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects millions worldwide, characterized by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Traditional treatments often involve stimulant medications and behavioral therapy, but these come with their own set of challenges and side effects. As interest in alternative treatments grows, CBD (cannabidiol) has emerged as a potential option. This article delves into what the current research says about the effectiveness of CBD for ADHD.

Understanding ADHD

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder most commonly diagnosed in children, though it can persist into adulthood. Symptoms include: difficulty staying focused, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. These can significantly impact academic performance, work life, and social interactions.

Conventional treatments for ADHD typically involve stimulant medications like Adderall or Ritalin, which can help increase attention and decrease hyperactivity. However, these medications often come with side effects such as sleep problems, decreased appetite, and mood swings. Behavioral therapies, another cornerstone of ADHD treatment, focus on modifying disruptive behaviors and improving organizational skills but require long-term commitment and consistency.

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana, CBD does not produce a “high.” CBD is usually extracted from hemp, a variety of cannabis with low THC levels, making it legal in many places where marijuana is not.

CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating various physiological processes including mood, pain perception, and cognitive function. This interaction suggests that CBD could potentially influence brain activity and behavior, making it an area of interest for conditions like ADHD.

The Connection Between CBD and ADHD

The potential benefits of CBD for ADHD are rooted in its effects on the brain. Researchers hypothesize that CBD might help reduce ADHD symptoms through several mechanisms:

  • Reducing Anxiety: Many individuals with ADHD also experience anxiety, which can exacerbate symptoms. CBD is known for its anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) properties.
  • Improving Focus: By modulating neurotransmitter function, CBD may help enhance concentration and reduce distractibility.
  • Neuroprotective Effects: CBD has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties that might benefit overall brain health.

Anecdotal evidence is abundant, with many people reporting improvements in focus, reduction in hyperactivity, and better overall mood when using CBD. However, anecdotes are not a substitute for scientific evidence.

Review of Scientific Research

Animal Studies

Animal studies have provided some insights into how CBD might affect hyperactivity and impulsivity. For example, a study on rats showed that CBD reduced hyperactivity and improved social interaction, suggesting potential benefits for ADHD-like symptoms. However, translating these findings to humans requires caution.

Human Studies

Human research on CBD for ADHD is still in its infancy. A small study conducted in 2017 explored the effects of a cannabinoid medication on adults with ADHD. While participants reported some improvement in hyperactivity and impulsivity, the study was limited by its small sample size and lack of a control group.

A 2020 observational study investigated the effects of CBD oil in children with autism spectrum disorder, many of whom also had ADHD. Parents reported significant improvements in attention, hyperactivity, and sleep, but these findings are not directly applicable to ADHD alone and need further validation.

Meta-analyses and Systematic Reviews

Comprehensive reviews of existing studies highlight the need for more rigorous research. A 2021 systematic review concluded that while preliminary evidence suggests potential benefits of CBD for ADHD symptoms, there is insufficient data to make definitive claims. The review called for larger, well-controlled clinical trials to better understand CBD’s efficacy and safety.

Potential Benefits of CBD for ADHD

Despite the limited scientific evidence, several potential benefits of CBD for ADHD are worth exploring:

  • Improved Focus and Attention: Some users report better concentration and less distractibility when using CBD. This could be due to CBD’s interaction with dopamine receptors, which play a crucial role in attention and cognitive function.
  • Reduction in Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: By modulating the endocannabinoid system, CBD might help calm hyperactivity and reduce impulsive behaviors. This effect, observed in some animal studies, needs further investigation in humans.
  • Anxiety and Stress Relief: Anxiety is a common comorbidity in individuals with ADHD. CBD’s anxiolytic properties can help alleviate anxiety, potentially leading to improved ADHD symptoms as a secondary effect.

Risks and Side Effects

While CBD is generally well-tolerated, it is not without risks. Common side effects include: fatigue, changes in appetite, and digestive issues. It’s important to consider potential drug interactions, especially for those already taking medications for ADHD or other conditions. CBD can affect the metabolism of certain drugs, potentially leading to adverse effects.

Long-term safety of CBD use is still largely unknown: Most studies have focused on short-term use, and more research is needed to understand the implications of prolonged use, particularly in children and adolescents.

Practical Advice for Parents and Adults with ADHD

Before considering CBD as a treatment option for ADHD, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide personalized advice and monitor any potential interactions with existing medications.

Starting with a low dose and gradually increasing it allows individuals to find the optimal dose with minimal side effects. CBD can be consumed in various forms, including oils, edibles, and capsules, so it’s important to choose the method that works best for you.

Keeping a journal to track symptoms, side effects, and overall well-being can help gauge the effectiveness of CBD and make necessary adjustments. This approach ensures that the treatment is tailored to individual needs and responses.


CBD shows promise as a potential treatment for ADHD, but the current research is still in its early stages. While anecdotal evidence and preliminary studies suggest benefits such as improved focus, reduced hyperactivity, and anxiety relief, more rigorous research is needed to make definitive conclusions.

It’s essential to approach CBD use with caution, consult healthcare providers, and stay informed about ongoing research. As interest in this area grows, hopefully, more comprehensive studies will provide clearer insights into the efficacy and safety of CBD for ADHD.

Shop online at CBDMagic today for Canada’s best organic CBD oil!