Does CBD and Kids Mix? Hear What the Docs at Metro Health Say

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Is CBD a new Wonder Remedy, or is it Too Good to be True?

I’ve given my big dog CBD. He was so anxious on walks that he was becoming a danger to himself and to me. None of the trainer’s methods worked and I was desperate. Unfortunately, I could never figure out a proper dosage, I gave up on it.

But now I’m giving CBD a second look – for my kids. 

Known to help with conditions like seizure disorders, anxiety, ADHD and chronic pain, I wonder if CBD may be the help my family needs. 

I have two anxious kids who can lose sight of reality on bad days, and at times therapy and home efforts are not enough. What else can I do, short of medicating them? 

CBD is a natural supplement that’s been around for ever, so it’s got to be safe, right? 

Not exactly, according to Dr. Haley Zimmer, Metro Health — University of Michigan Health pediatrician. 

Dr. Zimmer says there are still a lot of unknowns about the efficacy of CBD and its long-term effects on children. She also warns that you may not be getting what you paid for. 

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  WHAT IS CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the metabolically active compound derived from the cannabis plant.”

“However, unlike the THC compound, CBD is not psychoactive and does not cause a high,” explains Dr. Zimmer.

You may have heard parents joke that CBD could make our kids trip out, but it actually doesn’t. 

Studies have shown that CBD helps specific refractory seizure disorders as well as nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. 

It’s also said to help with anxiety, ADHD, chronic pain, autism and insomnia. Dr. Zimmer notes that there are no studies to support these specific claims, though. 

Honestly, CBD sounds like a wonder drug for my family. 

If you’ve considered giving your kids CBD, Dr. Zimmer enocurages you to consider the following before you dive in.   

  CBD Facts  

4 Things to Consider Before You Give Your Kid CBD

CBD is not FDA Regulated

There’s No Guarantee You’re Getting a Safely-Made Product.

CBD’s use should be approached with caution, warns Dr. Zimmer. Like other supplements and herbal remedies, CBD is not FDA regulated. There’s no guarantee that what’s printed on the label is actually in the bottle. 

Because there could be a chance that a CBD product contains an unknown concentration, THC or other contaminants like pesticides, you want to be very careful.

If you Give Your Child CBD, Please Monitor Them Closely

First, assess whether CBD is improving the condition you are trying to treat. A symptom log can be a helpful way to track whether the frequency or severity of symptoms is actually improving,” suggests Dr. Zimmer. 

Second, be on the lookout for side effects. The safety profile for pure CBD is pretty good, but the studies on Epidiolex (the FDA-approved epilepsy medication) did show side effects including sedation, nausea, diarrhea and liver enzyme changes. 

“As with any therapy, we always weigh the risks and benefits to decide if the treatment is the appropriate choice. Therefore, keeping your pediatrician involved in the process is important,” she says. 

Marijuana Affects IQ, and we Don't Know if CBD Does, Too

CBD is still so new to the mainstream that we just don’t have enough data to know if CBD has any longterm effects on children. 

“We don’t know if it impacts the developing brain,” says Dr. Zimmer. "Studies have shown that marijuana use has a negative impact on mood and IQ attainment in adolescents. We don’t have the data to say if that applies to CBD as well.”

Dr. Zimmer encourages parents to not treat their children like “tiny adults” when it comes to CBD. Just because you may take CBD and feel great, it doesn’t mean your kid will have the same experience. 

CBD Isn't Your Only Hope

Often parents view CBD as their last ditch attempt to help their child. They've tried everything else and are at a loss.

"As a parent and a pediatrician, I completely empathize with parents who want to alleviate their child’s symptoms and help their child excel," says Dr. Zimmer.

She urges families hoping to avoid medication to explore behavioral interventions. Ask your pediatrician for information.

It's Dr. Zimmer's top priority to find safe, effective solutions for her patients. And when it comes to CBD's safety, “We just don’t know, yet. There just isn’t the data to support it."

  CBD RESOURCES  

Want to know more? 

Dr. Zimmer recommends these online resources:

Metro Health - University of Michigan Health is here for you with leading expertise for every age and every stage of your child’s life, for newborns, teens and everyone between.

Metro Health’s physician-led excellence means our youngest patients will always receive the best care available. Our pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists are supported in their work by our affiliation with Michigan Medicine, nationally ranked in 10 children’s specialties. To find a location near you or to schedule an appointment, visit: https://metrohealth.net/services/pediatrics/

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