Cannabis and ADHD

Cannabis is now a miracle cure for a wide variety of diseases and ailments. Which has not scientifically been proven yet, because scientific studies cost a lot of money, but anyways it has already done a lot of good for patients. Cannabis is currently being used against all sorts of things. Against migraines, against back pain, against fibromyalgia or treating the symptoms and comorbidities of ADHD. This article is about those correlations between cannabis use and ADHD.

What is ADHD anyway?

ADHD is not the “fidget syndrome”, not a fashion diagnosis, nor is it a personality disorder. Because even, if there is something to the terms – the terms are filled with prejudices and appear disrespectful to patients. The bottom line is that ADHD is nothing more than Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

And what can you imagine by that? The site aptly writes:
ADHD is not a disease like measles or mumps, that can be clearly identified or ruled out. ADHD is more like being overweight or having high blood pressure. If you have too much of it, it can become critical.

[This definition is accurate, but I still don’t know what ADHD is or how to recognize it. So my best bet is to take a step further towards symptoms to make the matter more tangible.]

ADHD manifests itself in different symptoms, that can appear separately in different people. On one hand, an ADHD patient can be purely hyperactive and impulsive, i.e. restless, fidgety and very talkative. On the other hand, a person affected can also be disturbed in their attention, and frequent dreaming or wandering about an activity is particularly noticeable. This symptom is often misused to call the smartphone-savvy Generation Z “Generation ADHD”. A third group combines the two symptoms and is both disturbed and hyperactive.

There are two kinds

Those affected, who only suffer from concentration or attention disorders, do not have ADHD, depending on the definition, but ADD. An attention deficit disorder. This is often not recognized, because concentration disorders in society are not regarded as illness-related, but rather as a weakness. It is more likely that a person affected, is often just told to try harder or to play less on their smartphone in order to be able to be able to concentrate better. Children in particular suffer from these misjudgments, as they are much less able to assess situations. Often they suffer from categorization and stigmatization and look for the fault in themselves. This often leads to social problems or depression. Therefore my early appeal to all parents out there: If your child is struggling with homework or cannot sit still for a long time – please do not blame them, until a doctor has taken care of the matter. Because only a precise diagnosis can reveal whether the child suffers from ADHD, or simply needs more exercise or retreat.

Now I have talked briefly about children, but one thing should be said: ADHD is not a childhood desease, all age groups suffer from ADHD. While ADHD regresses in some people during puberty, this is often seen as a wrong sign. In many cases, the symptoms simply change; adults affected no longer suffer so much from an unrestrained urge to move, but increasingly from concentration disorders. This often manifests itself in forgetfulness, ignorance or disorganization.

What are the causes of ADHD?

Of course, ADHD cannot be compared with a viral infection or an allergy. So no external influences are responsible for ADHD, right? It’s not that simple. Because although ADHD is not “triggered” by pollen or viruses, psychosocial influences can strongly influence ADHD in its development. Family and school, for example, can fundamentally control the development of ADHD. Stress is seen as a major, negative factor. The extent of ADHD is strongly influenced by family disputes or separated parents, but also by low family income, frequent criticism or inconsistent upbringing without rules.

Another criterion that promotes the development of ADHD is pregnancy. Nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs are believed to promote ADHD. However, this is not yet scientifically proven – which does not mean that the concern is unjustified!

According to some studies, hereditary factors are said to have an influence on the development of ADHD. In the case of dizygotic twins for example 30% of the test pairs showed the same symptoms, in the case of identical twins even 80%!

Why does cannabis help against ADHD?

To understand why cannabis helps against ADHD, it is first necessary to understand how ADHD works in the body. Researchers and doctors today agree that ADHD is caused by a disruption in chemical signaling. One study found, that half of the ADHD patients examined, had an abnormality in the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and with dopamine deficiency.
Dopamine deficiency is the key to the healing properties of cannabis, but more on that later.

But why does this deficiency of “happiness hormones” occur in ADHD patients? Scientists still disagree on this. However, many experts assume that ADHD patients develop too many dopamine transporters in certain areas of the brain. This means, that dopamine stored in synaptic fissures is removed more quickly than in healthy peoples brains. This is why a dopamine deficiency occurs.

But not only the dopamine deficiency is a cause, especially since it is not the decisive factor for the syndrome in all ADHD patients. Therefore, some researchers have investigated, why ADHD patients often react differently or in an unusual way to rewards or punishments. So the brain areas where the motivation and reward center is located were examined. It turned out that many of the patients examined, had a particularly low density of dopamine receptors in these areas. In plain terms: There is no dopamine deficiency, there are simply no docking points for the dopamine.
As a result of this anomaly, many downstream functions are also impaired. For example, the lack of attention correlates directly with this fact.

Cannabis raises the level of happiness

So here’s where cannabis comes in. In a nutshell, the “happiness level” in ADHD patients is much lower than in healthy people.
This is partly due to the lack of dopamine. It is well known that cannabis can increase this “happiness level”, because dopamine is released through the ingestion of THC. But if you have been paying attention up to now, you will be surprised: Wasn’t the problem with the many dopamine transmitters and the low density of dopamine receptors? Right, that’s exactly how it is. But cannabis would not be a drug that’s so hyped, if it didn’t have a solution for this problem: The endocannabinoid system. Although the presence of this alternative nervous system is not due to the plant itself, it is basically the key to the lock in our body.
The THC is the key, the endocannabinoid system is the lock.

If THC hits the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, a relatively large amount of dopamine is released for the duration of the effect. That’s why most cannabis users are pretty happy and “high”, when they smoke weed.
However, the ADHD patient first reaches the normal happiness level through the consumption of THC, i.e. the level at which healthy people are sober.

Chart showing dopamine levels of adhd and neurotypical patients
Chart showing dopamine levels of adhd and neurotypical patients

It is obvious, but not yet scientifically researched, that the now restored dopamine balance in the brain can also reduce the consequences of the low dopamine receptor density in the reward center. One study found, that particularly hyperactive and impulsive behavior patterns decreased in patients when using cannabis.

What does the cannabis patient say?

On the Cannabis Normal! Conference I took the opportunity to talk to an ADHD patient. He confirmed the theory about the dopamine level, he also needs cannabis for an acceptable feel-good climate. To get really high, he needs a lot more cannabis than, for example, myself as a neurotypical person.

Another “problem” for him is the large amount of cannabis that he consumes. As a solution, he had delicious wax with him at the conference, which he extracted from the Pedanios 22/1 with a straightening iron. Pharmacy dabs for gourmets! This allows him to take medicine in small doses throughout the day and he does not have to inhale any unnecessary pollutants.
After a long fight with the health insurance, he gets the cannabis paid for by them, so ADHD patients should stand their ground – You have the right for access to your medicine, apart from Ritalin!

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