Fraser Horton
Fraser Horton
Last Updated on June 9, 2021

In recent years, cannabis use has been on the rise, whether for recreational or medical purposes or just for general wellness. The market has been flooded with a variety of cannabis products such as tinctures, edibles, oils, vapes, topicals, extracts, and many more.

There is one cannabis product that has been gaining a lot of attention due to its health benefits, and that is CBD oil. It’s often used as medical cannabis in legal states as it can be effective for treating the symptoms of different medical conditions.

Knowing that CBD oil has many therapeutic effects, there is an open question about whether it could be given to children, which is what we’re going to discuss today. 

As CBD oil is known as a generally safe supplement, safe enough even for pets, we’ll look into what recent research has discovered about the safety of CBD oil for children and how it should be dosed.

What Are the Effects of CBD Oil?

CBD oil is by far the most commonly used CBD product. It’s made by extracting CBD (cannabidiol) from the cannabis plant and infusing it into a carrier oil, most often olive oil. 

The main source of CBD is the hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa L.) because it’s naturally very high in CBD and low in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This makes it non-psychoactive and non-intoxicating. That said, by federal law, CBD oil should contain no more than 0.3 percent THC.

The cannabinoids present in cannabis are known to interact with the endocannabinoid system and its receptors. While THC fully binds to the receptors, CBD does not. Instead, it only partially binds to the receptors and interacts more directly with the immune system, as well as with the serotonin receptors.

CBD is known to be effective for neuropathic and chronic pain relief, alleviating symptoms of chronic stress and anxiety, and it can even have some neuroprotective properties for which the research is still ongoing. Many people also use it for general wellness as it helps to balance out metabolic processes and improve mood.

Is CBD Oil Safe for Children?

CBD is considered a safe ingredient for most people of all ages. In 2018, in their critical review, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that CBD “is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”

That said, anecdotal evidence has revealed that many parents treat their children’s medical conditions with CBD oil when their medications are ineffective or caused an adverse reaction, or when they just want to try a more natural, alternative treatment.

In recent years, there has been some research into the safety of CBD for children, which is why there are more and more CBD products on the market. The most notable one is the first FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil called Epidiolex, intended for the treatment of two rare forms of childhood epilepsy. 

Are There Any Side Effects?

CBD is generally considered a safe ingredient that’s very well tolerated. However, CBD can interact with some classes of medications because, just like grapefruit, it inhibits some of the enzymes that break down these medications. Therefore, if your child is on any medication, you should look for the red grapefruit warning as a guide, or take a look at this extensive list of drug interactions compiled by the Penn State College of Medicine.

Other than that, CBD may cause some side effects such as drowsiness, nausea, appetite changes, and digestive issues. These are not very common, but it all depends on the person’s individual tolerance as well as dosage.

Is CBD Oil Intoxicating?

There are three types of CBD oil, depending on its cannabinoid content. Pure CBD isolate contains just CBD and no other cannabinoids. Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains CBD and other cannabinoids present in the hemp plant, but not THC. Finally, full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids, including THC at 0.3%.

That said, none of them are intoxicating, including the full-spectrum one. Even though THC is an intoxicating molecule, the negligent amount makes it impossible to have any intoxicating effects, unless consumed in enormous amounts.

The reason why full-spectrum CBD oil exists is because of a phenomenon called “the entourage effect.” This phenomenon refers to the collective work of all the cannabinoids together as it’s believed that it’s the best way to get CBD’s benefits. However, other CBD oil varieties can also work if your child is sensitive to THC or you just want to avoid it.

What Are the Benefits of CBD Oil for Children?

The use of CBD oil for children has been examined through a small number of clinical trials and animal studies in order to assess its efficacy and safety. Let’s review what these studies have discovered so far.

Pediatric Epilepsy

The majority of studies on the use of CBD in children have been related to epilepsy and seizure disorders. Years of research with both animal studies and clinical trials have demonstrated that CBD has anticonvulsant properties and can help to treat the symptoms of two rare forms of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Like we said, the first cannabis-derived medicine, Epidiolex, was approved to treat these two forms of epilepsy.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

A 2018 clinical trial has examined the effects of CBD on a small group of children with autism spectrum disorder. Their focus was on commonly exhibited symptoms such as anxiety, aggression, and hyperactivity. The results showed that most of the symptoms were improved, and very few side effects were experienced by the children. A similar 2018 study has also shown that anxiety and behavioral outbreaks in children with ASD were noticeably improved.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Judging from anecdotal evidence, CBD also seems to be beneficial for children with ADHD, although more studies are necessary. Most of what’s known about the possible effects of CBD on ADHD is based on the studies of cannabis and CBD as a whole. However, one 2020 study on adult ADHD has shown that the use of cannabis products with a higher CBD content resulted in a decreased use of ADHD medication.

Safe CBD Dosage for Children

CBD dosing for both adults and children is a highly individual thing as it depends on the severity of the condition, the person’s individual tolerance, as well as their age and size. Generally, the daily dose of CBD oil is best divided into two or three servings. The amount of CBD oil for children should be between 2.5 and 10 mg a day.

That said, it’s best to start with a low dose, so your child can slowly build up a tolerance. It can be as low as 0.5 mg at the beginning and then you can slowly go up. To be able to calculate properly, you need to know how many milligrams of CBD are in one milliliter of CBD oil, and this information should be included in the package. CBD oil can be added to food or smoothies to mask the taste, or you can also put it in milk.

Alternatively, you can also use CBD gummies which come pre-measured and may be easier to dose, plus they’re just like regular gummies and there are fewer chances that your child will refuse. Starting with lower doses also applies to gummies which you can cut into pieces to dose them more easily.

CBD is an ingredient that takes a little time to work as the body needs to adjust to it, so you won’t see a lot of changes after one or two doses. However, as days go by, you should start noticing some subtle changes that will keep getting more obvious with time.

Be Very Careful About Where You Purchase CBD Oil

Finally, make sure to buy from trusted manufacturers and trusted dispensaries. There are a lot of illegitimate products on the market that sell cannabis oils full of unsafe ingredients. With these products, the label may say one thing, but what you get will be something else.

If you live in a legal state, of course, it would be better to get medical advice from a pediatrician before your child starts taking CBD oil.

Bottom Line

For a long time now CBD products have been used as medical marijuana for adults, so it’s natural to be considered as a possible treatment for children as well. CBD oil is the most well-known and used CBD product. Due to its efficacy, many parents have chosen to replace their child’s conventional medication with CBD oil. Note that CBD is usually well-tolerated, although it can interact with certain medications. For this reason, it’s still recommended to ask your doctor about it before giving it to your child.

Additional Sources

Campbell, C. T., Phillips, M. S., & Manasco, K. (2017). Cannabinoids in Pediatrics. The journal of pediatric pharmacology and therapeutics : JPPT : the official journal of PPAG, 22(3), 176–185. https://doi.org/10.5863/1551-6776-22.3.176

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