When a child is sick and conventional medicine isn’t working, parents often understandably turn to alternative treatments. Recently, this includes cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis compound that is being touted as a remedy for everything from seizures and sleep problems to pain and arthritis. But what about CBD for kids? Is it safe, and is it responsible for parents to turn to CBD?
You’ve probably come across a lot of chatter online about CBD. Its popularity is growing at an incredible rate, and some parents even claim that giving their child CBD oil has helped with seizure disorders and autism.
Although using CBD to manage illnesses in kids may seem strange to some parents, research has shown that CBD is safe, and, in fact, has a better side-effect profile than many other drugs that are used to treat specific medical conditions. This is according to the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
So yes, first and foremost, we want to note that CBD is safe for kids to consume. But let’s take a closer look below.
CBD Is Not Marijuana
First things first, although it’s derived from the cannabis plant, CBD is not the same thing as recreational or medicinal marijuana. It doesn’t contain significant or meaningful amounts of THC – the compound in marijuana that is responsible for making users high.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD are the two main compounds found in the cannabis plant. Structurally, both are dissimilar and bind to different receptors within the nervous system – thereby varying in their functionality.
THC binds to the CB1 receptors, which are found primarily in the brain, and create mind-altering and euphoric effects. This is why products that contain high levels of THC are not ideal or recommended for kids.
CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t bind with the CB1 receptors. This is why products containing pure CBD can be and are being used in the pediatric population. CBD works with CB2 receptors, which are found primarily in the immune system, and this is one of the key reasons that CBD is thought to have an array of therapeutic benefits.
Keep in mind that if you are buying over-the-counter CBD products from a legal medical marijuana dispensary or on the internet, the product may contain THC. This is why it’s important to check the label, as well as online product reviews, to ensure that you are giving pure CBD to your child.
CBD is Safe
Last year the World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed the evidence for the safety and effectiveness of CBD. The published report concluded that “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
They went onto state that any adverse effects could be the result of the interaction between CBD and a patient’s existing medication. In other words, if your child is taking other medication, it’s important to speak to a doctor and determine if it’s safe to combine CBD with that specific medication.
Also, the report found no indication of dependence or potential abuse. To date, there’s no evidence of any public-health related problems or recreational use of CBD that have been associated with pure CBD.
In terms of effectiveness, the WHO report acknowledged that several clinical trials had shown the effectiveness of CBD in the treatment of epilepsy. There’s also preliminary evidence that CBD has the potential to treat a number of other medical conditions.
CBD Benefits for Kids
CBD has become particularly popular for kids with rare forms of epilepsy, thanks to its anticonvulsant properties. However, the cannabinoid is also touted for its potential to alleviate less serious conditions. Furthermore, it can be used as a great health supplement to keep your little one in good health – in a natural way.
Here are some of the most common uses of CBD for kids and how it could work to improve selected health problems.
CBD Oil for Seizures
Epilepsy is a condition that many parents find challenging to manage. Two particular types of epilepsy; Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, both appear to be modulated by CBD oil.
The effects are so prevalent that the FDA now approves a cannabis-derived CBD product, known as Epidiolex, to treat these two conditions specifically.
CBD Oil for ADHD
If your child suffers from an attention disorder, they get easily overstimulated and struggle to maintain focus. CBD could help with symptom management.
While scientific research is limited, a lot of anecdotal evidence from parents who give CBD to their kids, reports that CBD actually helps in managing hyperactivity symptoms.
Moreover, a 2014 study published in Current Neuropharmacology reported that low doses of CBD could be a wake-promoting agent, which means users are more alert throughout the day.
CBD Oil for Anxiety
CBD has several actions in the brain that regulate the brain’s response to the feelings of anxiety and fear. Most research on this subject is preclinical or animal studies, but there are thousands of testimonies from parents of children who have found relief from using CBD oil.
CBD Oil for Autism
A group of Israeli researchers has been looking into the use of CBD to reduce behavioral problems in children on the autism spectrum. A feasibility study done on 60 children reported substantial improvement in behavioral outbreaks, communication problems, and anxiety.
While these results are very promising, more longitudinal studies on larger groups of patients are needed for research to be conclusive.
Is CBD for Kids the Same as CBD for Adults?
Yes, companies distinguish between CBD oil for adults or kids, and thus, these products are exactly the same thing.
However, since children weigh less than adults, you should probably be administering much lower potencies to your kid. Children usually need much lower amounts of CBD to feel the effects.
Also, it’s much easier to gauge the dosage of CBD in the dropper with a low potency CBD oil (250 mg CBD bottle). This is because you can use a few drops rather than having to measure out, say one-eighth of the syringe for accurate dosing.
Other Things to Consider When Giving CBD to Your Kid
- Talk to your child’s doctor: If you’re thinking about using CBD for your kid, let your pediatrician know so that they can monitor any possible side effects, manage overall care, and help you to avoid possible medication interactions.
- Look for reputable products: CBD products sold at retail stores and online aren’t necessarily subject to rigorous testing, and some have questionable quality. Do your research, look at customer reviews, speak to professionals, and look for brands that provide third-party lab reports.
- Start low and slow: It can take time to figure out the right dose of CBD. It involves a lot of trial and error. A good rule of thumb is to start off with a very low dosage and then up it gradually until your child experiences the desired effects.
Final Thoughts on Giving CBD to Kids
It’s important for parents to realize that CBD is by no means a substance to replace standard medical treatment. Rather, it should be viewed as an aid to the treatment of specific intractable conditions that modern medications find challenging to address. But yes, using CBD is a safe and effective way to manage certain difficult conditions and disorders among children.