Dr. David Bearman, a leading cannabis researcher, reports that cannabis may be the treatment that ADD and ADHD sufferers have been looking for.
WHAT IS ADD AND ADHD?
ADHD was first identified as a cognitive disorder in 1902 that impacts attention and learning. ADHD is marked by distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. The occurrence of the disorder is closely tied to biological factors, such as the size and density of various brain structures and the way chemical reactions take place within the brain. However, the precise causes of ADHD are not yet known.
Studies have shown that people suffering from ADHD have lower amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Since dopamine plays a key role in the proper functioning of the cortex, deficiency in dopamine levels could interfere with cognitive processes such as focusing and attention. These are the very same processes that people with ADHD struggle with.
Since 1957, doctors have been treating ADHD patients with pharmaceuticals like Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta—medications that are molecularly similar to drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine. They work by increasing dopamine and norepinepherine levels in the brain, thus alleviating ADHD symptoms. It is worth mentioning that there is no permanent cure for the disorder and these psycho-stimulants are only used to reduce the symptoms.
Conventional medications come with a host of unpleasant side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Such as: difficulty sleeping, jitteriness, stomach aches, appetite loss, diarrhea, and headaches. This is where the benefits of cannabis come in. ADHD is, essentially, the brain being overwhelmed with too much information. Cannabis, in the right dose, is able to slow the brain down enough to achieve focus—minus the adverse effects of prescription stimulants. Some patients find it best to use medicinal cannabis alongside their pharmaceutical medications to ease their side effects. Others choose to suspend the use of these medications altogether and opt for using cannabis as their sole means of treating their symptoms. Besides being able to concentrate and focus more, patients reported the absence of any side effects if not even enhancement in aspects normally affected by conventional medications, like sleep and appetite.
CAN CANNABIS HELP?
Dr. David Bearman, a leading cannabis researcher, explains that, “Cannabis appears to treat ADD and ADHD by increasing the availability of dopamine. This then has the same effect but is a different mechanism of action than stimulants like Ritalin and Dexedrine amphetamine, which act by binding to the dopamine and interfering with the metabolic breakdown of dopamine.” This means that instead of interfering with the natural order of dopamine in the brain, cannabis just makes it more available to the user.
The recent discovery of the endocannabinoid system and the role it plays in modulating the dopamine system through using the compound anandamide, shows the clear correlation between ADHD and a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system. For better understanding: anandamide is a cannabinoid (just like THC but produced inside the human body, therefore called “endogenous cannabinoid”) that binds to the endocannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, which are located throughout the human brain and body and are involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory.
Cannabinoids work on your body to return it to a state of balance and homeostasis and with the long list of unacceptable side effects caused by pharmaceuticals, cannabis offers another viable option without being addictive and with no side effects. With that being said, it could substantially be the best treatment for ADHD to date.