Dear CannaCurious: I keep reading about all the benefits of CBD for adults, but what can it do for children? Are there benefits and cautions I should be aware of? - A Loving Parent
Dear Loving Parent: You are right that CBD is in a popular topic. As a reminder, CBD or cannabidiol is one of the main products produced by the cannabis plant and it is not an intoxicant.
The reason that it is so popular is that it battles inflammation naturally, which can help your body heal itself. If you ever hear of a medical condition that ends in “itis” (as in arthritis for example), it is a condition that is caused by inflammation. In the past, many of us have taken Tylenol or Advil, but these over-the-counter pain relievers tax our internal organs and can cause damage in the long run. They also mask the pain rather than help in the healing process.
When considering how CBD can help children, I consulted medical cannabis expert Dr. Swathi Varanasi — better known as Doctor Swathi. She is an Integrative Health Pharmacist and Medical Cannabis Consultant. Here are the questions that most patients ask:
What childhood conditions respond to the use of CBD?
“Of the many possible uses of CBD in children, conditions with the most notable research include epilepsy, autism spectrum disorder and anxiety,” said Dr. Swathi. “The only FDA-approved medication containing cannabidiol is Epidiolex, indicated to treat two rare types of epilepsy in children: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. With prolonged use, studies show that children diagnosed with autism who were treated with CBD had demonstrated improvements in symptoms such as seizures, restlessness and agitation. CBD has also been shown to decrease feelings of anxiety and increase levels of alertness in children.”
What starting dose should a parent/caregiver administer? And is there a method of administration (drops, salves, transdermals, etc.) that works best for children?
Start with CBD drops or tinctures (provided that the child doesn’t have circumstances that would make giving drops difficult) at a dose of 4 milligrams per day and increase by about 4 milligrams per day. The overall idea is to start with a low dose and then increase the dose until relief is achieved. This process may take some time and most children will end up taking a dose of roughly 25 to 35 milligrams of CBD or more. Of course, the best course of action is to work with your health care provider to come up with a health plan, and this information in no way, replaces medical advice.
Should a parent/caregiver use full spectrum CBD or isolate or something else?
Dr. Swathi noted, “Selecting full spectrum, broad spectrum and/or CBD isolate depends on many factors including but not limited to the child’s diagnosis, lifestyle and other medications in their regimen.” Any product chosen should be organically grown, carefully processed and third-party tested.
Are there any side effects?
The use of CBD by children generally results in few side effects. Make sure to let your health provider know all of the medications a child is taking, which will help alert you to possible drug interactions. Occasional side effects include diarrhea, changes in appetite, and fatigue, especially in high doses.
What advice would you give a parent/caregiver who is considering giving their child CBD?
“Parents and/or caregivers considering CBD as a treatment modality for their child should consult a clinician with a specialty in cannabis,” Dr. Swathi said. “Keep in mind that cannabinoid medicine is not a required part of any health professionals’ training in the United States, so finding a practitioner with a vested interest and training in the intricacies of the endocannabinoid system is vital when selecting the optimal dose and formulation.”
When dealing with children and CBD, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Always do your own research and work with a knowledgeable health care provider when evaluating medical options.
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