Millions of adults use CBD as a dietary supplement. But adults are not the only age group that CBD can help. It is known that children with inflammatory or neurological problems or seizures can benefit from CBD in very specific cases. But is CBD generally safe for children? The fact that the molecule is extracted from the cannabis plant may be enough to dissuade many parents from giving it to their child. But CBD is neither intoxicating nor psychotropic. Moreover, it is usually extracted from industrial hemp, a form of cannabis that contains negligible amounts of THC, a psychotropic cannabinoid.
WHAT EXACTLY IS CBD?
CBD is one of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp. This molecule is non-psychotropic and has even been shown to counteract some of the psychological effects of THC. There is a lot of evidence of the therapeutic properties of CBD for conditions such as seizures, anxiety, inflammation, pain, etc.
CBD exerts its effects on the body through several mechanisms. In particular, it does so through the endocannabinoid system, a series of receptors located in the nervous system, the immune system and other sites in the body. Because of its molecular similarity to the body’s own endocannabinoids, which act as signalling molecules for the endocannabinoid system, CBD is compatible with this system. Although CBD has a low affinity for these receptors, it still manages to influence the system, in part by blocking CB1 receptors and increasing synaptic levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide. CBD also targets other receptors in the body, including serotonin and vanilloid receptors.
IS CBD SAFE FOR CHILDREN?
The fact that CBD is not psychotropic makes it a viable option for children with certain conditions. In general, there is no significant difference between a vitamin supplement and a dose of CBD. The molecule affects several physiological processes while having no psychotropic properties, which is why many adults turn to the cannabinoid to relieve their symptoms.
A 2018 study examined the long-term safety of CBD in a group of 607 adults and children and found that the cannabinoid appears to be safe for children. Although a large proportion of subjects withdrew from the study due to lack of efficacy and undesirable side effects, the only side effects experienced were diarrhea and drowsiness.
CBD is available in many forms. Many adults choose to administer CBD by spray or alcohol-based dyes. These forms are not suitable for children, but cannabinoid is also available in child-friendly forms such as gummy bears and CBD oils.
DRAVET’S SYNDROME AND CBD
Dravet’s syndrome is an example of where CBD is an appropriate medication for some children. It is a severe form of epilepsy that can affect children as young as one year of age. It causes seizures associated with fever that eventually destroy mental development by the time the child is two years old. Other symptoms include loss of muscle movement control, light-sensitive skin and abnormal EEG activity.
Conventional treatments for this disease include stiripentol, an anticonvulsant medication. However, a U.S. government website also lists CBD as an FDA-approved drug under the brand name Epidiolex. Epidiolex is also an approved treatment for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, another rare form of epilepsy in children.
AN IMPRESSIVE STUDY HOLDS OUT GREAT HOPE
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine included an investigation of CBD in drug-resistant seizures in Dravet’s syndrome. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 120 children and young adults diagnosed with this disease. Participants were divided into two groups. One group received 20 mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight and the other group received a placebo. Both groups continued to receive anti-epileptic treatment.
It was found that the CBD group had a greater decrease in seizures per month than the placebo group. Surprisingly, 5% of the CBD group subjects had no seizures (compared with 0% in the placebo group).
In addition to highly qualified scientific research, there are also amazing anecdotes of children who have had excellent CBD results compared to Dravet’s syndrome. One such case is the inspiring story of Charlotte Figi, born in 2004, who had her first seizure at the age of three months. Some of her seizures lasted several hours and her condition progressed to the point where she had 300,000 seizures a week.
Conventional treatments failed, as did some alternative methods. It wasn’t until Charlotte was given a preparation of cannabis with low THC and high CBD content that her condition improved. The frequency of her seizures decreased immediately. Currently, Charlotte is in great shape and has about 2-3 seizures per month.
IS CBD SUITABLE FOR YOUR CHILD?
CBD seems to be safe, non-psychotropic and quite effective against certain illnesses. But should you give it to your child? This is a difficult question that only a qualified health professional can answer. Ask your doctor to make sure your decision is the right one, and never give CBD to your child without a doctor’s permission.