What is cannabis and CBD oil, and what are their benefits for focus and attention span?
Cannabis is a plant known as dioecious (male and female) that is made up of more than 500 different chemical compounds that all work together in balance with one another. These compounds are biologically active and consist of phytocannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids. These chemical compounds result in different effects as they interact with the brain and body chemistry. CBD is in the cannabis plant along with other forms of CBD but it is primarily derived from the Hemp plant. Hemp is the male form of cannabis and has very little THC which is the psychoactive component of cannabis. Hemp is the industrial form of cannabis and became legal with the Farm Bill of 2014. The issue with industrial hemp CBD is that it is unregulated and is not as effective as medicine as the CBD from the cannabis plant. Just "buyer beware" if you are getting your CBD from the corner gas station!
When a person has ADHD, there is a dysfunction in the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Each of these transmitters and the subsequent deficiency of them will result in the presentation of ADHD. There are 3 types:
- Predominately inattentive - norepinephrine helps with alertness, attention and memory. A deficit of norephinephrine will result in inattentiveness (ie., daydreaming, squirrel moments, etc)
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsivity - dopamine deficiency is the problem here as it sends the brain messages to plan, problem-solve and pay attention
- Combined - all of the above and serotonin deficiency which would be seen as a loss of impulse control and aggression (think wide range of mood swings)
A person with ADHD may have problems regulating attention, emotions, impulsiveness and control of activity. It can present in childhood or as an adult and can actually change from one presentation to another. There may also be other issues like anxiety, depression and substance use disorders.
CBD and Cannabis can be a benefit to the adult with ADHD as it is addressing an endocannabinoid deficiency. There is evidence that one of the endocannabinoids, Ananadamide, is inadequately broken down leading to deficiency so using the phytocannabinoids of THC and CBD helps with regulation of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and reverses endocannabinoid deficiency.
Another benefit of using plant medicine instead of stimulant prescription meds is you won't experience the jitters you can get with the stimulant approach.
How to use Cannabis or CBD oil to improve focus and concentration
This is not a one size fits all formula. People are different, neurotransmitters are affected differently from person to person, and there may or may not be an endocannabinoid deficiency. The other thing to consider is if you are in menopause, you have less estrogen which would normally help regulate dopamine.
As with any CBD or cannabis use starting low and going slow is the best advise.
- Microdoses under 2.5 mg of THC or equal portions of THC and CBD in the same microdose is best to start.
- Drops of oil under the tongue are readily absorbed and have a fairly quick onset of action.
- If you choose an edible - realize this will take 1-3 hours to take effect so it's really not recommended to address issues with focus.
- smoking or vaporizing (dry herb vaporizer please) is easiest to titrate (increase the effective dose) but take care not to use too much
The potential risks associated with using cannabis or CBD oil for focus
The biggest concern is using too much! Or, if you choose the wrong chemovar you may actually end up napping instead of completing a task.
Which type of cannabis or CBD oil is best for improving
- There are two varieties of cannabis plants and you can tell the difference by leaf size and plant size. Narrow leafed plants are known as sativa and these plants are the varieties that will help with focus.
- Look for terpenes like pinene or beta-caryophyllene and low amounts (<0.5%) myrcene
- if you feel hyperactive terpenes like linalool or a little higher dose of myrcene will help with calming
- Pure CBD from a reputable company like Rare Cannabinoids or Nuvita can help with concentration. If you want to try Rare Cannabinoids, I can help you with that.
- specific chemovars to consider: Cookies, Blue Dream, Neville's Haze all at low doses