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Toking Up to Treat ADD

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Which side do you fall on this debate: smoke it or don't take the toke?

Toking Up to Treat ADD

Ronda Kaysen: Marie Myung-Ok Lee evoked the ire of momlogic readers when she told us that she treated her son's autism with marijuana. It turns out she's not the only mom helping her kid toke up for his health. According to the New York Times, California doctors are doling out pot to teenage patients with Attention Deficit Disorder, claiming that the reefer really works.

"It's not everybody's medicine, but for some, it can make a profound difference," Valerie Corral, a founder of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a patients' collective in Santa Cruz, told the Times. Their collective has 24 minors as registered clients.

A parent must accompany the teenage client when he turns up at a marijuana dispensary. And some say that parents are willing to go along with the plan so that their kids won't simply turn around and buy the pot illegally on the street.

Advocates insist marijuana is immensely helpful for kids with ADD, saying it alleviates symptoms like anxiety and anger. But critics are not too happy about the latest medical marijuana clientele.

"How many ways can one say 'one of the worst ideas of all time?'" Stephen Hinshaw, the chairman of the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Times. After all, marijuana disrupts attention, memory, and concentration, three problem areas for people with ADD.

You've got to wonder if pot really is the right way to go when it comes to treating someone who already suffers from an inability to focus on the right tasks at the right time. It seems like marijuana would not have the desired effect. Since the author of the story didn't interview any teens or their parents, it's hard to know whether kids with ADD really think that pot is working for them.



next: Jury Duty: Leave the Kids Home Alone?
23 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley December 3, 2009, 5:50 AM

I will say this, my husband has adhd and I know and his mother will tell you that marijuana has calmed him down and evened him out more that any medication he has ever been on. He has a felony on his record because of it though!!

Wendi December 3, 2009, 6:04 AM

I am totally for it! I really believe that it can help some children. Do I think that it will help ALL of them, no way. But why would you not try something this simple. I would much rather have my kid on pot since I know what it does, than have them on some man made chemical drug that has major side effects. Had I thought of trying pot, I would have done it with my step son when nothing else was working. If it works for you, good for you for stepping out and taking a chance.

maria December 3, 2009, 6:12 AM

What??? my son was told in 1st grade by his doctor that he had add so should I have let my 5 year old start smoking pot? My husband and I decided against any medicine and have modified his diet and done behavior therapy which has all helped him. There is no way I would let my child start smoking pot as a child. Now that he’s 14, I’m sure that smoking pot would eleminate his big ole’ teenager attitude too. Maybe that should be the next claim to justify having my child smoke pot.

Concerned Parent December 3, 2009, 6:48 AM

I’m blessed to have three healthy children, and, having worked with troubled children and teenagers for the first half of my working life, I would hesitate to tell a parent to not do something that they see working for their child. Marijuana might or might not be of medical benefit for ADD or similar health issues, but I’m pretty sure that jail is worse that marijuana. Let’s not be too hasty to judge harshly these parents who are clearly trying to find something that works in a difficult situation, and let’s definitely not put parents or children in jail for something that they and their doctor agree on as therapy.

Sara December 3, 2009, 6:56 AM

Not sure how being stoned is going to help a child be productive at school.

Anonymous December 3, 2009, 7:17 AM

I smoked a lot of pot during my high school years (just for fun) and I can tell you that it never increase my abilities to do anything except chilling back and eating. Then once I came down, I only wanted to sleep. So I can see how this might help parents at home (kids would just leave you alone after getting high) but how can this help in school. Will the kids be able to take a smoke break a couple of times during the day so they can stay high? Sorry but this just doesn’t make sense.

Rob G December 3, 2009, 9:10 AM

Considering how easy it is to fake ADD symptoms I can’t help but wonder if there won’t be a huge surge in people faking it just so that they can get legal marijuana prescriptions. As far as it helping, I don’t have a clue if it would. Having smoked pot myself quite a bit when I was younger though, I’m somewhat skeptical on how much more functional people with ADD will be when they’re high.

Adam December 3, 2009, 3:31 PM

So according to Prof. Hinshaw we should treat a disease based upon the symptoms that the patient experiences and the side effects of the medicine. Brilliant logic. Imagine if a doctor told you that we should treat the flu and bacterial meningitis with the same medicine because the symptoms are similar, i.e. fever and fatigue, and that the prescribed medicine takes care of both. That would be ridiculous. Without understanding the underlying biological mechanisms behind the disease and the way that a medicine will affect the tissue or organ systems involved in the disease, playing doctor and treating a patient is effectively a guessing game. But that’s exactly what most psychiatrists like to do. Play doctor. Try taking some neuroscience courses fool.

Mike December 3, 2009, 7:21 PM

the only thing which might be of harm to children under 16 or so who chose to smoke cannabis, well besides the chemicals that can be used to grow it, would be that they would question authority. Something which we all should do, instead of believing that a plant, a weed is the death of society. While real crimes go unpunished, a plant with ten thousand or more uses which would cut down on polltion is still considered a crime to possess.

Not only should kids smoke cannabis, they should be involved in caring for a growing garden of it.

MeAgain December 3, 2009, 10:10 PM

Great story the writer is a superlative dullard. In fact implying that these mothers let their children smoke cannabis is quite a fabrication sir. The story is over a week old and everyone has seen these women interviewed on TV. We know that none of these gals endorsed toking pot, that point being made, each women either used cannabis in an extract form or in brownies and that’s a fact. Some of us make our living in sub diversion cultural engineering so don’t be a naughty reporter and keep the sub level opinions out of your writing please.

If I cared to understand. December 4, 2009, 2:15 AM

Someone commented that neuroscience was seldom used in psychiatry. Must of modern medicine bases its dogma on pseudoscience, scientific sounding, but not scientifically sound theories, and not in fact evidence. They site “evidence” when what they mean to say is statistical (though incomplete) data, they say “conclusion” instead of “theory”. Such “proof” never mind almost always being some form of conflict of interest is usually adequate for regulatory approval of drugs.

First of neither fish oil, flaxseed oil, hempseed oil, or hemp flower, or algal products are nutrients, substances that allow the normal functioning of body systems, they are called foods.

Stimulants on the other hand including caffeine, amphetamine (dexedrine, adderal, methamphetamine) methylphenidate (ritalin) are quite harsh to the body and nerve cells. They function by squeezing the body’s energy out too fast and in an unnatural way. There are very serious risks associated with chronic stimulant consumption, for example: heart problems, weight problems, nerve damage, oxidative stress, organ failure, wasting of organs and muscles, bone loss, kidney problems, liver problems, immune dysfunction, worsening of auto-immune diseases. There is a very long list, look up what happens to meth users if you have trouble finding other thorough sources, since it is generally among the public considered bad, there is no shortage of negative information about it. Amphetamine is however harsher to the body than methamphetamine, but is less effective as a psycho stimulant.

Note: Street speed is usually at a very maximum only 5-10% purity, so infact the dosage is comparable to what a child is being given.

Cannabis can not harm your child.

If you recall every trying cannabis, or perhaps have seen people using it, you should be reminded that a child taking a medication whether it is stimulants or cannabis is not going to act the same way for example that someone who is irresponsible acts you by the way happens to choose to take some drugs even if it is the same drugs the kids are taking for medicine. The intention is very different. You people who were trying to defy everything put before you, didn’t understand anything else. It is not fair to put your prejudices about cannabis before scientifically understanding the mechanisms at work.
Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids, Arichidonylethanolamine, 2-Arachidonyl Glycerol, THC, CBD, Phospholipids, Acetylcholine, the metabolic pathways involved with Methylation, Amino-Acids Role in formation of nerve chemicals, Insulin and its different roles relating to Protein Glucose Fructose Carbohydrates Fibre, Minerals as Ion regulating cell function, naturally occurring enzymes. Look at what cannabis does, it encourages new cell growth and new nerve cell growth and heals dysfunctional cells, it stabilizes restores and re-balances cell membrane ion currents, it protects against essential fatty acid breakdown or wasting this means it preserves things like DHA in the cells of the nervous system and throughout the body and organs, DHA makes up a major portion of brain and eye and nerve tissue. Cannabis is also the least toxic of any antioxidant, it is nearly impossible to take too much and have it result in an injury to the person.

Theres a lot more, but I have a feeling, you are just getting interested enough to find out the truth for your self so I’ll sum it up with some important points to keep in mind.

Cannabis helps the body be able to metabolize energy correctly in all cells including the nervous system as well as everywhere else in the body, it will there be quite likely that you will notice what most people assume being stoned is when you either first start or take too much at once. This is much less likely with smaller staggered doses to begin with. Also a higher amount of vegetable protein as well as adequate normal antioxidants and electrolytes as found in fresh fruits will help to maintain good energy levels and you will notice less of these types of side effects, which are mostly caused by poor nutritional status, which it will help you notice, because it gets everything working properly so well. Make sure healthy food and beverages are available, this is generally a good rule anyways. Do not hesitate to learn more about Essential Fatty Acids, Cell metabolism and general good scientifically sound nutrition, RDA’s are only intended to keep a perfectly healthy non-sedentary 150 lb. caucasian male from getting a serious or life threating illness within whatever the short course of the study happened be, they are not adequate in all ways and at all times for all kinds of people, for one example in signs where there is a chronic stress to the body, antioxidants will be taxed, or there is wasting there will be a greater need for healthy protein. RDA’s are not intended to provide the peak of health or optimum performance in any area, but only meant to keep your hair and bones from becoming brittle (oh wait they don’t always even work for those.. hmm) or perhaps to prevent birth defects (well, they don’t always do that either) well, supposedly they do something some of the time, however insignificant or irrelevant it may be, and most of the time they at least may protect you from taking too much of something, but pills with synthetic vitamins and foritified food is not a proper substitute for good nutrition.

Stoned is more of a state of expectation or of too quickly experiencing effects for example when you take too much too quick, it is also a state of malnutrition. That is if you think of stoned as some kind of undesirable side effects.

If it interests anyone vegetarian animals or perhaps it was omnivorous animals seem to have nearly no noticeable effects from consuming cannabis, where as carnivores, who’s diet tends to make them very vulnerable to glycemic destabilization from cannabis, display much more noticeable effects from its consumption. If your going to feed them meat, make sure they get plenty of other healthy food as well.

In contrast stimulant use can destroy the myelin sheath protecting nerve cells as well as any and all other membranse and all types of tissues in the body, and will do so at an accelerating rate the more nutrients are absent from the diet, so you out there who’re not too well off, and think stimulants are gonna help your kid out in the long run, know this, that you would be far better feeding them good food than stimulants. And further more if you can’t afford enough good food and you must do something, than cannabis is by far the best and safest and healthiest and most nourishing and overall best substance to take for you or your child. Plus the fish are going extinct. Oh and one more thing, wild game contain pretty much the same ratios of Omega-3, minerals (electrolytes and trace minerals), amino acids (protein), antioxidants, and vitamins and phospholipids, and the correct balance and types of fatty-acids found in wild fish and most wild plants. Industrially raised animals who are fed a diet high in carbohydrates and artificial nutrition have the opposite types and balance of essential fatty acids (omega-3, and omega-6) as needed, as well as an excess of saturated fatty acids but this is less important than the 3/6 balances. Industrial food is also uniformly lower in minerals and often has the incorrect balance when compared to a wild version of the same food, also antioxidants are almost always lower. Even plants grown with chemicals instead of naturally have these bad qualities. It’s almost like we were all designed to live in a natural world, and we could at least live life like it as much as possible instead of praying to forget what we are and being miserable about it.

If I cared to Understand December 4, 2009, 2:23 AM

(Continued) Glucose Fructose Carbohydrates Fibre, Minerals as Ion regulating cell function, naturally occurring enzymes. Look at what cannabis does, it encourages new cell growth and new nerve cell growth and heals dysfunctional cells, it stabilizes restores and re-balances cell membrane ion currents, it protects against essential fatty acid breakdown or wasting this means it preserves things like DHA in the cells of the nervous system and throughout the body and organs, DHA makes up a major portion of brain and eye and nerve tissue. Cannabis is also the least toxic of any antioxidant, it is nearly impossible to take too much and have it result in an injury to the person.

Theres a lot more, but I have a feeling, you are just getting interested enough to find out the truth for your self so I’ll sum it up with some important points to keep in mind.

Cannabis helps the body be able to metabolize energy correctly in all cells including the nervous system as well as everywhere else in the body, it will there be quite likely that you will notice what most people assume being stoned is when you either first start or take too much at once. This is much less likely with smaller staggered doses to begin with. Also a higher amount of vegetable protein as well as adequate normal antioxidants and electrolytes as found in fresh fruits will help to maintain good energy levels and you will notice less of these types of side effects, which are mostly caused by poor nutritional status, which it will help you notice, because it gets everything working properly so well. Make sure healthy food and beverages are available, this is generally a good rule anyways. Do not hesitate to learn more about Essential Fatty Acids, Cell metabolism and general good scientifically sound nutrition, RDA’s are only intended to keep a perfectly healthy non-sedentary 150 lb. caucasian male from getting a serious or life threating illness within whatever the short course of the study happened be, they are not adequate in all ways and at all times for all kinds of people, for one example in signs where there is a chronic stress to the body, antioxidants will be taxed, or there is wasting there will be a greater need for healthy protein. RDA’s are not intended to provide the peak of health or optimum performance in any area, but only meant to keep your hair and bones from becoming brittle (oh wait they don’t always even work for those.. hmm) or perhaps to prevent birth defects (well, they don’t always do that either) well, supposedly they do something some of the time, however insignificant or irrelevant it may be, and most of the time they at least may protect you from taking too much of something, but pills with synthetic vitamins and foritified food is not a proper substitute for good nutrition.

Stoned is more of a state of expectation or of too quickly experiencing effects for example when you take too much too quick, it is also a state of malnutrition. That is if you think of stoned as some kind of undesirable side effects.

If it interests anyone vegetarian animals or perhaps it was omnivorous animals seem to have nearly no noticeable effects from consuming cannabis, where as carnivores, who’s diet tends to make them very vulnerable to glycemic destabilization from cannabis, display much more noticeable effects from its consumption. If your going to feed them meat, make sure they get plenty of other healthy food as well.

In contrast stimulant use can destroy the myelin sheath protecting nerve cells as well as any and all other membranse and all types of tissues in the body, and will do so at an accelerating rate the more nutrients are absent from the diet, so you out there who’re not too well off, and think stimulants are gonna help your kid out in the long run, know this, that you would be far better feeding them good food than stimulants. And further more if you can’t afford enough good food and you must do something, than cannabis is by far the best and safest and healthiest and most nourishing and overall best substance to take for you or your child. Plus the fish are going extinct. Oh and one more thing, wild game contain pretty much the same ratios of Omega-3, minerals (electrolytes and trace minerals), amino acids (protein), antioxidants, and vitamins and phospholipids, and the correct balance and types of fatty-acids found in wild fish and most wild plants. Industrially raised animals who are fed a diet high in carbohydrates and artificial nutrition have the opposite types and balance of essential fatty acids (omega-3, and omega-6) as needed, as well as an excess of saturated fatty acids but this is less important than the 3/6 balances. Industrial food is also uniformly lower in minerals and often has the incorrect balance when compared to a wild version of the same food, also antioxidants are almost always lower. Even plants grown with chemicals instead of naturally have these bad qualities. It’s almost like we were all designed to live in a natural world, and we could at least live life like it as much as possible instead of praying to forget what we are and being miserable about it.

If I cared to Understand December 4, 2009, 2:26 AM

, but only meant to keep your hair and bones from becoming brittle (oh wait they don’t always even work for those.. hmm) or perhaps to prevent birth defects (well, they don’t always do that either) well, supposedly they do something some of the time, however insignificant or irrelevant it may be, and most of the time they at least may protect you from taking too much of something, but pills with synthetic vitamins and foritified food is not a proper substitute for good nutrition.

Stoned is more of a state of expectation or of too quickly experiencing effects for example when you take too much too quick, it is also a state of malnutrition. That is if you think of stoned as some kind of undesirable side effects.

If it interests anyone vegetarian animals or perhaps it was omnivorous animals seem to have nearly no noticeable effects from consuming cannabis, where as carnivores, who’s diet tends to make them very vulnerable to glycemic destabilization from cannabis, display much more noticeable effects from its consumption. If your going to feed them meat, make sure they get plenty of other healthy food as well.

In contrast stimulant use can destroy the myelin sheath protecting nerve cells as well as any and all other membranse and all types of tissues in the body, and will do so at an accelerating rate the more nutrients are absent from the diet, so you out there who’re not too well off, and think stimulants are gonna help your kid out in the long run, know this, that you would be far better feeding them good food than stimulants. And further more if you can’t afford enough good food and you must do something, than cannabis is by far the best and safest and healthiest and most nourishing and overall best substance to take for you or your child. Plus the fish are going extinct. Oh and one more thing, wild game contain pretty much the same ratios of Omega-3, minerals (electrolytes and trace minerals), amino acids (protein), antioxidants, and vitamins and phospholipids, and the correct balance and types of fatty-acids found in wild fish and most wild plants. Industrially raised animals who are fed a diet high in carbohydrates and artificial nutrition have the opposite types and balance of essential fatty acids (omega-3, and omega-6) as needed, as well as an excess of saturated fatty acids but this is less important than the 3/6 balances. Industrial food is also uniformly lower in minerals and often has the incorrect balance when compared to a wild version of the same food, also antioxidants are almost always lower. Even plants grown with chemicals instead of naturally have these bad qualities. It’s almost like we were all designed to live in a natural world, and we could at least live life like it as much as possible instead of praying to forget what we are and being miserable about it.

If I cared to Understand December 4, 2009, 2:32 AM

(continued) as well as an excess of saturated fatty acids but this is less important than the 3/6 balances. Industrial food is also uniformly lower in minerals and often has the incorrect balance when compared to a wild version of the same food, also antioxidants are almost always lower. Even plants grown with chemicals instead of naturally have these bad qualities. It’s almost like we were all designed to live in a natural world, and we could at least live life like it as much as possible instead of praying to forget what we are and being miserable about it.

Best wishes to all you looking for hope, I hope you have the strength to find the truth.

kATHLEEN December 7, 2009, 8:17 AM

When will you people wake up… after being treated with the correct med’s for ADHD and then having to discontinue it, My son found marijuana.. at age 14, at age 30 he has been in and out of rehabs.. from feeling good with marijuana, to cocaine, or herion it just is a matter of time.. I know a Mom who took her son faithfully to a chiropator once a week for his ADHD and he is a wonderful stable 30 year old today. and I thought she was nuts… if I had it to do over again.. it would be the visits to the Chiropactor for my son…..not drugs,not marijuana…

Amber December 8, 2009, 10:24 AM

I find this discussion interesting because I have a son with the diagnosis of ADD, who has struggled in school, and has had extreme anxiety and anger issues since kindergarten. At sixteen years-old, he tells me marijuana is the only thing that relieves his very strong feelings of anxiety and anger. As mother and son, we both know it is an illegal substance and have searched for something, prescribed by our family doctor, to relieve his feelings, and help him to focus, that is legal. He has tried Straterra, which worked initially to help him focus in school and stabalize his mood, but after two years, he suffered the side-effects of depression, and hallucinations. There are a tiny percentage of people that suffer these symptoms, and he was one. He is now trying Zoloft, but does not feel it is effective. My concerns with marijuana, besides the legality, are the issues of further drug use, that are linked to addiction, as my son grows older. No addict ever believes that they will become addicted to drugs when they first take them, yet we are aware of the epidemic of drug addiction in our western society. I also feel marijuana eventually may drain away his motivation and impede his progress into adulthood. The issue of the side-effects from prescribed medications are also frightening, and sometimes serious (suicidal ideations are just one, along with a myriad of physical side-effects), and we just do not see those kinds of side-effects with marijuana. I cannot condone the use of marijuana for my son, yet I cannot deny that it is the one thing that seems to alleviate his difficulties, at least, in the moment. Many medications come from natural substances. The stigma of marijuana may be preventing the medical community from doing the kinds of testing needed to find out the long-term effects or benefits for marijuana.
As a parent, I cannot tell my son to risk jail-time to use an illegal substance, and I contiue to struggle to find help for my son that is effective.

Meredith February 10, 2010, 9:15 PM

“marijuana disrupts attention, memory, and concentration, three problem areas for people with ADD”

In NORMAL people, it does. Not necessarily in ADHD patients. Look at Ritalin and Dexedrine - stimulants to people without ADHD, but normalizing medicines to those with it. I was on Dexedrine for 10 years (age 12-22, I’m 29 now) and it never once had the “speed” effect it does on people without ADHD who take it. There’s no reason to assume that marijuana would adversely affect attention, memory, or concentration in ADHD patients, whose brains are obviously chemically different.

denise February 11, 2010, 10:01 AM

I have smoked marijuana for many years. It helps me focus, helps me stay on task and get things done that I otherwise cannot do. I have not turned into a crazed drug addict. I am not in jail. I prefer natural medicines to those with freakish chemicals that are man-made. Govt studies on marijuana are not a very real representation of its effects, since the feds grow the marijuana in strictly controlled labs under strictly controlled conditions. Most has a much higher THC content that anything available on the street. As for people ending up in jail for using marijuana - this would not happen if our govt would just legalize it. It is natural, not man made, and the effects are much less socially agonizing as say, alcohol, which is still certainly legal. As a parent, I would use it to help my child, and having raised a son with ADD, who struggled all through school, I only wish I had thought of it!

Amy April 20, 2010, 11:56 AM

Meredith -
AMEN! Thanks for your comment - it’s the only one here that I feel hits the nail on the head. When will we learn that different things work for different people? We are not all cookie-cutter carbon copies of each other… there are real differences in brain chemistry and the way our physical bodies function.

john  June 20, 2010, 12:19 AM

i’m 31 and never used marijuana to treat my A.D.D. until about 7 mos ago. It works like a charm. The key is do not smoke too much at once. Take small “hits” throughout the day and it keeps you at a normal operating level, I get more done, I’ve lost weight, I can concentrate better, and my sales have increased (i’m a salesman by day). You cannot ignore hard facts. I’m anti-drug abuse 100%. The line definitely needs to be drawn at smoking marijuana. I would never even dream of trying any other kind of drug. I believe methylphenidate is much worse for you because when I’m on it my heart races all day and I get butterfly’s in my stomach. Any such un-natural feeling in my opinion is a red flat to stop use. Smoking pot does not have any adverse side affects at all. Just keep in mind that if you use marijuana DO NOT smoke too much because that would be the equivelent to abusing any drug. For those of you who think that I’m just trying to find a way to get high and be lazy all day are dead read. It is such a misconception because of movies like “half-baked” and cheech and chong. Marijuana is a drug and like any drug it can be used to treat many different issues. Take Aspirin for example: You can take it for aches or a preventative measure for heart attack. I’m not a doctor just a practical person who wants to call a spade, a spade.


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