At an international symposium on cannabinoid therapeutics last month, researchers presented clinical data indicating that the use of herbal cannabis relieves symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adults.
German researchers selected 30 patients whose condition had proven resistant to conventional drug therapies, to study and evaluate the effects of cannabis on their ADHD symptoms.
Test subjects were reported to experience an easing of symptoms, including “improved concentration and sleep, and reduced impulsivity,” following the cannabis therapy, according to researchers.
Of the 30 patients, twenty-two in the study elected to suspend their use of pharmaceutical drugs during the study period—opting for use of cannabis as their sole means of treating their symptoms.
Prior to this study, there had been minimal clinical data on the subject, despite widespread anecdotal reports of relief from those suffering from ADHD.
Attention deficiency hyperactivity disorder is a condition that it typically identified in children and may persist into adulthood. It is characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, forgetfulness, difficulty paying attention and a lack of organization and prioritization skills.
There is widespread debate as to the cause, with some questioning whether it is even a real condition.
Approximately 11 percent of school-aged children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the disorder, which is commonly treated with the use of amphetamines or amphetamine derivatives. Comparatively, only .5 percent of French children are diagnosed with ADHD.
According to a report by The Genetic Literacy Project:
For decades, much of the mental health profession has relied on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Diseases, a tome updated periodically by the American Psychiatric Association. The latest three versions (DSM-III through DSM-V) zeroed in on what constitutes ADHD. French guidelines do not follow the DSMs, instead hewing to the Classification Francaise des Troubles Mentaux de l’Enfant et de L’Adolescent, or CFTMEA.
In France, CFTMEA guidelines require a much longer time to diagnose ADHD, and take in family and social issues that have had a role in the child’s life. After interviewing teachers, school officials, family members and the child, they’ll make a diagnosis. Often two years later.
In the United States, usually a single psychiatrist or psychologist makes a much faster diagnosis (about six months), after some input from teachers and others, but usually based on the psychologist’s impression.
While French psychiatrists do tend to look more for social context, it’s also illegal in France to prescribe stimulants (the main drug intervention in the US) to any child under 6 years old. Meanwhile, American physicians have been accused of overmedicating patients, particularly children and particularly children with ADHD.
Researchers have been studying whether ADHD is actually one syndrome, or rather a combinations of separate symptoms. It has yet to be made clear, whether in France, the U.S. or the rest of the world, where the boundaries lie between “normal” and ADHD. Perhaps if nothing else, the revisions of the DSM, and the French approach, call for a meeting of minds.
“Adults with ADHD in both regions were generally less likely to be married, employed, or rate their health as good/very good/excellent and were more likely to smoke, have experienced alcoholism, have other mental health conditions, have work productivity/activity impairments, and use healthcare resources,” according to researchers in both the U.S. and Europe.
Regardless of the cause, the results of this study clearly show that cannabis can be a useful treatment in alleviating the symptoms of ADHD. While the causes and solutions of ADHD are debated, a new natural treatment has emerged that has the potential to replace the pharmaceutical solutions consistently provided to those suffering from the disorder.