“Adult patients with ADHD commonly report an improvement in behavioural symptoms when using cannabis with some reporting a preference towards cannabis over their ADHD stimulant medication.”
The above quote is the premise behind the most recent and exciting development in this field, which is a pilot study of the primary cannabinoids THC and CBD (in Sativex
spray) to treat ADHD symptoms currently under way at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College in London. The research is being conducted by Professor of Molecular Psychiatry Philip Asherson with the help of research assistants Emma
Williams and Ruth Cooper.
It is a small pilot study of 30 individuals with ADHD who are not regular cannabis users. They will stop all other medication during the course of treatment and will only be included if they have significant levels of
ADHD symptoms. They are randomised to Sativex or placebo for a period of 6-weeks, with titration over the first 2-weeks and then maintain a stable dose for the next 4-weeks (based on the number of sprays per day up to a maximum of 14).
That study will
- ADHD symptoms (CAARS)
- emotional dysregulation (WRAADS)
- mind excessively wandering scale (MEWS) (not yet published)
- Weiss functional impairment scale
- Then also QBTest for cognitive performance on attention/inhibition
"Sativex is cannabis."
David Bearman MD (USA, 2014)
The first participant started in
July 2014 and the researchers expect to complete the study in June, 2015. The blinding is very strict so no data will be generated until the last person has completed all data.
If the researchers get interesting findings they will use those for
a grant proposal for a further study of cannabis in ADHD – perhaps looking at the effects on cognitive and brain function in more detail, in addition to ADHD symptoms and impairments; or an early phase clinical trial.
At the time of this writing
there were still a handful of opportunities for adults with ADHD to join the study, so if you are interested please contact them. To participate you would need to be living in the UK. You would also need to travel to an assessment in London on two occasions
and be available for reviews by telephone during the titration process.
The significance of this study is monumental, as Sativex is cannabis so studies of either drug have significant bearing for the other.
"The effects of Sativex and cannabis will be very similar. In other words, if there is absolutely no effect when using Sativex (or cannabis) then there will also be no effect when using the other
substance. However, it might be that one of the drugs is more effective than the other or better tolerated. In addition, there may be differences depending on the route of administration."
Dr. Kirsten Müller-Vahl, Specialist in Neurology and Psychiatry, Medical Director of the Department of Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Hannover Medical School, and board member of the International Association of Cannabinoid Medicines
(IACM). (Germany, 2014)