Delta 8 THC is a hemp-derived cannabinoid that’s been increasingly embraced by people with ADHD. It’s an isomer of delta 9 THC, but it’s just half as strong and tends to be uplifting and clarifying where delta 9 is more relaxing.
But despite delta 8’s beneficial effects and therapeutic potential for ADHD, it is still a psychoactive substance which needs to be used with care – it’s not a replacement for ADHD medications, and it may only be right in some situations.
So is delta 8 worth a try for ADHD? Is it safe? Can you take it with ADHD medications?
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and others to help you decide whether delta 8 is the right option for you.
What is ADHD?
ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It’s a mental disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. While ADHD typically begins when someone is a child, it often continues into adulthood, where it’s sometimes referred to as adult ADHD.
According to Mayo Clinic, ADHD is considered a chronic and debilitating disorder and is known to impact many areas of a person’s life, from their academic and professional careers to their interpersonal relationships and daily functioning.
Symptoms of ADHD in adults include:
- Disorganization and problems prioritizing
- Poor time management skills
- Problems focusing on a task
- Trouble multitasking
- Problems following through and completing tasks
- Excessive activity or restlessness
- Poor planning
- Low frustration tolerance
- Frequent mood swings
- Hot temper
- Trouble coping with stress
Common Treatments for ADHD
Medications for ADHD may include stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin, Focalin, etc.), non-stimulants (Strattera, Intuniv, etc.) and antidepressants (Wellbutrin, Effexor, etc.).
Medications are designed to address the things that many people with ADHD struggle with, such as focusing on something for an extended period of time. Stimulants, for example, boost focus by increasing the amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, in your brain.
In the realm of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and marital counseling/family therapy are the main areas of focus for those with ADHD.
Therapy is designed to help people with ADHD instill beneficial behaviors and reduce harmful behaviors. For example, therapy may help people with ADHD cultivate or reinforce their ability to listen and pay attention.
While medications and therapy are well-proven techniques for treating ADHD, natural supplements, such as delta 8 and other cannabinoids, may also have a place in helping manage ADHD, assuming they’re used properly.
What is Delta 8?
Delta 8 THC (or simply delta 8) stands for delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, a cannabinoid that naturally occurs in the hemp plant.
However, delta 8 is only found in hemp in tiny amounts, so it’s made synthetically from CBD (cannabidiol) for use in products.
Delta 8 is psychoactive and will get you high. However, it’s just half as strong as delta 9 THC (the psychoactive cannabinoid in most strains of weed).
It also differs from delta 9 in the feelings it produces; delta 8 tends to be energizing, uplifting, and mentally clarifying (while also rendering bodily relaxation), while delta 9 is relaxing, calming, and somewhat sedating.
Can Delta 8 Help With ADHD?
Anecdotal evidence suggests delta 8, due to its energizing and clarifying effects, may be beneficial for people with ADHD, particularly those struggling with motivation or focus.
However, delta 8, specifically, hasn’t been researched for ADHD, and there’s still a lot we need to learn about it before it can be considered a treatment. Nonetheless, the research is promising.
Studies on Cannabis for ADHD
Although the cannabis plant (called “hemp” when it contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight) has been researched for use with ADHD, these studies reference the benefits from delta 9 THC, due to its high natural abundance.
Since delta 8 has different effects, then, this research may seem irrelevant. But it’s not – If a study shows that delta 9 is promising for a given use case, delta 8 may likely render some of the same benefits. That said, let’s dive into the research.
One case report describing the experiences of three males, ages 18, 22, and 23, who integrated cannabis into their ADHD treatment regimen, found that this change led to positive results. Measures of depression, anxiety, regulation, and inattention all showed improvements following the introduction of cannabis.
In another study, scientists tested Sativex, an oral cannabis spray originally developed for people with multiple sclerosis, in people with ADHD.
Results were positive, with the study concluding, “adults with ADHD may represent a subgroup of individuals who experience a reduction of symptoms and no cognitive impairments following cannabinoid use.”
However, researchers also emphasize that caution is required when using the cannabis plant for ADHD.
One research review looked at many studies on cannabis and ADHD and acknowledged that, while cannabis may be beneficial for ADHD, people with ADHD are also prone to using cannabis in a harmful way due to their preexisting conditions.
This underscores the importance of using the hemp/cannabis plant with care.
Studies on Delta 8
No research has been done on using delta 8 THC, specifically, for ADHD. However, one research survey demonstrates the general therapeutic potential of this cannabinoid.
Researchers surveyed 500 people online about their delta 8 use. 71% reported relaxation, 68% reported euphoria, and 55% reported experiencing pain relief after using delta 8 products.
While not specific to ADHD, this survey shows that delta 8 has beneficial effects for the majority of people who use it. There are major concerns about the safety of delta 8; this survey shows that with good-quality products and proper usage, this cannabinoid tends to help people, not hurt them.
In combination with the above research on the benefits of cannabis, as well as anecdotal evidence about delta 8’s effects, it’s clear that delta 8 may render therapeutic benefits for those with ADHD.
Potential Benefits of Delta 8 for ADHD
Now that you’ve got a feel for the scientific research in support of using the hemp plant for ADHD, let’s look at the specific ways delta 8 can help.
Delta 8 Promotes Relaxation and Euphoria
A common symptom of ADHD is hyperactivity — in children, this symptom manifests itself as moving around a lot, but in adults, it may simply be feelings of restlessness.
Delta 8 may help with these feelings by promoting relaxation and euphoria without reducing your energy levels or being sedating as stronger cannabinoids often are.
Delta 8 May Promote Focus
Although no research has been done on delta 8’s mentally clarifying effects, many people report that it helps improve focus.
At the very least, delta 8 may take the edge off of things and help you to be more in the present.
Delta 8 Provides a Lighter Alternative to Delta 9 for ADHD
While delta 9 promotes deep relaxation, which has led many people to use it for ADHD-induced hyperactivity, it also has potentially sedating effects.
This means that while delta 9 may help in some areas, it makes it harder to focus.
If you have work or other similar obligations, this isn’t an option. This is where delta 8 comes in – it provides many of the same relaxing benefits, but it’s mentally uplifting, rather than sedating.
Anecdotal evidence suggests delta 8 may energize you, but that energy will be channeled, rather than scattered.
Delta 8 May Reduce Reliance on ADHD Medications
Given that some ADHD medications (e.g. Adderall) have many downsides, you might be eager to reduce the amount of them that you’re taking – or, completely replace them.
Due to its therapeutic benefits for ADHD, delta 8 may provide an alternative to ADHD medications. However, this has not been researched, and you should not attempt it without first consulting your doctor.
Delta 8 is by no means a direct replacement for prescription medications, and it may not be right for everyone — exercising care is critical to using it well.
Side Effects of Delta 8 for ADHD
Although delta 8 has many beneficial effects, it may also cause some adverse side effects:
- Loss of consciousness
- Tachychardia (raised heart rate)
- Difficulty with short-term memory
Delta 8 is very effective if used properly, but may exacerbate, rather than reduce, ADHD symptoms if taken in the wrong doses.
Delta 8 for ADHD: Dosage
If you’re already using ADHD prescriptions, we recommend speaking to a doctor before using delta 8. They’ll be able to advise you on how much you should take, and if it’s the right option in the first place.
Barring that, we recommend starting with a low-strength dosage of delta 8 for ADHD, which you can calculate using the following formula:
(0.05) x (your body weight in lbs.) = your daily delta 8 dosage for ADHD in mg.
Once you’ve used this dose a few times, gradually adjust it up or down depending on how it’s working for you.
How to Use Delta 8 Safely for ADHD (Read This First)
While delta 8 has many potential benefits for ADHD, it needs to be used with care to ensure that it’s beneficial — remember, it’s a psychoactive substance. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Talk to Your Doctor First
Your doctor will be able to assess whether delta 8 would be beneficial or detrimental to your situation, and they can give you advice on how much to use and how to use it alongside ADHD prescriptions if you’re on them.
Understand Drug Interactions Between Delta 8 and ADHD Medication
Although delta 8 and ADHD medications may be used on separate days, you should not combine the two. Doing so can result in adverse effects, which vary depending on the drug.
For example, Ritalin is a drug commonly prescribed for ADHD. It’s a stimulant — as is delta 8. Combining two stimulants may cause overstimulation, and may strain the heart.
Studies also show that cannabis may reduce the benefits of stimulants, so this combination isn’t particularly beneficial, in addition to being potentially unsafe.
The bottom line: if you’re using any ADHD prescriptions, please check with your doctor before bringing delta 8 into the picture.
Start Low and Slow
Starting out, delta 8 is most helpful for ADHD in small doses. Be sure to listen to your body (and your doctor) as you adjust your delta 8 dose up or down — this will ensure you get the most benefits with the fewest downsides.
Delta 8 for ADHD: Best Types of Products
There are many different ways you can take delta 8 (you know this if you’ve shopped for it!).
In this section, we’ll explore each and discuss how it may be helpful for ADHD.
- Bioavailability — The percentage of the cannabinoids you consume that your body can actually use. Your body naturally discards some percentage of substances you consume; how much is partially determined by how you consume a substance.
- Onset time — The time it will take for you to begin feeling the effects of delta 8 from a given product.
Delta 8 Edibles
Average Bioavailability: 10-20%
Onset Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Delta 8 edibles, the most popular type being gummies, provide an easy way to make sure you’re taking the same dose of delta 8 each time. Gummies are great because their fixed-dose format allows you to build a routine out of taking delta 8, which helps you stay organized.
Delta 8 gummies can also be split into smaller pieces if you need an amount below what your product allows for in one piece.
Delta 8 Flower & Vapes
Average Bioavailability: 40-50%
Onset Time: 5-10 minutes
Delta 8 inhalables, such as flower and vapes, have both a major upside and major downside.
The upside is that vapes, in particular, make it easy to take small amounts of delta 8 throughout the day — this is helpful if you just need a small dose to manage sensations as they creep up at work or in other scenarios.
As you can see above, inhalable delta 8 products begin working in just 5 to 10 minutes, so they’re a great “quick fix” for the abovementioned sensations.
The downside is that, as you probably already know, vaping or smoking anything poses a health risk to your lungs, cardiovascular system, and body at large.
Delta 8 Capsules
Average Bioavailability: 10-20%
Onset Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Delta 8 capsules offer an alternative to gummies — they have the same bioavailability and onset time, and they, too, offer a fixed-dose format.
Capsules are a good option if you’re already taking other supplements or medications in pill or capsule form and want to extend this routine to delta 8.
Delta 8 Oils/Tinctures
Average Bioavailability: 20-30%
Onset Time: 10-20 minutes
Delta 8 oils (also sometimes called tinctures) are taken under the tongue. This allows the cannabinoids to be absorbed through the blood vessels in your mouth, instead of being swallowed and digested, resulting in a higher bioavailability and shorter onset.
Apart from their potency and onset benefits, delta 8 oils is that you can customize your dose down to the drop. This makes them a great option if you’re going to be taking different-sized doses or frequently altering the amount of delta 8 you’re using.
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Conclusion: Is Delta 8 Right For You?
Anecdotal evidence, as well as some research, shows the cannabis/hemp plant has therapeutic potential for ADHD. Delta 8, in particular, may promote uplifting, energizing, and clarifying benefits in a combination that delta 9 doesn’t, making it beneficial for people with ADHD.
However, remember that delta 8, specifically, hasn’t been researched for ADHD, and cannabis isn’t a proven treatment for this condition. While hemp-derived cannabinoids are worth trying, they should be used with care and under the supervision of a doctor.
Delta 8 for ADHD: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions our customers frequently ask us about using delta 8 for ADHD.
What strain is good for ADHD?
Sativa cannabis strains are better for ADHD than indica strains, as they may promote focus and mental clarity. Good strains for ADHD include Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, and Green Crack.
Does delta 8 make you more focused?
Although no research has been done on the benefits of delta 8 for focus, anecdotal evidence suggests this cannabinoid promotes mental clarity.
Does delta 8 affect dopamine?
Delta 8, as with most other cannabinoids, promotes the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Does delta 8 affect cognitive function?
As delta 8 is a psychoactive cannabinoid, it will get you high and may temporarily hinder cognitive function. However, compared to delta 9 THC, the cannabinoid prominent in cannabis, its effects on cognitive function are relatively small.