Is CBD Safe for Teens?
Thirty percent of adolescents 13-16 years old have an anxiety disorder. Twenty percent of all teens experience depression before adulthood, and close to 5,000 young people 14-24 die by suicide each year. The autism rate in the United States today is 1 in 6 children, up 15 percent in just two years, and 470,000 children have epilepsy, including 1 in 100 teenagers. Add to that acne and general teenage angst and it’s no wonder that desperate parents are ditching the chemical compounds of traditional medications—especially when they don’t seem to be working or the side effects are too severe—and turning to alternative treatments like CBD products instead.
CBD and Teenagers
But more and more parents today are turning to CBD products with their pediatrician or physician’s guidance due to proven positive results in general studies about CBD’s effectiveness in treating adult ailments that teens suffer from, too. And with dry mouth and drowsiness being the most common effects of CBD, it’s appealing to both parents and teens when prescription drugs for acne and anxiety in particular can have unpleasant side effects.
What’s the Difference Between CBD and Marijuana?
Marijuana is the ground up mix of the dried bud flowers of cannabis sativa, the cannabis plant. CBD is cannabidiol, one of the cannabis plant’s natural phytocannabinoid compounds that works with our body’s natural endocannabinoid system which regulates essential functions like mood, pain and sleep—issues that teens often struggle with in general. It also helps stimulate our ‘happy hormones,’ serotonin and dopamine, which help regulate stress, reduce anxiety, make you more socially agreeable, and in a calmer state.
CBD and THC
Marijuana contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the substance in cannabis that gives the intoxicating high and can aggravate anxiety. CBD contains less than 0.30 percent THC, so has no mind-altering effect—another reason why CBD is proving a good alternative choice for teenagers.
CBD Is Proven in Reducing Inflammation
If your teenager has ADD, ADHD, or an ASD—autism spectrum disorder—CBD is also a valid choice of treatment for young people because it has the capability of reducing inflammation. People often don’t realize that these conditions are associated with inflammation, but cognitive function studies are finding that inflammation has a significant impact on the brain.
CBD, Epilepsy and Seizures
The most research studies on CBD as a treatment have been in the field of Epilepsy, and in June 2018, an epilepsy drug called Epidiolex—which in clinical trials reduced seizures by 39 percent—was the first drug with CBD to be FDA approved.
What’s The Best Way to Give CBD to My Child?
Cannabidiol comes in the form of CBD oil and is best taken orally as the oil (the CBD oil from the cannabis plant is usually mixed with another oil such as coconut or olive oil and flavored, though it can still have an unpleasant smell), or as a tincture or gel capsule. CBD oil is edible so it can be mixed in foods and drinks.
Is CBD Oil Expensive?
Yes, it can be pricey. But when a teenager is taking ongoing and often expensive medications for their health condition, most parents will pay the expense to help their teen be healthier and happier. Many parents are even going to the expense of moving to states when cannabis and CBD are legal or they can get a medical marijuana card for CBD oil products.
How Do I know If My Teen Is Using CBD Recreationally?
Because the side effects of taking CBD oil are minimal, it can be hard to tell if your teen is taking it. But if you’re concerned, get educated on CBD, and start a conversation with your kid about why they’re taking it and how it makes them feel. If they are, perhaps talk to your child’s doctor together so you can make healthy decisions.
And don’t worry—CBD is not addictive. The World Health Organization has concluded that “in humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential,” and declared CBD as non-addictive. However, be sure to consult with your doctor before making any medical or treatment decisions — particularly regarding a child’s health.
4 in 10 Teens, Young Adults Have Used CBD Oil, Study Finds
Many teenagers and young adults may be using so-called CBD products, often in the belief that they will aid health conditions, a preliminary study suggests.
Researchers found that of 200 U.S. teens and young adults who landed in their emergency room, 40% said they had used CBD oil. Some did it "just for fun," but others thought CBD "can help to treat my medical illness."
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of hundreds of chemicals found in marijuana. It differs from THC, the source of the famous marijuana "high." CBD is present in marijuana but is more abundant in hemp — cannabis plants that have little THC.
CBD has exploded in popularity across the United States in recent years, being marketed in everything from lotions and capsules to cookies and coffee. The purported benefits are also wide-ranging and include relief from chronic pain, anxiety and insomnia.
But it's not clear how often kids use CBD, or whether they believe the hype.
"You can walk into a gas station and buy CBD," said Nicole Cumbo, a medical student at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa., who led the new study. "We wanted to know: Do kids know about it? What do they believe? Is CBD use associated with risk-taking behaviors?"
To get an idea, the researchers questioned 200 patients, aged 12 to 23, who were treated at a Penn State ER. Overall, 40% had ever used CBD, and 48% believed the chemical could treat "medical illnesses."
For the most part, there was no sign CBD users had suffered unusual symptoms in the past six months, compared with non-users. But they were more likely to report anxiety: 66% did, versus 47% of non-users.
"It's difficult to pinpoint why," Cumbo said. "Did the CBD cause anxiety? Or were kids using CBD to treat anxiety, since that's one of the things it's marketed for."
Since all of those in the study were seen in an emergency department, their CBD experiences might not be reflective of young people in general, Cumbo said.
But the findings do suggest that CBD use is common among teens and young adults, she noted, and doctors and parents should be aware of that. Among the findings, young people who used CBD were also more likely than non-users to smoke, use chewing tobacco or abuse prescription pain medication.
Cumbo presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held online Friday. Studies presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary.
It's not clear why so many young people believed in CBD's curative powers — whether it's the marketing, word of mouth, or ubiquity of the product, Cumbo added.
But the CBD widely available in capsules, food and cosmetics has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And the many health claims these products tout have not been scientifically proven, said Richard Miller, a professor of pharmacology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago. He was not involved in the study.
Cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, Miller said, but much more is known about its main component, THC, than about CBD.
"Until about 20 years ago, CBD was thought to be completely inactive," Miller said.
Now, with the explosion in CBD products, scientists are rushing to study the cannabis chemical. But at this point, CBD is approved in the United States for only one indication: certain rare forms of epilepsy. That product — called Epidiolex — is a purified, pharmaceutical-grade CBD, and not the oil people can get at a corner market.
The other health claims attributed to CBD are "up in the air," Miller said. It's unlikely that a single compound is the panacea that marketing suggests, he added.
"I'm not saying there's no benefit," he stressed. There is, however, no consensus yet on what the benefits might be, Miller said.
As for safety, Miller said the CBD doses in consumer products may be unlikely to cause harm. He also doubted the CBD infusion in someone's ice cream would be enough to bring health benefits.
Cumbo recommended some caution before using CBD to treat a medical condition: People should first talk to their doctor or pharmacist — including about whether CBD could interact with any medications they are taking.