Updated on January 3, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
While the official term is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you might also know it as attention deficit disorder (ADD). No matter what you call it, this condition causes difficulties related to focus, getting things done, hyperactivity and impulse control. Some people only have a cluster of these symptoms, while others can have a combined form.
Some patients with ADD have found success with cannabis medicine, claiming it can improve focus and reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity when taken correctly. Doctors and scientists have begun to investigate cannabis’ benefits for a wide range of conditions, including ADD.
The case studies we have involving medical marijuana treatment for ADD suggest we can use it to relieve the disorder’s symptoms. So, German physicians Eva Milz and Franjo Grotenhermen wanted to add to that knowledge base by creating their own. Since Germany allows medical marijuana for patients who already tried other treatments, they had patients to work with in Grotenherm’s practice.
To understand how cannabis medicine affected Grotenherm’s patients, the two researchers looked at the medical certificates for 30 of them. They focused on each patient’s previous treatments, their ADHD history and their medical marijuana regimen.
Out of the 30 patients, only eight still took typical stimulants for ADD. The other 22 had to stop taking them due to side effects or a lack of relief. Every subject had reduced ADD symptoms when they used medical marijuana, including focus issues, insomnia and impulse control.
A common concern when it comes to medical marijuana treatment for ADD is that it will exacerbate problems like impulsivity and concentration issues. Rasmussen et al. sought out to discover how marijuana impacted response inhibition for patients with and without ADD. In other words, they wanted to understand how each factor changes the amount of time they took to think an action over before doing it.
The team worked with four groups categorized by their marijuana use and ADD diagnosis. They asked the subjects to complete certain tasks and monitored their brain activity while they did certain activities.
None of the subjects’ response inhibition was affected by marijuana use — only the diagnosis of ADD changed how they reacted to the tasks they completed. Their brain activity suggested cannabis users with ADD had a cannabinoid deficit, which their marijuana use made up for.
In the age of the Internet, we often turn to others for advice on topics like healthcare. So, Mitchell et al. examined the content patterns in online forum discussions about cannabis and ADD. They wanted to see how patients with ADHD talked about marijuana’s effects on their symptoms.
The team selected a total of 268 forum threads on cannabis and ADD to start with. They then randomly selected 20%, or 55, of these threads. Afterward, they took away nine threads that didn’t have relevant data. All posts were coded and analyzed for sentiment about using marijuana for ADD.
A sizeable number of posts supported the idea that medical marijuana can relieve ADD symptoms. While 25% had a completely positive message, only 8% had a negative perception. These trends indicate that many of the patients on these forums found relief in cannabis medicine.
As the evidence shows, you can take your treatment into your own hands with medical marijuana. Learn more about your condition and medicinal cannabis on our pages for ADD and ADHD. To get an evaluation and recommendation from a marijuana-friendly doctor, find a nearby practice using our database.