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Cannabinoid Extractions and ADHD

Written by Cara Wietstock

The Journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology recently released a clinical study that looked into cannabinoid extractions as a possible alternative to ADHD medications. Despite no randomized controlled trials on the matter, some psychiatrists still prescribe cannabis as a treatment for ADD/ADHD. With this in mind, the Experimental Medicine in ADHD-Cannabinoids trial (EMA-C) was formed.


There are few, if any, states that will accept ADHD as a qualifying condition. This is because there are little to no clinical trials related directly to ADHD. A 2009 study did point to evidence of a connection between cannabis and ADHD. This study basically assessed that the human body creates cannabinoids in a response to the brain chemistry in a person with ADHD. Researchers believe that the brain makes these anandamides to counter the symptoms of ADHD.


Because of these connections, we have all long been awaiting clinical trials like EMA-C. In this study, thirty adults with ADHD describe their time self-medicating with cannabis. The trial was a pilot randomized placebo-controlled experimental study of Sativex Oromucosal Spray. The primary outcome was cognitive performance and activity level using the Qb test. The secondary outcome included emotional liability symptoms and ADHD. Fifteen random adults were put into the active group and fifteen were put into the placebo.


Photo: GW Pharmaceuticals

The results showed the active group to perform better than the placebo group in ITT analysis. It became apparent that cannabis could be helpful in the secondary outcome. This portion of the trials found that Sativex was associated with a nominally significant improvement in hyperactivity and impulsivity. It also gave the active group a cognitive measure of inhibition. There was an overall trend towards improvement for inattention.


It is important to note that were a couple of negatives to note about the EMA-C trial. There was one serious adverse effect in the active group involving muscular spasms and seizures. There were three other mild adverse reactions in the active group. The placebo group marked one adverse reaction in the form of a cardiovascular event.


After this study, some adults with ADHD report preferring cannabinoid extractions to their ADHD medication. What this trial does inspire is the reasoning for more clinical trials involving cannabis extractions for treating ADHD. If you would like to get involved in creating more clinical trials on this topic check out Cannabis for ADHD. They are crowd-funding a pilot study on this very matter.

About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

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