Should You Give CBD Oil to Children?

It’s important to understand that CBD is not marijuana. Read on to determine if it’s worthwhile to use the substance for kids.

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November 12, 2019
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Cannabidiol (CBD) has become one of the most popular hemp-based products of late. Cannabis oil and other CBD products can be purchased online throughout the United States or in cannabis dispensaries where it’s fully legal.

In your research, you’ll likely come across articles that say CBD oil is perfectly safe for children. But can that be true? It’s a substance derived from hemp or marijuana, so it seems somewhat sketchy. There’s also little clinical research to back up its effects because it’s still considered a Schedule 1 drug, and human testing is forbidden in states where cannabis products are illegal.

Before looking into whether children should be using CBD, it’s important to understand that CBD is not marijuana. When sold legally online, it does not contain THC, and therefore can’t make you high. It can, however, provide several health benefits. Read on to determine if it’s worthwhile to use the substance for kids.

What CBD Can Treat

CBD is commonly used to treat the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Depression
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Memory
  • Autism
  • Sensory processing disorders

Cannabinoids and endocannabinoids occur naturally in the body, and children are often exposed to it. In fact, human breast milk contains cannabinoids. Therefore, it’s believed that small doses of CBD as a supplement can help to treat these ailments and be harmless to your child.

Know the Risks

As an informed parent, you want to know all the risks associated with giving CBD to children, so let’s get them out of the way.

“CBD has become a very popular over-the-counter type of treatment that parents get on their own and give their children, and some say they see a big improvement,” Doris Trauner, M.D., professor of neurosciences and pediatrics at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and a physician at San Diego’s Rady Children’s Hospital told ConsumerReports.org. “Every other patient I see is asking about it…But it’s not benign. People tend to think that because it’s natural and plant-based that it’s safe.”

Dr. Trauner points out that there are side effects to CBD, although some people experience none at all. She says she’s seen children experience side effects like diarrhea, change in appetite, fatigue, and medication interactions in her study.

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Alongside the risk of side effects, it’s important to note that CBD is an unregulated substance. The FDA treats it like a supplement, which are largely left alone by this government entity. This simply means that there’s no one to make sure the ingredients in the CBD and the label on the bottle match.

For example, when sold legally online throughout the United States, CBD can’t contain a THC level higher than 0.3 percent. However, some CBD manufacturers ignore that label. THC has a psychoactive effect, which can be dangerous for children. It’s vital that you source your CBD from a reputable vendor to make sure there’s no risk of contaminated products.

Last, but not least, many health professionals are concerned about the lack of research of CBD and children. Those with serious ailments like epilepsy have used CBD with great success, and the side effects are worthwhile compared to the illness it treats. The majority of research we have indicates that CBD in the right doses is safe and effective for many child ailments, but there’s not a lot to swear by.

First CBD-Based Drug Epidolex Was Tested on Children

In 2018, the FDA finally got involved in the world of CBD by approving a drug called Epidolex. This CBD-based substance was found enormously effective in treating the symptoms, severity, and frequency of seizures.

Most commonly, Epidolex is used to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Both begin in childhood with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome manifesting as early as three years old. Most with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome experience frequent seizures, intellectual disabilities, and delays.

In studies monitored by the FDA, when it came time for human trials, children were involved. They’re among the neediest recipients of a drug to stop seizures, and the drug helped them enormously. There were some side effects like sleepiness, decreased appetite, rash, lethargy, diarrhea, and muscle weakness, but for most children with a seizure-inducing syndrome, these side effects are a welcome trade-off, and researchers couldn’t find any indication of long-lasting effects.

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Find a CBD-Knowledgeable Doctor

After you’ve done adequate research on the topic, you may decide that CBD could help your child with whatever ailment they’re experiencing. But before you order a package of gummies online, check with your child’s doctor, especially if they’re taking any medications.

CBD has been known to react with some medications. The use of CBD in children should also be treated like any drug and be monitored closely for bad side effects. If your child breaks out in a rash, for example, it’ll be nice to have a doctor on call.

The only problem is there are many doctors who know very little about CBD. They haven’t researched its uses, and they may not be familiar enough to give a recommendation. A good physician will be open and honest in this case and tell you to seek advice from a physician who knows more about the substance.

You’re more likely to come across a CBD-knowledgeable doctor in states where cannabis products are fully legal. The use of CBD and similar products will be much more common, and most physicians there will have grown their knowledge on the subject in order to better serve their patients. You could also discuss the issue with a pediatric neurologist who has likely studied cannabis-based products and the brain.

If you decide that your child could benefit from CBD, source your product carefully. It’s better to use CBD derived from hemp rather than marijuana as there are fewer legal implications and the likelihood of it containing THC are must smaller.

Stay informed and monitor your child closely. CBD could be the answer you’re looking for, but you’d never want to use it on your child without fully understanding the substance. To learn more about the substance, check out this CBD guide.