CBD for ADHD and Autism: What You Need to Know

December 10, 2019

Many people are searching for information on CBD and kids. For example, is CBD safe for children? Is CBD useful for symptoms related to autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or anxiety in children?

These questions have not received their fair share of research attention—but that's due to a long lack of federal funding for research on cannabinoids of all kinds. This is changing.

Because hemp-derived CBD oil is now legal, and sold in stores and online, we expect to hear a lot about these questions from the scientific, medical, and regulatory communities. Let's look at what we know today.

What Do We Know About CBD for Children?

According to Consumer Reports, parents are increasingly purchasing CBD for children with autism, ADHD, and anxiety. The FDA's approval of the CBD-based prescription drug Epidiolex for two serious forms of epilepsy in children has put CBD on the map.

But using CBD oil (or any hemp products) for other children's conditions is not scientifically endorsed because not enough studies have been done.

Consumer Reports therefore urges parents who try over-the-counter CBD to consult with their doctors and attend to important safety measures.

What Research Exists on CBD and ADHD in Kids and Adults?

Does CBD oil help with ADHD? When looking at ADHD and CBD's possible effects, Scott Shannon, M.D., an assistant clinical psychiatry professor working at University of Colorado's medical school, stops short of recommending CBD across the board. But Dr. Shannon told Consumer Reports that CBD might help when ADHD is coupled with anxiety.

The peer-reviewed scientific journal European Neuropsychopharmacology published notable research in 2017. The study found that cannabinoid use can ease symptoms in adults with ADHD, without any impairments. The study is considered preliminary evidence. It supports the call for more research on the connection between the body's response to cannabinoids and ADHD.

Is CBD Recommended for Childhood Autism?

There are prescription drugs marketed for children with autism, but these treatments are known to come with serious health risks. Thus, parents may look to non-traditional options to help ease their children's symptoms.

Studies on CBD oil effects suggest the product will not cure autism. Yet anecdotal information suggests using CBD for autism can help some children move ahead in therapy, home life, and school. Research on CBD oil for autism indicates potential to help children without posing the serious risks other treatments carry.

Orrin Devinsky, M.D. directs the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at NYU in New York City. Dr. Devinsky, who served as principal investigator for the Epidiolex clinical trials, expresses the hope that CBD may one day be approved for use in autism, because the same genes are connected to both autism and epilepsy.

How Much CBD Oil Is Suggested?

Parents may ask how to use CBD oil for ADHD and anxiety, or for autism. Dr. Devinsky spoke to that question in the Consumer Reports piece. The doctor gave readers four important tips:

  • Take it slow. It takes time to figure out a personally appropriate dose, whether in an adult or a child.
  • Be systematic. Pay attention to the time and the amount used, and Increase it gradually.
  • Carefully monitor and note the child's responses.
  • Give it to the child together with food that has fat. CBD is fat-soluble—that is, it dissolves in fatty oils, making it easier for the body to absorb and use what it's getting.

What About CBD and ADHD Medicine Interaction?

As a general rule, CBD should be treated with respect and used with care, and nowhere is this more important than where kids' health is involved.

Neither this website nor any other can offer medical advice. And only a doctor who has examined your child can give medical advice that fits the individual child. This is why parents thinking about CBD for autism, anxiety, seizures, or ADHD should consult with their children's doctors. A doctor's recommendations and insights regarding your child’s history and overall health will be important, and will guide you in avoiding any possible autism or ADHD medicine interaction.

Increasingly, doctors are being asked by parents and guardians about CBD oil's potential to help their children. Medical professionals who keep up with the latest news and findings are aware of CBD. They should be prepared to discuss it with you. If your child is on any prescription drugs, be sure to include potential medicine interactions in your consultation.

How Can Consumers Judge Product Safety?

Seek out a reputable product, advises Dr. Bonni Goldstein, M.D., the medical director for Canna-Centers in California. As Dr. Goldstein urged Consumer Reports readers, consumers should seek out a company that applies third-party lab verification and labels its products with a Certificate of Analysis to show the results.

This is spot-on advice. All good makers of CBD products know it. We must follow current federal rules and standards, pay for laboratory tests, and label our CBD products accurately and carefully. A key part of this responsibility is third-party lab testing. Testing is costly, and not all companies do it. Insist that yours does. When your loved ones' health is at stake, the CBD Certificate of Analysis is an absolute must-see to ensure the quality, purity, and safety of CBD oil.

Finally, as with all wellness products, use care to store CBD products safely out of the reach of children and pets.

Still Have Questions?

We're here to help you find answers. Contact Mtiva and we'll get back with you promptly!

Consumer Reports




European Neuropsychopharmacology

R.E. Cooper, et al., Cannabinoids in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A randomised-controlled trial. European Neuropsychopharmacology (Elsevier), Aug. 2017.

Photo Source

Freddy G, via Unsplash.


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