Over 60 million children in the United States are currently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, often simply referred to as ADHD or just ADD. This number has been skyrocketing in the last decade with an average classroom in America now holding 1-3 children with the disorder and a growing number of adults, now 11 percent of the country’s population, also exhibiting symptoms of ADHD.
Characterized by an inability to concentrate on and pay attention to even simple tasks without becoming quickly distracted as well as strong impulsive and hyperactive behavior, this modern day malady negatively affects everything from school performance to interpersonal behavior, as ADHD is linked to verbal hostility and angry outbursts as well.
While the debate still rages on about what exactly is causing this massive disruption in cognitive performance and social interaction in modern society – everything from video games to genetic malfunctions (ADHD can be inherited) have been shown to be factors – the disorder just keeps spreading faster every year. What is known is that those with the disorder have concrete physiological impairments including brain abnormalities that underlie their psychological symptoms, much like in other serious mental health epidemics including depression.
Because of this, and the fact that there is no other real treatment for ADHD other than chemical drugs with “scary” and “unsettling” side effects, savvy researchers have finally begun to study how cannabis, with its potent neuroprotective properties and success in treating other cognitive disorders (including depression), might be able to step in and provide some much needed relief.
In fact, the results of the first randomized controlled study on cannabis and ADHD was just published in May 2017, and the outcomes are quite promising. Researchers from King’s College of London gave an oral cannabis spray to half of a group of 30 volunteers with ADHD and a placebo to the other half and then gave them both standardized cognitive and emotional tests.
Amazingly, the researchers found that the group that been given the spray showed “a nominally significant improvement” in both hyperactivity/impulsivity and in important cognitive factors as well as “a trend towards improvement for inattention”. Because of this, the researchers concluded that “this study provides preliminary evidence supporting the self-medication theory of cannabis use in ADHD and the need for further studies of the endocannabinoid system in ADHD.”
As the researchers state, the new study was in part of course sparked by the fact that many people are already self-medicating ADHD with cannabis, and getting fantastic results. A 2008 case report from Heidelberg University in Germany for example documented a 28 year-old male ADHD patient who showed “improper behavior and appeared to be very maladjusted and inattentive while sober” but became “completely inconspicuous while having a very high blood plasma level of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”
Because ADHD shows no sign of slowing down and is linked to complex social and genetic factors it probably won’t go away until we completely restructure the world. In the meantime, it’s good to know that mama marijuana is always here to provide some relief to the mental suffering of children of all ages.
This post was originally published on June 10, 2017, it was updated on October 5, 2017.