Updated: Mar 11, 2021
The use of CBD to treat children suffering from epilepsy and autism is a growing trend. Many parents swear that CBD has significantly helped their children experience fewer seizures and less anxiety.
What can CBD do?
The most famous case is that of Charlotte Figi, a six-year-old American girl with Dravet syndrome, who allegedly suffered over 300 epileptic seizures weekly. After her mother gave her CBD oil, it was claimed that her seizures dramatically reduced to one episode per week.
There is very limited research on the effects of CBD on children. However, there is some evidence to suggest that it may be helpful for sufferers of epilepsy and autism.
CBD and Epilepsy
CBD can reduce seizures in children with Dravet syndrome by 50%. The Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami carried out a study on the use of Epidiolex, a CBD-based liquid solution, on children suffering from Dravet syndrome.[i]
The study consisted of 199 patients with an average age of 9 years. The participants were divided into three groups: group 1 got a dose of 20 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of Epidiolex daily, group 2 group got 10 mg/kg daily, and group 3 received a placebo.
The study found that 49% of the patients in group 1 had a reduction in seizures by half or more. 44% of group 2 and 26% of group 3 had a reduction of seizures by half or more.
Given the evidence that CBD can treat children who suffer from epilepsy, Epidiolex is approved by the FDA to treat patients as young as two years old.
CBD and Autism
CBD can have positive effects on children with autism. Aran, Cassuto and Lubotzky (2018) carried out a feasibility study on CBD based medical cannabis in autistic children to assess its safety.[i]
In a group of 60 autistic children who were treated with a 20:1 ratio of CBD to THC, 61% had an improvement in behavioural outbreaks, 47% had enhanced communication, and 39% experienced less anxiety.
Some side effects, however, included sleep disturbances and irritability/loss of appetite in 14% and 9% of the children respectively.
In terms of pure CBD, Barchel et al. (2019) conducted a study on parents’ experience giving oral doses to their autistic children (and young adults) for an average of 66 days.[i]
According to the parents, 67.6% of the 53 children had an improvement in self-injury and rage attacks, 68.4% had fewer hyperactivity symptoms, and 71.4% had fewer sleep problems.
Based on parents’ reports, CBD may improve autism symptoms. However, a large-scale study on the long-term effects of CBD on children is needed.