Cannabis and kids. These don’t seem like two words that should share the same sentence. But at Happy Joe, a wellness company dedicated to bringing you the truth on health trends, we say they can — and maybe even should. Let us explain.
It was 2013 when the conversation about medical marijuana for kids exploded. A nearly catatonic 5-year-old girl, Charlotte Figi, was suffering from a rare epileptic condition that was close to killing her. For years, her parents had exhausted all treatment options to save their daughter’s life. That’s when they learned about another child who was being successfully treated with a cannabis strain that was low in THC (the compound that gets you high) but high in CBD (the compound that doesn’t get you high). The verdict? Charlotte’s 300-plus seizures a week were reduced to just a couple a month. The little girl would not only live, but thrive.
Using CBD to treat children is complicated.
Since then, more studies have been conducted to test the effects of CBD in children with epilepsy. In April of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug Epidiolex, the first prescription medication containing cannabidiol, or CBD. Though extremely limited in its use, Epidiolex has been proven to successfully treat kids with severe epilepsy cases. In some of the children initially tested with the CBD-infused drug, their seizures ceased altogether.
In a 2017 article, Dr. Orrin Devinsky — director of the New York University Comprehensive Epilepsy Center — told NBC News that it’s not completely clear yet how CBD works to combat seizures.
“The CBD binds with a novel receptor in the brain and thereby dampens down too much electrical activity,” he told the news outlet. “It seems to be a relatively unique mechanism of action that’s not shared by any of the existing seizure medications.”
For children with these severe diseases, as well as their families, antidotal CBD is a life-changing discovery. But it begs the question: If CBD can treat one childhood disorder, could it also treat others?
More research is needed.
Cannabis derived treatments for children continue to be a controversial topic. Yet the increased evidence pointing to CBD as a viable medical option for children cannot be ignored. Researches are pressing hard to document the efficacy of CBD. Their hope is treating children with other disorders such as autism and ADHD.
In 2018, a study on CBD for autistic children was published in the journal Neurology. This study showed CBD improved autistic behaviors in 61 percent of the children studied. This review also revealed these children did not respond well to traditional drugs.
While evidence is scarce on CBDs relationship with ADHD, there is some indication it could be the next big breakthrough for researchers. Studies suggest CBD can raise dopamine levels and could treat ADHD-related symptoms.
CBD may be safer than aspirin.
Even though the analysis of CBD and research is limited, studies indicate CBD is safe for kids long term.
Dr. Leslie Iversen, an Oxford University Scientist, has been advocating for years that CBD is even safer than aspirin. His findings conclude there are no serious long-term side effects, which isn’t true for the drug aspirin, which can cause gastric bleeding and ulcers. In fact, one study showed more than 100,000 Americans are hospitalized every year for issues caused aspirin or NSAIDs.
Even a 2012 clinical trial found CBD was “proven to be safe and well tolerated.”
So is CBD safe for kids?
As we’ve said, cannabis for children is a very sensitive topic and you should always proceed with caution and proper research.
We believe parents should consider CBD as an option for treating their children.
We recognize the potential benefits it can have for those looking for relief beyond traditional medications. Keep in mind, there are no guarantees it will cure or help your child’s specific health issue. And when deciding whether or not to try CBD or medical cannabis for you or your child, we strongly advise you to lean on the advice of professional health care providers.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our team for advice.