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Is CBD Oil Safe For Children With Anxiety And ADHD?

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist and toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and. more

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If you are unaware of using Cannabidiol or CBD oil for kids, you should be reading this post. CBD oil is a component found in the Cannabis Sativa family’s hemp and marijuana plants, making individuals feel high. (1). The oil has gained popularity in recent years for treating various conditions, including chronic pain, stress, insomnia, nausea, and vomiting.

Different procedures are used to extract the oil, including carbon dioxide extraction, ethanol extraction, and hydrocarbon extraction (2). After extraction, the oil is refined and marketed as tinctures, capsules, topicals, chewable gummies, beverages, and other products.

This post discusses the safety of CBD oil for children, including its advantages, age-appropriate dosage, and potential side effects and hazards associated with its use.

Is CBD Oil Safe For Children?

There’s no scientific evidence to prove the safety and efficacy of CBD oil for children. However, one CBD product, namely Greenwich Biosciences’ Epidiolex, has been approved for use as a part of a regulated medication to treat epilepsy in children by the US FDA (3). This prescription drug contains a purified form of CBD that helps treat seizures in children that occur in rare and severe epilepsy forms, such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome (4).

Since these epilepsy forms do not respond to anti-seizure medications, CBD use becomes crucial. However, remember that using CBD oil as a standalone medication to treat epilepsy in children isn’t well-researched. Thus, if you want to use CBD oil for treating epilepsy or any other ailment in your child, consult a pediatrician.

Note: CBD is often confused with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another cannabinoid found in hemp and marijuana. THC is a psychoactive compound that makes a person feel “high” and causes addiction and psychosis. However, CBD doesn’t have these effects and affects separate brain regions than THC (5).

Uses Of CBD Oil For Children

Apart from treating epilepsy, the FDA doesn’t approve CBD oil’s use to treat any ailment in children. However, studies suggest that CBD oil may be an effective treatment for the treatment of several ailments.

  1. Anxiety: Some recent studies show that CBD oil use may help reduce anxiety (6) (7). Preclinical evidence from animal studies demonstrates that CBD oil use can reduce anxiety associated with multiple disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder (8 ). However, there’s a need for further study to make any recommendations for children.
  1. Autism: A 2019 study on 188 autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients showed that the use of cannabis oil containing 30 percent CBD and 1.5 percent THC appears to be a “well-tolerated, safe, and effective option to relieve symptoms associated with ASD” (9). Another study involving 60 children also showed some promising results (8 ). However, these results aren’t sufficient for clinical validation as the research samples are quite small.
  1. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD): A systematic review conducted in 2020 highlighted that CBD could help alleviate symptoms of ADHD (10). However, currently, no targeted research studies are available to support the use of CBD oil for treating or managing ADHD in children.
  1. Multiple sclerosis (MS): A 2019 study by Thorsten Rudroff and Jacob Sosnoff suggests that CBD use may be associated with less pain and spasticity, ultimately leading to improved mobility and proper sleep (11). Yet, more research is warranted to derive any conclusions for CBD oil use for MS treatment in children.

Side Effects Associated With CBD Oil Use

CBD oil use for children isn’t well-researched, and its unguided use may cause certain side effects, such as

  1. Gastrointestinal disturbances: Upset stomach and abdominal pain are common side effects of CBD oil use in sensitive individuals. So, always consult a doctor or alternative medicine expert before using CBD oil for children.
  1. Toxicity: If CBD oil isn’t used under guidance, there’s a potential risk of overdose and toxicity. Therefore, it’s essential to use CBD oil only after consulting an expert. Some of the symptoms you may see in CBD toxicity are severe nausea or vomiting, high blood pressure, anxiety, paranoia, rapid heart rate, and hallucinations (12).
  1. Possible drug interaction: CBD is a bioactive compound that can interact with other chemicals and compounds in the medications. Since CBD affects the brain and the central nervous system, antidepressants and antipsychotics are the most obvious drugs that can interact with CBD.

Some other drugs that can interact with CBD are blood thinners and thyroid and heart medications (13). Therefore, if your child is on any medication, consult your doctor before using CBD for any purpose.

Besides these, CBD oil can also cause headaches, drowsiness, dry mouth, and low blood pressure (14).

Note: Milk and foods containing high amounts of fats can increase the absorption of CBD in the body, thus increasing the effects and side effects of CBD on an individual (12).

Possible Risks Associated With CBD Oil Use In Children

Baring Epidiolex, which contains CBD, CBD oil isn’t regulated by the US FDA, making its use in children and teens risky as (5) (8 )

  1. The ingredients of CBD oil can’t be determined accurately, meaning the products can have ingredients that aren’t mentioned on the label. For instance, several products that claim to contain only CBD may also contain high doses of THC, a psychoactive compound.
  1. CBD oil’s quality can’t be ascertained, as there are chances that the oil may be contaminated with microorganisms, pesticides, and heavy metals. Consuming contaminated CBD oil can cause severe effects in sensitive individuals.
  1. The efficacy and safety of CBD oil in children and teens are unclear, and research on this subject is still in its early stages. Also, existing studies have been either done on animals or human adults and not on pediatric patients. Further, the studies that involve children have small sample sizes.
  1. The dosage guidelines aren’t clear, except for CBD used in the drug Epidiolex to treat Epilepsy. Thus, using CBD oil at home is tricky, especially when you aren’t aware of how much CBD oil you can administer to a child to get the desired effect. Also, there is no way to know which mode of use is best and how much CBD would be absorbed in the body based on the method of administration.

Besides these, the legality of the use of CBD oil varies from one country to another and state to state. For instance, according to the US FDA, THC or CBD can’t be sold legally as a dietary supplement, food, or therapeutic product (4). Instead, it can only be included in cosmetics when its THC content is less than 0.3 percent (14). So, check your state’s legal requirements for CBD oil purchase and use before you make any purchases.

How To Choose CBD Oil?

Proper selection of a CBD oil brand can be tricky as it’s manufactured by several companies globally. So, here are some tips that could help (15).

  1. Buy the product from a trusted manufacturer and seller. It will ensure the product you’re buying is of good quality and is not contaminated. Some manufacturers may dilute CBD isolate with hemp seed oil, which can make the product comparatively ineffective as they lack the balance of beneficial components found in broad-spectrum CBD oil (2).
  1. Read the product label carefully and determine the
    • Oil source: The oil should be extracted from hemp or marijuana. Typically, hemp has a significantly less amount of THC when compared to marijuana. THC is a psychoactive chemical that can create dependence over long-term use. So, ensure you buy CBD oil extracted from hemp plants cultivated by domestic farmers. Domestic hemp is typically free of toxins and pesticides.
    • Extraction method: The extraction method indicates how the oil has been extracted from the hemp plant. Typically, CBD oil is extracted using carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction or by using solvents such as ethanol, propane, and butane. Out of these, propane and butane extraction isn’t considered safe as these solvents are toxic and hazardous for children. On the other hand, ethanol and CO2 extraction techniques are safe and potent as they leave no harmful chemicals in the oil.
    • Chemical composition: It signifies whether the oil is full-spectrum or isolate. Full-spectrum CBD oil will contain several phytonutrients, such as flavonoids, terpenes, and trace amounts of THC. If THC’s presence concerns you, look for CBD isolates, which are the pure form of CBD oil.

    But, while you make that choice, consult an expert as concentrated CBD has high amounts of CBD per serving, increasing the chances of overdose.

      • Product certification: Ensure the product has been certified by a reputable third-party testing lab or organization. The lab will test the oil quality and certify that the oil is true to its claim about its chemical composition. It’s best to buy oil that has testing information attached.

      CBD oil for children and adults is the same. However, since children weigh less and are comparatively sensitive, using CBD oil with lower potency is advisable.

      CBD Oil Dosage For Children

      The appropriate dosage of CBD oil for children depends on their body weight, metabolism, medical condition, overall health, and intent of use. For instance, the US FDA has approved the daily oral use of 25mg per kg of body weight for Epidiolex, the prescription drug that contains CBD (14). Its use is approved for children aged one and above.

      However, this dosage may or may not be suitable for every child. So, consult a doctor or alternative medicine expert to determine the appropriate CBD oil dosage and suitable mode of use for a child.

      While CBD oil has gained popularity over the past few years as a remedy for various ailments, it is important to remember that the FDA does not approve CBD oil for kids. More research is needed to support and establish the safety of CBD oils in the treatment of ailments such as anxiety, autism, and ADHD. In addition, it is advisable to refrain from using these oils if your children are on any other medications. Further, consult your pediatrician before using this oil on your child.

      Key Pointers

      • CBD oil or Cannabidiol, a derivative of the cannabis plant, is reportedly used to treat certain neurological ailments, such as epilepsy, in children.
      • It is essential to use this oil only when prescribed by an expert since it poses the risk of side effects such as CBD toxicity, gastric problems, and drug interactions.
      • The oil is not approved for use in children in some countries. Therefore, seek professional advice before using it.
      References:

      MomJunction’s articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

      Can CBD Help With ADHD? Everything You Need to Know

      Kelly Burch is a freelance journalist who has covered health topics for more than 10 years. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.

      Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

      Keri Peterson, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine and has her own private practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She holds appointments at Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center.

      Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopment conditions among children, affecting an estimated 11% of U.S. children. The condition is characterized by having trouble sitting still, an inability to focus, forgetfulness, and disorganization.

      Adults can also be diagnosed with ADHD, and about 75% of kids with ADHD will continue to have ADHD symptoms as adults.

      These days, more ADHD patients and parents of children with the condition are curious about whether cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant, can be beneficial in managing ADHD symptoms.

      CBD has shown promise for treating some health experts, and many experts believe its calming effects could help those with ADHD. However, research is still emerging and caution should be used.

      This article will review the potential benefits of CBD for ADHD, the side effects, and how to source the best CBD products.

      Vanessa Nunes /iStock/ Getty Images Plus

      Using CBD for ADHD Symptoms

      The federal prohibition on all cannabis products, including hemp, prior to 2018 has limited research on CBD and ADHD. However, there are some studies about the effects of CBD or cannabis on ADHD symptoms. Here’s what they’ve found:

      • A 2020 scientific review gave a grade B, or moderate, recommendation supporting CBD for ADHD treatment.
      • A small 2020 study of 112 adult medical cannabis patients with ADHD found that those who took a higher dose of CBD took fewer other ADHD medications.
      • A small 2017 study involving 30 individuals found that those who used a CBD nasal spray had a small reduction in hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. However, the improvement was not big enough for researchers to definitely say that CBD spray was more effective than a placebo. The researchers called for further investigation.

      The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one prescription CBD medication, which is used to treat epilepsy. Research is ongoing for CBD formulate to treat other conditions.

      Benefits of CBD

      Unlike THC, which acts on cannabinoid receptors in the brain, CBD acts on opioid and glycine receptors. These receptors regulate pain and the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps us feel good. Unsurprisingly, then, research has shown that CBD can have lots of benefits. These include:

      • Reducing inflammation
      • Regulating the immune system
      • Reducing pain
      • Providing antipsychotic effects
      • Reducing seizures
      • Reducing anxiety

      CBD products sometimes claim many additional benefits. However, those listed above have been scientifically proven, while other benefits are often anecdotal or overstated.

      Potential Side Effects of CBD

      A perk of CBD is that it has very few side effects. CBD does not have any psychoactive effects and it doesn’t have any risk of addiction or abuse. A 2020 scientific review of 22 research studies found no reports of serious adverse side effects.

      However, some people who take CBD will experience minor side effects including:

      • Drowsiness
      • Headache
      • Changes to appetite
      • Stomach pain or nausea

      Things to Consider Before Using CBD

      Although many CBD products make claims about treating ADHD, there is no definitive research that shows CDB will help most people with ADHD. It’s best to keep your expectations realistic and remember that even if CBD worked well for someone you know, it will not necessarily improve symptoms for you or your child, and it is not a replacement for treatments recommended by your healthcare team.

      You should also consider the legality. It’s important to only use a CBD product that contains less than 0.3% THC, in order to comply with federal law. If you are considering CBD for a child, consult laws in your state and consider using an isolate that contains no THC, which is illegal for people under 21 even in states that have legalized cannabis. Be sure to purchase your CBD products from a reputable dispensary or drugstore so that you know exactly what’s in them.

      How to Use CBD

      There are no guidelines on how to use CBD for ADHD. CBD oil is widely available and is usually consumed by placing a few drops under the tongue or stirring into coffee or tea. There are also many CBD products available, ranging from supplements to gummies to packaged drinks.

      There is also no known dosage for treating ADHD. Many people find they need to experiment to find the right daily dose to manage their symptoms.

      If you’re curious about using CBD to treat ADHD, you should talk with your healthcare provider. Although CBD is generally considered safe, it is still a chemical compound that can interact with other supplements or medications.

      Remember that CBD oils are mostly unregulated, so there’s also no guarantee that a product is safe, effective, or what it claims to be on its packaging. Your healthcare provider should be able to offer dosage and product recommendations that work with your individualized treatment plan.

      Summary

      CBD shows some promise for helping to manage ADHD symptoms. However, the research is limited and more research needs to be done to confirm effectiveness, dosage, and safety. CBD is generally considered safe and has few if any side effects. If you are considering trying CBD, talk with your healthcare provider and seek out a quality product for the best results.

      A Word From Verywell

      The symptoms of ADHD can have a big impact on your life, so it’s normal to look for alternative treatments to supplement your medical treatment plan or manage minor symptoms.

      While early research on CBD for ADHD is promising, there are no definitive conclusions yet. If you want to try CBD for ADHD, talk with a trusted healthcare professional. They’ll be able to answer your questions without judgment and craft a treatment plan that is right for you.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      CBD is generally considered very safe. It has no psychoactive properties and is not addictive. Some people experience minor side effects like an upset stomach or drowsiness.

      The FDA has approved one prescription CBD medication for treating epilepsy in children. Outside of that, CBD is considered generally safe, but you should consult your healthcare provider and laws in your state before giving CBD to children.

      CBD is legal at the federal level as long as it is in a form that contains less than 0.3% THC, the other active ingredient in marijuana. The legality of CBD at the state level varies, so be sure to look at laws in your state.