New Benefits of CBD Oil for Children With Epilepsy
Controversy may still surround the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, but the fact is that the drug is effective in treating several serious health problems. Having previously been used to treat common optical, psychiatric, and neurological disorders, compounds in marijuana are now being used to treat epilepsy in children, and the results are nothing but positive.
Specifically, this is CBD, an extract from the marijuana plant that does not cause the high of the more well-known marijuana. As medical marijuana becomes increasingly available in the U.S., CBD has become an important part of treatment for many, children included.
The Search for a Better Epilepsy Drug
Epilepsy is a nerve disorder where cell activity in the brain is disturbed and causes seizures. The condition can occur as a result of a genetic disorder or after a traumatic brain injury. Seizures are very dangerous and cause changes in behavior as well as unconsciousness.
The good news is that with treatment, lifestyle changes, and some dietary modifications, you can live a relatively full life with epilepsy.
Typically, epilepsy is treated with anti-seizure medications and often many people can discontinue use if they have lived a few years without any seizures. For the most part, antiepileptic medications should not be discontinued, even if this long-term use can come with some unpleasant side effects.
Symptoms ranging from frequent headache, speech problems, and weight gain, to more serious complications like depression are a few reasons why people look to alternative treatment options.
Cannabidiol is one of the key compounds in marijuana and possesses potent antiepileptic properties, without any unpleasant psychoactive effects (the “high”) on the side. Studies in the past have been limited, but recently, researchers are finding that cannabidiol may be the most effective option to date for treating epilepsy.
When used for epilepsy treatment, CBD produced significantly decreased seizure occurrences as compared to the commonly prescribed drugs.
Going Beyond the Drugs
Even if CBD treatment is not an option for you or your child, there are several lifestyle and dietary changes you can incorporate to make living with epilepsy much better.
As alternative medicine continues to gain popularity, the use of herbs for the treatment of epilepsy has become more common. According to ancient Chinese medicine, there are a handful of herbs that possess anticonvulsant properties and are beneficial for preventing epileptic seizures.
Just as there are beneficial herbs, though, there are also those that need to be avoided if you have epilepsy. Gingko, schizandra, and supplements containing ephedra need to be avoided, as they can worsen seizures and interfere with epilepsy medications.
Vitamins and Minerals
Certain vitamins and minerals have been found to reduce seizures so long as they are used in conjunction with medications. They seem to play a supportive role, allowing medications to work more effectively.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that reduces oxidative damage, which can worsen epileptic seizures. It also helps to reduce seizures in those that have symptoms not easily controlled by medications.
Magnesium also seems to reduce seizure risk. Some epilepsy medications have been known to cause biotin and vitamin D deficiencies, which make symptoms worse. It is advised that supplements should be taken in conjunction with medications to avoid this and ensure seizures are minimized.
Making some dietary changes can help to reduce seizures. The diet that seems to be the most successful is the ketogenic diet. This low carbohydrate, low protein, and high fat diet reduces seizures, but the exact reason is unclear.
It is thought that by eliminating refined carbohydrates and sugars, the body runs more efficiently, which helps control seizures. With this diet there is no need to count calories, and you can see an improvement in symptoms in just a few months.
It is possible to control your brain activity and reduce seizures. Since most people experience symptoms about 20 minutes before a seizure, it is possible to identify these and prevent the seizure.
Several days before the event, you may notice anxiety, depression, fatigue, and headaches. In the time immediately preceding an episode, you may notice unusual smells, blurry vision, or see strange lights.
Once you feel these, you can use self-control techniques to prevent the seizure. Walking, meditating, and even smelling a strong odor have all been known to work, but they may not work every time.
This technique uses electrical sensors to alter your brain wave activity. Physical therapists use this method to help reduce seizures, and it is recommended that you seek a professional opinion before seeking this option out.
Managing the condition with this method alone can be challenging and takes time, so you need to have patience or combine it with other treatment options.
Therapies like acupuncture have been reported to help certain cases. It is thought that acupuncture helps by increasing parasympathetic tone and changing brain waves.
As with biofeedback and self-control, acupuncture works better when combined with other treatments. Relying on them alone to manage your epilepsy symptoms and seizures will not give the best results.
The Bottom Line
Epilepsy is a serious condition that needs your constant attention, and treatment is essential to longevity. Epilepsy can be dangerous when left untreated, but with medications, drugs, or natural options, you can ensure that epilepsy doesn’t control your life.
CBD therapy shines a light at the end of the dark epilepsy tunnel and is worth taking a closer look at. As a safe, natural alternative, it continues to surprise with its benefits.
READ NEXT >>> 7 Benefits and Uses of CBD Oil
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The Dangers of CBD Oil: How to Keep Your Child Safe
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CBD oil is becoming a popular option for a variety of health conditions. However, is CBD oil a safe option for kids?
Due to its popularity, the number of CBD products has exploded in the last year or two. I’m sure you have seen them…CBD gummies, lotions, coffee, pet treats, patches, etc. They are everywhere!
While I support natural and alternative treatments, I always do my research before using a new product. So, I was originally looking into whether CBD oil is really the miracle product that people claim it to be…or whether it’s just a trendy placebo.
What I found along the way is that many people are giving CBD oil and products to their kids. Of course, I found this to be alarming since CBD oil is a relatively new product on the market. And from what I’ve found, it is a highly unregulated product. In this post I will explain how CBD works in your body along with the possible benefits and risks of CBD oil.
Because as parents and caregivers, we need to take a closer look – and think twice – before buying in to a trend that will affect our kids.
What is CBD oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an extract from the flowers, stalks, and seeds of cannibus plants. Full spectrum CBD oil contains all of the compounds that are found naturally in the plant, including cannabinoids (with very small amounts of THC), terpenes and essential oils.
CBD has become especially popular because of their low THC levels. This means that you can experience the therapeutic benefits without the intoxication or “high” of marijuana.
How Does CBD Oil Work?
CBD interacts with our body by effecting the regulatory system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) (6). The main function of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain your body’s balance in response to changes in the environment.
Researchers have found that the endocannabinoid system is involved in a wide variety of processes. Some of these processes include pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, immune function, and reproductive function (11).
The results from a 2015 study (12) indicate that while CBD does not have direct interactions with ECS receptors, it does have the ability to regulate signaling systems and to enhance endocannabinoid levels.
Possible Benefits of CBD Oil for Kids
The only condition that has been extensively researched in regards to CBD effectiveness and safety is epilepsy. In June of 2018 the FDA approved a purified CBD oral solution called Epidiolex (7). This solution is found to provide major reductions in total seizure frequency for patients with specific types of epilepsy including Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome (DS) in patients 2 years of age and older.
Anxiety and Sleep
Parents have reported giving their children CBD oil on a daily basis to help with anxiety. However, the research on its effectiveness in treating anxiety is very limited.
There is only one case study to date in which the use of CBD oil was effective in reducing anxiety and improving sleep in a young girl with posttraumatic stress disorder (13). A larger case series completed with adults concluded that CBD displays promise as a tool for reducing anxiety (14). It was indicated that randomized and controlled trials are needed to provide definitive clinical guidance.
- For non-medication strategies to help you child with anxiety, please refer to Anxiety in Children: The Ultimate Guide to Helping Your Child Cope by Tina Williamson.
- For strategies to help you child with sleep, please refer to Proven Ways To Improve Your Child’s Sleep Hygiene.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological disorder characterized by persistent deficits in social communication, restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities and often intellectual disabilities.
Parents of children with autism have reported that CBD oil has improved their child’s symptoms.
The research shows that this is promising. For example, an observational study concluded that cannabis as a treatment for ASD patients appears to be an effective option to relieve symptoms. These symptoms included: seizures, tics, depression, restlessness and rage attacks (12). It is important to note, however, that the treatment was based on cannabis oil containing 30% CBD and 1.5% THC. Many studies that I have reviewed indicate that the presence of THC is needed in order for CBD to be effective.
In addition, a review of pre-clinical data indicates that CBD oil seems to be a candidate for the treatment of ASD. They indicated, however, that further data showing efficacy and safety of cannabinoid treatment in ASD patients is needed (6).
- A collection of resources that provides parents and professionals with information for understanding autism spectrum disorders is available from OCALI and Autism Speaks.
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Another condition of interest is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While data has shown that endogenous cannabinoids (cannabinoids made by your body) may play a role in ADHD (10), studies have not demonstrated effectiveness or safety for CBD when it comes to ADHD management.
According to CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), “there haven’t been any studies on the use of CBD oil in children; neither have there been studies on long-term effects. So while some people are using it and have shared their results publicly, researchers and medical professionals have not found evidence that it is an effective treatment for ADHD. The research does not show that CBD oil works for ADHD management”. (9)
- For non-medication strategies for children with ADHD, please read ADHD and School: A Toolkit for Parents.
The Dangers of CBD Oil
1. Risk of Toxicity
CBD has psychoactive properties – meaning that it is a substance that affects the brain. Overexposure to CBD products can be toxic to young children.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the number of calls to poison centers reporting CBD concerns have dramatically increased in just two years (6).
This may be associated with the increase in the number of products sold with CBD, such as oil, lotion, food, drinks, and pills. Gummies that look like candy should especially be out of reach of children.
Symptoms of CBD Toxicity
Symptoms of CBD toxicity include extreme confusion, anxiety, paranoia, panic, fast heart rate, delusions or hallucinations, increased blood pressure and severe nausea or vomiting.
Since cannabis-based products can be toxic to young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the FDA reminds parents to keep these products out of reach of children. The FDA urges parents to seek medical treatment if they suspect their child has accidentally consumed a cannabis-based product.
2. CBD Oil Products are Unregulated
There are no FDA-approved drug products that contain CBD other than Epidiolex. In addition, CBD oil and products do not meet the requirements to be considered a dietary supplement.
Unfortunately, this means that CBD oil and CBD products are not regulated. Therefore, products can contain more or less CBD or THC than labeled. And they may be contaminated with other ingredients.
A 2017 survey reported that of 84 online CBD and hemp oil products examined, only 26 were accurately labeled for CBD and THC content. CBD was often over-labeled while THC was under-labeled (3).
Why is this important? Because the use of untested and poor quality CBD products can have unpredictable and unintended consequences. For example, there are documented cases of pediatric THC intoxication related to CBD product ingestion. These cases are likely due to this variation in products, indicating the need for more regulation of the market (6).
3. Disruption During Development
Endogenous cannabinoids (cannabinoids made by your body) play vital roles in a baby’s development. During their prenatal development, endocannabinoids are crucial for brain development. In addition, after your child’s birth endocannabinoids help stimulate the process of suckling and promote appetite, teaching newborns the vital process of getting nutrients.
Some have argued that more cannabinoids from CBD will then be better for your baby. However, the opposite is actually true.
A study completed by in 2008 found that manipulation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), by administering cannabinoids, alters the delicate balance of the baby’s ESC. This causes prenatal stress and may interfere with the ability of the fetus and newborn baby to cope with stress (8). In addition, CBD oil can interfere with your baby’s brain development and lead to later behavioral problems.
4. Potential Liver Injury
During its review of the application for Epidiolex (a purified form of CBD) the FDA identified the potential for liver injury. In clinical studies, almost 16% of people taking the drug had high blood levels of liver enzymes (7). High levels of liver enzymes in the blood can mean there is a problem with the liver.
These are serious risks that a physician can be monitor. However, it is less clear how these risks might be managed when CBD is used far more widely, without medical supervision.
5. Reproductive System Damage
I know that you’re probably not thinking about your child’s reproductive future. However, a 2018 study aimed to assess the effects of chronic CBD exposure on the male reproductive system (5). These results indicated that chronic CBD exposure was associated with changes in the male reproductive system (decrease in testosterone, sperm abnormalities), suggesting its reproductive toxicity.
Another potential risk of CBD oil is fatigue. Specifically, during the clinical trials of Epidiolex, drowsiness was a common side effect (7). Up to 25% of people taking the drug felt unusually sleepy. About 12% of people taking Epidiolex had fatigue (low energy levels). And between 3% and 6% of people taking the drug felt sedated.
These side effects could lead to your child feeling sleepy while at school, they may experience loss of coordination, and may have trouble thinking clearly.
7. Medication Interactions
CBD can reduce or increase the effects of certain medications. This is because CBD inhibits liver enzymes that work to metabolize medications as well as eliminating toxins from the body (4).
For this reason, it’s important to talk to your child’s doctor before using CBD.
How to Purchase a Quality CBD Oil
If you have considered the risks and would still like to use CBD oil with your child, consult with your child’s physician first. It is also crucial to use a high-quality CBD oil. Here is what to look for before you purchase:
- Where is it Grown – The source of CBD is crucial because hemp plants easily absorb everything that is present in the ground where it was farmed and cultivated. Look for the USDA organic certification and USDA organic handler’s certification.
- Ask for the Certificate of Analysis (COA) – Quality companies will be able to provide you with results of third-party laboratory testing to ensure that the product contains the amount of CBD it claims and that it is free of heavy metals. To see an example report from Nature’s Ultra, click here.
- Extraction Method – Look for companies that use organic and pharmaceutical-grade ethanol (essentially grain alcohol) for processing CBD or the CO2 extraction method. These methods ensure that they are not using toxic solvents to process the oils (ex. butane, propane).
Other Important Factors
- Hemp Oil is Not CBD Oil – Hemp oil, or hemp seed oil, is not the same as CBD oil. Hemp oil is made from pressed hemp seeds. Unfortunately, some suppliers take advantage of the confusion between the two oils and try to trick customers into paying high prices for hemp oil when it only contains only slight amounts of CBD. Be sure to check the concentration of CBD oil in milligrams (mg) to ensure you’re purchasing the correct product.
- Don’t Fall for Marketing – Don’t fall for claims like “pure,” “organic” or “all-natural,” because these have no scientific meaning for CBD products and are just part of the marketing campaign.
- Be Aware of Companies that Make Health Claims – Under federal law, it is illegal to market CBD as a dietary supplement and to make claims that it can treat, prevent, or cure a disease. The FDA keeps a public record of warning letters sent to suppliers who’s products don’t contain the amount of CBD as they claim. These letters are also sent to companies that make medical claims. You can find that list here.
Summary of Findings
- Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the flowers, stalks, and seeds of cannibus plants. Both CBD and THC have psychoactive effects, but CBD is known for its non-intoxicating properties.
- In June of 2018 the FDA approved a purified CBD oral solution called Epidiolex. This solution provides major reductions in total seizure frequency for patients with specific types of epilepsy.
- Further research is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of CBD treatment for other conditions, including anxiety, ASD, and ADHD.
- There are several risks to take into account when using CBD oil and products. Some of these include potential liver injury, risk of toxicity, undesired psychoactive effects, disruption during development, reproductive system damage, and fatigue.
- CBD oil and CBD products are not regulated. Therefore, products can contain more or less CBD or THC than labeled. They may also contain contaminates.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics and the FDA reminds parents to keep these products out of reach of children.
- If you have considered the risks and still would like to use CBD oil with your child, consult with your child’s physician first. Use only a high-quality CBD oil.
- Agarwal, R., Burke, S. L., & Maddux, M. (2019). Current state of evidence of cannabis utilization for treatment of autism spectrum disorders. BMC psychiatry, 19(1), 328.
- Bar-Lev Schleider, L., Mechoulam, R., Saban, N., Meiri, G., & Novack, V. (2019). Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism: Analysis of Safety and Efficacy. Scientific reports, 9(1), 200.
- Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708–1709.
- Brown JD, Winterstein AG. 2019. Potential Adverse Drug Events and Drug–Drug Interactions with Medical and Consumer Cannabidiol (CBD) Use. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8(7):989.
- Carvalho RK, Santos ML, Souza MR, et al. Chronic exposure to cannabidiol induces reproductive toxicity in male Swiss mice [published correction appears in J Appl Toxicol. 2018 Dec;38(12):1545]. J Appl Toxicol. 2018;38(9):1215–1223.
- Clinicians’ Guide to Cannabidiol and Hemp Oils. VanDolah, Harrison J. et al. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 94, Issue 9, 1840 – 1851
- EPIDIOLEX- cannabidiol solution. (2019, October 18). Retreived from https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov
- Fride E., Gobshtis N., Dahan H., Weller A., Giuffrida A., and Ben‐Shabat S.. 2009. The endocannabinoid system during development: emphasis on perinatal events and delayed effects. Vitam. Horm. 81:139–158
- Hoffman, K.S. (December 2018). CBD Oil for ADHD? What the Research Says. Retreived from https://chadd.org 6. Korioth, T. (2019, October 02). Beware of health claims about cannabis products. Retrieved from https://www.aappublications.org
- Lu, A. T., Ogdie, M. N., Järvelin, M. R., Moilanen, I. K., Loo, S. K., McCracken, J. T., … Smalley, S. L. (2008). Association of the cannabinoid receptor gene (CNR1) with ADHD and post-traumatic stress disorder. American journal of medical genetics. Part B, Neuropsychiatric genetics : the official publication of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics, 147B(8), 1488–1494.
- Mackie K. Cannabinoid receptors: where they are and what they do. J Neuroendocrinol. 2008;20 Suppl 1:10-14. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2826.2008.01671.x.
- McPartland, J. M., Duncan, M., Di Marzo, V., & Pertwee, R. G. (2015). Are cannabidiol and Δ(9) -tetrahydrocannabivarin negative modulators of the endocannabinoid system? A systematic review. British journal of pharmacology, 172(3), 737–753.
- Shannon, S., & Opila-Lehman, J. (2016). Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. The Permanente journal, 20(4), 16-005.
- Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente journal, 23, 18–041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041
*Please note that the information in this blog post should not be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. This information is not a substitute for medical advice from your health care professional. For more details see my medical disclaimer here.
CBD for Kids: An Alternative Treatment for Children – March 2022
The use of medical marijuana is on the rise, with approval for medical use in 33 states, as of August 2019. Medical marijuana and one of its compounds, CBD, has been used to treat a number of symptoms in adults, such as those associated with medical conditions including AIDS, glaucoma, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, forms of epilepsy, chronic pain and cancer. However, adults are not the only people who have reportedly experienced benefits of medical marijuana.
Parents have grown privy to information about the reported health benefits of the marijuana (or cannabis) plant, and many have already administered it to their children. If you are interested in or considering CBD for your child, read on to see what recent research says as well as some considerations for you to keep in mind.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of two main cannabis compounds found in marijuana that has been praised for its many health benefits in adults. Many people are uncertain if CBD products are safe for kids because marijuana makes people experience a high, but not all parts of the plant bring about this side effect.
CBD does not get users high, unlike the other well-known compound of the cannabis plant, known as THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol). It is also non-addictive and has a low side-effect profile, according to the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, which makes it seem like a viable option for children.
CBD oil is legal according to U.S. federal law, but according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and dynamic state laws, products containing cannabinoids are only legal in states in which marijuana is legalized.
CBD products are available in a variety of forms, including edibles, balms, tinctures, beverages, topical products, vaping liquids, gel caps, gummies and balms and CBD oil.
What We Know About CBD Use
The marijuana plant has been used for ages for medical purposes across the globe. But in 1970, marijuana and any other products related to cannabis were deemed to be illegal in the United States.
As a result, there has been very little research on marijuana and CBD, considering, there is much research to be hashed out – especially regarding CBD use in kids. However, many researchers, including those funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) continue to explore the use of CBD, THC and other cannabinoids for medical treatment. Scientists also have been conducting clinical and preclinical trials of marijuana and its ability to treat symptoms of numerous health conditions.
In the meantime, according to numerous pediatric medical professionals, including Dr. Paul Mitrani, clinical director at the Child Mind Institute, there are potential risks with giving CBD to children before more clinical trials are conducted. Dr. Mitrani states, “In regards to treating mental health disorders in children and adolescents, there is a lack of evidence to support its use” and suggests that parents hold off on giving CBD to their children – at least until more research can be done to determine its safety for children.
Although there are not many clear risks with CBD use, it is not entirely without side effects, such as changes in appetite, fatigue, diarrhea and interactions with some medications.
Many experts remain positive about the potential CBD has to offer. Although most of the research has been conducted in animals, three recent placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trials in humans have found that a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex has effectively reduced seizures in individuals with two rare forms of epilepsy, known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
This is good news in the CBD community as these landmark studies prompted the Food and Drug Administration to approve the drug in June of 2018. Epidiolex was the first prescription CBD-based medication ever to be approved by the FDA. This approval was monumental in helping to legitimize CBD.
CBD for Seizures
The principal investigator on the Epidiolex trials and director of NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in New York City, Orrin Devinsky, M.D., asserts that there is evidence that CBD is capable of reducing “the most important and disabling seizures” in people with Lennox Gastaut or Dravet syndrome. He also recognizes that it does not work for all patients with the two syndromes and that some studies show that CBD may be ineffective for other seizure disorders.
Epidiolex is different from many of the CBD sold in retail stores or online. One such way is that it is FDA-approved as a prescription drug. It is also highly purified and is manufactured with several safeguards in place to ensure that it only contains what is on the label and with the correct amount. It is also guaranteed to be free of contaminants.
CBD products sold in retail stores and online are often unregulated, which can make it difficult to know whether the labels are accurate. Many over-the-counter CBD products include higher dosages than what is on the label. It does not mean you should never try over-the-counter CBD products for your child’s seizures – it just means that you should talk with your child’s pediatrician first and try the product with safety in mind.
CBD for Anxiety
A research group at New York University investigated the potential of CBD in the treatment of anxiety in a 2015 study, led by Esther Blessing, PhD., of New York. Promising evidence was found in this review of 49 studies, which also suggested that further study is needed.
Animal studies have produced preclinical evidence that demonstrates the efficacy of CBD in the reduction of anxiety behaviors that are related to multiple disorders, according to Dr. Blessing. Included in those disorders are social anxiety disorder, OCD, anxiety disorder, panic disorder and PTSD.
The review also found results that were supported by experimental findings in humans that suggested CBD has few sedative effects as well as an “excellent safety profile.” However, it is important to note that these findings were based on placing subjects who are healthy in situations that are stimulated to produce anxiety. From there, CBD’s impact was then measured against each subject’s anxiety response. Further studies need to be done to determine whether CBD treatment would produce effects that were similar for patients struggling with anxiety and also the extended use of CBD.
CBD and ADHD
Although not much research has been executed directly on the impact of CBD on ADHD symptoms, there is evidence on the compound’s ability to ease anxiety symptoms. Anxiety tends to accompany ADHD in some people. Dr. Devinsky (as mentioned above) says that although he does not recommend CBD for ADHD for all children, some kids with an anxious variety of ADHD may benefit from it.
CBD for Pain
CBD may treat pain, including migraine pain, by way of the endocannabinoid system. CBD can interact with the body’s receptors that impact the pain messages sent from cell to cell. There is also research that suggests that CBD may be able to fight inflammation, which may also have a positive impact on pain.
Benefits and Risks of CBD
If you are considering giving CBD to your children, it is recommended that you consider the following benefits and risks associated with CBD in kids.
Talk with your pediatrician
Although CBD and other products containing cannabinoids are making waves in the medical community, it remains controversial according to a number of sources to use CBD to manage childhood conditions without first talking with a pediatrician. By teaming up with your child’s doctor, the two of you can collectively monitor possible side effects. A pediatrician can also help you to avoid any medication interactions.
Keep an eye out for side effects
Research findings have unveiled a few side effects with CBD use – especially in comparison to the many powerful prescription medicines used to treat numerous childhood conditions. Despite this, little is known about any long-term risks associated with taking CBD and parents giving it to children should proceed with caution. It has the potential to interact with over-the-counter and prescription drugs, so if your child takes any, you need to be extra cautious.
Start slowly with a low dosage
It can take time to determine which dose of CBD is appropriate for a person. There is no one-size-fits-all dosage, and it can take a little bit of trial and error to determine the right product and dosage for any person – including children. Start with a low dose and gradually increase to protect against side effects.
Store CBD safely
Be sure to keep CBD out of the reach of children just as you would any other medication.
Only purchase reputable products
CBD products sold in retail stores and online are not required to undergo rigorous testing, which means some may be of less or questionable quality. Twenty-six percent of CBD products bought online were found to contain less CBD than what the label listed, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Keep this in mind and look for CBD products from companies that can produce third party testing and a Certificate of Analysis, or COA, to indicate how much CBD (and THC) is contained within the product, and how the product performed when checked for contaminants.
The CBD Industry
The CBD industry is growing rapidly, and a large number of products are being produced.
Although there is believed to be a wide range of health benefits for kids and there are hordes of products available on the market, it is best to consider all of the research and talk with your child’s pediatrician before moving forward with administering CBD to your children to reap the benefits.
It sometimes seems like there are more medicines than there are illnesses, making it difficult to discern which you should (or shouldn’t use) straight. After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning in 2008, recommending cough and cold medicine to be kept out of the reach of younger children, many parents and caretakers responded by avoiding the use of typical cold medicine for kids – and even other over-the-counter (OTC) medications in general. Concerned parents opted instead for alternative treatments, including those containing only homeopathic ingredients. Other parents continued to question whether or not these fears are unfounded. Here we seek to unveil the facts about medicine for kids.
Warnings Surrounding Cold Medicine for Kids
Digging a little deeper into the FDA’s public health advisory regarding children’s cold medicines, the initial statement stating that:
“Questions have been raised about the safety of these products and whether the benefits justify any potential risks from the use of these products in children, especially in children under 2 years of age.”
It is important to note that the majority of problems with children’s cold medicine, according to the FDA, typically take place when the medication is given improperly. If cold medicine is given too often or if more than one cold medicine is given with the same active ingredient, this is when problems are most likely to occur.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) eventually expanded the warnings surrounding cold medicine for kids to older children as well, stating that children should not use cold medication if they are under the age of four.
The numbers continue to climb. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is not recommended to give over-the-counter cough medicine or cold medicine to kids under age 6. In 2014, the AAP asked the FDA to make this recommendation, requesting that OTC cough and cold medicine manufacturers change their dosing to weight-based dosing rather than age-based, as weight is a better way to determine the correct dosage.
Additional Considerations and Risks Regarding Children’s Cold Medicines
One concern among caretakers of children is that cough and cold medicines were only studied in adults – not children. The results of the studies were merely applied to children, without ensuring that adults and children would react in the same way to the medications. Even in adults, the evidence fails to strongly prove that cough and cold medications make people get well any faster. They are also unable to keep colds from turning into something else, such as a sinus or ear infection or pneumonia.
Thousands of children end up in the emergency room annually after taking cold medicines, according to the CDC, with nearly two-thirds of those cases taking place after cough or cold medicine was taken by children while unsupervised.
Ingesting too much cough or cold medicine can bring about dangerous side effects. In addition to children taking the medication while not being supervised, children can also overdose if parents accidentally give too high a dose or mix medications with ingredients that do not interact well.
Furthermore, recent research continues to show that the efficacy of over-the-counter children’s cold medicines is low. The associated side effects of these medications, although the risk is low, do continue to persist – especially in young children, which continues to leave parents and caretakers concerned about the safety and thus distrusting of certain medicine groups.
Children’s Cold Medicines in Question
- Cough expectorants (guaifenesin), such as Mucinex:
- Decongestants (phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine), such as Sudafed: Decongestants have the ability to help relieve symptoms of a stuffy or runny nose, but they have been shown to make some children irritable or hyperactive.
- Cough suppressants (dextromethorphan or DM), such as Robitussin: Cough suppressants may help a child who has a cough that is interfering with sleep or daily activities. Some prescription cold medicines can cause drowsiness.
- Some antihistamines (chlorpheniramine maleate, brompheniramine, and diphenhydramine), such as Benadryl or Claritin: Although often used for keeping a runny nose associated with allergies at bay, antihistamines offer effects that can help treat cold symptoms. They are also found in some cold medications, such as Children’s Dimetapp Cough & Cold Elixir and Vicks NyQuil Children’s Cold.
Should My Kid Use Cold Medicine?
- Never give any adult medicine to a child. Only use medicines that have been designed for safe use by children.
- Do not use any cold or cough medicine in children under the age of four, unless otherwise advised by a pediatrician.
- Follow dosing instructions closely, as listed on the box.
- Use the dropper, dosing cup, or measuring spoon that is included with any OTC kids medicine.
- Never administer a cough or cold medicine to a child if he or she takes another prescription or over-the-counter medicine without first checking with a doctor.
- Reach out to your child’s doctor if symptoms do not improve or worsen within a few days of first giving the medication.
- Never give honey or any OTC medication (including homeopathic) to children under the age of 12 months of age due to the risk of botulism.
- Use a saline nasal spray and suction bulb to give your child symptomatic relief of a cold, rather than cough and cold medicine. Also, put a humidifier in your child’s room and encourage plenty of fluids.
- Allergy medicine does not help cold and cough symptoms if the illness is from a viral infection.
- Don’t give any cold or cough medicine to your infant or toddler under the age of two for any reason.
Side Effects of Cold Medicine
If you choose to give your child medicine, watch for allergic reactions or other side effects. You may have received documentation from your pharmacist or may find product packaging with information regarding side effects.
If your child experiences hives, rash, diarrhea, or vomiting after taking medicine, reach out to your doctor.
If your child begins wheezing or has trouble breathing or swallowing, seek emergency medical care.
Some children develop drowsiness after taking cold and cough medicines or hyperactivity. Be sure to report to your doctor if this happens.
Remember to weigh the risks against the benefits when deciding whether to give your child cold and cough medicine and read the dosing carefully – and as always, keep the medicine out of the reach of children.
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