During the summer when I am not working with my Special Needs students in the classroom, I still find myself in the Facebook community and one of the major topics that continues to come up is CBD for kids. The safety, legality, and the benefits of CBD for kids is an important subject so I want to provide a comprehensive resource on the topic for our community in a nicely packaged post.
CBD oil is becoming wildly popular among parents like you and educators like me as a way to help their children, especially children with disabilities. The problem is there is an air of uncertainty surrounding using CBD for kids because it is a cannabis product so I went ahead and did some research to find out more. Giving CBD to your child is generally safe and legal but you must verify through lab reports that a product has Zero-THC in it and that it came from a Hemp plant with less than 0.3% THC content. Otherwise, you could be on the hook for possession and distributing an elicit substance to a minor! I’ll show you how many parents currently give their children CBD to aid with their disability and ailments like anxiety and pain. In this article I address in more depth the safety concerns you may have, discuss the legality of giving your child CBD, and the benefits it can bring to children with disabilities like Autism, Epilepsy, and ADHD. I also tell personal stories from 2 individuals, Danielle and Alex. Danielle has epilepsy and recently had a Grand Mal seizure, she is using CBD to treat her chronic headaches. Alex has high functioning Autism and ADHD. He takes CBD oil and has gotten some amazing results in only 30 days.
Safety First! 4 things to consider
Safety is the top priority when evaluating any product, especially for kids. The same goes for evaluating if CBD is right for your child.
- ZERO-THC versus THC-Free
Make sure the CBD product you give your kid is THC free. By THC free, what I really mean is ZERO-THC. ZERO-THC means 0% THC. There is a big difference between my definition of “THC free” and other’s meaning of the term.
Some CBD retailers will claim to be “THC free” when they still have some THC in the product. This is an important point regarding kids because THC affects brain development. According to the American Psychological Association, In 2013, Rocío Martín-Santos, MD, PhD, at the University of Barcelona, and colleagues reviewed 43 studies of chronic cannabis use and the brain. They found consistent evidence of both structural brain abnormalities and altered neural activity in marijuana users.
This is research for full on marijuana but it is still better for you to lean on the side of caution regarding CBD products that contain THC. Especially when you are considering CBD for your kids because the lack of scientific verification yet to be made regarding safety with children and THC. By choosing a product with zero THC in it you will ensure there are no psychoactive effects that alter your child’s brain development.
- No Left Over Residual Solvents
The simple way to describe residual solvents is that they are the left over chemicals of the extraction and purification process.
The chemical to make sure to check for are propane, isobutane, butane, ethanol, pentane, isopropanol, hexane, and acetone. These should be visible on the lab results that the CBD company provides you with and state their compliancy.
The importance of making sure these chemicals are not in any CBD product you or your children consume cannot be understated. It is essential you don’t ingest chemicals such as Acetone, found in nail polish remover, or give them to your kid.
- Checking For Pesticides
Just about everybody has heard about the chemicals used to keep bug and other pests away from plants called pesticides. For sure, you want to make sure that any products you give your children doesn’t contain chemicals designed to kill animals and insects.
This hasn’t been an issue with us yet personally; however, I have heard about issues with pesticides with hemp coming from Europe. Much of the Hemp coming from other countries are designed for industrial use. This includes use for paper, construction and even fuel! They aren’t designed for use in supplements so they just extract the CBD by itself out to make a product called CBD isolate.
CBD isolate does not work as effectively as a Broad Spectrum CBD product because it misses the essential components of the hemp plant that make it effective. I hear all the time about CBD products not working and you may have too. The reason is almost always the use of a low quality isolate extract not designed for use in supplements.
Since the plant was originally designed to be fuel or a construction material and from another country it may have heavier use of pesticides as well. I personally don’t use isolates because of their effectiveness (or lack there of) and regulation differences between countries leaving the door open for unsafe practices with chemicals like pesticides.
- Heavy Metal Content
I’m not talking about the music when I say metal! As of July 2019 CBD is NOT regulated so you must personally verify there are no heavy metals such as Lead and Mercury in your CBD oil before you consider using CBD for kids. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
If you are like 99% of people trying to understand all these chemicals and residuals then your head is probably spinning! You know what to look for but how do you verify it in a timely manner without too much time?
The answer is to check the lab reports which can be tricky but don’t worry I took all the work out of it for you. Below is my guide on checking lab reports.
Safety Check: Step By Step Guide To Reading Lab Reports in 60 Seconds.
Below I have attached the lab reports for our Bella Drops CBD oil tincture. I will go through how to address each safety concern. Circled in red are the safety concern areas. The tables at the top labeled “POTENCY RESULTS” and “TERPENE RESULTS” are the parts of the plant that give us the desired affects such as anxiety and pain relief. Every CBD business should have their lab results available for your review.
- Check the MAX THC content for ND**. Many companies claim ZERO-THC but still have a symbol like <0.03 next to it like you see in the other columns and rows where “MAX THC” is located. This is not ZERO-THC but means they still contain up to as much THC as the other helpful parts of the plant.
- Residual Solvents Compliant are right below the table where we determine the THC content. Make sure that each chemical has a corresponding compliance tag next to it. For example, Propane is the first listed residual solvent and directly to the right it states “Compliant with USP <467>”.
- Pesticide Compliance Check: On the right side of the page we see the table for Pesticides circled in red. Check to make sure every pesticide listed is labeled ND*** because we don’t want ANY pesticides in anything we consume.
- Heavy Metals: At the bottom left of the page is the list of heavy metals. Again, check here for compliance like we did for the residual solvents.
Every company should give you access to the lab reports. My own personal method used for Bella is a batch number on the bottle of our products. Just take the code and enter it on mycbdtest.com You will receive a report just like the one above. Try using the code tm250-t084 from our Bella Drops Tincture. Just copy the code and past into the website and voila you have you have your report.
Legality of CBD for Kids
Of close importance at second on the list of importance right next to safety is your legal concerns. Can you give your child CBD legally?
The short answer is yes but are using hemp-derived CBD?
The 2018 Farm bill reclassified cannabis with less than 0.3% THC as hemp and any cannabis plant with more than 0.3% as marijuana. This means hemp is classified like other agricultural products in all 50 states.
This also shifted the responsibility of regulation of hemp over to the Agricultural department rather than the Justice department. This means hemp became legal overnight! This is a big reason there is so much controversy right now with the FDA.
The FDA was not prepared for this bill to legalize hemp and they are scrambling. More research needs to be done for the FDA to verify all the benefits CBD proponents claim. In the meantime, there are tons of people with real problems looking for help and CBD looks promising. I am a first hand account of the benefits CBD has on anxiety, it appears harmless, and I am not going to wait for FDA approval to solve the issues people suffer from.
According to ProCon.org, “While 33 stated have legalized medical marijuana, the remaining 17 states have all passed laws allowing the use of cannabidiol (CBD) extract, usually in oil form, with minimal tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and often for the treatment of epilepsy or seizures in seriously ill children.”
What this means for you is that in all 50 states CBD is allowed. Even in the most restrictive states there are no laws on the books prohibiting CBD derived from a hemp plant with less than 0.3% THC.
TSA actually just changed their guidelines to allow CBD for carry on. This is great news for nervous flyers and is a further example of how mainstream acceptance for CBD has grown so much. So if you’ve always wanted to fly but have been too anxious then you are in luck!
Parents from many different walks of life are using CBD for their children and this trend will only continue to grow. I’m deep into the CBD space and in no situation have I ever heard of parents being hassled for using CBD for kids.
Important Exceptions: CBD from hemp vs. marijuana
Because of the technicalities of hemp being classified as a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC and marijuana being anything more than 0.3% THC it is important where the CBD in a product is sourced from.
For example, let’s say we have two identical CBD products called product A and product B. They are identical in every way including having the same amount of CBD, THC, terpenes, etc.
Product A is sourced from a hemp plant (<0.3% THC) and product B is sourced from a marijuana plant (>0.3% THC). Even though they are both the same CBD product in every way, product B is technically illegal because the CBD is extracted from the marijuana plant. If marijuana is legal in your state then you are in the clear either way. This is why it was important for me to ensure that our Bella products were sourced from a high CBD hemp plant and not just any cannabis plant.
Overall, CBD is legal for you and your children to consume. The only cases I have heard of parents running into trouble is for using low quality CBD products that did not extract the THC out of the product. This is the importance of using a ZERO-THC product rather than one with minimal THC for your kids.
The minimal THC product with a manufacturing defect would go over the legal threshold. It’s doubtful you would run into legal trouble like this anyway but whoever uses the product may experience psychoactive effects in the case of these errors.
CBD for Autism:
I’ve heard it and I am sure you have heard it too. CBD works great for autism. This is a bold claim and because I am working with a class full of special needs students with autism it is a topic I am glad I have finally been able to get around to. My goal in research was to get to the bottom of this so let’s jump right into it.
The Israeli Study: Israel has been a leader in studying CBD and their scientists were the ones that discovered the endocannabinoid system in 1992. A study I found from Israel put CBD oil and autism spectrum disorder to the test.
The study was done on autistic people over the course of 7 months. They found that 80% of participants showed an improvement in their condition. On top of that, 62% percent showed significant improvement. The participants in the study had previously been unresponsive to traditional drug therapies which makes this even more exciting.
It is exciting that there was such a huge percentage of the participants showing not just improvement, but significant improvement. The most amazing detail here is that traditional drug therapy had not worked. To me, this means CBD could have positive effects on your child, your family, or your friend’s family if they aren’t responding to traditional drug therapy.
One of the biggest problems your autistic child likely faces is social communication which is prevalent in the ASD community. By the end of this 7 month study, about 50% of the participants displayed improved communication. This is huge not only for language development but also for behavior as well.
It is a big deal if your child’s communication is improved because then they can communicate their needs more effectively. Communicating needs in an appropriate manner is an alternative to tantrum behavior and needs going unmet. Reducing the frequency of the scenarios where your child is upset would significantly improve your families quality of life.
Gut Health: CBD’s Effect on Leaky Gut and Propionic Acid
Autistic people have long had struggles with the health of their gut biome. There is a distinct connection between ASD and issues with digestion. One of the most common struggles is gut permeability (leaky gut) which can cause toxins and bacteria to leak into the bloodstream. This causes excessive inflammation and immune response.
What CBD does is reduce this gut permeability (leaky gut) and gut inflammation to bring it back into balance. This is potentially very important and relevant for autism because the gut has a strong connection with the mind. In fact, the gut communicates with brain through hormones and the immune system. If the immune system is inflamed because of a gut issue then it has an effect on the brain as well!
A notable effect the gut has on the brain is through propionic acid. Propionic acid is believed to have a negative effect on the brain as related to autistic behaviors.
There was a study done where rats were administered propionic acid. Once given this propionic acid the rats started displaying behaviors that were characteristic of autism.
CBD oil reduces the number of “bad” bacteria in the gut that produce this propionic acid. This is incredible because if propionic acid affects the brain in a way that causes characteristically autistic behavior: We can use CBD for kids with autism to reduce the propionic acid in the gut that causes this behavior and we can potentially see an improvement in their condition like in the Israeli study where 80% of autistic participants saw an improvement in their condition after using CBD oil for 7 months.
In a nutshell, propionic acid affects the brain in a way that causes autistic behavior in rats.
CBD oil reduces the amount of “bad” bacteria that produces propionic acid. Thus, using CBD could have a majorly positive effect on kids with autism.
Combining what we know so far with the Israeli study and how CBD oil reduces this propionic acid, you can make a compelling case. Not that CBD is going to solve all problems associated with autism, but that it could be a good addition to your current treatment and it is worth giving a try.
CBD and Neurotransmitters: The Effects on Disabilities
The discussion of propionic acid and the gut to brain connection naturally leads us to discussing why CBD specifically helps with commonly discussed disabilities like Autism, Epilepsy and ADHD.
These 3 disabilities have something in common: A neurotransmitter problem. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that influence our brain. There are 2 classifications of neurotransmitters relevant to your child’s disability.
Excitatory vs. Inhibitory Neurotransmitters:
Excitatory neurotransmitters increase activity in your brain. Inhibitory neurotransmitters balance out the excitatory functions so that your brain has balance. Every action has an opposite reaction, or at least it is supposed to.
People with autism, epilepsy, and ADHD have too many excitatory neurotransmitters and not enough inhibitory neurotransmitters. There is of course a very wide spectrum and variations between individuals but this is the general guide.
Some of this imbalance is attributed back to the gut biome we were discussing earlier. The propionic acid raises the level of major excitatory neurotransmitters called Glutamate and Asperate.
Glutamate and Aspertate can be found in many processed foods and aspartame found in diet drinks. This means if you have a child then improving diet by removing these sorts of foods will reduce the amount of excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain that you have too much of.
This propionic acid not only increases these 2 major excitatory transmitters but also reduces the amount inhibitory or counterbalancing neurotransmitters. Propionic acid is essentially a double whammy for children with autism, epilepsy and ADHD because of the increase in excitatory and reduction of inhibitory transmitters.
This is a lot of information here and much of it is technical so I will summarize with bullet points before moving onto addressing Epilepsy specifically.
Review of what we’ve learned
- People with Autism, Epilepsy and ADHD generally have too many excitatory neurotransmitters and not enough inhibitory transmitters.
- Propionic acid from the “bad” gut bacteria communicates with the brain and increases the excitatory neurotransmitters you have too much of and decreases the inhibitory neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, GABA) that you don’t have enough of.
- CBD reduces the “bad” bacteria that creates propionic acid in the gut.
- CBD oil is not a cure all but looks promising in reducing the effects of autism, epilepsy and ADHD.
Epilepsy: Danielle’s Story, CBD, Medication Resistance
Another disability that hits close to home for me is the story of Danielle. Danielle has epilepsy and is the daughter of my team member, Elle. A few months ago Danielle had her first Grand Mal seizure in 10 years. I was the one that found her. People that have epilepsy or a loved one know what a devastating roller coaster of emotions the condition brings with it.
It was the scariest experience I have been through. We were alone in the room, I looked away for a second and when I looked back Danielle was convulsing on the couch and sliding onto the floor. I didn’t know anything about seizures and just saw blood coming out of her mouth from I didn’t know where. It turned out to be her tongue but that didn’t change the terror I experienced at the time.
Once she stabilized in the hospital she didn’t remember anything and was distraught that the seizures were back. I got to talking to the doctor. A topic that came up was CBD. The doctor helping us said that CBD could help us and knows many patients that have started taking it.
Danielle since the incident frequently has headaches. She tried a 10 mg Broad Spectrum CBD soft gel and it helped her get rest because the headaches were keeping her up. Danielle still takes them when she gets headaches and they have been working consistently.
In conjunction with her seizure medication she has been using CBD without side effects for 6 months now and has since gotten her drivers license back. It is great that it helps her headaches and pain but what the doctor said about patients taking CBD still stays on my mind. I know there are other people out there like me with the same question so here is the research I found.
In another study done in Israel over 19.8 months it was shown that epileptics benefit from CBD treatment.
Also addressed in the study is the major issue of epilepsy and the common resistance to medication. Epileptics tend to frequently grow resistance to their medications. This study showed that a two-thirds majority of the epileptic participants enjoyed the relief of CBD without developing resistance. This is great news for the epileptic community.
Since CBD appears to not have any side effects or interactions with traditional medications it means that it may be a smart choice to use in conjunction with seizure medication. If you start developing a resistance to traditional medication and you don’t notice, then instead of finding out by having a seizure, the CBD can take over.
The FDA itself has even approved the use of a medication with CBD in it for treatment of certain seizure disorders. This is a major step in getting CBD to the mainstream and sets a huge precedent for future drug development
CBD and ADHD
ADHD as discussed earlier has much in common with autism and epilepsy. The excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters are out of balance.
In ADHD it has long been believed that the inhibitory neurotransmitter dopamine holds responsibility. If your child or loved one has ADHD then dopamine transporter in their brain works too efficiently.
What happens is dopamine is released in the brain to regulate yourself and the dopamine comes along and takes it away. If the dopamine transporter is hyperactive then you get a situation like ADHD.
The dopamine just doesn’t have enough time to spread out and do its job.
A Personal Account of using CBD for Autism and ADHD
I was on Instagram one day and I found a channel that reviewed CBD that was currently doing a live review. I jumped into the live to find Alex. He was doing a review. He seemed like a really cool guy so I commented and we got to talking.
It turns out that Alex was born with fragile x syndrome and is legally blind. He has a form of high functioning autism accompanied with high levels of ADHD. This obviously has an effect on your life but he perseveres. He has multiple social media accounts and is currently growing his newest Instagram by reviewing CBD products.
A review of CBD products by somebody with these ailments can give us valuable information on the effectiveness of CBD. The following is an excerpt Alex wanted me to include:
“Hello my name is Alex and I’ve used CBD for 4 months now and it took only 30 days before I saw dramatic effects. I have high functioning autism. With high levels of ADD and ADHD. Immediately my anxiety went down. Paranoia went down and I can think properly. I can go out into society and function. My depression has seen a drop. I feel level headed, way more relaxed, I can focus and no jidders.”
These are amazing results. It is important to note that it took 30 days for him to see dramatic benefits. This is a great example that CBD may take a few weeks to have a positive effect.
Below is Alex’s business information.
This was a TON of information packed into one post but today we learned much about the safety, legality, and using CBD for kids with disabilities like autism, epilepsy, and ADHD. We discussed that CBD has many issues with quality control and safety issues if not verified by lab results to make sure residual solvents, heavy metals, pesticides and THC are not in any CBD product you or your children consume. The THC being especially important for legality. Make sure that your CBD product is in compliance with the 2018 farm bill and sourced from a hemp plant with less than 0.3% THC. We also went over how the gut to brain connection affects children with disabilities. CBD oil reduces the “bad” bacteria that produce propionic acid in the gut. Propionic acid in turn then knocks essential neurotransmitters out of balance. This has been shown in rats to cause autistic like behaviors and plays a role in Epilepsy and ADHD because it affects similar neurotransmitters. We also told the Important first hand story of Danielle, Elle’s daughter that has epilepsy, and Alex with autism so we could get a better idea of how CBD has actually worked in the life of those with disabilities. CBD is not a cure all or the solutions to everyone’s problem but it looks promising as a treatment. If something could potentially have a positive affect on your life like it has for Danielle and Alex then isn’t it worth a shot? Of course it is.
If you or a loved one has a condition you know could benefit from CBD or already has: Email us your story because we are always interested in learning more about how CBD oil has affected your life.
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