Since the 19th century, Cannabis has been used as a treatment for epilepsy in children. Today, researchers have found that cannabinoids, such as CBD, do not cause any deleterious effects on children. Despite this, there is a lack of standardization when it comes to dosages and formulations of medical marijuana for children.
Epilepsy is one condition where the use of medical marijuana is gaining momentum where in buds from bubblegum autoflower strain where used. It is estimated that the condition costs $15 billion a year in the United States and is a leading cause of mortality among children. However, despite its high cost, epilepsy receives far less research funding than cancer, and about a third of children suffering from it have a drug-resistant form.
Cannabis has been used in ancient cultures to treat various ailments, including epilepsy. Written records of its use date back to 1800 BC. In the 19th century, Western medicine began to pay attention to the benefits of cannabis as a medicine. After a physician from India began to study cannabis as a treatment for infantile convulsions, the herb was included in the pharmacopeia of western physicians. Its use in epilepsy was widespread, but eventually the plant was banned worldwide.
Cannabis is an effective treatment for children suffering from Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, two types of severe epilepsy. In recent years, the FDA approved the first natural cannabis-derived medication, Epidiolex. Until now, only synthetic medications were approved by the FDA for treating children with epilepsy. While conventional medications for epilepsy have a variety of side effects, cannabis-based medicines have few to none.
Although there are few studies conducted in the U.S. on pediatric patients, increasing numbers of pediatric patients are turning to Cannabis and cannabinoids for symptom management. The American Academy of Pediatrics has not endorsed medical marijuana for children, however. The organization is concerned about the negative effect of marijuana on children’s developing brains.
Children should only use CBD products if they are prescribed by a physician who is aware of their symptoms. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate cannabis-derived products, so CBD products may contain high levels of THC or other contaminants. In addition, they should only be used for specific conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder, and should not be given to healthy children.
Cannabinoids like CBD are not well studied in children. However, they are widely used among adolescents. They are available in retail stores and are trending on social media. The FDA is monitoring the market for complaints and adverse reactions. If products are found to be in violation of the law, it will take action.
While the majority of pediatricians support the use of medical Cannabis for children, there is a lack of a standard for the formulation, dosages, or strength of the drug. These findings are consistent with the lack of standardization for the use of cannabis in adult patients.
While it is still early to determine whether medical marijuana for children is a viable treatment option, it may be a useful tool for patients with serious and life-threatening illnesses. As research continues, pediatricians may be asked to discuss medical marijuana with their patients. For that reason, it is critical for physicians to understand the nuances of the field, including the varying state regulations and laws. They may also be asked to educate their patients and their families about the health benefits of cannabis-based products.