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ADHD and CBD Oil: Is Cannabidiol Safe for Kids?

Over the last several years there have been many anecdotal cases of individuals experiencing positive results when using cannabidiol (CBD) to manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This has led the medical community to start investigating CBD oil and its potential uses for kids with ADHD. While there’s still a lot of research that needs to be performed, the early results are promising.

The possible benefits of CBD oil are well documented when it comes to chronic pain conditions and anxiety, but when it comes to conditions that impact children, like ADHD, the research landscape becomes a bit murkier. Recently though, a growing number of parents are beginning to consider CBD oil as a reasonable, more natural, way to help their children find relief from ADHD symptoms.

Research into the uses of CBD oil for children is sparse but that does not mean it does not exist—here’s what you need to know.

Is Cannabidiol Safe for Kids?

Scientific data about CBD oil for children is limited due in part to the stigma and legal issues that surround the use of cannabis and cannabis-derived products. Pair this with the ethical quagmire of performing scientific tests on children, and you get the largely unexplored field of study that is CBD oil’s effects on kids.

So, it can be difficult to say definitively whether or not CBD oil is okay for children to use, but early research seems to show CBD oil may be safe for kids.

A review published in The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics reported a number of cases in which CBD oil has been documented to help children suffering from a range of medical conditions, including some behavioral symptoms associated with ADHD. In addition, CBD oil is currently being used to treat drug-resistant epilepsy in children, indicating that it is, at least in some cases, safe for kids to use.

The World Health Organisation has also stated that CBD oil does not produce the intoxicating effects that are seen with other cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and that CBD was well tolerated with a “good safety profile” in a number of trials.

As with any other course of treatment, particularly where children are concerned, always speak to a healthcare professional before making any decisions. CBD oil has been known to interact with other medications, so having a discussion with your child’s physician is crucial before using CBD as a treatment.

Why Use CBD Oil for Children with ADHD?

While there are several types of pharmaceutical medications aimed at treating ADHD, they vary in suitability, reliability, and tolerability.

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Two of the most popular medications prescribed for kids with ADHD are Ritalin and Adderall. These medications are stimulant- and amphetamine-based, which may yield side effects like anxiety and sleeplessness, two things that have been found to actually worsen ADHD.

Additional side effects associated with Ritalin include:

  • Nervousness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Dizziness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Weight loss.
  • Mood changes.
  • Psychosis.

And commonly reported, negative side effects of Adderall include:

  • Nervousness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Dizziness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Weight loss.
  • Mood changes.
  • Psychosis.

CBD oil does not produce any of the negative side effects listed above. In fact, CBD oil has been known to:

  • Reduce anxiety.
  • Regain appetite.
  • Act as a sleep aid.
  • Reduce nausea.
  • Reduce headaches.
  • Improve mood.
  • Promote relaxation.

In short, CBD oil may help parents avoid the unpleasant side effects associated with traditional ADHD medications, while also reducing their child’s symptoms.

How Does CBD Oil Impact ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions amongst kids in the US, affecting an estimated 1 in 12 children. It often involves a range of disruptive behavioural symptoms including the inability to focus, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

Given the prevalence of ADHD and the side effects associated with more traditional medications, it’s no surprise that parents are looking for alternative treatments like CBD oil.

CBD and THC are the most commonly discussed phytocannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant. While both have therapeutic benefits, CBD is a more popular choice for medical use due to its lack of intoxicating properties—in other words, CBD will not get you high.

CBD oil interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, impacting various receptors including those that regulate inflammation and pain. But CBD oil’s effects are not limited to the endocannabinoid system; CBD can have indirect effects in other areas of the body as well.

Non-cannabinoid receptors, like serotonin and dopamine receptors, are also impacted by CBD oil. CBD oil works to prevent the reuptake of these neurotransmitters, reducing anxiety levels and combating insomnia. In fact, studies have shown it that simply increasing sleep and reducing anxiety can actually help reduce the symptoms of ADHD.

CBD Oil Dosage for Children with ADHD

Unfortunately, dosage can be tricky to sort out.  Because the impact of CBD oil can depend on factors like weight, size, age, and gender, there is no universal dose.

Orally ingested CBD oil is the most common delivery method for children. With options like

CBD oil drops, capsules, and even CBD gummies, there’s a product to suit everyone’s needs.

Because there is no universal dose for CBD oil, it is important to seek medical advice before you start administering it as a treatment. Most of the serving recommendations on CBD oil products have been created with adults in mind and certain adjustments may be required for children.

For a general understanding of CBD oil dosage, take a look at our dosage guide. You can also speak with a naturopathic doctor who specializes in using CBD oil to treat certain medical conditions. 

To determine if CBD oil is the best solution for you and your child, continue to do your research and talk to your physician. Together you can decide if CBD oil is the right choice for your child.

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+ 6 sources


  1. Christopher T. Campbell et al. Cannabinoids in Pediatrics - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5473390/
  2. The Hospital for Sick Children https://www.sickkids.ca/en/news/newsroom/
  3. Cannabidiol (CBD) - World Health Organization https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf
  4. Melissa L. Danielson et al. (2018) Prevalence of Parent-Reported ADHD Diagnosis and Associated Treatment Among U.S. Children and Adolescents, 2016 - Informa UK Limited https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15374416.2017.1417860
  5. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder - The National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd
  6. Maxime Bériault et al. (2015) Comorbidity of ADHD and Anxiety Disorders in School-Age Children: Impact on Sleep and Response to a Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26396144/

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