Cbd oil for hd

Cbd oil for hd

Karen Sampson Hoffman

YOU’VE SEEN THE POP-UP ADS or you’ve heard a friend talk about CBD oil as an alternative treatment for ADHD. Every online community and social media platform seems to have someone praising the compound or offering to sell it. But what is it, and does it really have any proven benefits for managing ADHD symptoms?

Cannabidiol oil, most often referred to as CBD oil, is a product of the marijuana plant. The plant family is called cannabis, and cannabis products can include CBD oil along with smoked, vaped, or eaten products. CBD oil is just one of more than 85 compounds in cannabis and is regarded by some enthusiasts as having medicinal benefits.

It is not THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound in cannabis that creates euphoria and delivers the “high” of marijuana use. CBD oil is not supposed to contain any THC, meaning the oil needs to be highly refined to make it suitable for use, and therefore is not a natural product. One reoccurring concern, however, is that some products on the market can have trace amounts of THC present, making them unsuitable for use by children and teens and by any adult concerned about possible addiction.

So what about CBD oil as an alternative approach for ADHD symptom management? Some claim that CBD oil, a cannabis product, can be used to treat the symptoms of ADHD. There is limited research showing an improvement for some people who have epilepsy and some people who experience anxiety who use CBD oil, so it is thought to also have benefits for people with ADHD.

What the research says

Researching CBD oil specifically for ADHD is relatively new. Some research has been conducted on smoked and ingested marijuana for ADHD, and the findings in general either do not indicate a benefit or are inconclusive. For both epilepsy and anxiety, there is more research that shows promise. A new medication made from cannabis for seizures caused by Lennox- Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome was approved by an advisory committee for the FDA, but does not have FDA approval.

    . This was a very small sample study of thirty people with ADHD who received a trial cannabinoid/CBD medication. The participants were evaluated for symptom levels and IQ performance on standardized tests. There was insignificant improvement on cognitive function and symptom reduction, and nominal improvement on impulsivity and hyperactivity. The researchers expressed concern that the participants did not follow instructions to avoid all other medications or alcohol use that could have affected the study results. The research authors stated that their results were inconclusive. . This study showed poor cognitive function outcome for young adults who began using cannabis before the age of sixteen, including young people with an ADHD diagnosis. When evaluated for working memory, verbal memory, decision-making and recall, these young users had poor performance on all points. They made more mistakes when asked to complete questions or tasks. Most concerning, the authors write, “Individuals who initiate use of cannabis before age sixteen may be at higher risk for developing persistent neuropsychological deficits because their brain is still developing, especially the prefrontal cortex which is associated with several executive functions including planning, verbal fluency, complex problem-solving, and impulse control, each with its own developmental trajectory.”
  • Adverse Health effects of Marijuana Use. A review article for The New England Journal of Medicine by National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow, MD, and her colleagues, details the known health effects of marijuana use. THC is a concern for health, as are other components of the plant. Adverse effects include decreased cognitive abilities and exacerbated co-occurring mental health disorders and substance abuse. Dr. Volkow lists several health conditions that might be able to be treated by cannabis products, including chronic pain and inflammation, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. She does not include ADHD as a health concern that can be treated by cannabis products. In fact, she writes, “[H]eavy use of marijuana results in impairments in memory and attention that persist and worsen with increasing years of regular use.”

Not a natural product

Some advocates for CBD oil claim that its effects on the body are gentler and more effective than medications for ADHD because it is a natural product, made from a plant.

The cannabis plant has been selectively grown for generations, and grown in specific conditions, to maximize its different aspects. Industrial hemp is grown for its fibers, which are used for rope and different types of cloth. Another type of industrial hemp is grown specifically for its seeds, which are then used in some foods and in products contain hemp oil.

Contrary to some marketing claims, CBD oil is not made from industrial hemp plants. Hemp for fiber is harvested before the plant is mature, ensuring stronger fibers, and once a plant begins to form seeds, it stops producing cannabinoids to focus its energy into seed production.

Industrial hemp, because of these needs, cannot produce cannabidiol oil in sufficient amounts for commercial use. Instead it is often extracted from phytocannabinoid-rich hemp, which has ideally had THC bred out of it. This plant retains many of the characteristic of the marijuana plant. This plant is a recently developed variant of the cannabis family and only goes back to the 1990s. To the untrained observer, it resembles the marijuana plant.

CBD oil can be made from either PCR hemp or from the marijuana plant because of the similarity between the two variants. In the manufacturing process, the plant is broken into pieces and a chemical solvent, a grain or wood alcohol, petroleum, or naphtha, is used to extract the compounds in the plant. The whole material is decanted and the liquid is mechanically separated, drawing off the oils and resins. The solvent is then reused. There is also a process using carbon dioxide that bursts the plant cells and captures the oils and resins from through a series of filtering chambers. Other extraction methods use heated oils that “cook” both the oil and plant.

The oils and resins are then further refined to separate the CBD from other compounds; this could be a combined mechanical and chemical process. It must also be tested to make sure all THC has been removed, especially when the marijuana plant is used rather than PCR hemp.

The entire process relies on heavily refining the product to make it suitable for human consumption. And the more “pure” the product, the greater the amount of refining it must go through. So while synthesized from a plant, it must go through multiple mechanical and chemical processes to become usable and has very little resemblance to the plant it started from. The more “pure” the CBD product, the less natural it is–the final product does not exist in a natural form. You cannot chew on a leaf of a cannabis plant and receive any benefits from CBD oil.

Thoughts from an expert

John Mitchell, PhD, has heard all about ADHD and cannabis product use. He is a researcher and assistant professor at the Duke ADHD Program. He’s not surprised by the current interest in CBD oil for ADHD symptoms and is not impressed by arguments in its favor.

“There is some efficacy in childhood epilepsy,” he points out, “but when you look at the literature for anything else, especially psychiatric disorders, there’s not strong support to say yes, this should be a go-to treatment, especially for ADHD.”

He says the interest stems from people’s desire to have more choices in treating medical conditions and in the changing perceptions on marijuana use. He points to several states that have made medical marijuana legal and a few states that are considering legalizing recreational marijuana use.

“This interest in CBD is coming out more broadly in these perceptions of lack of harmfulness and the changing perceptions of marijuana use in general,” says Dr. Mitchell. “For a lot of different disorders—PTSD, ASD, some addictions—[some people] are interested because it might have therapeutic effects when you isolate the CBD. But those studies are preliminary. When you look at the published literature on CBD there’s nothing—it’s limited to one study.”

He reminds anyone interested in CBD oil or cannabis products that there have not been the studies showing effectiveness or safety for these products when it comes to ADHD management.

“When parents or adults look into CBD oil for someone with ADHD, it’s not just that there’s a lack of evidence out there right now,” he says. “There have been no treatment studies. There are no randomized trials that show it works. And there are other treatment options available for kids and adults with ADHD. These are unregulated products. If these are not well-regulated products, how do we know that we’re really getting what’s being advertised?”

“When parents or adults look into CBD oil for someone with ADHD, it’s not just that there’s a lack of evidence out there right now,” says researcher John Mitchell, PhD, from the Duke ADHD Program. “There have been no treatment studies. There are no randomized trials that show it works. And there are other treatment options available for kids and adults with ADHD. These are unregulated products. If these are not well-regulated products, how do we know that we’re really getting what’s being advertised?”

What about the question of CBD oil being a more natural option than a medication? It comes from a plant, after all.

“Natural doesn’t necessary means it’s less harmful,” says Dr. Mitchell. “If I were a parent, I would want it to be pure. Which means it’s actually less natural, because it has to be refined.”

Other considerations, he says, include how well-refined a CBD oil might be—are the THC and other potentially harmful components fully removed—and the fact that there are no longer-term studies on CBD oil use for children or adults. He adds that there are well-researched and effective non-medication treatment options, such as parent training and lifestyle adjustments, that are shown to be effective in managing ADHD symptoms.

There is also the question of CBD oil becoming a “gateway” to marijuana use by a young person. Dr. Mitchell says a young adult who took CBD oil as a child might not see the difference between it and marijuana use for symptoms management. Marijuana use has well-researched effects on physical and mental health and can make ADHD symptoms worse, he says.

“The literature shows there are harmful effects,” says Dr. Mitchell. “There are impacts on cognitive ability, motivation. Especially for those who are younger and smoking more, there is an impact on IQ.”

Leaping beyond the data

The research on CBD oil and other cannabis products as a possible intervention for ADHD does not show effectiveness for managing symptoms, and actually shows increased mental and physical health risks. There haven’t been any studies on the use of CBD oil in children; neither have there been studies on long-term effects. So while some people are using it and have shared their results publicly, researchers and medical professionals have not found evidence that it is an effective treatment for ADHD. The research does not show that CBD oil works for ADHD management.

“We don’t want to misrepresent things, and with CBD oil, it is getting misrepresented,” says Dr. Mitchell. “When people say this works for ADHD, this is going way beyond the data. That’s too big of a leap.”

Weeding out the truth: can cannabis improve Huntington’s?

What can individual experiences with cannabis tell us about Huntington’s disease?

By Dr Michael Flower February 24, 2017 Edited by Professor Ed Wild

Cannabis, or medical marijuana, has been touted as a treatment for lots of conditions, and Huntington’s disease is no exception. Whenever it hits the news there’s a lot of interest, and recently cannabis found the spotlight again with videos claiming it can reverse the nerve cell damage in Huntington’s disease. These are extraordinary assertions that deserve to be explored.

What is cannabis?

It’s a plant, originally from Asia and India, that’s been known for thousands of years to have effects on the human brain. Many cultures have used it medically and recreationally. It’s psychoactive, which means that when taken – for example, by smoking its leaves – it alters the way our mind perceives things, characteristically inducing relaxation and euphoria, but it can also cause anxiety and paranoia.

Whether in synthetic or natural form, there is no proper scientific evidence that cannabis helps Huntington’s disease patients

It wasn’t until the 1940s that we discovered the active ingredients, which are oily chemicals called cannabinoids. Other plants make cannabinoids too, including some herbal teas, truffles and even cocoa.

How it works

In the late 1980s, we discovered that humans have tiny sensors, called receptors, for these cannabinoids on the surface of our cells. There are two main types of receptor – CB1 and CB2. Most CB1 receptors are in the brain and spinal cord. It’s these ones that are thought to produce the psychoactive effects. The receptors affect how active our nerve cells are, for example controlling the amount of pain a person feels. In contrast, CB2 receptors are found on immune cells that circulate in our blood, and activating them can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Normally there are very few CB2 receptors in the brain, and those that are there, are found on immune cells.

Having found sensors for cannabinoids in the human body, the logical conclusion was that we might also naturally make cannabinoids. And indeed, the first of these was found in the early 1990s, followed shortly after by several more. Nerve cells use them as a way of regulating their own activity level. Normally one nerve cell passes information to another by sending a neurotransmitter chemical. Cannabinoids are a way for the second nerve cell to pass a message back to first, telling it to calm down.

‘Cannabinoid’ is the name we call any chemical that activates cannabinoid receptors. The ones that plants make are called phytocannabinoids. Phyto- comes from the Greek for plant. The ones our own bodies make are called endocannabinoids, derived from the Greek for ‘within’. It’s also possible to manufacture chemicals that activate these receptors, and we call these synthetic cannabinoids.

Different cannabinoids have stronger or weaker effects at each receptor, so they can have varied effects on our bodies. Once in the body, they are eventually broken down by the liver. Some are also stored in fatty tissues, along with their breakdown products from the liver, and these can be detected for several weeks afterwards in blood ‘drug tests’.

Through proper clinical trials, researchers can prove whether a potential treatment is both effective and safe. This is the standard that all other medicines are held to, and it shouldn’t be any different for cannabinoids.

The cannabis plant contains over 100 different cannabinoids, but the most psychoactive is tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC, which potently activates CB1 receptors. The other main cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), isn’t psychoactive. In fact, it reduces the activation of both CB1 and 2 receptors.

Cannabinoids can be extracted from plants and purified. Different strains of the plant are bred for different purposes, and each contains a different proportion of the cannabinoids. Hemp, for example, is a sturdy fibre that’s been used in paper and clothes and is low in the psychoactive chemical THC. Cannabis plants used recreationally tend to have high THC. Cannabis is illegal in some places, while elsewhere it is legal for medicinal or recreational use. Scientific research is going on to see if it could benefit people with Huntington’s disease.

Do cannabinoids improve Huntington’s disease?

Scientists around the world have been studying their effects in Huntington’s disease. Most work has been done in cells grown in the lab, or in animals bred to have the disease-causing gene. Some research suggests that CB1-targeting chemicals may protect cells against toxins. In the brains of Huntington’s mice, CB1 receptor levels have been found to be reduced and CB2 levels are increased. Loss of CB1 receptors may be involved in some symptoms of the disease, because Huntington’s mice that lack the CB1 receptor tend to have worse movement control. The increase in CB2 receptors may be one of the body’s ways of dealing with HD. This theory is strengthened by research showing that mice treated with CB2-targeting chemicals have less nerve cell death – possibly because this calms down the immune system in the brain.

These results in cells and animals are encouraging, but humans are a lot more complex. Bitter experience has taught us that very often results can be inconsistent, or even completely different, when therapies are scaled up for use in humans. Unfortunately, no cannabinoids have translated into effective treatments in people with Huntington’s disease yet. Several clinical trials with cannabis extracts or synthetic cannabinoids didn’t reduce the abnormal movements, like chorea, or affect the course of the disease.

But this video on the internet shows cannabis works for HD!

Proper clinical trials, with ‘blinded’ and ‘placebo-controlled’ designs, are how to find out whether a drug really works.

Searching the internet, you’ll find several videos and news stories suggesting people’s Huntington’s disease has been reversed by cannabis. We’re very pleased that these individual patients have found something that works for them.

But unfortunately, these anecdotes aren’t scientific evidence. Based on these brief snapshots, it’s impossible to tell whether they have actually improved overall. Huntington’s symptoms naturally vary, and are influenced by many factors, like sleep and infections. We don’t know about these patients’ genetic mutations, the stage of their disease or what other medications they’re taking. We also have to bear in mind the powerful placebo effect of therapies like this, where a significant proportion of people are known to improve because they believe strongly in a treatment, rather than because of any properties of the drug itself. There’s also a strong bias in mainstream and social media towards the publication of success stories like these, but nobody writes about all the people who tried cannabis and didn’t improve, or felt worse afterwards.

Through proper clinical trials, researchers can prove whether a potential treatment is both effective and safe. This is the standard that all other medicines are held to, and it shouldn’t be any different for cannabinoids.

Claims that there’s a solid body of evidence supporting the use of cannabinoids in Huntington’s disease are highly misleading, and there’s certainly no evidence that they can cure or reverse the disease. However, it’s also worth remembering that there are several exciting potential drugs being trialled around the world right now that hold great promise. Cannabinoids are just a small part of the big picture, and real progress is being made in understanding and treating Huntington’s disease.

But where’s the harm in it?

There currently aren’t any treatments capable of curing Huntington’s disease, so some might think sufferers have nothing to lose from trying alternative therapies. However, there are risks.

Right now there is no evidence to show that cannabinoids work in Huntington’s disease, for symptoms or slowing down progression.

The natural world is chock-full of potential treatments for all manner of diseases. Aspirin, penicillin and even some cancer drugs were purified from natural sources. But even drugs from natural sources can be harmful. Recreational cannabis use is known to carry a risk of psychosis, and medical cannabinoids can also cause sedation, anxiety, depression, dizziness, and nausea. They can interact with other medicines like antihistamines and antidepressants. Trials in multiple sclerosis have also raised a possible risk of epilepsy. These aren’t reasons to stop studying cannabinoids as a potential therapy for Huntington’s, but they do mean we should be very careful and ideally study them in properly monitored clinical trials.

Letting the smoke clear

Right now there is no evidence to show that cannabinoids work in Huntington’s disease, for symptoms or slowing down progression. That doesn’t negate anyone’s personal experience, but it does mean that individual anecdotes or videos need to be interpreted with healthy caution – especially when the people making the claims are the people who stand to make profit from the ‘cure’.

The research community hopes that cannabinoids will be shown to be effective and safe enough to be able to prescribe, but we don’t have the evidence to make that decision yet. Whilst cannabinoid research is telling us a lot about the biology of Huntington’s disease, it’s certainly not the only avenue under investigation, and exciting trials in other treatments may change the playing field in the not-too-distant future. The best way to fight Huntington’s disease is through rigorous scientific research to develop treatments that are effective, reliable and safe.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. For more information about our disclosure policy see our FAQ.