EducationCan CBD help reduce the symptoms of ADHD?

Can CBD help reduce the symptoms of ADHD?

8 min read

Kerry Charron

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that affects cognition, perception, attention, and impulsivity. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurological disorders. Although pharmaceutical medications are often prescribed to manage ADHD symptoms and behavioural therapy helps patients develop coping strategies, many are seeking alternative treatments.


An increasing number of patients are trying medical cannabis, and in particular cannabidiol (CBD), thanks to a bunch of anecdotal evidence and emerging research data indicating it is a safe and potentially effective alternative. This article will review the benefits, risks, and basic information about using CBD to manage ADHD symptoms.

ADHD defined

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition most likely caused by genetics, brain structure, and function. Individuals with ADHD usually have average or above-average intelligence. However, they may have difficulty processing information, focusing on activities, or controlling impulsive behaviour. They can become heavily fixated on interests, and they are typically skilled at noticing patterns. Patients with ADHD may also experience depression and anxiety. Constantly managing ADHD symptoms while navigating a world designed by and for neurotypical individuals can cause significant stress and emotional anguish. Patients with ADHD may also struggle with self-confidence.

Researchers are not completely sure what causes ADHD, but they suspect genetic and environmental factors play a role. Over 1.5 million people in the UK have ADHD, but only 120,000 have a formal diagnosis.

Does CBD help reduce the symptoms of ADHD?

Many patients are trying medical cannabis to manage ADHD symptoms. CBD offers a wide variety of potential therapeutic uses since it has anti-inflammatory, anti-pain, antianxiety, anti-nausea, and antibacterial properties. The currently available research studies have indicated that CBD is generally considered safe and well-tolerated.

How does CBD work?

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoids produced in the body and acts on the receptors that are part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system helps regulate many body functions, including the nervous system and pain responses.

Since studies have shown CBD is an effective neuroprotectant, it has significant potential to minimize cognitive and mental symptoms that interfere with daily functioning. Patients have reported increased clarity of thought, an elevated mood, and less anxiety due to taking CBD.

CBD is an effective neuroprotective agent and helps manage symptoms associated with neurological disorders. As a neuroprotectant, CBD protects against toxins affecting the brain. CBD’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties promote the health and functioning of brain cells.

Research on CBD for ADHD

Researchers are trying to understand the mechanisms involved when CBD interacts with the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS consists of receptors, enzymes, and cells in organs located throughout the human body. Several research studies are currently being conducted in order to learn how CBD impacts the ECS’s regulation of body functions. This data may yield insights into the most effective dose amounts and route of delivery for managing symptoms associated with ADHD and other forms of neurodiversity.

Peer-reviewed research activity is increasing, and a significant body of patient narratives highlight CBD’s potential therapeutic properties. Patients who use medical cannabis report substantial improvements in ADHD symptoms and quality of life. They report that CBD helps them establish focus to work on tasks, and it alleviates anxiety associated with meeting daily responsibilities.

Scientific inquiry on CBD and cannabinoids is limited due to past restrictions on cannabis research. With legalisation trends happening globally and the growth of the UK medical cannabis programme, more research will be conducted on medical effectiveness of cannabinoids. Many UK citizens are not familiar with CBD regulations, and this lack of awareness is a barrier to safe quality CBD.

Health care professionals advise that there is no sufficient research data to claim that CBD manages ADHD symptoms effectively. However, emerging data indicates that careful and moderate dosing of CBD is safe and effective for most patients. 

Several studies have suggested that the higher-dose administration of CBD and other medicinal cannabis components (phyto-cannabinoids and terpenes) is associated with ADHD medication reduction. 

CBD has shown potential when it comes to effectively reducing anxiety levels at reducing anxiety, which many ADHD sufferers battle with. There are many available studies looking into CBD’s effect on a wide range of anxiety issues, with all showing mostly promising results. This study, titled “Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder” found that a 400 mg dose of CBD was associated with significantly decreased subjective anxiety. Another paper found that a full-spectrum, high-CBD product may be effective in treating anxiety with few side effects. The initial results from the open-label stage of the clinical trial demonstrated significant improvement in primary outcome assessments of anxiety.

Many adults with ADHD have difficulty falling asleep. It is possible that their brains are still actively processing information from their day, and they have trouble winding down in the evening. Some adults with ADHD suffer from Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS). Adults who have DSPS often have trouble falling asleep, even when they are exhausted. It can sometimes take them up to two to three hours to fall asleep.

Several studies have indicated that CBD enhances sleep. It produces a calming effect on the nervous system. Patients who use CBD claim they fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer.

What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of administering CBD for ADHD?

CBD can be taken for a wide array of potential therapeutic benefits. CBD has been shown to provide general wellness support by strengthening the immune system and acting as an antioxidant. It can also reduce inflammation, enhance sleep, function as a neuroprotective agent, and produce a calming mental and physical effect. Many with ADHD struggle with fidgeting and racing thoughts, so CBD’s calming effect may help to restore mental focus.

Numerous studies highlight some risks of long-term CBD use. Some researchers are concerned about the potential liver damage due to long-term consumption of CBD. Patients who are at higher risk for liver toxicity are those taking extremely large or frequent or those patients with a genetic predisposition to liver disease.

CBD also has the ability to negatively interact with certain prescription pharmaceuticals. These include some anti-depressants, anti-epileptic drugs, opioid analgesics, and blood thinners. Before taking any CBD products, you should have an open and in-depth discussion with a doctor or healthcare professional. 

How to take CBD for ADHD

It is important to consult your physician and neurologist about taking CBD for ADHD. They can determine if you should be aware of any potential drug interactions, dose amounts, and when how frequently a patient should take CBD. 

Dosage Guidelines

Take a small dose (about 2.5 mg or less) of low or medium-strength CBD when you first start using CBD. Ask your doctor regarding the amount and strength you should start with for your condition. Healthcare professionals recommend sticking to 1 mg of CBD per every 1 kg of body weight when first trying CBD. Assess the dose effects after you have taken CBD for several weeks. After this period of time, you will be aware of the frequency, amount, and potency of optimal doses.

Forms of CBD

CBD mainly comes in isolate, broad spectrum, and full spectrum products. CBD isolate is a crystallized form of pure CBD. It undergoes a special extraction and distillation process that results in a THC-free CBD product. It also contains no terpenes or cannabinoids. 

In contrast, broad and full spectrum CBD contain other cannabinoids and terpenes. The broad spectrum contains cannabinoids and only traces amounts of THC. Full spectrum contains some THC, but the THC potency is still under the regulatory limit of 0.2%.


CBD is a safe and potentially effective choice for managing ADHD symptoms. It can provide a soothing and focused effect for a patient feeling overwhelmed by organizing, planning and executing daily responsibilities. CBD also helps promote the quality and duration of sleep and mood enhancement. These benefits indicate CBD administration may improve the overall quality of life for ADHD patients.

Releaf understands the importance of medical cannabis in treating various medical conditions. With our tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection, you can access the treatment you need without worrying about the stigma.

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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Kerry, with experience as a medicinal cannabis cultivation technician and expertise in business licensing applications, is passionate about developing educational content and advocating for better access to medical cannabis worldwide.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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