Cannabidiol or CBD is a naturally occurring chemical found in the marijuana and hemp plants. CBD products including oils, gummies, smokables, and creams are readily available and are a popular alternative treatment for a number of ailments, some of which affect children.
It must be said that CBD does not have any of the psychoactive properties associated with THC – another marijuana-based chemical. While CBD products can usually be got over the counter, a drug – Epidiolex – was approved by the FDA and is available via prescription only.
Epidiolex is prescribed by medical professionals to treat either of two rare forms of epilepsy that A
affects children – the Dravet syndrome and the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Additionally, there are cases where parents may use commercially available CBD products to treat certain medical conditions like hyperactivity and anxiety in kids. At times it can also be used to treat children suffering from autism.
The Use of CBD
Some parents turn to commercially produced CBD products to treat medical conditions like hyperactivity and anxiety in young children. Some also use it on children suffering from the onset of autism.
However, it needs to be said that CBD has not yet been extensively tested for efficacy and safety when it comes to use by children. While initial research indicates positive findings, there is still a way to go before being conclusively proven.
Types of Products
A wide range of CBD products is available in the market today. A number of baked edibles and some beverages also contain CBD, however, it is difficult to gauge the amount of CBD contained in these products.
The more popular forms of CBD available today include –
• Edibles – CBD-based gummies are popular choices who are looking for a discreet way to consume CBD while at the same time avoiding the natural flavor of CBD.
• Creams and Lotions – Topicals like creams and lotions are useful alternatives for those who prefer to apply CBD directly to the concerned area of their skin.
• CBD Oil – Oils come in varying degrees of potency. Users apply a few drops under the tongue via a dropper. CBD oils can also be purchased in the forms of soft gels or capsules which can be easier to consume.
• Transdermal Patches – CBD patches allow the chemical to penetrate the skin of the user and directly enter the bloodstream. According to a report on ‘Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pail and Inflammation Treatment’, transdermal patches provide a consistent dosage of CBD over time.
What Can CBD Treat in Children?
The FDA has only approved the use of CBD in the treatment of Epilepsy. However, CBD can be used for several conditions –
The drug Epidiolex has been approved by the FDA to treat serious seizures in children suffering from any of two forms of epilepsy – Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome. Epidiolex is an oral medication that includes a purified strain of CBD from the Cannabis sativa plant.
A number of studies have been conducted to understand the use of CBD oil or medical cannabis in children suffering from autism. Initial findings indicate a possible improvement in autism symptoms.
A study specifically conducted on 188 children aged between 8 and 15 years administered a solution with 30% CBD oil and 1.5% THC. After 1 month, most children reported an improvement in symptoms like restlessness and seizures. Also, symptoms continued to reduce over a 6 month period.
While researchers have indicated that the results of the study should be taken with a degree of caution, a number of studies are ongoing to determine the safety and effectiveness of using CBD for treating children with autism.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
There is limited research on the risks or benefits of using CBD to treat children suffering from ADHD. While some examples do exist, these are mainly from parents reporting a decrease in the symptoms of their children after the use of CBD oil. An almost equal number of parents do not report any change or benefit.
Some reports indicate that CBD may be useful in reducing anxiety. However, this has not been specifically tested with children. Preclinical evidence shows that CBD may help treat anxiety disorders in children. These include Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Risks Associated with CBD-Use in Children
While Marijuana has been in use for centuries, CBD oil is a relatively newer concept. The use of CBD for children has not been extensively tested and there is a lack of extensive studies around its side effects.
There is a possibility that children may develop some side-effects like sleep problems and restlessness.
CBD may also negatively influence other medicines that children are prescribed. Similar to its effects on grapefruit, CBD can also impact specific enzymes required to metabolize certain medicines in the body. As a general rule, CBD should be avoided if using any medication that carries a grapefruit warning.
The fact that CBD products are unregulated, it is difficult for parents and guardians to be completely confident of its benefits and dosage. There have been reported cases where CBD products have been mislabeled and products end up containing more or less than the amount of CBD stated.
Selecting the Right CBD Product
A number of companies in the US manufacture CBD. Given that CBD products are unregulated, it is tough for customers to know the exact ingredients in a product.
That said, here are some tips to follow when choosing a reputable CBD product –
• The Label – The label should have the amount of CBD consumed per recommended dose. This should give you an idea of the product’s quality.
• The Location – Where CBD is manufactured also makes a difference. If the product you select comes for hemp-based CBD, ensure that the hemp is grown in organic conditions without the use of pesticides, etc.
• The Testing – It is always best to choose CBD products that have gone through independent, third-party testing with results that can be verified. Such products should come with a Certificate of Analysis (COA). Some organizations issuing COAS are –
◦ Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC),
◦ US Pharmacopeia (USP), and
◦ American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP)
CBD products that are derived from Hemp and contain less than the prescribed .3 percent of THC are legal per federal law. However, certain state laws may still deem it illegal.
CBD products that are derived from Marijuana are illegal per federal law but remain legal under the laws of certain states.
It is advisable to check the appropriate state laws in case of travel. It is important to note that over-the-counter CBD products are not approved by the FDA.