And in approving the first CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, last year the FDA expressed enthusiasm for the research boom that is sure to come, paired with stern words for the flood of marketers of products claiming unsubstantiated health benefits.
In the US, research has been given a boost by changing guidelines and laws. In 2015 the DEA eased some of the regulatory requirements that have made CBD, as a Schedule 1 substance, difficult to study. “Because CBD contains less than 1 percent THC and has shown some potential medicinal value, there is great interest in studying it for medical applications,” the DEA said in announcing the change.
Dr. Mitrani, who is a pediatrician and child and adolescent psychiatrist, says it’s an area worthy of investigation but recommends that parents wait until further research is done before giving a child CBD.
CBD is everywhere. From corner stores and bars to medical marijuana dispensaries, it’s being offered for its reputed ability to relieve pain and make people feel better.
CBD and autism
For millennia, hemp plants have been used for medicinal purposes around the world. In 1851 marijuana was classified by the United States Pharmocopeia as a viable medical compound used to treat conditions like epilepsy, migraines and pain. But since marijuana and cannabis-related products were made illegal in the US in 1970, there has been a dearth of research about either marijuana or CBD. Its classification as a Schedule 1 drug made it nearly impossible to get federal funding to study cannabis.
These days, you can find CBD everywhere. Some people believe that it can treat everything from chronic pain and cancer to anxiety and ADHD. But is it safe for kids?
Since there isn’t a lot of research about CBD, doctors say there are some risks with using CBD for kids. For example, CBD products may contain things other than CBD, and those things could be harmful. Plus, we don’t yet know if CBD works well with other medications or how much you should give your child.
CBD oil for anxiety
The review notes that the promising preclinical results are also supported by human experimental findings, which also suggest “minimal sedative effects, and an excellent safety profile.” But these findings are based on putting healthy subjects in anxiety-producing situations and measuring the impact of CBD on the anxiety response. Further studies are required to establish treatment with CBD would have similar effects for those who struggle with chronic anxiety, as well as what the impact of extended CBD use may be.
While anecdotal evidence of the benefits of CBD is common, there are risks associated with using these products, especially in children. Some of the concerns:
If you would like to read into the subject in more detail, then please feel free to read our comprehensive guide to the side effects of CBD.
A notable animal study conducted in 2014 found that CBD produced both anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects to the participating animals. Four years later, in 2018, a meta review of existing studies into the therapeutic potential of CBD found that it was effective in reducing stress. While not directly linked to depression, it is reasonable to conclude that reducing stress levels would have a positive effect on depression.
At this point it would be important to refresh the three main types of CBD that every user and potential user should be aware of:
What Are the Side Effects of CBD?
CBD is one of over 150 cannabinoids that are found within the cannabis plant and is one of the primary active compounds. CBD does not have any psychological effects and doesn’t cause the user to get ‘high’. It is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that causes those who use cannabis to get high. CBD is known to assist with certain mental health conditions, inflammation and sleeping disorders. However, it remains unclear whether CBD can have a positive impact on those who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The majority of evidence to date about CBD working for children is anecdotal and there is much more research that needs to be conducted to ensure that there is definitive evidence of the efficacy of CBD as a method of treatment, once this is proven, CBD can then begin to be widely prescribed.
All in all, there are very positive signs in relation to the treatment of ADHD with CBD. Although the number of studies explicitly linking the two are limited, there are numerous studies that have assessed the efficacy of CBD in treating particular symptoms of the disorder, including anxiety and depression.
A recent meta-review conducted in 2020 examined eight different studies that all specifically investigated the relationship between CBD and several different forms of anxiety. This included social anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and the anxiety component of posttraumatic stress syndrome.
CBD on the other hand is a non-psychoactive compound, meaning that it will not get the user high. In fact, to the contrary, it can actually counteract the ‘high’ caused by THC if you are taking both simultaneously.
Thoughts from an expert
What about the question of CBD oil being a more natural option than a medication? It comes from a plant, after all.
Industrial hemp, because of these needs, cannot produce cannabidiol oil in sufficient amounts for commercial use. Instead it is often extracted from phytocannabinoid-rich hemp, which has ideally had THC bred out of it. This plant retains many of the characteristic of the marijuana plant. This plant is a recently developed variant of the cannabis family and only goes back to the 1990s. To the untrained observer, it resembles the marijuana plant.
CBD Oil for ADHD? What the Research Says
Not a natural product
“This interest in CBD is coming out more broadly in these perceptions of lack of harmfulness and the changing perceptions of marijuana use in general,” says Dr. Mitchell. “For a lot of different disorders—PTSD, ASD, some addictions—[some people] are interested because it might have therapeutic effects when you isolate the CBD. But those studies are preliminary. When you look at the published literature on CBD there’s nothing—it’s limited to one study.”
“When parents or adults look into CBD oil for someone with ADHD, it’s not just that there’s a lack of evidence out there right now,” says researcher John Mitchell, PhD, from the Duke ADHD Program. “There have been no treatment studies. There are no randomized trials that show it works. And there are other treatment options available for kids and adults with ADHD. These are unregulated products. If these are not well-regulated products, how do we know that we’re really getting what’s being advertised?”
Cannabidiol oil, most often referred to as CBD oil, is a product of the marijuana plant. The plant family is called cannabis, and cannabis products can include CBD oil along with smoked, vaped, or eaten products. CBD oil is just one of more than 85 compounds in cannabis and is regarded by some enthusiasts as having medicinal benefits.
What the research says