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CBD for Kids’ Anxiety

Evidence suggests that CBD may help treat anxiety disorders in children, but questions and concerns remain about the safety and effectiveness of CBD for kids with anxiety. Experts advise caution related to adverse effects, drug interactions and long-term use.

Last Modified: September 5, 2023
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Is CBD Safe for Kids?

The safety of CBD for kids remains a contentious issue, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expressed concern about the exposure of vulnerable populations, including children and pregnant women, to CBD. Some research suggests only a small percentage of children given CBD experience adverse effects and that it may help with anxiety. However, people must use caution before treating anxiety in children with CBD based on potential adverse reactions in adults and lack of safety and efficacy evidence.

Cannabidiol, a compound found in the cannabis plant, is increasingly popular for its purported health benefits, including treating anxiety. Although CBD products for anxiety are possibly safe to take in appropriate doses, concerns exist about CBD’s adverse effects, drug interactions and long-term use.

Some research has shown CBD may be safe for adults, and meta-analysis found few or minor adverse effects. However, the FDA warns of potential liver damage and reproductive effects in men. Overall, scientific research on the safety and effectiveness of CBD is limited and inconclusive. For example, Hong Kong just banned CBD over concerns about traces of tetrahydrocannabinol in CBD products. Tetrahydrocannabinol is a primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.

CBD has been legal in the U.S. since 2018, but the only FDA-approved CBD medication – Epidiolex, used to treat epilepsy – comes with serious warnings, including potential liver injuries, drowsiness and sedation, suicidal ideation and hypersensitive reactions. Most other CBD products on the market, including CBD products for anxiety, are not FDA-approved and the potency of these unregulated products is highly variable. The FDA also warns that CBD products cannot be considered dietary supplements or food additives without sufficient information to establish safety standards,

Are There Benefits of CBD for Kids With Anxiety?

There is early evidence that CBD might help treat certain health conditions in adults, including Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Isolated studies have also shown tentative support for CBD as an anti-addiction and anti-anxiety treatment for adults. Some research suggests that most children given CBD do not experience adverse effects, and that it has benefits for anxiety.

Research into the therapeutic effects of CBD is rapidly increasing, but clinical data do not yet support most current uses of CBD. More research is needed to better understand which conditions CBD may benefit, how to use it safely and effectively for anxiety and whether it can help a teenager with anxiety.

With many people using CBD products for anxiety on their own, doctors may encounter patients experiencing side effects or other issues, even if the doctor didn’t prescribe the CBD.

CBD Dosage for Children

There’s no established dosing chart or guidelines for giving CBD to children with anxiety. Reliable dosing information for Epidiolex is for adults specifically with epilepsy. Current evidence suggests CBD doses of 300-400 mg shows promise as an anti-anxiety treatment for adults, but there are no recommended dosages of CBD for kids with anxiety.

Scientists need to know more about how the body processes CBD before providing a recommended dose for children. Data suggests that CBD hinders the liver’s ability to break down certain medications, likely increasing their concentrations in the body, which may also increase their effects and side effects. However, until there’s more research on CBD metabolism, safe CBD dosage levels to treat anxiety in children cannot be established.

Take caution when giving CBD to children. Side effects can occur at any dose and the likelihood becomes greater with increasing doses. Because the effects can take several hours to kick in, there’s a risk of adverse reactions and/or drug interactions and accidentally overdosing a child and producing an unwanted high.


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CBD Side Effects in Children

Although CBD is possibly safe in appropriate doses, it is not risk-free for adults or children. Concerns exist about drug interactions, adverse reactions and negative effects with long-term use. Serious warnings for Epidiolex for epilepsy include potential liver injuries, drowsiness and sedation, suicidal ideation and hypersensitive reactions. Epidiolex’s most commonly reported adverse reactions include:

  • Asthenia (weakness)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Infections
  • Increase in liver enzymes
  • Insomnia and sleep disorders
  • Malaise
  • Rash

Self-medicating with any drug, supplement or over-the-counter medication can be dangerous. Before adding CBD to your child’s medication regimen, it’s important to discuss FDA warnings, possible side effects, adverse reactions or drug interactions with your child’s doctor.


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CBD Drug Interactions

CBD can slow down the liver’s breakdown of many drugs used to treat epilepsy, as well as some antidepressants, benzodiazepines and even cancer medication.

CBD may also interact with the following medications and supplements:
  • Lithium: Higher doses of CBD might increase lithium levels and the risk of lithium toxicity.
  • Valproate: Taking CBD with valproic acid might increase the chance of liver injury.
  • Warfarin: CBD might increase levels of warfarin, which can raise the risk of bleeding.

If combined with medications and supplements that have similar sedative effects, CBD may cause excessive drowsiness or breathing problems in certain individuals. These include CNS depressants, hops, kava, L-tryptophan, melatonin and valerian. Talk to your doctor about potential drug-drug interactions.

Parents should be cautious when giving CBD to their children for anxiety, or using CBD for depression, whether as a substitute for or supplement to existing medication. Before treating your child with CBD, talk to your child’s doctor.

Also, be aware that CBD may absorb faster when taken with food, amplifying its effects. Consuming fatty foods or drinks, like whole milk, can also enhance the body’s CBD absorption.

Using CBD in Combination With Other Anxiety Treatments

Approach online treatment for anxiety with caution, especially from bloggers or vendors seeking to sell CBD products. While CBD is widely promoted online for mental health issues, including anxiety, these claims are usually promotional or anecdotal, not based on medical expertise.

Parents should also be cautious when supplementing their children’s prescribed anxiety treatments with CBD. The FDA warns of possible drug interactions, and evidence suggests that CBD hinders the liver’s ability to metabolize medications. A buildup of medication concentration in the body raises the risk of side effects.

It’s very important to discuss the use of CBD with your child’s doctor and therapist. Ask about side effects, interactions and how CBD could impact therapy progress. Health care professionals should be mindful of the safety concerns and regulations surrounding CBD when recommending it to patients, especially children.


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Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.