Published on October 24, 2022 by Kristina Willis
Though often necessary, many treatment options for pediatric medical issues have adverse side effects that parents would rather not impose on their kids. According to Google Trends data, searches for ‘CBD for children’ and ‘CBD for kids’ have increased since 2018. As CBD continues to gain traction for its therapeutical benefits, more parents are seriously considering CBD as a viable treatment option. Many parents believe that natural remedies like cannabis products are safer and would prefer nature-derived treatments whenever possible.
CBD shows exceptional promise as an alternative medicine for children with certain physiological or behavioral impairments. However, the unfortunate reality is that current clinical research isn’t quite up to speed when it comes to proving efficacy and safety. You should not give your child CBD unless they are suffering from a medical condition for which CBD medications have already been approved.
Lack of hard evidence should discourage parents from impetuous medical decisions, but that does not mean that cannabis solutions should be completely off the table. Here’s what you need to know about CBD for kids before you start or defer treatment.
When it comes to treatments for pediatric medical issues, the primary concern is always safety. In addition to short-term side effects, parents must evaluate risks involving long-term complications that might manifest in adulthood. Before administering CBD to your child, consider the following safety concerns.
Despite promising anecdotal evidence, few large-scale studies adequately evaluate the effects of CBD on pediatric conditions. Moreover, treatment efficacy has only been proven in the case of two severe seizure disorders: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
One of the biggest safety concerns with CBD for kids is its interactions with other drugs. Crucially, CBD can hinder or boost the effects of medications they are already taking. For example, CBD increases concentrations of clobazam and can stress the liver.
There are concerns with the overprescription of medications, including cannabis, particularly when it comes to behavioral conditions like autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and anxiety. First-line treatments such as therapy might take longer to see results but are also proven to be effective and safe.
CBD has a good safety profile, according to the World Health Organization. However, that evaluation refers to adult use and how it affects the developed body and mind. Research regarding CBD’s influence during adolescence or young adulthood is limited.
Currently, there is little standardization or regulation of cannabis doses. One survey concerning patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) found that only 10% of respondents treating their children with CBD knew what dosage they were administering.
The cannabis market is highly unregulated, resulting in an abundance of mislabeled and misleading products. In addition, online products often contain excessive amounts of THC or varying concentrations of CBD. As a result, it is challenging for consumers to find reliable products they can trust.
Epidiolex is the only CBD-based medication that has been officially approved by the FDA. It’s used to treat rare and severe forms of epilepsy and was proven to work through three randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trials. Not only does CBD decrease seizure frequency, but users have also reported improvements in sleep, mood, and alertness.
Regarding other pediatric medical conditions, placebo-controlled clinical trials are still needed to prove efficacy and safety before they can be recommended. However, new applications for CBD are certainly on the horizon. Here are some of the most promising treatments utilizing CBD for kids.
Findings from open-label studies suggest that CBD-rich cannabis can improve social communication abilities in children and adolescents with ASD. Additionally, a 2019 study reported that 61% of pediatric patients with ASD showed improvement in behavioral outbursts after treatment. Patients also reported improved sleep (71.4%), a decrease in self-injury and rage attacks (67.6%), and anxiety relief (47.1%). Unfortunately, inadequate assessment tools, excessive reliance on self-reporting, and a lack of control measures have limited conclusive evidence.
Parents of children with JIA are particularly interested in CBD oil for children as current treatments for JIA typically include drugs with adverse side effects. According to animal studies, CBD can reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis; however, human studies are noticeably absent.
Considering that research already supports CBD as a means for managing anxiety in adults, it seems likely that it could also help children. Animal studies suggest that CBD for kids could decrease pediatric anxiety considerably. Of course, safety is still a concern, and until studies specifically involving pediatric care are conducted, parents should not consider administering CBD to kids with anxiety disorders.
As it stands, there isn’t enough evidence to determine the complete safety profile of CBD for kids. While it is likely that CBD is safe at moderate and low doses, the hard evidence isn’t there to back it up. Moreover, legality is a grey area, and parents who give their children CBD could be subject to legal ramifications. Never start your child on a CBD regimen without consulting a cannabis-informed doctor who can help evaluate if CBD is an appropriate treatment method and what dose you should use.
It is illegal for people under 18 to purchase CBD, and research regarding the safe age to administer CBD is limited as there are few approved CBD-based medications to use as a reference. For example, patients must be at least two years of age to take Epidiolex.
The most common method of CBD treatment is to place several drops of oil underneath the tongue, where the oil is held and absorbed into the bloodstream. This method is also typical with children.
Since weight affects CBD’s potency, kids typically require lower amounts to feel the effects. Experts recommend starting with a low dose of 0.5mg of CBD per pound three times a day and adjusting the amount based on effectivity and side effects.
CBD gummies for kids are a great alternative when your child struggles with the sublingual method. You can find flavors that appeal to your child’s pallet and present it as an opportunity for a flavorful treat. Additionally, store-bought CBD gummies contain fixed amounts of CBD, making it easy for you to track dosage and remain consistent.