There seems to be a new cannabidiol product on the market every day. There’s CBD soda, CBD foot cream, CBD mascara, and Carl's Jr. is apparently road-testing a CBD burger. (Of course they are.) The compound found in marijuana and hemp is being used to treat everything from anxiety to pain to insomnia. But what about CBD oil for kids? Will CBD Cheerios soon be on the shelves? Romper takes a look at what parents need to know.
CBD of course does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical that makes adults eat Doritos dipped in Nutella and laugh uproariously at The Home Shopping Network. CBD is non-psychoactive, has a low risk of side effects, and is non-addictive. And if ever there was a sign of something receiving the blessings of the mainstream: CBD products will soon be available at select CVS stores.
But when it comes to CBD and kids, it can get a little tricky. For starters, parents need to bear in mind the legality of the product. CBD might not even be allowed in their state. Laws vary around the country, and as reported by The Daily Beast, there have been instances where Child Protective Services have come after parents for giving CBD to their kids.
There is currently only one FDA-approved CBD product out there — Epidiolex, an oral solution that is being used to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy. Epidiolex has been life-changing for some children, significantly reducing their seizures. But in terms of using CBD for other ailments, there isn’t (yet) much to go on. Romper spoke with Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, a board-certified pediatrician and Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Jen — as she is known to her patients — urges caution when it comes to CBD and kids. "There are a lot of medical claims being made about the powers of CBD oil that right now just don't have a lot of scientific data to back it up. The evidence is still lacking in areas such as for sleep and anxiety, particularly in children."
Dr. Jen also expresses concerns about the quality of the product parents might receive: "A big issue is the lack of regulation. So when a parent buys it, they don't know what they are getting in terms of safety/quality/potency. It can contain dangerous contaminants, as well as the level amount of CBD oil in the preparations can vary greatly from what it says on the label. Some studies have shown that some CBD oil are contaminated and contain the chemical THC, which can actually worsen anxiety. Basically, at this time, you really can't trust what it says on the label."
And there are side effects reported from CBD oil. The Mayo Clinic stated that it can cause "dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue," and can interact with some meds, like blood thinners. And as Dr. Jen points out, there are also concerns about how long-term usage might affect a developing brain.
This is not to say the time won't come when CBD is better regulated, and is regularly prescribed to kids. A recent article by Consumer Reports points out many promising studies in the works, showing the positive effects CBD might have on things like ADHD, depression, and autism.
Until that day comes, Dr. Jen is more comfortable with keeping it old school: "At this time, I would not recommend CBD oil to treat a child's anxiety or for sleep issues. There are more effective ways for otherwise healthy kids to deal with anxiety and sleep issues. It's never an easy quick fix, but improving habits like stress reduction, nutrition, daily exercise, and limiting screen time can prove to have lasting results."
For any parents who eschew the old school, or who maybe just don't feel like waiting on the FDA, they should still consult a doctor first, just as they would when making any other kind of medical decision for their kid.
Right now, science is still playing catch up with CBD. But it's exciting to see the societal shift away from the old days of "Reefer Madness", into a new frontier of exploring the many medicinal properties of this amazing little wonder plant.