The Best Marijuana Strains for ADHD [Busting the Myths]
With many states now allowing patients to access medical marijuana, and others even permitting recreational use, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Well-meaning proponents of cannabis report that particular strains have helped their symptoms for all manner of conditions.
Sadly, there is little research on marijuana for medicinal use. Only a handful of medical conditions have been studied, so it can be difficult to know which conditions marijuana could help.
One such condition that is often left out is ADHD. Some cannabis users report that cannabis has helped to manage the condition, leading to various lists on the internet declaring the best strains for ADHD. However, it’s crucial to note that cannabis cannot cure ADHD.
That said, there is a ray of hope. Cannabis strains produce different effects, and there are hundreds of strains in the world today. Many of them, particularly high-CBD strains, may heighten focus and help those with ADHD get through their daily tasks.
It’s vital to note that cannabis strains affect everyone differently, and so a focus-enhancing strain for one user might be an anxiety-inducing strain for another. Generally, high-CBD strains are the safest bet.
Next, we explore an overview of ADHD; then, we’ll provide a list of five strains that users report as focus-enhancers.
What Is ADHD?
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, also called ADHD, is a behavioral disorder. It’s characterized by impulsive behavior, inattentiveness, and hyperactivity. In most cases, those with the condition are diagnosed between the ages of 6 and 12; ADHD becomes most noticeable when children are in school.
For some children, the symptoms improve with age. However, others experience ADHD well into adulthood. The symptoms may also cause effects such as anxiety and trouble sleeping.
ADHD can make it difficult to function normally. Impulsivity and inattention can make it impossible to get through a list of chores. This is why marijuana strains that help focus could be of some use.
Current non-pharmacologic treatments revolve around educational support and advice. These tools are directed at both the children affected and their parents. Progressing into adulthood, grown-ups with ADHD may be offered cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as a way to manage some of the symptoms. Also, some medications can help increase focus; many of them are stimulants.
What Causes ADHD?
The precise causes of ADHD are unknown. Research is ongoing, and experts have identified several risk factors that may contribute to the onset of ADHD. These include:
- Premature birth (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
- Low birth weight (considered to be 5 lbs or less)
- Smoking, alcohol use, or drug abuse during pregnancy
These are not the only factors, and none of these will necessarily lead to ADHD. The condition can occur in people with any intellectual ability but may be more common in those who suffer from learning difficulties.
ADHD symptoms fall into two categories:
- Hyperactivity and impulsiveness
Most people with ADHD experience both of these problems, but some sufferers may exhibit just one type of behavioral problems.
Inattentiveness involves a short attention span that can lead to being easily distracted, forgetful, or having difficulty organizing or staying focused.
Hyperactivity involves fidgeting and being unable to sit still, excessive physical movements or talking, and acting without thinking. As a result, those with hyperactivity may find themselves being impatient and unable to wait their turn, interrupting conversations, and becoming irritable. Furthermore, sufferers with hyperactivity and impulsiveness may have little or no sense of danger, which can become a concern.
The symptoms of ADHD can have numerous knock-on effects. Not only may it be difficult to work effectively, but it can also lead to social problems, anxiety, and trouble sleeping.
As mentioned above, cognitive behavioral therapy or medications may help. Both of these things can target specific problem areas. In the section below, we outline five marijuana strains that might help increase focus.
[DISCLAIMER: Cannabis strains affect everyone differently, and there is no guarantee that any of these strains will help you with your ADHD.]
Best Strains for ADHD: Strains That Help You Focus
You may have seen other guides outlining the best weed strains for ADHD. However, it’s vital to be aware that there is no scientific evidence cannabis can help those with ADHD. All we have to go on are anecdotal stories that describe how some who struggle with ADHD have found solace in cannabis.
Technically speaking, you could use certain strains to target specific symptoms. For example, some strains are renowned for causing sleepiness, so if you have trouble sleeping, these strains could be ideal. Others reduce anxiety and increase calm, which could be necessary for those who experience social anxiety as a result of ADHD.
In this guide, we examine marijuana strains for ADHD that could improve focus. However, these strains can affect users very differently. If you’re looking for a safe bet, opt for a high-CBD strain like ACDC (#2). If you do select a THC-heavy strain, make sure you go low and slow until you know how it will affect you.
Remember, there is no guarantee that any of these strains will help. And even if they do, they will not cure ADHD. Nevertheless, we hope this guide is helpful.
#1 – Sour Diesel
- Flavors: Diesel, citrus, skunk
- Effects: Increases creativity, uplifts mood, may improve focus.
- Cannabinoid Profile: 22% THC | 0% CBD
The Sour Diesel strain is perhaps one of the most famous marijuana strains in the world. It has been likened to a shot of espresso due to the burst of energy it provides – some users say it’s a better morning pick-me-up than a cup of coffee!
Even if you’re not struggling for energy, Sour Diesel offers mood-boosting positivity and a beautiful wave of creativity. Therefore, if you have some creative tasks to accomplish, Sour Diesel might be the strain for you!
Users of this strain adore Sour Diesel for its multi-purpose effects. You get to enjoy uplifting energy, creativity, and focus all rolled into one. While Sour Diesel isn’t the most focus-enhancing strain around, it allows you to get on with your day just fine with a slight buzz in the back of your head thanks to the sativa-dominant effects.
With a THC content reaching up to 26%, Sour Diesel is not a strain to mess around with. Make sure you go low and slow; a little goes a long way with this strain. Take too much, and you could find yourself much too euphoric to achieve anything.
#2 – ACDC
- Flavors: Spicy, citrus, sweet
- Effects: Improves focus, uplifts mood
- Cannabinoid Profile: 0.85% THC | 20% CBD
The current cannabis market is flooded with high-THC strains that aim to get users intoxicated. But this isn’t what everyone wants. Medical cannabis users, in particular, want to use strains that will help them without leaving them locked to the couch.
Enter ACDC. The ACDC strain is renowned for turning the tables – this strain has a high CBD content, but barely any THC to speak of. As a result, you can take ACDC without becoming intoxicated, allowing you to experience the effects that you desire without ruining your schedule.
One of the most-reported effects of ACDC is heightened focus. Users say that they feel happier, uplifted, and focused. It may be the perfect strain for ADHD sufferers experiencing a low mood as a result of their condition. ACDC can uplift you while also ensuring you get on with the task at hand.
Worth noting, however, is that users also say the effects are subtle. You might not notice anything drastic after taking ACDC, and that’s part of its charm.
#3 – Cannatonic
- Flavors: Citrus, pine, sour
- Effects: Uplifting, relaxing, improves focus for some.
- Cannabinoid Profile: 7% THC | 12% CBD
Cannatonic is another high-CBD strain, but this one features a little more THC than ACDC. The Cannatonic strain may provide a mild buzz on account of its THC content, which varies between 7% and 15%. However, it contains more CBD than most strains, at around 12%.
This unique cannabinoid profile makes it likely that users experience a mild head high, but without experiencing anxiety and paranoia. You may feel relaxed, but not so much so that you’ll experience couchlock. Several users have reported feeling more focused, too.
#4 – Harle-Tsu
- Flavors: Citrus, earthy, spicy
- Effects: Focus, relaxation
- Cannabinoid Profile: 1% THC | 10% CBD
Another one with a high CBD level, the Harle-Tsu strain, has significant amounts of CBD. While the average is about 10%, some samples have tested at 38.78% CBD! The ratio is about 20:1 CBD to THC, so you can rest assured that you aren’t likely to get intoxicated.
Harle-Tsu is said to provide a quick pick-me-up, all without causing a buzzy high. As a result, it gives you the energy and focus you require to complete your daily tasks. Please note, however, that if you take this strain in the evening, you may drift off into a deep sleep. As such, this strain is better enjoyed in the morning or early afternoon if you’re trying to get things done.
#5 – Zkittlez
- Flavors: Grape, strawberry
- Effects: Calm, euphoria, focus
- Cannabinoid Profile: 14% THC | 1% CBD
Unlike the other strains on this list, Zkittlez is a sweet one. The flavors it contains are strawberries, grapes, and other fruity flavors you might find in a bag of Skittles. It’s also another THC-heavy strain, although it contains 1% CBD as well.
You have to be careful with the Zkittlez strain. The THC content can overwhelm you if you take too much, leaving you spaced out and euphoric. If you’re trying to complete tasks, we recommend taking only a tiny amount of Zkittlez and seeing how you feel. Again, high-THC strains tend to be better for focusing on creative tasks rather than paperwork. If you’re attempting the latter, perhaps opt for a CBD strain instead.
Having problems staying focused and concentrated? Here's our review on the 5 best marijuana strains for ADHD symptoms and side effects.
Best Strains for ADHD
Home / Blog / Best Strains for ADHD
Best Strains for ADHD
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 10/06/2019 in Ailments and Conditions
Updated on August 26, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that can have a marked impact on mental health. It can affect memory, ability to focus on a specific task, and overall emotional well-being. Common symptoms, which are often first observed in childhood, include ongoing patterns of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. Children with ADHD often can’t seem to sit still in school, for example, or don’t seem to be paying attention.
In the United States, ADHD affects about 11% of all children between the ages of 4-17 years and nearly 5% of all adults. But contrary to some perceptions, ADHD is not a behavior problem, but a complex disorder that impairs the brain’s self-management system and executive functions.
Unfortunately, ADHD isn’t always something that you outgrow, and for at least one-third of children, it follows them into adulthood. The symptoms are similar, and manifest as problems managing time, being organized, maintaining structure in your life, or even holding down a job. In addition, ADHD can affect relationships, family life, and academic and career success. As many as 10 million adults living in the US have ADHD, which can also be associated with mental health issues such as depression, mood or conduct disorders and substance abuse.
The causes of ADHD remain unclear, although it does appear to run in families, suggesting a genetic origin. A head injury could trigger symptoms. Smoking, drinking alcohol or poor nutrition during pregnancy may also be linked to ADHD in the child. Some research suggests children exposed to tobacco smoke in the womb are 2.4 times as likely to have ADHD.
There isn’t a “one size fits all” when it comes to ADHD treatment, which, depending on a person’s age, can include medication, psychotherapy, education or training, or a combination of treatments. Many people rely on medications for ADHD, and there are dozens of drugs on the market, some of which have been in use for decades. But while these medications are effective, they can have side effects including weight loss, sleep problems, irritability, and appetite los. Not surprisingly, there is interest in alternative therapies for ADHD.
Interest in marijuana has grown as a potential treatment for ADHD, but research is really still in its formative stages. Anecdotally, individuals say marijuana does help them deal with their ADHD, minus the side effects of prescription drugs, but the scientific evidence is not there yet. A 2016 study conducted by researchers from Duke University of 268 ADHD-related internet threads, for example, found that a quarter included postings from a person stating that cannabis was effective for ADHD. Other views were mixed, including 8% of threads with a post saying it was harmful, 5% reporting mixed results, and 2% saying it had no effect.
The interest in cannabis as a remedy appears to be three-fold. Individuals with ADHD tend to have problems processing the brain neurotransmitter dopamine. Cannabinoids are believed to help correct dopamine deficiency if dosed correctly, and THC increases dopamine concentrations and activates dopamine neurons. A 2017 study conducted in the UK found that adults who used a cannabinoid medication experienced some relief in their hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms as compared to patients who used a placebo. The group using the cannabinoid medication also showed more appropriate inhibition of activity and better attention depth.
In its raw form, cannabis may be able to slow down the mental processes in people with ADHD, which in turn may allow for improved focus and concentration. It may also help relieve the side effects of stimulant drugs by reducing stress and nausea and improving appetite and sleep. Medical marijuana and stimulant medication may work synergistically, with the drugs helping with ADHD symptoms and cannabis easing drug side effects.
Even though there isn’t much research yet, anecdotally, users have pinpointed several strains said to help with common ADHD symptoms. These include:
Sour Diesel: One of the most popular cannabis strains, it is also known as known as Sour D, or Sour Deez, and contains 26% THC and 2% CBD. It is known for giving users an uplifting creative high and has been used for a broad range of medical conditions including anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue.
Green Crack: Another strain recommended for ADHD by users. With a THC content as high as 24%, this strain is also used to treat PTSD, migraines, and other health conditions.
Blue Dream: Users say this strain delivers a strong jolt of energy, leaving them focused and motivated. This strain is useful for easing ADHD medication side effects and can also help with chronic pain.
True OG: This lesser-known strain has a calming effect, allowing users to focus on simple tasks, and is also known for helping to relieve stress and reduce distraction.
About the author
Roxanne Nelson is a registered nurse who has written for a wide range of publications for healthcare professionals and consumers, including Medscape, The Lancet, Prevention, Scientific American, WebMD, American Journal of Nursing, Frontline, National Geographic, Hematology Adviser, American Journal of Medical Genetics and the Washington Post, among others.
Interest in marijuana has grown as a potential treatment for ADHD, but research is really still in its formative stages. However, more is being explored.