Neurodivergent cannabis studies are on the rise with these exciting results
More than ever, people are realizing the medical potential of cannabis. Research from the last year uncovered possibilities like reversing hair loss, repairing bone fractures, and more. However, neurodivergent cannabis studies are few and far between, though more researchers are showing interest.
Autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, hyperlexia, Tourette’s syndrome, synesthesia, Down syndrome, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and depression are now categorized as neurodivergence.
With the prevalence of neurodivergence and the growing access to cannabis, a few researchers have taken the reins on this research. The latest updates include preliminary results on a Neurodivergent Cannabis Study and an update on ADHD and cannabis from the U.K.
Here’s what we’ve learned.
The Neurodivergent Cannabis Survey opens new doors
Pharmaceutical scientist and endocannabinoid expert Miyabe Shields, Ph.D., is well known for their viral cannabis science content on social media. They continue to make waves with the Neurodivergent Cannabis Survey, a preliminary study that has only grown since its initial launch.
The survey uncovered new understandings that were undissected by the scientific community before now. Dr. Shields received over 2,000 responses from people all over the spectrum in 24 hours, showing that 86.9 percent of neurodivergent respondents have complex issues that may overlap, such as mental health, chronic pain, and GI disorders, according to a LinkedIn data share from the cannabinoid scientist.
“There is a huge overlap in neurodivergence and cannabis,” Dr. Shields said to GreenState in an email, “It’s clear that we can receive unique therapeutic effects and that we often have complex, overlapping conditions that cannabis can help in through different mechanisms.”
The top reasons for consuming were the same between neurodiverse and neurotypical participants: pain, sleep, and anxiety.
Among neurodiverse respondents alone, mood regulation (37 percent), emotional processing (53 percent), productivity (60 percent), and decreasing pharmaceuticals (63 percent) were prevalent reasons to consume.
Following the success of the study, Dr. Shields co-founded the nonprofit Network of Applied Pharmacognosy with fellow self-proclaimed stoner scientist Dr. Riley Kirk.
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Their first study will continue upon these preliminary results, covering neurodivergent cannabis consumption–and 5,000 participants are already signed up (but their goal is 10,000).
About 71 percent of the cohort reports daily consumption, and Dr. Shields wants to hone in on the heavy, daily consumers—a.k.a. “High-needs”.
“We plan on expanding upon this study over the next year to further delve into “The Stoner Neurotype” and look into unique benefits and advocate for high-needs medical cannabis patients,” Dr. Shields concluded.
Over the pond, the exploration continues with a research team diving into cannabis for ADHD.
ADHD quality of life impacted by cannabis
Researchers studied measurable changes in health, function, and quality of life for patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for what they believe to be the first time. The study hopes to highlight the potential benefits of cannabis as an alternative treatment to medications commonly prescribed to treat ADHD, as many of them are stimulants that bring a slew of adverse side effects like sleep issues.
Participants reported to researchers on their well-being, adverse events, and general vibes after one, three, six, and 12 months of consuming cannabis as prescribed. There were participants on other ADHD medications, and some stopped taking those during the trial, but not all.
Prescribed cannabis methods included inhaled dry flower (55.88 percent), sublingual oil with THC and CBD (5.8 percent), and a combination of both (38.24 percent). Curaleaf provided all of the products. Patients consumed an average of 208.75 mg of THC and 15mg of CBD daily.
The research team is made up of medical doctors, one of whom is the CMO of cannabis giant Curaleaf. Otherwise, no conflict of interest was reported. There was also a limitation of gender, as 81 percent of participants identified as male. This correlates with a longstanding trend of neurodivergent women going undiagnosed.
There were some adverse events, but 89 percent of the undesirable experiences came from 16 percent of the cohort. No disabling or life-threatening instances were reported, and no one consumption method was responsible. Unsurprisingly, drowsiness, dry mouth, and insomnia were the most commonly reported issues.
Overall, findings showed an increased quality of life, better sleep, and less intense anxiety for cannabis-prescribed ADHD patients. Researchers noted that DSM-5 ADHD symptoms like emotional regulation and medication-related sleep issues abated on the prescribed weed regimen.
Though exciting, these results are considered preliminary as no causal relationship was determined. This research does provide a foundation for further study as a comparison note and launchpoint.
Neurodivergent people and cannabis
The possibilities of cannabis for neurodivergence are exciting, but many studies are in the early stages. These updates are a great foundation to engage more scientists with the cause and hopefully gain some clinical data on how weed might increase the quality of life for neurodivergent people. If Dr. Shields’ research showed anything, it’s that people are already exploring the possibilities on their own.