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While CBD is being used widely by adults, the best evidence for it comes from studies focusing on children with certain kinds of epilepsy. And increasingly, parents are giving CBD to their children to manage a range of other conditions, such as autism and anxiety.

Talk with your child’s doctor. If you’re considering CBD for your child, let your pediatrician know so that he or she can manage your child’s overall care, monitor possible side effects, and help you avoid medication interactions. “It’s hard to find physicians at this point who are experienced and comfortable in this area, so that’s going to be a challenge,” Shannon says. “But I think that’s a good goal, if they can find a professional who can guide them with this.”

Parents are using the cannabis compound to manage hard-to-treat ailments in kids, but there are still many unknowns

But she cautions that for many health problems the research is still in its infancy. And while CBD doesn’t pose many clear risks, “it’s also not totally benign,” says Trauner, who is launching a clinical study examining the benefits and risks of CBD on children with autism. “People tend to think that because it’s natural and plant-based that it’s safe,” she says. But CBD can cause side effects, such as diarrhea, changes in appetite, fatigue, and interactions with some medications.

“We haven’t seen convulsions in quite a long time. It’s been life-changing.”

Still, many experts are hopeful about CBD’s potential. Though much research has been in animals, three recent randomized placebo-controlled double-blind trials in humans (the gold standard for scientific studies), found that a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex was effective in reducing seizures in people with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, two rare but devastating forms of epilepsy. The landmark studies led the Food and Drug Administration to approve Epidiolex in June 2018, making it the first (and only) prescription CBD-based medication.

Lunadoil contains a one-to-one combination of CBD and CBG, another compound found in the cannabis plant. Today, at age four, Clara takes Lunadoil twice a day, reaching a total of 0.5 milliliters. The oil tincture is placed under her tongue, where it’s absorbed into her system. As she grows, Clara’s dosage will increase.

Excited by what she was seeing, French started vlogging Clara’s progress on Facebook. It caught the attention of other families dealing with issues similar to Clara’s. It also caught the eye of a news channel, which featured a story about Clara’s journey. News channels in other states spread the word. French started getting phone calls from other families.

Anecdotal Evidence Spreads Via Facebook

Together, French and the physician did research over a six-month period. During this time, Clara received a Non-Verbal Spectrum Disorder, Level II diagnosis. Six months later, Clara began a CBD protocol. Her response was immediate. The day Clara took CBD oil, she ventured, for the very first time, into the family playroom, an echo-prone space filled with bright colors and toys. French was excited.

“The Lunadoil made him so much more aware of what was happening around him, and the people around him,” Magro says. A downside, “With his increased awareness, he notices stuff he doesn’t like more now, too.”

Clara’s progress continued. Two months later, at a one-year follow-up MRI of her brain, all the damage witnessed the prior year had resolved.

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:

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.

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.

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