As parents, there is only one thing we can think of that may be worse than seeing our own child struggle; the feeling of not being able to help them. Customers come into Happy Trails all the time wondering if CBD is something that can help their child or the child of a loved one.
Can CBD Help My Child?
Autism affects 1 in 40 children in the US. Attention and cognitive disorders are also on the rise, and the solution up until now has been prescription medication. We have reports about children having trouble with sleep, developmental delay, anxiety and even depression. While we can’t claim that CBD is a cure, we have seen it improve symptoms and lifestyles so much that we felt we needed to share the information here.
Are you wondering: “Can CBD help my child?”. In this blog post, we speak to the most common childhood illnesses and the safety of CBD use in children. Let’s start with the most common childhood issues caregivers inquire about when they come into our store. If you’re pressed for time, just scroll down until you find the disorder you are most interested in. If you’re new to CBD altogether, we recommend checking out a previous blog: What Is CBD? for some foundational information.
Childhood Disorders that CBD has the Potential to Help with
- Developmental Delay
- Insomnia/Sleep Disturbances
- Stomach Issues
CBD for Common Childhood Disorders
Developmental disabilities can begin before a baby is born or arise due to circumstances that occurred after birth. A variety of factors can influence developmental disabilities, such as genetics, parental health and behaviors (such as smoking and drinking) during pregnancy; complications during birth; infections the mother might have during pregnancy or the baby might have very early in life; and exposure of the mother or child to high levels of environmental toxins, such as lead (1).
Having a disability does not mean a person is not healthy or that he or she cannot be healthy! As challenging as life can be with a disability, natural remedies such as CBD products can increase the quality of life and decrease discomforts that can arise. Some health conditions, such as asthma, gastrointestinal symptoms, eczema/skin allergies, and migraine headaches have been found to be more common among children with developmental disabilities. Our endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short, (see The Science Behind CBD) is associated with all of the functions related to these health conditions. Many health conditions arise or are exacerbated because of an insufficient or imbalanced amount of cannabinoids in the ECS. Science shows us that supplementing with CBD products may help bring harmony to this system, which can help alleviate unwanted symptoms and overall increase the quality of your child’s life.
Having a disability does not mean a person is not healthy or that he or she cannot be healthy! As challenging as life can be with a disability, natural remedies such as CBD products can increase the quality of life and decrease discomforts that can arise.
ADHD is a brain-based disorder that can interfere with a child’s everyday activities at home and in school. There are varying types; some kids have trouble paying attention, some are hyperactive, and others have trouble controlling their behavior. ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), is defined by aggressiveness and a tendency to purposely bother and irritate others. It is common for a child to have a dual diagnosis with a mood/behavioral disorder; some studies estimate that 65% of kids with ADHD also have a defiance disorder.
Typically, medication is prescribed for children with these disorders and unfortunately, these medications are often addictive and come with side effects. Although we firmly believe there is a place for conventional medicine, cannabinoid therapy may be a wonderful natural option, if not by itself, then as a complement to your child’s prescription regimen. Some families find their child needs less of their medication or can come off of it altogether with the implementation of CBD. We are NOT recommending this, we are simply letting you know what other people have done. The choice is completely yours and will depend on your situation.
Children with OCD struggle with it in varying levels. Available research data shows that cannabinoids like CBD can reduce anxiety, fear, and repetitive behaviors in those experiencing OCD. CBD binds to FABP (fatty acid binding protein), which prevents the body’s naturally produced cannabinoid – anandamide, from being degraded by FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase). This results in increased anandamide levels in the part of the brain where the symptoms of OCD are generated. The result is a successful decrease in the repetitive thoughts and an elimination of the behaviors that occur in order to banish these intrusive thoughts (2).
Anxiety and depression do not discriminate, they can be experienced at any age. Parents attribute their child’s anxiety to trauma, separation, social settings, diet, home environment, and more. No matter the reason, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to help children alleviate and navigate the uncomfortable symptoms that come with these disorders? Mood disorders are correlated directly to a neurotransmitter known as serotonin. When we are low on this chemical, we typically experience irregular, erratic, or low moods. Research suggests that CBD inhibits serotonin reuptake in the brain, meaning there is more available for the body to use (3). In this way, CBD could help stabilize mood and reduce anxiety/depression.
Another benefit of supplementing with CBD and other cannabinoids is that the body is prompted to produce more of its own cannabinoids (4). This includes anandamide, the endocannabinoid that helps regulate emotions such as fear, bliss, and euphoria. Insufficient anandamide production has been linked to low mood or overreaction to anxiety triggers. As with serotonin, CBD triggers the release of anandamide and prevents it from being used up so quickly, which can help the person using the product achieve or maintain mood stability.
Last but not least, brain scans of patients suffering from anxiety and depression often show a smaller hippocampus, a part of the brain that is correlated to the functions of feeling, reacting, and memory. CBD may prompt the hippocampus to regenerate neurons, thus helping it return to its normal healthy size and relieve unwanted symptoms (5).
In a recent comprehensive research study conducted at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, 60 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who had not responded to traditional drug therapies for autism, were given CBD oil for over 7 months. The results were incredible: 80% of the children reported overall improvements in their conditions. More specifically, scientists found that CBD reduced autism-related anxiety, communication, and behavioral problems.
This is amazing news for caregivers of children with autism and healthcare providers alike, given that 1 in 40 children in the US is diagnosed with ASD, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
While more scientific studies are underway, families report CBD products can be amazing for people on the autism spectrum by reducing stress, aggression, behaviors that could lead to self harm, and anxiety surrounding social interactions. Recent reports indicate CBD can also aid children with co-occurring seizures.
Did you know CBD oil was first famed for helping a little girl named Charlotte manage her seizures? CBD has anticonvulsant properties, and CBD users more often than not find seizure quantity and severity to be reduced when they are consistent with CBD use.
A 2018 study included 92 children and adults (ages 1 to 37) with epilepsy whose seizures were not well-managed with AEDs (anti-epileptic drugs) and who used CBD for an average of 19.8 months. They had various forms of epilepsy ranging from Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome to epilepsy caused by stroke. Researchers determined 57% experienced a 50% reduction in average monthly seizure frequency, meaning the treatment was considered effective. Of that 57%, tolerance developed in 32% after an average of 7.3 months. “CBD is a good option for children and adults with certain kinds of epilepsy, but as with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), it can become less effective over time and the dose may need to be increased to manage the seizures,” said doctor Shimrit Uliel-Sibony, M.D., lead author of a study conducted on patients with epilepsy at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center’s Dana-Dwek Children’s Hospital, Israel (6). Even though tolerance may develop, if your child is struggling with seizures, CBD may be a viable option for you if you are interested in a safe and natural remedy.
A 2019 review conducted in Slovenia noted that CBD is an excellent aid in pain management and can help reduce anxiety and nausea in cancer patients. In addition, the study suggests that cannabinoids like CBD “were able to effectively modulate tumor growth in different in vitro and in vivo cancer models, however, these anticancer effects appear to be dependent on cancer type and drug dose.” Several other studies have suggested that cannabinoid therapy may inhibit the growth and spread of certain types of cancer cells as well. All of this information indicates cannabinoid therapy as a wonderful addition to cancer treatment and has been shown to be an amazing comfort for patients in palliative care.
Many children have troubles with sleeping from a young age, and we find that CBD products can help them with the quality and duration of their sleep. In a 2016 study for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, the effects of CBD were examined on a young patient suffering from anxiety-provoked sleep disorder. CBD oil was proven to be an effective compound to reduce anxiety and insomnia secondary to PTSD.
With 5 months of CBD use, a 10 year old girl’s scores on the sleep and anxiety scale consistently and steadily decreased. She was able to sleep through the night almost ever night in her own room, something she struggled with daily prior to the study. She was less anxious at school and home and displayed appropriate behaviors. The patient’s grandmother (her caregiver) reported: “My granddaughter’s behaviors are definitely better being on the CBD. Her anxiety is not gone, but it is not as intense and she is much easier to be around. She now sleeps in her own room most of the time, which has never happened before.”
Another cannabinoid, CBN, has been shown to possess properties that can help with a good night of sleep. It can be a particularly effective option for reducing anxious feelings and combating insomnia, especially in higher doses. Check out our high CBN formula here, or read more about it in a previous blog: A Good Night’s Sleep with CBN.
Stress rules our lives if we aren’t careful, and these days it seems to start at a much earlier age than it used to. The Endocannabinoid System has a direct correlation to cortisol (a stress hormone that can create problems within the body when it is constantly being released). CBD has been shown to interfere with the excretion of cortisol and aids in reducing many unwanted symptoms associated with stress.
CBD has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving qualities. Kids can use CBD to manage their growing pains, or pain associated with injuries, surgeries, and more. Equally, CBD can be used to alleviate symptoms that arise from inflammatory diseases.
So…Is CBD Safe for my Child?
We always stress doing your own research when it comes to anything you put into your body, and the same goes for your kids. It may be a good idea to let your child’s primary care provider know that you are starting a CBD regimen. The CBD products we carry at Happy Trails are the highest quality that we can find. We strive to carry organic products that are free of chemical additives, pesticides, heavy metals, and artificial dyes, so you’ll never have to worry about toxic ingredients. Always check ingredient labels and do not use a product that your child may be allergic to.
If your child is on a medication, be sure to disclose that with a Happy Trails associate. We are educated on what medications do not mix well with CBD products, and as a general safety measure, we encourage medications to be taken 2 hours or more apart from taking CBD. What to look out for is medications that affect the CYP450 enzyme system. These medications usually have a grapefruit restriction on them, as grapefruit also interacts with this system and prevents metabolization. This means the medication stays in the system longer than it should and could exacerbate side effects. If this is ever a concern for you, just give us a call, message us on Facebook, or come into the store and your questions will be answered.
All this being said, CBD can be a wonderful addition in your child’s life, as it is a natural plant-derived remedy that the body readily recognizes. If you would like a better understanding about cannabinoids and the function of the endocannabinoid system, please read The Science Behind CBD. Now, let’s learn what products may be best for your child.
What Product is Best for my Child?
Let’s face it, most children are picky! The product you choose for your child will really depend on their preferences. CBD in the form of gummies is a top pick for many customers for obvious reasons (most kids love candy). Keep in mind that edibles need to be digested before being absorbed, therefore they will take a bit longer to start working. Another good option is a tincture like our Root Therapeutics Water Soluble Tincture. This option is great because you can disguise it in your child’s favorite beverage, and it works almost instantly.
Do I Pick Full Spectrum or Isolate?
Full spectrum products are those that have a wide range of cannabinoids in them, not only CBD. These products usually work at a higher capacity because the cannabinoids work synergistically to produce a greater effect. The caveat here is that there are trace amounts of THC in full spectrum products. If you are someone that would prefer to avoid THC altogether for your child, opt for a broad spectrum or isolate product. Our Asteroid Gummies are made with CBD isolate, meaning they only have CBD, and they are a favorite among parents and children.
If your child is experiencing something like growing pains or other localized pain, a topical may be a good option for them. Just let us know it’s for your child and we will direct you to the best option.
How much do I give them?
Kids are smaller than adults, so naturally they will need less. In the beginning, we recommend starting with a low dose (4mgs-15mgs with a tincture, and 10mgs-25mg with a gummy), depending on the child’s weight and needs, and taking note of any differences in your child. If you are not seeing a difference, increase the dose. Do this for a few days until you find a dose that is making a difference. It typically takes up to 2 weeks for the cannabinoids to fully saturate the endocannabinoid system and start working at an optimal level, so don’t be discouraged if at first the effects are minimal. Dosing is very subjective as everyone’s endocannabinoid system is unique, so it is something you may have to play around with until you find what works for your child. Again, we are always here if you need any help in this department.
How Do I Know if it’s Working?
Some parents notice right away that the CBD product is working for their child. Their child may seem more mellow than usual, more on task, less anxious and better at communicating and recognizing their emotional needs. Sometimes it takes longer to notice a change. Consistency is key with CBD, so don’t give up if you are not noticing results right away. If you’re not sure, just reach out and we will help you troubleshoot.
How Often Do I Administer and Can I Give Them More on a Rough Day?
Everyone is different and sometimes when starting out, parents feel more comfortable administering to their child once a day. As you go along and depending on your child’s situation, you may want to administer more often, for example, once in the morning and once at night. If your child struggles in the middle of the day and you are around, feel free to administer during the day. Gummies will take longer to set in, so if you need to use CBD on a situational basis, we recommend a water soluble tincture because of its rapid onset. If you feel your child could use a higher dose if they aren’t getting the relief they need, feel free to increase it. Again, this is very subjective and dependable upon your unique situation. Please give us a call if you need any help.
“Landen started taking CBD at just 6 months to help with the pain and inflammation of teething, now he takes a gummy a day to help with sleep and simply to boost his immune system.” – Landen’s mom
From Our Family to Yours
At Happy Trails, we want you to feel like family, because family is what matters most. We are here for you every step of the way when it comes to any questions or concerns you have regarding cannabinoid therapy and if it could help your loved ones. CBD gave us hope, and we want to pass that along to you. There is always an answer and a way forward no matter how difficult a situation. Please give us a call or visit us at any location to learn more.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. Facts About Developmental Disabilities | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/developmentaldisabilities/facts.html> [Accessed 26 December 2020].
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- Uliel-Sibony S, Hausman-Kedem M, Fattal-Valevski A, Kramer U. Cannabidiol-enriched oil in children and adults with treatment-resistant epilepsy-does tolerance exist? Brain Dev. 2021 Jan;43(1):89-96. doi: 10.1016/j.braindev.2020.06.018. Epub 2020 Jul 24. PMID: 32713661.
- Sleep study Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016;20(4):16-005. doi:10.7812/TPP/16-005