Cannabis is one of the most commonly used illicit substances among those with ADD/ADHD.
In fact, for the last three decades, cannabis use disorder was considered a common comorbidity in those with ADD/ADHD, despite reports from patients suggesting that the herb is helpful for symptom management.
Finally, however, new interest in the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant have inspired researchers to put the plant to the test in ADD/ADHD.
In a pilot study conducted by researchers at Kings College of London, 25 adults with ADHD were given either a placebo or a six-week supply of the drug Sativex.
Sativex is a cannabis-based pharmaceutical medicine that contains equal ratios of THC:CBD.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the compound that causes the famous cannabis “high”.
Cannabidiol (CBD), is a non-intoxicating cannabis compound that is of major interest for both psychiatric and epileptic disorders.
Both of these cannabinoid compounds have their own medical properties and really work better together.
The researchers wanted to test whether or not patients with ADHD would see symptom improvement with cannabinoid consumption.
To prove their hypothesis correct, patients did see improvement.
While the results of this study were not drastic, this trial represents the only human study that tests whether or not cannabis compounds are helpful to those with ADHD.
While the improvement was small overall, cannabis was still significant over the placebo. This led the authors to conclude:
Adults with ADHD may represent a subgroup of individuals who experience a reduction of symptoms and no cognitive impairments following cannabinoid use.
What cannabis strains are best for ADD/ADHD?
Already, a select number of medical professionals in the United States recommend medical cannabis to patients with ADD/ADHD.
Yet, unfortunately, little information is available about what strains or strain profiles may work best for those with this condition.
Still, based on emerging information regarding the interaction between compounds like THC and the beneficial terpene molecules also found in the cannabis plant, it is possible to make educated guesses regarding which strains may be more effective than others.
In other words, whenever you are selecting strains, it’s very helpful to keep terpene profiles in mind (more so than strain names).
Be sure to ask your dispensary if they test for terpene profiles and if you can see the results.
Here are the top five cannabis strains for ADD/ADHD:
1. Jack Herer
Jack Herer is one of the most famous sativa plants around.
Energizing and focused, this high-THC plant contains high levels of terpenes known as alpha and beta-pinene.
As their names might suggest terpene aroma molecules give Jack Herer a spicy, pine-like scent.
The effects of these particular terpenes are thought to promote focus and mental clarity.
In fact, in early laboratory trials, researchers have found that pinene mutes the breakdown of a neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine in the brain.
This neurotransmitter, along with dopamine, is responsible for memory, attention, and learning.
Cannabis strains high in pinene may be more helpful to those with ADD/ADHD than other strains with more sedative effects.
2. Lemon Skunk
A hybrid flower with a pungent, sweet lemon aroma, the Lemon Skunk cannabis strain may be beneficial for those with ADD/ADHD.
This high-THC flower is thought to produce high concentrations of the terpene limonene.
Limonene is a calm yet invigorating terpene that promotes focus with its sharp scent. Unlike pinene, this terpene has a more relaxed quality.
The limonene in Lemon Skunk may be useful for those who need help concentrating yet appreciate a more laid-back cannabis experience.
3. Sunset Sherbet
Another high-THC hybrid, Sunset Sherbet has a unique and calming aroma.
Not only does this plant feature high levels of limonene and moderate levels of pinene, but Sunset Sherbet is also thought to offer consumers a dose of beta-caryophyllene.
Beta-caryophyllene is also a terpene that is commonly found in black pepper.
The sharp nature of this terpene is thought to enhance concentration and promote a sense of calmness and ease.
In early laboratory experiments, researchers discovered that beta-caryophyllene has anti-anxiety and immune-modulating effects, which may be helpful in relieving some of the auxiliary side effects in those with ADD/ADHD.
4. Island Sweet Skunk
A pungent sativa flower, Island Sweet Skunk is known for its high levels of THC and stimulating properties.
Beloved as a morning time herb, the high pinene content in Island Sweet Skunk gives this flower focused and energizing properties.
For those who respond well to stimulants like caffeine, the Island Sweet Skunk strain may just be the cannabis equivalent.
5. Lemon CBD
Lemon CBD (Lemon AID) is an invigorating sativa-dominant strain with a delightful terpene profile.
Abundant in limonene, this plant features a sweet citrus scent. It also contains notes of sharp caryophyllene and pinene, making it an excellent choice for those in search of greater mental clarity.
Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating.
This means that consumers will not likely feel a psychoactive “high” from a plant with a high CBD content.
While many consumers with ADD/ADHD report that they can tolerate high-THC strains, CBD is known for its invigorating properties as well as its ability to promote a sense of calmness and ease.
While some CBD strains can be difficult to find, finding plants that contain higher levels of limonene, linalool, beta-caryophyllene, and pinene may be beneficial for those with ADD/ADHD.
Linalool is a calming terpene most abundant in lavender.
However, linalool is also common in many cannabis strains. While the effects of this terpene are more calming, linalool is not overly sedative.
Tips for picking out cannabis strains for ADD/ADHD
Only five of thousands of cannabis strains are mentioned in this brief article. However, these five are not the only flowers that may be helpful to those with ADD/ADHD.
If you’re hoping to find quality cannabis for ADD/ADHD, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when picking out strains. These include:
1. Avoid high percentages of myrcene
Myrcene is a sedative terpene common in many indica cannabis varieties. In today’s cannabis market, myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes around.
With a musky scent and a hypnotic effect, this plant is best saved for when you’re hoping to wind down.
While some may love high-myrcene strains in the evening, these flowers may detract from focus and promote a foggy headspace.
2. Avoid cannabinol (CBN)
Similarly, samples high in cannabinol (CBN) may promote sleepiness rather than alertness.
CBN is a breakdown product of THC and becomes more abundant in cannabis strains as they age.
Consuming your cannabis quickly and storing your herb properly will limit the amount of THC that is broken down into sedative CBN.
3. Try CBD
While too much THC can sometimes cause consumers to feel distracted, CBD is non-intoxicating and is expected to have positive effects when it comes to mood management.
If high-THC strains are problematic, switching to a high-CBD strain or a plant with equal ratios of THC:CBD may be more beneficial.
4. Try Microdosing
It’s true. The majority of cannabis consumers take way more cannabis than they need.
It’s helpful to keep in mind that cannabis is a biphasic substance.
This means that if you go overboard on your dosage amount, you’ll experience the opposite effects of what you intend.
Taking just one puff or a few milligrams of THC every few hours or so could also do the trick for ADD/ADHD. Although it seems counterintuitive, this strategy could do wonders for your focus levels.
5. Do what feels right
While this article seeks to provide a brief guide as to what cannabis strains are useful for ADD/ADHD, its based on limited evidence.
While some people may find success with the strains above, every individual is different.
Unfortunately, when there is no standardized method for cannabis and ADD/ADHD, consumers are left to experiment.
Keeping a strain journal can help you track which strains and terpenes seem to be most effective for you, helping you find the best relief possible.