Cannabidiol is Widely Discussed, but is it Safe and Effective for Your Child?

It’s hard to not have heard about CBD in the last few years. The active ingredient from cannabis that doesn’t get you high, first came into the American public eye with the 2013 CNN documentary “Weed.” The documentary tells the story of how CBD helped to save a little girl with Dravet Syndrome. The inspirational story led to legal changes across the country in regards to CBD and the approval of the first CBD-based drug which is now used to treat extreme forms of epilepsy, like Dravet Syndrome.

The story also opened the door for research into CBD’s other applications and opened many parents minds to the possibility that CBD could help their child. While preliminary research into CBD has shown it to be safe for most people, it can cause some side effects like diarrhea, fatigue, and interactions with various medications. For reasons like these, it’s extremely important for parents to exercise caution, do as much research as possible, and consult your child’s pediatrician before trying any kind of natural medication.

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CBD benefits for kids

CBD has some proven benefits and some reported benefits. We want to help you sort fact from rumor to help determine what is best for your child. The answer of whether CBD can benefit your child or not depends on a variety of factors such as your child’s age, condition or symptoms you are trying to treat, other health complications, daily routine and more. 

CBD has been scientifically studied and approved as effective in reducing seizures. This has led to the first CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, being approved to treat extreme forms of epilepsy such as Dravet Syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. These conditions often affect very young children and can be fatal if left untreated. Patients that have success with Epidiolex of other CBD treatments report dramatic and life-changing improvement, but even for these forms of epilepsy, it isn’t the golden cure. Not every patient with these disorders finds CBD effective, and it hasn’t been shown to work for other kinds of seizure disorders. However, if your child is affected by an extreme seizure condition, CBD could be a very promising solution. Ask your pediatrician what forms of CBD are available to your child and what they recommend for your specific case.

While CBD has not yet been widely researched for other conditions, an initial study of cannabis-based treatments for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders has shown very promising results in reducing anxiety and disruptive behaviors. These findings have launched a larger double-blind trial into cannabis treatments for Autism.

Is CBD oil safe for kids? 

CBD is broadly safe and well tolerated. However, like any medicine, CBD can have some side effects, which may include (but are not limited to): irritability, sleep problems, drowsiness or fatigue, and appetite changes. CBD may also interact with some prescription or OTC medications. As such, it's important to give your doctor a full list of any medications your child is taking. If you have any questions or doubts, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Another factor to consider is the source of your CBD. You might be desperate to treat your child, but in a jurisdiction without access to legal CBD. In this situation, you should always exercise caution. You can never be sure of the strength or purity of products bought on the black market, so it's important to source your CBD from a reputable vendor.

CBD dosage for kids

There is no one answer for the exact dosage of CBD that will be safe and effective for your child. This will depend on a variety of factors like your child’s age, size, tolerance to CBD, and health conditions. It would be irresponsible to recommend a dosage without knowing these factors. However, your child’s pediatrician is aware of the state of your child’s overall health and is, therefore, the best person to ask about dosage for your specific case. CBD is a hot topic in the medical world, so your doctor is likely aware of developments in CBD-based medicines. We can’t stress enough the importance of consulting with them first.

There have, however, been clinical trials of cannabinoids like CBD in pediatrics that can give parents some indication of the range of dose their doctor might recommend. In initial studies of cannabinoids for epilepsy, patients were given 200-300mg of CBD daily. This was found to be safe for the trial subjects, and effective in reducing their seizures. Because CBD hasn’t been as thoroughly researched for other conditions, appropriate dosages to treat other conditions in children are difficult to determine. Doctors who have treated children with CBD stress the importance of starting with the lowest possible dose and increasing slowly to see how it will affect your child.

CBD for kids with ADHD

Anecdotal evidence from parents of children with ADHD has suggested that some people find CBD helpful in reducing ADHD symptoms. However, it’s important to remember that this is only anecdotal evidence, as isolated CBD has not yet been studied for ADHD. Trials of cannabidiol in rats found it to reduce drug-induced hyperactivity but found no difference in attention. An adult trial of the cannabis-based drug Sativex (which also contains cannabis’ psychoactive ingredient THC) had similar findings. Subjects didn’t show a difference in cognitive functioning and attention but had a significant reduction in hyperactivity. These studies may give some indication of the role of CBD in treating ADHD in children, however, this will be impossible to determine until more exact studies have been completed.

CBD for kids with anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms patients report success in reducing with CBD. However, these claims still need more evidence before we can say definitively if this will work for children. CBD has shown promise in preliminary studies for anxiety in adults. Unfortunately, as is frequently the case with cannabis-based medications, a complicated legal landscape and lack of available material has prevented extensive research into the topic. This means that even though anecdotal evidence for reducing anxiety with CBD is very strong, we can’t prove its effectiveness until more research is completed. Until such time, we can be hopeful about promising anecdotal evidence, such as this case report from 2016, which saw a young girl with PTSD reduce anxiety through CBD treatments.

Conclusion

CBD is a very promising ingredient that has a wide range of potential medical uses. However, because it comes from cannabis, which has a complicated legal status in the US, it has yet to be studied extensively for conditions other than seizure disorders. For seizure disorders like Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, responsible treatment with CBD is extremely effective and life-changing for many patients. For parents of children with other conditions like ADHD, Autism or Anxiety the answer is less clear.

Many parents have reported success, but without studies to support those claims, its difficult to say how effective CBD is for those conditions, especially in children. Any parent considering a CBD treatment for their child should read as much as possible about CBD for the specific condition they are trying to treat before consulting with their child’s pediatrician about CBD-based treatments. Explore our site to find out more information on CBD, and be sure to leave us a comment with any questions!