Take just one scroll on social media right now and you’ll surely see one of the countless posts of confined parents, speaking about the pressures and stresses of keeping their housebound kids busy (and themselves sane).
But while mom and dad could no doubt use a well deserved break, it would be misguided to think that children are not also feeling the weight of lockdown life and suffering in much the same way.
This is a truly unprecedented experience and a drastic lifestyle adjustment for most kids. Being confined to the indoors and getting limited exercise, lacking the routines & rhythms of school, having no interactions with friends and inevitably sensing – as children do – the inescapable atmosphere of severe stress surrounding them that has been caused by this global pandemic.
All of this can lead to some pretty intense frustration for them, made worse by the fact that most kids aren’t able to understand the reasons for all of this change, nor are they able to process or regulate their emotional responses in the same way that grown ups can.
Many adults are turning to cannabidiol (CBD) as a solution for treating their anxiety right now, seeking solace in the well known ability of this newly popular cannabis compound to alleviate feelings of fear, enhance their mood and help them to relax. So the question is – can kids reap the same benefits?
Firstly – is it safe?
Before getting into whether the effects of CBD are the same for their little people, most parents are naturally concerned first and foremost with the safety of them consuming it. Cannabis is obviously a controversial topic, and when it comes to their kids there needs to be certainty around CBD’s potential to be intoxicating or addictive.
Unlike its cousin THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and will not impair mental clarity or judgment. Both CBD and THC interact with the body’s endocannabinoid (ECS) system, but, unlike THC, CBD does not bind to the CB1 receptors located in the brain that activate the “high” associated with marijuana.
In terms of addiction, a drug dependency report by the World Health Organisation found that: “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
And as they contain a CBD isolate as opposed to full or broad spectrum oil, our Junior kids drops are exactly that – pure CBD. In order to mitigate any possible risk of the unwanted effects of THC, CBD isolate contains just the isolated cannabis compound, and not even the slightest trace elements of THC. So, with their safety guaranteed…
How can kids stand to benefit from the use of CBD?
Well, many may be surprised to know that the person widely considered as having shone a light on the wonders of CBD and gotten the movement off the ground in America around 2013 was actually a then 6 year old girl named Charlotte Figi.
Having heard about its anticonvulsant properties, her parents enlisted the help of the Stanley Brothers cannabis farming company to create a high CBD strain (subsequently named Charlotte’s Web) to treat her rare form of epilepsy. Charlotte went from having roughly 300 potentially fatal seizures a week down to 2-3 a month, and her story was widely featured on CNN and in a viral TED talk.
Rylie Maedler is another young cannabis advocate. Having contracted a rare, destructive bone disease of her jaw (aggressive giant cell granuloma, or AGCG), when she was just 7 years old, Rylie’s teeth were rapidly falling out and she too was experiencing frequent seizures. Her family decided to seek an alternative treatment to the pharmaceutical options that offered a slim chance of success.
Shortly after starting treatment with cannabis-derived CBD, Rylie’s pain started to go away, her bones started regenerating, her seizures decreased and the roots of her teeth started growing back. Now, with a full set of teeth, she is the 13 year old CEO of Rylie’s Sunshine, a company dedicated to creating safe and affordable cannabis oils for kids living with debilitating illnesses. She is also helping to lobby the American legal system to expand the qualifying conditions for children to receive cannabis as medicinal treatment.
But it is fast emerging that CBD can help more than just kids with chronic diseases. There are growing reports from doctors that CBD is able to assist with easing the symptoms of anxiety and irritability that frequently occur in kids with conditions like attention disorders and autism.
So how exactly does it work to improve mood?
Multiple studies have emerged, and continue to develop, to explain the phenomenon.
Scientists have found that CBD regulates the production of serotonin (the chemical compound linked to happiness & anxiety) and increases the production of anandamide (the “bliss molecule” that regulates emotions). A 2019 study found that increased anandamide production in the brain guards against the effects of stress, and reduces behavioural signs of anxiety and fear.
Another study indicated that cannabis can reduce the negative effects of stress on the brain by breaking down a neural pathway known as a “stress-anxiety superhighway”, and one even proclaimed that CBD’s effects are similar in efficacy to anti-anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and antidepressant medications.
One particular clinical study of a 10 year old girl, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of severe abuse and neglect, evidenced that CBD alone – as she was not given any pharmaceutical treatment – significantly reduced her anxiety and improved her ability to sleep.
What can I do for my child right now?
Parents in quarantine with kids at the moment may be witnessing similar stress responses in their own children – increased anxiety, crying, irritability, hyperactivity, acting out, trouble sleeping. And, of course, there are many ways to help ease the severity of these issues.
The usual routes to wellness could very well assist with improving things. Try getting them to do as much exercise as possible, with the help of a skipping rope or an obstacle course in the living room, and creating as much structure, normalcy and routine as possible while homeschooling so there are clear expectations and rules throughout the day.
Avoid watching the news or talking about scary statistics in their presence – they may not fully understand, but they are certainly smart enough to pick up on the undertones of fear and uncertainty.
Give plenty of hugs and as much attention as you can spare while maintaining clear boundaries to give yourself space and sanity, and maybe try to set up some virtual playdates with friends over the phone.
Together with these factors to stabilise their external environment, you could always try giving them a daily dose of CBD to help restore and maintain balance internally.
A few drops of CBD under the tongue can go a long way in curbing tears, taming tantrums, banishing nightmares and generally making this time a bit more bearable for everyone in the household.