Cannabidiol, often abbreviated as CBD, is a psychoactive compound that’s derived from the cannabis plant. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely been seeing CBD products showing up all over the place in recent years. The beauty industry, the pet treat industry, and even the pillow industry have jumped on the CBD bandwagon by incorporating the compound into various novel products. Dark bottles of CBD tinctures and colorful packages of CBD gummies frequently line the shelves in pharmacies and convenience stores, and it seems like a new online CBD retailer registers a domain every day.
Clearly, more and more adults are choosing to incorporate CBD into their lives and their wellness routines, but what about children? Is it safe for kids to take CBD?
What Is CBD?
To best answer this question, it’s important to know what exactly CBD is and to contextualize its modern popularity by understanding the compound’s roots.
Like we stated earlier, CBD is a chemical naturally produced by cannabis. We call this category of chemicals cannabinoids, and we know of at least 100 unique kinds. Despite there being so many cannabinoids, there are two that get the majority of commercial attention—THC and CBD. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, induces feelings of intoxication when consumed. In other words, THC is what gets you high. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t produce these kinds of effects.
Since CBD doesn’t make you stoned, it’s not a drug people take recreationally. Most people who use CBD take it therapeutically or medicinally. The FDA hasn’t yet approved CBD for this use due to limited clinical trials using human models; however, preliminary research suggests that CBD may be effective at treating pain, inflammation, anxiety, as well as having myriad of other health benefits.
The History Of CBD
CBD has always been present in cannabis in some amount, though it’s only recently garnered its international attention.
The story of how CBD gained its massive fame and popularity begins with a young girl named Charlotte Figi, who suffered from a rare condition called Dravets Syndrome that caused her to have nearly 300 seizures a month. Typical anti-seizure pharmaceuticals and benzodiazepines were utterly ineffective at managing her condition. Before she was even five years old, Charlotte would end up on life support, essentially in the care of hospice. When the Figi family finally took their daughter back home, her prognosis looked extremely grim.
That is until her mother stumbled across a small double-blind study conducted in South America examining CBD as a potential treatment for epilepsy. Willing to try anything to save her daughter, Charlotte’s mother began searching Colorado dispensaries for low THC cannabis. At the time, growers were completely uninterested in breeding plants high in CBD, adding to the difficulty of sourcing the right strain.
Eventually, the Figi family would link up with the Stanley Brothers, a group of siblings and cannabis cultivators growing in the Mile High State. Joel Stanely was already in the process of creating a high CBD strain of marijuana, which he originally named “Hippies Disappointment” due to its lack of psychedelic effects. The CBD-rich strain worked wonders on little Charlotte, and her seizures drastically reduced to only a few times a month. Charlotte, who had previously been unable to walk, communicate, or feed herself was now able to live life like a normal girl. The success of the CBD was so spectacular that the Stanely Brothers decided to rename the strain in Charlotte’s honor, and the most famous CBD strain, Charlotte’s Web, was officially born. Eventually, Charlotte’s story would captivate a national audience and transform the public perception of cannabis when Dr. Sanjay Gupta featured her on his CNN special documentary titled: Weed.
Is CBD Safe For Children?
We stated earlier that the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved CBD for medicinal use, though that isn’t entirely true. Currently, the agency has approved a single cannabis product: Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical-grade CBD used to treat seizures in children like Charlotte. For other less severe childhood conditions, it’s unclear whether or not CBD may be a helpful therapeutic option. Clinical research into the effects of cannabinoids on children is still undeveloped, and it’s recommended you consult your pediatrician before administering CBD to a child in your care.