Should You Give Your Kid CBD?
More Americans are using the hemp (or marijuana) extract on their kids, but experts aren’t sold on its efficacy.
Priscilla Batista is stuck at home in Charlotte, N.C., with a highly emotional 4-year-old.“Every toddler obviously is emotional, but she’s a pretty constant, volatile child,” she said. “It doesn’t allow her to focus. She’s just struggling.” Batista doesn’t yet have an official diagnosis for her daughter, but, suspecting an attention deficit disorder, she has turned to CBD (cannabidiol) for help.
CBD is one of the more well-known components of cannabis, along with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Both chemicals affect the brain, but while THC makes users feel high, CBD doesn’t, though it does make some users feel more relaxed. CBD products have become hugely popular around the world, from oils that can be eaten or rubbed on skin, to soaps, gummy candies and even pet treats.
A 2019 Gallup poll found 14 percent of more than 2,500 Americans surveyed use CBD products, mostly for pain, anxiety and sleep problems. Statistics for kids are much harder to come by, but there are Facebook groups with thousands of followers where parents discuss giving CBD to their kids for conditions including the autism spectrum and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In April, a cannabis-focused magazine published a survey of more than 500 parents and found that 40 percent had given CBD products to their children for behaviors related to the autism spectrum.
Very little controlled research has been done with CBD and kids. There is only one approved drug based on CBD for any age group, and that’s for rare kinds of epilepsy in children. There are promising hints — but little proof thus far — that the compound might work on some other conditions in children too, including other kinds of seizures, autism and anxiety.
“When you’re desperate, you want options,” said John Mitchell, clinician at Duke ADHD Clinic in Durham, N.C. “I’m a parent myself. I get it.” But, he cautioned, for now the enthusiasm is running ahead of the science. “I’m very hesitant to say anything promising about it. It’s an open question.”
The medical community considers pure CBD relatively safe: The World Health Organization, for example, has said there’s no evidence of anyone abusing CBD recreationally, or of any public health problems. But there are still some risks, especially for kids.
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration wrote that CBD has the potential to cause liver injury (in users of any age), and suggested it might affect the developing brains of children. No one knows the long-term effects of giving CBD to kids, said Arno Hazekamp, Ph.D., a pharmaceutical researcher and cannabis consultant in the Netherlands. “Those kids are still kids,” he said. Researchers will have to wait until they are older to assess long-term effects. Also, since most CBD products aren’t regulated, he added, they can be tainted with dangerous additives.
Hints of help
The only drug containing CBD that has been approved for adults or children is Epidiolex, which is currently the only known treatment for two rare and devastating forms of childhood epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epidiolex, approved in 2018, was developed after the high-profile case of Charlotte Figi, whose desperate mother used CBD to dramatically control her debilitating seizures.
The way that CBD acts on the brain makes it a good candidate for controlling seizures caused by other conditions too. The Epilepsy Foundation said that early evidence from animal studies, anecdotal reports and small clinical trials suggest that CBD could potentially help with seizures. Dozens of trials are underway to test if, why and how CBD might work for kids and adults suffering from seizures of various kinds.
There are also hints CBD might work for some autistic kids. Dr. Gal Meiri, M.D., clinical director of the National Autism Research Center of Israel at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, has studied CBD oils and autism. In a study that Meiri co-authored in 2019, 155 autistic kids aged 18 years and younger tried CBD oil for at least six months. More than 80 percent of the parents reported significant or moderate improvement in their kids. “Some of the parents reported benefits not just with seizures but also behaviors, like self-harm,” he noted.
Most such studies are based on parents’ perceptions, rather than measured changes in comparison to placebo groups. The placebo effect can be strong, since parents typically want to see improvements. A placebo-controlled trial of CBD for autistic children has been completed at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Israel, but the results aren’t yet published. Another is underway at the University of California, San Diego.
“I’m trying to be very cautious about it,” said Meiri with regards to CBD and autism. “We still don’t have enough research about safety and efficacy.”
Similarly, many parents are trying CBD products for children with A.D.H.D., for which there are no reported controlled trials with kids. One small trial on 30 adults with a mouth spray containing both CBD and THC had inconclusive results.
With no scientific proof that CBD works and is safe for children, Mitchell said stimulant-based medications like Adderall are a better option than CBD. “We know much more about one than the other, so the choice is simple,” he said. But he understands why a parent might consider CBD as an alternative, he said, given that it is typically seen as a gentle drug with few side effects.
That matches Batista’s experience. “My daughter has a beautiful personality; she’s sweet, she’s spunky. I don’t want to medicate her with something that’s going to turn her into a zombie,” she said, referring to parent complaints that some stimulant-based drugs can make their kids seem spacey.
“I don’t want her to fall behind,” she said. Batista has seen other kids with A.D.H.D. struggle academically. “It can really swallow a kid whole; then you have a failure to launch.”
Mitchell added there are signs CBD might help with anxiety: a symptom that sometimes accompanies autism and A.D.H.D. In a 2018 study of CBD for kids with autism, for example, anxiety improved in more than a third of the 60 patients.
Surprisingly, there’s not much evidence that CBD helps with sleep — despite its reputation for causing drowsiness in recreational users. “Something can make you sleepy and have no effect on your sleep quality,” said Hazekamp.
No silver bullets
Even if CBD is someday approved for use against other kinds of seizures, autism or A.D.H.D., it is unlikely to work for everyone.
Kelly Cervantes, a mother and health activist in Chicago, gave CBD to her daughter Adelaide, who suffered from an unidentified neurodegenerative condition with severe infantile spasms. “We were desperate, and we wanted to try anything we could,” said Cervantes. That was when her daughter was about a year and a half old, and before Epidiolex, so she says she got the product online rather than though her doctor. Sadly, Adelaide’s symptoms got worse. “It entirely depends on the child. There is no one pill, one oil, one treatment that is going to cure everyone,” she said.
In addition, Adelaide’s doctors began to see signs of liver failure. Cervantes took her off the CBD. She said CBD, “does not come without side effects, which I think is a major misconception about it.” In trials of Epidiolex, a moderate dose caused side effects in at least 10 percent of the children, including elevated liver enzymes, decreased appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, sleep problems and malaise.
Furthermore, it’s impossible to know what’s in a CBD product without independent testing. One of Hazekamp’s studies in the Netherlands analyzed 46 cannabis oils made by patients or sold online. Only 21 products even advertised the ingredient concentrations and many of those were wildly wrong. Seven didn’t contain any cannabinoids at all. One of them had more than 50 percent more THC in it than the product claimed.
“There can be pesticides, heavy metals and microbes in the plants,” said Hazekamp. It isn’t clear if those are making it into CBD oils, he said.
It’s impossible to overdose on pure CBD, but synthetic knock-offs can be poisonous. In 2019, the American Association of Poison Control Centers put out an alert noting “growing concern” about CBD products, with national calls about CBD rocketing from just over 100 in 2017 to more than 1,500 last year.
“The labels aren’t always right,” said Hazekamp. “If you try it, make sure it is what you think it is.”
Talk to your doctor
When Cervantes tried CBD, she bought it online from what she believed to be a reputable company, but she can’t be sure what was in it. It would help parents of suffering children, she said, if CBD products were more regulated and parents felt they could talk to their doctors about it, rather than worrying about its association with marijuana.
“I had a patient start taking CBD and I only found out a month in,” said Mitchell. “Parents may assume that a doctor will respond in a negative way.” It’s a doctor’s responsibility, he said, to be open to discussing options. “If you shut a patient down, it doesn’t mean you won the argument, it means they’re not going to talk about it.”
Batista said her daughter’s doctors told her to be careful with CBD and didn’t recommend it.
Still, she’s been using it for several months, getting it from a company that advertises independent testing to confirm their product’s contents, and starting with a low dose. She said she can’t tell if it’s doing anything, but holds out hope that a gentle drug with few side effects will be effective for her little girl. “I want to think that it’s helping.”
Nicola Jones is a science writer based in British Columbia, Canada.
More Americans are using the hemp (or marijuana) extract on their kids, but experts aren’t sold on its efficacy.
CBD Oil for Kids: Is It Safe for Children with ADHD & Anxiety?
Written by Nina Julia
- Last Updated: January 2, 2021
If you’re a parent, you’ll go above and beyond to keep your child healthy.
You may have heard your friends saying they’re using CBD oil with their kids. If you don’t know what CBD is, don’t worry — I’ll explain everything in this article, including why you may want to consider using the supplement with your children too.
Long story short, CBD stands for cannabidiol, a natural compound in cannabis plants that has an array of positive effects on the body and brain but is non-psychoactive, unlike THC.
CBD is becoming increasingly popular for a variety of negative symptoms, from anxiety to pain and inflammation (read more here).
It comes in many different forms, including CBD oil, capsules, edibles, beverages, vaping liquids, and topical products.
But which CBD oil will be the best for your little one?
In this guide, you’ll learn about 3 brands that, I believe, deserve your attention as a parent.
I’ve also mapped out several areas where CBD oil appears to be particularly effective, as well as what to look for when searching for the best CBD oil products for kids.
How to Find the CBD Oil for Your Kids
Several steps are involved in the production of CBD oil; each of them is a make-or-break factor.
Quality is paramount when buying CBD oil for kids, so if you want to rest assured your money goes in the right hands, I suggest researching the following information:
1. Hemp Source
It all starts in the soil.
Hemp is an effective bioaccumulator. What does this mean?
It means it absorbs everything from the environment it’s cultivated in.
In essence, when grown in clean and fertile soil, the hemp will pull all the good nutrients to grow strong, healthy, and produce plenty of CBD.
But when the growing conditions are inferior and the soil polluted — the plant will draw every contaminant, too, resulting in very poor sourcing material.
With that said, I strongly recommend buying CBD from domestic farmers who grow organic hemp plants, even if they aren’t certified organic.
This ensures you’ll only get pure CBD oil that is safe for your kid.
2. Extraction Method
The method by which CBD oil is processed can tell much about its quality.
Some manufacturers use toxic solvents like propane and butane for extraction to avoid higher production costs and sell cheap CBD oil. The toxic residue in such products is what you want to steer clear of. I, for example, couldn’t imagine myself purposefully exposing my children to hazardous substances.
There are two extraction methods that yield clean and potent extracts without leaving any harmful chemicals behind — Ethanol and CO2 extraction.
Ethanol is used in making CBD tinctures. The high-CBD bud is soaked in high-proof alcohol like Ethanol, so the cannabinoids and other hemp compounds can be extracted.
CO2 extraction calls for using pressurized CO2 at varying temperatures to obtain an oily extract, which is then suspended in a carrier oil (most often MCT oil). This method is the golden standard in the industry.
3. Is It Full-Spectrum CBD Oil or Isolate?
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all phytonutrients from hemp, including cannabinoids (with trace amounts of THC), terpenes, flavonoids, and essential oils, whereas CBD isolate carries only pure, isolated cannabidiol.
While isolates offer the highest dose of CBD per serving and are more versatile than full-spectrum CBD (it has no odor and no flavor), it lacks the synergy achieved by other hemp compounds in the full-spectrum extract.
CBD oil obtained from the whole plant is believed to have a greater therapeutic value than isolate-based products and the user needs less CBD to achieve the desired effect. There is more scientific evidence supporting the theory about the synergy between cannabinoids, especially when it comes to pain and inflammation.
I, too, believe that full-spectrum CBD oil is a better choice, but if your child is allergic to certain constituents of the hemp plant — or you simply don’t want even a negligible amount of THC in their system — isolates might be your only option.
4. Third-party Testing & Lab Results
Once a CBD oil is manufactured, companies can submit their products for third-party testing, which is conducted by non-company staff to ensure the product is safe for consumption and consistent with the bottle’s label.
CBD oils should always feature information about third-party tests; if they don’t, it should raise some red flags.
It’s all the better if the actual lab results accompany that information. As a rule of thumb, companies that include lab results are generally better than those who aren’t open about them.
When buying CBD oil for your kid, it’s essential to choose the one that will suit their dosage needs. With children, I would always go for the lower potency unless there’s a specific reason you want to give them CBD for.
CBD Oil Effects on Kids
CBD has coined its fame thanks to its anticonvulsant properties in children with rare forms of epilepsy. Still, this cannabinoid is also capable of alleviating less severe conditions, too — not to mention it’s a great supplement to keep your little pumpkin in good health in a natural way.
Below I go over the most common uses of CBD oil in kids and how it may improve selected health problems.
CBD Oil for Kids With ADHD
If your child has an attention disorder — they quickly get overstimulated and have problems with maintaining focus — CBD can help with symptom management.
Research on CBD as a potential treatment for ADHD is sparse. Most of what we know about the link between these two stems from studies on cannabis as a whole, not the specific CBD compound.
However, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence from parents giving CBD to their kids that CBD oil helps in managing their hyperactivity symptoms.
Moreover, a 2014 study published in Current Neuropharmacology suggests that at low doses, CBD can be a wake-promoting agent, making users more alert throughout the day (1).
Interestingly, our sleep-wake cycle largely depends on our level of alertness during the day, so CBD oil may also help when your kiddo has problems falling asleep at night.
CBD Oil for Kids With Anxiety
CBD exerts several actions in the brain that regulate our brain’s response to the feelings of fear and anxiety. The research in this subject is mostly preclinical or based on animal studies, but there are thousands of testimonies from parents whose children found relief from anxiety in CBD oil.
But how exactly does CBD work for anxiety disorders?
Research suggests that cannabidiol inhibits serotonin reuptake in the brain. In other words, it makes serotonin more available for the body (2). With better control of your serotonin resources, CBD could help stabilize mood and reduce anxiety.
The second benefit is associated with CBD’s ability to prompt the endocannabinoid system to produce more of its natural cannabinoids (3). This includes anandamide — the endocannabinoid regulating 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 stimulates the release of anandamide and helps it stay in the body for a longer duration — assisting the user in maintaining sanity.
Last but not least, CBD may stimulate the hippocampus (a critical brain area playing a vital role in an array of brain functions) to regenerate neurons (4). These findings are particularly interesting because brain scans of patients suffering from anxiety and depression often show a smaller hippocampus.
CBD Oil for Kids With Autism
A study led by the director of pediatric neurology at Jerusalem’s Shareek Zedek Hospital, Dr. Adi Aran, treated 60 autistic children with CBD oil for at least seven months.
After the treatment period, parents were asked to fill assessment questionnaires about changes in their child’s condition. The researchers asked questions about behavioral changes, anxiety levels, and communication skills.
According to the collected data, 80% of parents noted a decline in problematic behaviors, with 62% reporting serious improvements. Half of the examined children showed improved communication, and 40% of parents reported significant decreases in their children’s anxiety (5).
While these are some really promising results, we need more longitudinal studies on larger groups of patients for the research to be conclusive.
Top 4 CBD Oil Brands
I’ve tested plenty of CBD brands in my life, and I have a list of my personal favorites. It turns out that three of them are a perfect match for my children’s needs.
I always base my product recommendations on extensive testing and thousands of verified customer reviews to give you a full picture of any given product I tackle. I would never suggest any product that fails to meet my quality and safety criteria.
Below you’ll find the top 3 brands selling CBD oil.
1. Royal CBD (Best Overall)
Get 15% off all Royal CBD products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.
- Full-spectrum of phytocannabinoids
- Made from 100% natural ingredients
- Extracted with supercritical CO2
- Contained in premium-quality MCT oil
- Lab-tested for potency and purity
- The 250mg bottle is easy to dose
- They also sell CBD infused gummies
- No mint flavored option
What I Like About Royal CBD:
I remember receiving a press release from Royal CBD shortly before their launch, so I couldn’t help but try their products — as I do with any new brand that grabs my attention.
I’m a visualizer, so I was instantly bought with the minimalistic design of their products. Of course, I did some solid research so as not to rely solely on my gut, and it turned out this company has an unparalleled level of transparency.
They explain everything about how they source their hemp and what extraction they use for their CBD oil. Not only that, but they were also able to prove it with the lab results. I ordered two bottles — the 500mg (for me) and 250mg (for my two boys).
What I love about Royal CBD is that their full-spectrum oil does what it’s advertised to do — brings relief. My children sleep better, they don’t get irritated so easily, and I can finally get them focused on their homework for longer than 3 minutes, which is a blessing for me.
Oh, and it doesn’t leave that botanical aftertaste on the tongue. I’m a fan of everything related to hemp, but my boys don’t share my enthusiasm to that extent. Thankfully, the MCT oil does a stellar job at masking the natural hemp flavor.
2. Gold Bee (Best Organic CBD Oil)
- Made from US-grown, organic hemp
- Contains full-spectrum CBD
- 1200 mg of CBD per bottle (40 mg/mL)
- Extracted with supercritical CO2
- Delicious Kiwi flavor
- Sweetened with organic honey
- Third-party tested for cannabinoid content and purity
- Only one concentration available
- Limited flavor options
What I Like About Gold Bee CBD Oil for Kids
Gold Bee offers craft-quality CBD oils that are well suited for kids, both in terms of their potency and ingredients. The company sources its CBD from organic hemp grown in Colorado, which is then gently extracted using pressurized CO2. Gold Bee’s farming and processing practices yield pure CBD extracts that maintain consistent potency throughout all batches.
The CBD oil contains full-spectrum CBD, meaning there are other cannabinoids and terpenes to support the health benefits of CBD. These compounds contribute to the much-desired entourage effect. As a result, your kid needs less oil than they would if you gave them isolated CBD, making this product very affordable compared to competitor brands.
What I especially like about Gold Bee is that its product contains only organic ingredients, including the honey in the CBD oil and the cane sugar in the gummies. The brand is a safe pick for health-conscious parents.
3. Hemp Bombs
- Sourced from 100% certified organic hemp from Europe
- Extracted with CO2
- Lab-tested for purity and potency
- Highly versatile — you can use it as is or add it to food and drinks
- Available in 5 potencies
- Less expensive than full-spectrum CBD oil
- Lacks the entourage effect from other cannabinoids
- Your children usually won’t need anything stronger than the 300mg bottle
What I Like About HempBombs CBD:
HempBombs specializes in making 99% pure CBD products. These isolates are available as tinctures, capsules, vape oils, or gummies.
I know that some parents — especially those new to cannabis — tend to freak out about any THC in hemp products they give to their kids, so if you’re one of those parents, isolates might be a good starting point. Your child may be allergic to some plant compounds, CBD isolate might be the only option here.
Isolates are highly versatile. Given this, if your pumpkin hates the taste of natural CBD oil, the isolate should do the trick as it’s odorless and flavorless. Because of that, you can also mix it with foods and drinks to smuggle some CBD into your kid’s favorite muffins or a fruit salad dressing.
Remember that CBD isolate is purged from any cannabinoids other than CBD, so there’s no entourage effect. But as I said, with parents using isolate-based products, the potency of CBD is likely more important than the whole-plant synergy.
- Sourced from non-GMO, pesticide-free hemp
- Extracted with CO2
- Available as full-spectrum CBD or pure CBD oil (broad-spectrum, zero THC)
- Lab-tested for purity levels and consistency in potency
- Available in 5 different potency options
- Very affordable
- Only available in the natural flavor
- Not certified organic
What I Like About CBDistillery:
A veteran to the scene, CBDistillery never fails to deliver the highest quality and safety standards — both for adults and children.
Their oil is sold in five different potencies, from 250mg to 5000mg of full-spectrum or broad-spectrum (THC-free) extract. The 250mg CBD oil (my recommended potency for most kids) costs as little as $20, so it’s a perfect product for parents shopping for CBD on the budget.
I love the fact that you can also get a THC-free version of this oil but still enjoy the benefits of the other cannabinoids that have been preserved during extraction. I must admit it’s not as effective as Royal CBD, but it’s still a decent product. And for many young moms, this can be a golden mean between full-spectrum CBD oil and CBD isolate.
Using CBD With Children 101
I receive lots of questions from parents who would like to try CBD oil for their kids, but there’s so much confusion on the Internet that they get even more confused in the end.
So, my fellow moms, I’ve selected the 4 most frequently asked questions about CBD oil for kids, and I’m going to explain everything in the simplest way possible.
Is CBD Oil for Kids the Same as CBD Oil for Adults?
Yes, it’s precisely the same product. Companies don’t distinguish between CBD oil for kids or adults.
However, because children weigh less than adults, I suggest that you operate on lower potencies. Kids usually need lower amounts of CBD to feel the difference.
Besides, with a low-potency CBD oil (e.g. 250mg CBD per bottle), it’s easier to gauge the dosage in the dropper because you can use a few drops instead of having to measure out, say, one-tenth of the syringe for accurate dosing.
What Are the Benefits of CBD Oil for Children?
CBD is a highly versatile supplement that has a special relationship with our endocannabinoid system.
If you’re giving CBD oil to your kid for general supplementation purposes, you can expect the following benefits:
- Improved focus
- Better memory
- Higher alertness throughout the day
- Better quality of sleep (more details)
- Boosted immune function
On a practical note, CBD is easy to use, has a long shelf-life, and you can administer it to your child in many different ways.
What’s the Best Way to Use CBD With Children?
It goes without saying that your kids won’t be vaping CBD oil or dabbing CBD concentrates because first, they’re too potent, and second — the very consumption method is out of the question for children.
Most parents choose the sublingual method, which involves placing a few drops of CBD oil beneath the kid’s tongue. Once there, they need to hold it for about 30–60 seconds until the oil gets absorbed into the bloodstream, then swallow.
It may happen that your tot isn’t a fan of CBD oil’s distinct taste and will turn its head away each time you try to administer it sublingually.
If that’s your story, I recommend CBD gummies. Each gummy comes with a fixed dose of CBD — you can skip that nasty dropper part — and they are sold in many delicious flavors.
I don’t need to tell you how much children love gummies, so this form of cannabidiol is a great way to give your little one the best of both worlds.
CBD Oil Dosage Guidelines for Kids
The optimal dosage for any given CBD user — including children — depends on their weight, metabolism, unique body chemistry, and desired effects.
For the pediatric population of CBD users, experts suggest starting with 0.5mg of CBD per pound and taking this dose three times a day.
Starting low and slow allows you to adjust the dosage to how your child reacts to CBD without causing any side effects (e.g., dry mouth or lightheadedness).
Quick Reference Chart for Children’s Dosages:
|Weight (lbs)||Low Strength||Medium Strength|
|30 lbs (13 kg)||2.6 mg||7.8 mg|
|40 lbs (18 kg)||3.6 mg||10.8 mg|
|50 lbs (23 kg)||4.6 mg||13.8 mg|
|75 lbs (34 kg)||6.4 mg||19.0 mg|
|100 lbs (45 kg)||7.5 mg||22.5 mg|
Final Thoughts on CBD Oils for Kids
CBD oil is an excellent tool for enhancing the quality of one’s life, not only for adults but also for children. Because of the non-psychoactive nature of CBD, this compound is doesn’t impact their mental development and comes with only a few mild side effects, such as dry mouth or dizziness when consumed in larger amounts.
I hope my guide has helped you get a good understanding of what CBD oil is and how it can help your kid live a better life. Now you can make a well-informed decision and by a high-quality product that will benefit the whole family.
We outline whether or not it's safe to use CBD oil with your youngsters, as well as outline our favorite CBD oil for kids brands in this comprehensive guide.