High with ADHD: Navigating Cannabis, CBD, and Psilocybin

Explore the intersection of ADHD and cannabis, CBD, and psilocybin in this enlightening episode. Host April Pride shares her experience as an adult with ADHD, and guests discuss how cannabis and psychedelics are being used to manage ADHD symptoms. Discover the benefits of CBD and the challenges THC may pose for those with ADHD.

How Cannabis & Psychedelics Impacted my ADHD

What you need to know when getting high when you have an ADHD diagnosis and how stimulant meds interact with THC, CBD and psilocybin. Such as…If cannabis strains classified as Sativa are broadly categorized as energizing, how do the cultivars we choose impact our ADHD symptoms? There is a vast difference in how to consume plant medicine to channel our inner hero as we white knuckle through some trauma or get through our to do list with ease in the absence of emotion.

After listening to this episode you will have a better understanding of…

  • Host April Pride’s experience as an adult diagnosed with ADHD
  • How women are using cannabis psychedelics to treat symptoms of ADHD
  • The benefits of using CBD to treat ADHD
  • The challenge THC can pose to those diagnosed with ADHD

Episode Guests

Dr. Lakisha | @drlakisha
Ophelia Chong | @opheliaswims

Episode Resources & Additional Reading

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Podcast Episode Full Transcription

0:00:00 April Pride: This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over.

0:00:09 April Pride: Hey, I am April Pride one of your high guides on today’s episode, which is a first dive into the use of plant medicine to treat symptoms of ADHD. Today’s topic is one that is very personal to me, I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 38 years old, and it answered a lot of life questions, anyone that was diagnosed as a kid understands how helpful the roadmap can be and navigating it without a diagnosis. It is not for the faint of heart. It turns out, and I know that people like me, that were maybe part of a generation, particularly girls, where we were overlooked in terms of our symptoms because we weren’t being hyperactive, we were actually just day-dreaming our way through school, and I didn’t have my own stash of weed, until I had a diagnosis. In 2014. Let us meet your other high guides on today’s show.

0:01:03 Dr. Lakisha: So I am Dr. Lakisha, I’m a traditional naturopath, so I don’t diagnose and prescribe, but I am proficient with utilizing herbs as the basis of nutrition to combat the symptoms of chronic degenerative and terminal illness. I am a registered member of the American herbalist guild I’m a Registered Clinical herbalist. I’m a compound herbalist. I have close to 400 proprietary herbal blends, 48 of them contain cannabis, the rest of them are just strictly herbal.

0:01:39 April Pride: Thank you, Dr. Lakeisha. Ophelia Chang, who is based in Southern California. She is working with Psilocybin to help people manage their symptoms with ADHD, and I heard about her work through a fellow cannabis entrepreneur, a woman who, when I shared my story with her, she went and saw a doctor and was, too, diagnosed with ADHD later in life, and she did not wanna use pharmaceuticals, so Ophelia has a very specific mushroom and a very specific regimen that she developed with my friend to help manage her symptoms related to ADHD.

0:02:22 Ophelia Chong: I grew up growing vegetables in the back of our garden as a child, because as Chinese Canadians, when I was growing up, we didn’t have access to a lot of our traditional vegetables because a lot of it wasn’t in stock at the local grocery stores in Canada, they’re agrarian culture, Chinese people just love growing everything because we are farmers, so I grew cannabis, and in the last five years also, I started growing fungus. I am not a doctor, I’m not a researcher, I don’t have papers, I just have observations.

0:02:58 April Pride: Okay, lets set this up. What is ADHD? For people who are curious because they call themselves, they say they have ADD, ’cause they forget something. I just wanted to read a quick definition of Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder, it’s a mental health disorder that can cause above normal levels of hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. People with ADHD may also have trouble focusing their attention on a single task. Or sitting still for long periods of time. Both adults and children can have ADHD.

0:03:31 Dr. Lakisha: So if you are talking about ADHD, you are gonna look specifically at the symptoms and the way that they present, and so by that definition, you’re gonna be looking at aggression, excitability, being impulsive, a lack of control, they would probably group in there maybe brain fog or absent-mindedness trouble with focus and paying attention, sometimes it can be extreme, like where you have anger and actual physical or verbal aggression, like those types of things, along with the not being able to focus and concentrate, maybe tasks not being able to hold your attention, so you need to move from task to task to task.

0:04:33 April Pride: And lets not forget that the symptoms of ADHD are a result of deficiencies in the levels of neurotransmitters, Norephinephrine and dopamine to help people pay attention and focus in the course of their daily activities. Low levels of these chemicals in the brain may make it harder to focus, causing symptoms of ADHD, which can affect areas of the brain that help you solve problems, plan ahead, understand others’ actions and control impulses, stimulant medications like Ritalin and Adderall can help raise levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the body, helping you focus. Non-stimulant meds like Strattera raise levels of norepinephrine, not dopamine, the brain chemicals that we are Deficient in and are looking for the quick hit to up our dopamine levels, etcetera, cannabis does in fact help us with that, so as I was reminded, we can say that cannabis is not physically addictive, but those dopamine hits are, right? So it’s really, really important to remember why people are reaching with ADHD, we’re not just reaching out to manage symptoms, we are reaching out because we like dopamine. So if cannabis strains classified as Sativa are broadly categorized as energizing, how did the cultivars we choose impact our ADHD symptoms?

0:05:52 Britney: Someone mentioned about indica strain being better for people with ADHD, and I have actually found the opposite, so I was curious a little bit if you have heard people feel the opposite. I do take a load of Adderall as needed throughout the week when I need to focus the most, but I also have anxiety, and I find that… I was actually prescribed Xanax. And I hated taking that, and that’s why I started using cannabis to supplement or try to help with the anxiety.

0:06:35 Dr. Lakisha: Britney, you said that the Indicas help more or they don’t?

0:06:42 Britney: I’ve found that more Sativa-dominant things help with my ADHD.

0:06:48 Dr. Lakisha: And what is the positive outcome that you get when you’re using a Sativa versus an Indica?

0:06:54 Britney: When I have an Indica, it really messes with my motivation, and I find that it helps my focus and my creativity as well. I work in the arts and academic.

0:07:09 Dr. Lakisha: Do you find that when you’re using the Sativa, it helps you focus maybe a little bit more? Does it help you relax more or, I would assume that it doesn’t really exacerbate the hyperactivity portion of your ADHD diagnosis.

0:07:33 Britney: No, it really helps with the focus, it almost helps in similar effects as my Adderall.

0:07:41 Dr. Lakisha: I was mentioning earlier that with the clients would report, was that if they needed to calm down and focus, it was really the Sativa that gave them more of that calming, calm the anxiety, calm the hyperactivity, and gave them more focus, where sometimes people that don’t have an ADHD diagnosis when they’re using what is classically called a Sativa, it will excite more of that hyperactivity, anxiety, like rapid heartbeat, all of those things.

0:08:21 April Pride: Dr. Lakeisha, how do you use a combination of herbs to treat your patient’s ADHD symptoms?

0:08:27 Dr. Lakisha: One of the symptoms is not having focus, not really being able to focus. Depending on the cultivar and the genetic profile, and if you find one that works for you very well, it can really help to re-align that focus and to bring that overall sense of calm to the system, and some of the research can point to hormonal imbalances that actually lead to a chemically-induced stress response that can definitely lead to that emotional response, if you will, that would contribute to the symptom presentation of ADHD. So I think it’s about finding the right product and the right dose with the right delivery or method of administration. I’m always a proponent for ingesting your phytocannabinoid supplement because then you’re getting more of the efficacy ’cause it’s actually going through your digestive system and being metabolized in your liver.

0:09:31 Dr. Lakisha: When you’re talking about symptom management and you wanting to have a positive therapeutic response, so most of the… I think I have, out of my herbal blends, 11 of them that are specifically designed to combat the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, hyperactivity, focus, those types of things, and they’re mostly all tinctures. There’s Tranquila. There’s Muy Tranquila. There’s this compound that we call Compound Melissa. There is a hyperactivity like focus blend, and some of them contain cannabis and some of them don’t. I think one of the things that I like to stress is even if you can’t get your hands on a phytocannabinoid supplement or one that’s sufficient and covers all the bases and checks all the boxes, there are a number of other botanicals that have a phytocannabinoid profile or don’t have a phytocannabinoid profile that would be beneficial. Some of those that we use are like lemon balm, very calming and good for the central nervous system, good for focus. There’s gingko biloba, that one’s really good for focus as well. There’s passion flower, very calming, very calming and good for the nerves. There’s catnip, actually, works very, very well. There’s skull cap. Skull cap works well, also has a phytocannabinoid profile. There’s hops. Hops works well, also has a phytocannabinoid profile, so there’s a number of botanicals that you would actually be able to mix together.

0:11:26 Dr. Lakisha: One thing that I found nutritionally that has helped a number of my clients with managing symptoms of ADHD, helping them to find their calm and focus is oats, like steel-cut oats, play a very positive role in managing the symptoms of ADHD. So I have about 11 or 12 different blends because they’ve come up with me compounding things for people over the years.

0:11:56 April Pride: Just as we know stimulant meds don’t work for everyone with an ADHD diagnosis, and THC doesn’t affect all people in the same way, what about other plant medicine, like psilocybin and other chemicals present in the fungi family?

0:12:10 Ophelia Chong: The thing with… The difference between cannabis and psilocybin is they’re completely two different things, so the effects of one is completely different than the other where psilocybin is more of an energy mushroom, and I only take it early in the day, so around 9:00 or 10:00, and about 120 milligrams will just carry me all the way up to about 3 o’clock, but it’s a very strong… It just takes… It doesn’t take you over, basically. You just look normal, but the thing is there’s something about it that just gives you so much clarity and focus, and what I find amazing for what I do because I can multi-task all over the place, but when I’m on psilocybin, I finish the job. I start and I end. I don’t all of a sudden look away and think, “Okay, that’s pretty shiny over there, I’m gonna do that,” but psilocybin, on 120 milligrams, will just give me a focus on the entire day and I get everything done with no apparent side effects. I’m not sitting down, I’m not couch locked, I’m not drowsy, I’m not sleepy, I’m not thirsty, I don’t have dry mouth, so which is why I really encourage people to investigate psilocybin for ADHD.

0:13:29 April Pride: So the 120 milligrams. So one, the way that I understand it, if I, we can just talk about the effects of psilocybin, so I’ve been told that two grams is you’re tripping. So at 120 milligrams, you’re talking about a 20th, 5% of what a full trip dosage would be, do I have that math kind of right?

0:14:00 Ophelia Chong: It’s just like cannabis. A kosher kush will affect you completely different than a WiFi OG, or a northern lights will affect you completely different than a shaman, right?

0:14:11 April Pride: Okay.

0:14:12 Ophelia Chong: Thus, the differences in mushrooms of varietals, they’re all different. This is same if you look at a portobello, it doesn’t taste like a button mushroom or a shiitake tastes different than an oyster. So, the same thing goes with psilocybin, each mushroom has its own genetics and also, its own strengths, right? And so the solvent is different levels. So you can say, give someone three and a half grams, which is the beginning of our heroic dose, right? Usually, it’s between three and a half grams to five grams. If I give a certain kind of mushrooms, it will be… That’s lower in effectiveness, it’ll be more of a mellow thing. But if I give, say, leucistic burma, which is one of the highest in psilocybin and psilocin, that it would be a totally visual experience. You’re really looking at who’s taking it and what do they need it for. Because mushrooms are not the same across the board. Just like cannabis or hemp. It’s going to take a couple of rounds to figure out what works best for you. And also, what do you wanna do? Do you want just daily maintenance, which is a micro-dose? Or eventually, you might wanna do that one heroic trip, that one time in that year.

0:15:27 April Pride: Thank you for clarifying that, different mushrooms, but all containing psilocybin, just like different cultivars, but all containing THC, produce different effects. So, I have two questions about that. One, what’s the entourage there, right? What’s the chemical profile within the different mushrooms?

0:15:45 Ophelia Chong: That’s a great question, because I grow all my own mushrooms. I grow gourmet, medicinal, and the other kind. And so, I combine the lion’s mane that I grow, and the reishi into a compound with psilocybin. The lion’s mane is anti-anxiety, anti-inflammation. Also, it’s a really great brain food, and it’s a little bit of an energizer. The reishi is anti-anxiety, anti-oxidant, and then the psilocybin adds to that three energetic mushrooms, the 3rd leg of the stool. It basically… Then it works on your brain. But basically the same thing. And the other two, help with the rest of the body. ‘Cause lion’s mane is gut so is reishi, partly brain for lion’s mane, but those three are really great as a daily maintenance, or if you want every three days, because with psilocybin, you can grow a very high tolerance to it if you’re taking it every day. Similar to cannabis, but it’s a lot faster. So, if I take 120 today and I’m taking it every day this week, by the end of the week, I will feel less, which is why I recommend most people, every third day…

0:17:01 Ophelia Chong: I don’t see it as a recreational drug. It has more pharmaceutical benefits than recreation. If you go on a heroic dose, it’s not recreation, right?

0:17:11 April Pride: Yeah, right.

0:17:11 Ophelia Chong: You’re not going to watch, I’m gonna binge watch…

0:17:13 April Pride: That’s very good point.

0:17:15 Ophelia Chong: Sopranos on mushrooms.

0:17:16 April Pride: Yeah.

0:17:16 Ophelia Chong: No. You’re basically gonna be under the cover somewhere, going through whatever trauma that you have to go through. To get to the other side. I do not talk about it in the same way that you talk about cannabis. It’s not a… As a fun thing, it’s not a, “Let’s go to the beach and take mushrooms,” kind of thing. I see it as purely medicine.

0:17:39 April Pride: There’s so much mixed information, as to how you can use cannabis and other plant medicine to treat or to minimize or however you want to say it, our symptoms related to ADHD, but I know that I’m also excited to just to get high because I have ADHD, while the perceived risk associated with regular cannabis use in the general population has steadily declined since the 1970s, more patients, and caregivers are reaching out to find out how to use it for therapeutic effects. And we have enough information of problematic cannabis use outcomes, anecdotal clinical observations, that there’s this growing popular perception that cannabis is therapeutic for ADHD, but that may not always be the case. And so, rather than saying cannabis is great for ADHD, I think we need to recognize that it’s very nuanced, and that it is helpful for many of the symptoms that we are trying to medicate or treat, but it is a complicated relationship that people with an ADHD diagnosis. If you’re diagnosed with ADHD as a child, you’re three times more likely to have cannabis use disorder and you’re also more likely to consume cannabis at a younger age. The severity, the craving, the abuse dependence, and the earlier initiation, those are all true and heightened if you also have an ADHD diagnosis.

0:19:22 Kim: My name is Kim. I personally do have an ADHD diagnosis, but also I have c-PTSD, and so I do tend to dose very high, but because the c-PTSD, it doesn’t affect me as much. A lot of people who have ADHD don’t just have ADHD, they have other disorders that go along with it. I’m a mental health worker, a cannabis consumer and advocate. I just say as a mental health worker, I think we should be really careful when we’re talking about research in the field of mental health and in psychiatry, because a lot of times the research based on cannabis can be skewed depending on who is doing the research. So it’s really important to keep that in mind what organizations are doing this research and also many people can be daily cannabis users and not actually qualify for cannabis use disorder. Cannabis, there was no research finding that it had any biological addictive qualities, but there are differences between biological addiction and just a mental emotion.

0:20:38 Dr. Lakisha: We have to remember that if you’re taking Adderall, chronic use of Adderall or using Adderall over a long period of time increases your risk for anxiety, same thing with cannabis, some research has shown that chronic use of cannabis over time increases your risk for anxiety. So if you already have ADHD and you take a medication for ADHD and you’re taking cannabis, all those things together can really heighten your experience, so that’s just something to consider. I know… I have patients who take Adderall and also consume cannabis and they’re almost trying to balance the experience to kinda lower that impulsiveness and still be able to focus. You really have to be careful with pharmaceuticals because they do directly interact with your central nervous system, and where cannabis more so plays a regulatory role.

0:21:31 Dr. Lakisha: Many of my patients report that when they go to the dispensary, the bartenders actually push high THC type of products. However, these percentages are really high, like 36%, and these are not patients who are suffering from chronic pain or anything like that, maybe it’s just a little bit of depression, but if the science is not in the dispensary, it also leads us down the wrong direction as well. And really puts patients in harm’s way, because that’s just too much, and when you’re someone who’s already highly stimulated naturally, then you just get all that extra and it definitely is going to lead to more issues down the line.

0:22:11 April Pride: Another audience member posed a question to the same effect.

0:22:15 Speaker 6: THC can cause super sensitivity to dopamine, and if you reinstate a stimulant, it might have a negative psychiatric effect.

0:22:24 Speaker 7: Because of the high THC, you’re gonna have more anxiety. And though CBD oil, it helps you to stimulate your dopamine, it increases [0:22:38.6] ____ found out that CBD oil in particular stimulate the dopamine receptor.

0:22:45 April Pride: This understanding of how CBD and THC work with the chemicals in our brain to supplement our endogenous hormones is helpful as we listen to George, a firefighter with an ADHD diagnosis who cannot test positive for THC. So he uses broad spectrum CBD, which is an isolate of this cannabinoid only, and THC is not present in the formulation as compared to a full spectrum formulation which contains varying levels, including as low as 0.03% THC, but can still make you come up dirty on a test.

0:23:20 George: I got ADHD and I did the full Adderall route, and they had me on two 5 milligram pills in the morning and another 5 milligrams at 1:00 if needed. And it was the time release, and it worked, but it sucked. It had you that super hyper-focus and that edgy feeling the whole time. So I gave that up and just battled with my ADHD on my own, ’cause I’m a firefighter, I can’t do anything with THC, and I was doing it for other reasons, fitness-wise and sleep-wise, and it was working. And my buddy, Gary, gave me these time release and goes, “Hey, why don’t you try this?” And after a month, I didn’t notice it, but other people were noticing, “Hey man, you’re getting everything done around here,” ’cause we have all these projects, and I’m usually up going 100 miles an hour, and now I’m not, and I was like, “So inadvertently that’s what was working for me.” And then I started looking back, “Man, I’m actually focused.” I’m actually, not hyper-focused like I was on the Adderall, but it lowered my trigger, so I didn’t have to… When the thought would come in my head, I would already be over there, it wouldn’t be a second thought.

0:24:34 George: Now it’s, “Should I really go to do the other project or just finish where I’m at?” It gave me a time to pause and to slow down my thought process, for I could actually figure things out correctly. And the best of all is that now I feel normal, but before, I felt abnormal and I tried to get off the CBD for two weeks, I just went off it ’cause I ran out and I was on a trip, and within two weeks, I cut my work outs in half, I felt double the sore, and I was back to feeling scattered. So got back on it, and within a week I was feeling back to my new normal.

0:25:14 April Pride: What is feeling normal? For the last 100 years, society has only categorized compounds such as psilocybin and THC as recreational, and as a result, we were all taking heroic doses without being mindful of therapeutic benefits, because we didn’t have high guides like Dr. Lakisha or Ophelia. The beauty of plant medicine is that with the right guide, we can choose the days we wanna channel our inner hero, and other days we just wanna get through our to-do list free of emotion and distraction.

0:25:48 April Pride: Thanks for listening to this recently recorded event in Club House hosted by Plant & Prosper. And join me, April Pride, each Friday at 1:00 PM with an assortment of high guides as we cover all things A to Z related to plant medicine. Of course, you can listen to new episodes of The High Guide every Friday, please subscribe and follow wherever you listen to podcasts. Thanks for our high guides in this and every episode. A special thanks to the high guides, writer and content editor, Megan Ridley, our marketing coordinator, Bianca Kratzke, and brand manager, Molly Longest, and our producers, Nick Patri and Josh Brown. I’m April Pride and we’ll see you back here next time, on The High Guide.

Episode Credits

Producer & Host: April Pride Audio Engineer: Nick Patri, Cloud Studios Theme music: Cheri Dub, Morris Johnson

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