Scientific research confirms medical marijuana for treatment of ADHD

Once upon a time, I was a huge detractor of the medical marijuana movement.

I bought into the propaganda that marijuana was a gateway drug, that it could do irreversible psychological damage, and who knows what the physical side effects could be. Yes, I got high as a teenager. And I still blame my lack of short-term memory on pot. Growing up, I saw my stoner friends as lay-abouts with no ambition except to get high.

Then I moved to Colorado.

The first obstacle any homeopath in Colorado will face is the abounding prevalence of recreational marijuana. Why is this an obstacle? In 100% of my clients, smoking pot negates the curative action of any homeopathic remedy. This means that if a client has a really well-prescribed remedy that is working toward a cure, and my client is seeing fantastic improvements and maybe only needs to take her remedy once a week, or even less – she’ll smoke a bowl and call me the next day complaining: “I feel terrible!” “Have you smoked pot lately?” “Oh….yeah.” “Take your remedy again and call me tomorrow.” Inevitable, she feels better after re-taking the remedy.

For some of my clients, they quit pot altogether when the alternative – feeling better, pain-free, more energy – is so much more enjoyable than getting high. Other clients prefer to live in the fog, symptoms be damned. Just to be clear – sometimes I prefer the fog, too. It helps me relax at the end of the day, it helps me sleep, it helped me quit smoking tobacco, it helps me to not take myself too seriously and to actually enjoy a good time with friends. Besides, it’s legal here, so why not?

As a practicing healer – as a trained homeopath and herbalist – I could not continue to ignore or downplay the growing presence of marijuana in our culture. Honestly – I didn’t want to admit that marijuana is the gateway herb for thousands who want to ween themselves off of toxic pharmaceuticals. It was hard for me to deny my mother’s use of medical marijuana during the chemo and radiation – a far better alternative to opiates, and it even bolstered her waning appetite. 

For a more concise primer, read my article “Medical Marijuana for beginners“.

Today, medical marijuana is prescribed for everything from autism to anorexia, panic disorders to seizures – and has serious medical research to back it up. That’s why today’s headline, taken from this case report “Cannabis improves symptoms of ADHD” published by the Institute of Legal- and Traffic Medicine at Heidelberg University Medical Centre in Germany piqued my fascination:

“The present case report suggests that individuals suffering from ADHD, a dysfunction with a symptomatic change in activity levels, may – in some cases – benefit from cannabis treatment in that it appears to regulate activation to a level which may be considered optimum for performance.”

(All quotes are extracted from the verbatim text of the Case Study, read the entire three page PDF report here.)

There are over 3 million cases of ADHD diagnosed in the United States every year. The syndrome is generally considered “incurable” and is recognized by symptoms of hyperactivity, an inability to focus or form coherent thoughts, compuslive behavior and emotional instability. When the report refers to the “performance” of individuals in the case study, this refers to the degree in which ADHD interferes with the individual’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis.

Severe cases of ADHD may require hospitalization, and is typically treated with amphetamines such as Ritalin or Adderall. These drugs are expensive and invariably come with these side effects:

  • dry mouth
  • dizziness
  • nervousness
  • nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite
  • trouble sleeping
  • hair loss
  • diarrhea and/or constipation

…and the list goes on and on. It’s no wonder patients are seeking alternatives.

“There was evidence, that the consumption of cannabis had a positive impact on performance, behaviour and mental state of the subject. The present observation corroborates previous data of Müller-Vahl et al. [8] suggesting that in patients suffering from Tourette syndrome, treatment with THC causes no cognitive defects. Gilles de la Tourette syndrome is a neurobehavioral disorder associated with motor and vocal tics as well as behavioural and cognitive problems.”

Cannabinoids (CBDs) are the isolated component of marijuana plants specially cultivated to be higher in CBDs than THC. Tetra-hydro-cannabinol (THC) is what causes the “fog” – the relaxed, spaced-out feeling of being high. CBDs, on the other hand, have been shown to clear the fog, to stabilize heart rate and mental/emotional states, and are the principal constituent in medical marijuana.

It is also noteworthy that medical marijuana is safe and effective for all age groups – the dosages are highly scrutinized and adjusted according to body weight and metabolism. CBDs are most widely available in pill form or as an oil extract, but can also be smoked or safely added to food and drink.

“The authors also hypothesized that the effects of cannabinoids in patients may be different from those in healthy users suggesting an involvement of the central cannabinoid receptor systems in the pathology of the disorder. The same conclusion may be drawn from previous studies [1, 2] and the present case report, although more information on these atypical effects should be provided and the underlying mechanisms are still to be elucidated.” 

This evidence may be brushed aside or discounted entirely because (1) the sample group comprised only 30 participants and (2) the evidence is purely empirical – based on experience and observation, and voluntary reporting of those things that will forever remain without measure – feelings, emotions, thoughts and states of being. We many never discover the “underlying mechanism” behind the CBD receptors in the human brain (that’s a surprising fact – the human brain actually has receptors specifically designed by nature since our birth for CBDs!) but the mounting evidence speaks for itself. The AMA also has a vested interest in keeping such research under wraps since, as the study describes one participant:

Only much later did the subject, who had been arrested for a drug offence a few days after the second visit, report that he had not consumed pharmaceutical dronabinol products but instead smoked cannabis just before the tests, since it was much less costly.

Continued research only justifies what most have known for thousands of years – that smoking certain herbs can be medicinal for a wide range of human ailments – and adds to the growing list of common diseases, both chronic and acute, that can benefit from employing this powerful plant with wisdom and respect.

One Comment on “Scientific research confirms medical marijuana for treatment of ADHD

  1. Pingback: Is it safe to smoke pot during chemo and radiation? | the holistic homestead

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