CBD for Children: is it safe?

To a certain extent, the rise of cannabidiol (CBD) can be attributed to its effective use in children - specifically a little girl called Charlotte Figi - with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. Since then Epidiolex, the only CBD medicine that is approved by both the United State’s Federal Drug Administration and the National Health Service in the UK, is seizure medication specifically designed for pediatric use.

Since then there is some evidence, from both anecdotal as well as clinical research, showing that CBD has promise as an effective, safe and natural treatment option for a variety of other pediatric illnesses and disorders.

However, this begs the question; if CBD has been approved by the FDA and NHS for certain conditions, and so many other studies are showing that it is an potentially effective treatment for other conditions in children as well, is it safe to use for my child? And if so, what do I need to consider before giving CBD to my child, which conditions can I use for, how much do I use and which products should I use?

Is CBD safe to use for my child?

CBD has a great track record for safety in adults with the World Health Organisation even making an official statement that CBD is well tolerated with a “good safety profile” in a number of trials.

Unfortunately, the amount of studies relating to CBD use and its safety profile in children are relatively limited. Because of the stigma that still surrounds cannabinoid based therapies as well as legal and ethical restrictions when conducting medical research on children it is easy to understand why.

However, in 2017, The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics published a review study of a large number of clinical trials in which CBD oil was safely used in children diagnosed with a variety of different condition. While this review study is helpful and the results from many of the reviewed clinical trials were promising, it also emphasizes the lack of data, resources and test subjects in the pediatric CBD research arena.

That said, with controlled dosages and medical supervision, CBD has been shown to have a positive impact and therapeutic benefit for a vast number of health conditions, many of which are relevant to children. Let’s take a look at a few of these.

What do I Need to Consider Before giving CBD Oil to my child

Although limited, the current evidence largely points to CBD as a well tolerated, safe, effective and low-risk treatment option for both children and adults.

Ultimately however, whether or not you decide to give your child CBD oil and/or a good treatment option for him/her may largely boil down to circumstances outside or your control. Things like legalities, availability and other factors may play a large role in whether or not CBD is an option for you and your child.

Other key factors to consider before giving your child CBD oil are some of the pro’s and con’s of CBD consumption.

Benefits of using CBD oil for Children

Disadvantages of using CBD oil for Children

Which Conditions can I Use CBD for in My child?

CBD has been shown to help children with a variety of different disorders, some of which include things like:

In addition to these, there is also a lot of interest and hype around several other pediatric disorders for which CBD oil shows a lot of promise. Let’s take a look.

CBD Oil for Children with Epilepsy

As mentioned, Charlotte Figi and the high CBD strain Charlotte’s Web named after her, are probably the most highly publicized cases of CBD oil use in children, but also for epilepsy. Since then, CBD oil as well as the pharmaceutical medications Epidiolex and Sativex are often recommend for treating seizure disorders and epileptic conditions such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome as well as in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

CBD Oil for Children Suffering from Pain

Just as with adult, for children suffering from inflammatory or chronic pain conditions, CBD can be a powerful, safe, non-addictive and effective treatment option for pain. Especially for pediatric cancer patients suffering from neuropathic pain, CBD oil can provide pain relief.

CBD Oil for Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Currently, the majority of pharmaceutical treatments for ADHD are stimulants that in many cases, actually amplifies the symptoms of ADHD. But, because CBD has been shown to enhance concentration and cognitive functioning while also reducing anxiety and inducing a better night’s sleep, in some cases, CBD oil may provide a safer and more effective treatment plan for children with ADHD.

How Much CBD oil should I give my child?

Unfortunately this is not an easy questions to answer. Most of the dosage recommendations that are available are based on animal studies, adult clinical trials and a lot of guess work with most dosage recommendations being created with adults in mind.

Another thing that makes dosage difficult is that the content and potency of CBD products vary greatly between type, brand and administration method. Similarly no two people, never mind children, metabolize compounds the same way, with things like genetics, body size, general health, symptom severity, other medications and a whole range of other factors playing a role in what will constitute an appropriate and effective dose for your child.

Having a conversation with your pediatrician or another health care provider that is open to cannabinoid based medicines and knows something about it can recommend an appropriate dosage for you child and his/her condition.

Which CBD products should I use for my child?

You’ve considered everything, you’ve done your research, you spoke to your pediatrician and you’ve made the decision to use CBD for your child. The next step is to decide on a product. When doing so, it is important to keep the following things in mind:

1. Make sure you know what’s in it. It seems obvious but just as with everything else, before purchasing and giving your child any CBD product, you need to really know what is in it.

2. Check for things like the amount of CBD (potency) that is in the product. Whether or not it contains a full-spectrum (which contains the psychoactive cannabinoid THC), broad-spectrum extract or a pure CBD Isolate - each of which have their own benefits and drawbacks. Also make sure that the product is of a high quality, organically grown, CO2 extracted and free from any contaminants. To check this, ask for a third-party lab test result, something that is standard for a good quality product.

3. CBD also comes in a variety of forms and administration methods, again, all of which have their own pro’s and con’s as well as relevancy for different uses.

CBD Oil for children

Administered sublingually (held under the tongue), CBD oil has a fair level of bioavailability, with an onset time of between 30 and 60 minutes. Although this is a good option for children, the bitter, herbal, nutty taste of full- or broad-spectrum CBD oils can make it difficult to give to children. If a CBD Isolate is not an option, try mixing the full- or broad-spectrum CBD oil with something sweet like yogurt or ice-cream to mask the flavor.

Flavored CBD Tinctures or Mixtures for children
Basically nothing more than a CBD oil mixed with sweetness and flavors like mint, strawberry or lemon, these products are a lot easier for children to ingest. As with CBD oils, CBD tinctures and mixtures can be taken sublingually or added to your child’s food or drinks and has the same bioavailability and onset time.

CBD Capsules for children
Capsules containing pure CBD oil are great for older children that can safely swallow pills and capsules. The also come in a wide variety of dosages, with most CBD capsules also including other beneficial nutrients like vitamins and minerals. It is however important to bear in mind that the bioavailability of CBD capsules are lower than for oils and tinctures at about 4% to 6% with an onset time of 30 to 90 minutes because it has to pass through the digestive system and metabolized by the liver first.

CBD Gummies for Children
Making your child’s dose of CBD seem like a treat is a big draw for many parents making CBD gummies a popular product. However, these products tend to be lower in potency than other forms of CBD which might not provide a therapeutic dose for many conditions and symptoms. Similarly, as with CBD capsules, CBD gummies have a relatively low bioavailability of about 4% to 6% with an onset time of 30 to 90 minutes.

Final Thoughts

Whatever you decide however, as with any treatment and especially those involving children, it is vital that you speak to your pediatrician or health care provider before considering giving your child CBD.

Not only can they give you advise on administration, other drug interactions and so on, but they can also monitor your child’s symptoms, tolerance and other factors to enhance treatment while also ensuring that it’s safe.

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and the information presented in this article is not intended to be, nor should it be considered medical advice not is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.