Can CBD Help My Child?
It is no question that the topic of medical marijuana has become exceedingly controversial as many states begin relaxing their legislation to allow use both for medicinal and recreational purposes. With this debate comes the topic of cannabidiol, or CBD, products and their benefits, more specifically, the use of such products in pediatrics. Many experts have noticed an increase in patients experimenting with these products in their daily lives. So, before you decide whether or not CBD is right for your child, it is important to understand the history, usage, and benefits of this highly debated substance.
Where does CBD come from?
When you hear or read about the term CBD, you probably also see words like cannabis, marijuana, cannabinoid, and THC. It is important to understand the difference between these. Cannabis is an umbrella term that refers to the 3 different species of hemp plants: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis. Marijuana is the dried leaves of a hemp plant, and is often smoked for medical or recreational purposes. Cannabinoids are the chemicals found in cannabis that interact with the body. One of those cannabinoids, THC, is probably the most common one associated with marijuana. It is also psychoactive. However, some cannabinoids, including CBD, are not.
Why is the use of CBD controversial?
The use of marijuana has a long history in American government. In 1851, the United States Pharmacopeia classified marijuana as a legitimate medical compound. Many doctors supported and even encouraged its use for pain, epilepsy, and chronic migraines. However, when other pharmaceuticals were introduced in the early 1900s, marijuana-based products declined in popularity. In the 1930s, leaders in the synthetic fiber industries began to push propaganda that associated marijuana use with addiction and violence in an attempt to diminish the growing hemp industry. Congress later passed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that placed a heavy tax on cannabis and hemp use for medical or industrial purposes. By 1941, the government removed all forms of cannabis from the United States Pharmacopeia and National Formulary, despite opposition from the American Medical Association and doctors who were confident in the efficacy of marijuana for medical purposes.
A few decades later, in the early 1960s and 1970s, marijuana was often associated with anti-establishment groups. This further contributed to the negative stigma surrounding marijuana. By 1970, cannabis was labeled as a Schedule 1 substance. Since then, there have been many attempts to reconsider this status in order to allow for easier investigation. The American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, supports further research into appropriate dosage for cannabinoids and policies that verify purity levels and formulations. In the meantime, 11 states have legalized marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Some states only allow the use of medical marijuana, and others only allow the use CBD oil.
What can CBD be used for?
Autism in Children – researchers in Israel have been studying the use of CBD for children on the autism spectrum. A study involving 60 children found significant improvement in behavioral outbreaks, anxiety, and communication problems. The same study also found a reduction in stress levels of the parents of those children.
Seizures in Children – Research has found that CBD reduced seizures by almost half in children with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of child epilepsy.
Anxiety in Children– There are signs that CBD might help with anxiety, which is a symptom that oftentimes accompanies autism and ADHD. In a 2018 study of CBD for kids with autism, anxiety improved in more than a third of the 60 patients.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children – While there is minimal research on CBD’s benefits or risks for children with ADHD, some parents have reported a reduction in their children’s symptoms after the use of CBD oil.
Some research has shown that CBD is effective for the treatment of seizures in children with rare forms of epilepsy and has reduced certain symptoms of autism. Some parents have also reported improvements in ADHD. However, we lack extensive research on CBD in children as it is a relatively new form of treatment. So, it is important to consider the possible risks of CBD oil before deciding whether or not it is right for your child.