Adults, pets, and now your kids?

Not only are adults experimenting with cannabidiol (CBD) for whatever is ailing them, increasingly parents are turning to the natural non-psychoactive compound to help their kids focus, sleep, calm down, and potentially treat or manage more serious health conditions such as epilepsy.

In June 2018, the U.S. FDA approved Epidiolex CBD oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy in patients two years of age and older. This is the first FDA-approved drug to contain a purified drug substance derived from marijuana. The rise of this drug, and the positive effects it has had in changing the lives of children with epilepsy, has led parents to raise the question: Can over-the-counter CBD help my child?

It is worth noting that Epidiolex differs in some important ways from CBD sold online or in retail stores. The FDA-approved prescription drug uses numerous safeguards to ensure the purity and efficacy of the formula. Since cannabis is in the early stages of legalization and regulation, OTC products are not subject to the same stringent refining processes, leading to a vast variety in the quality and dosage of products.

Dori Trauner M.D., professor of neurosciences and pediatrics at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and physician at San Diego’s Rady Children’s Hospital says, “CBD has become a very popular over-the-counter type of treatment that parents get on their own and give their children, and some say they see a big improvement. Every other patient I see is asking about it.”

While CBD doesn’t pose many clear risks, “it’s also not totally benign. People tend to think that because it’s natural and plant-based that it’s safe,” says Dr. Trauner. CBD can cause side effects.

The FDA states “the most common side effects that occurred in Epidiolex-treated patients in the clinical trials were: sleepiness, sedation and lethargy; elevated liver enzymes; decreased appetite; diarrhea; rash; fatigue, malaise and weakness; insomnia, sleep disorder and poor-quality sleep; and infections.”

Dr. Trauner is currently launching a clinical study examining the benefits and risks of CBD on children with autism.

If you decide CBD is the right option for your child, what is the best way to administer and what are the proper dosing instructions?

Orrin Devinsky, M.D., director of NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in New York City and a principal investigator in the Epidiolex trials says, “Go slowly and try to be systematic and monitor [your child on CBD].” He also suggests giving CBD to your child along with a food that contains fat since it is fat soluble. This will help the body absorb the CBD better and maximize the positive benefits.

 For children’s dosages, please reference the chart below: