Though there are several studies and statistics around adults taking CBD for a wide range of conditions, from insomnia to arthritis, more and more parents are speaking up about how this popular hemp-derived product is affecting their children, too.1 In a 2020 survey of 500 parents by cannabis-focused magazine Remedy Review, 40 percent had given CBD products to their children for behaviors related to the autism spectrum, which included anxiety and stress.2 Other parents have reported giving their children CBD to ease the symptoms of ADHD, including lack of focus and inability to keep up with schoolwork.3 But is CBD safe for kids or do the risks outweigh the potential benefits? If you’re considering using CBD to treat your child’s anxiety or ADHD, find out what the experts have to say about CBD products and how they measure up to homeopathic medication.
CBD for Anxiety & ADHD
Derived from the hemp plant, CBD is non-psychoactive, unlike its more famous cousin, THC, the part associated with euphoria or the “high” feeling. It is available in many forms, such as oils, patches, tinctures and even kid-friendly confections like gummies. While some animal and human studies show that CBD oil may help reduce anxiety, few studies in children exist.4 However, one study of a 10-year old patient with PTSD found that CBD oil improved her feelings of anxiety and reduced insomnia.5 When it comes to ADHD, most of what we know about the benefits and risks is based on anecdotal evidence, with parents giving mixed reviews.6
According to CHADD, there haven’t been any studies on the use of CBD oil in ADHD children and there have been no studies on the long-term effects of taking CBD.7 So while some people use CBD and tout its benefits, researchers and medical experts have not found evidence that it is an effective treatment route. Even more, Child Mind Institute advises parents to be wary of the quality of products, as some may contain things other than CBD.8 It’s also unknown how CBD may interact with other drugs and whether or not your child will become dependent on the product.
Pros and Cons of Using CBD for Children & Teens:
Pros: Some studies and anecdotal reports show promise; CBD may have fewer or less harsh side effects than pharmaceutical drugs; a variety of forms are available
Cons: Insufficient research on efficacy and safety in children; unknown long-term effects; unreliability in product quality; potential for dependency unknown; unclear which systems/organs are affected when using
Homeopathic Medication for Anxiety & ADHD
There are a variety of homeopathic remedies used to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and anxiety, which many parents turn to as either an alternative to prescription medication or to treat some of the side effects that arise from taking prescription medication. Homeopathic medication refers to alternative treatment using natural ingredients, such as plants, herbs, minerals or animal-derived substances. Depending on the type of homeopathic product, one of the benefits of using homeopathy is that there are no known side effects or contraindications with other drugs.
This is the case with the Brillia product, which uses antibodies to the brain-specific S100 protein (S100B), an important regulator of various different intracellular and extracellular brain processes. While CBD has been linked to some minor side effects like dry mouth, fatigue and drowsiness, Brillia has no harmful side effects.9 The homeopathic remedy has been shown to help reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress and hyperactivity in children when combined with healthy lifestyle habits such as getting adequate sleep, eating nutritious foods, limiting screen time and practicing mindfulness.
Pros and Cons of Using Brillia for Children & Teens:
Pros: Clinical studies, anecdotal reports and scientific evidence all show positive results based on how the active ingredient interacts in the system; Brillia has no harmful side effects; there are no contraindications; product taken in easy-dissolve tablet form
Cons: Cost may be a concern for some; takes two to three weeks to build in system; dosages must be administered multiple times daily in a regimented fashion; product contains lactose, which may be an issue for those who cannot tolerate lactose enzymes
What Parents Are Saying
Before you explore how CBD might work for your child’s anxiety or ADHD, hear what other parents have had to say about their experience with using CBD and homeopathic medication like Brillia:
What Parents Say About Using CBD:
“Both he and his teacher have noticed a big difference. [My son] feels like he can concentrate more, and he feels more part of the team because he’s not sitting there lost.” Lindsey Elliott, mother of 11-year-old son with ADHD10
“I went into it hopeful that we’d found a more natural way to knock the edge off of [his] highs and lows, but we found there was very little difference.” –Jaime Cammack, mother of elementary-school-aged son with ADHD11
“I cannot say that she or I have noticed a positive effect on her anxiety with the CBD oil.” –Colleen Wildenhaus, blogger at Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Joy, and mother of 15-year-old daughter with severe anxiety and OCD12
“We have a 16-year-old son who was having difficulty focusing in school. He would say, ‘I'm focusing, I‘m focusing...but then, I‘m thinking of bumble bees.’ Our doctor prescribed a low dose of a prescription medication for my son‘s ADHD...the side effects made him very angry, very sad. Now he takes an Rx in the morning AND Brillia in the morning...and it so much better. Everything is just perfect.” –Cricket, mother of 16-year-old boy
“The doctor said there was no way we were going to get around medicating her. I saw an ad for Brillia and thought let's try it and see. She was on it for about 2 weeks and within that timeframe the change I saw in her was absolutely amazing.” –Grace, mother of 6-year-old daughter
“I've noticed my 11 yr old (ADHD, ODD, Depression, High Functioning Autistic) still has his moments, but they are farther apart then before... Still hoping it continues to improve, but it hasn't hurt adding this to our daily routine.” –Lisa L., mother of 11-year-old son with ADHD
Choosing the Right Product for Your Child
It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about whether or not to discontinue certain medications or supplement them with products like CBD. Dr. Paul Mitrani, clinical director at the Child Mind Institute, advises parents to wait until further research is done before giving a child CBD.13 Keep in mind that a homeopathic product like Brillia is available over the counter and without an official diagnosis.
Prescription vs. Homeopathic
When a child is diagnosed with ADHD, they are typically prescribed a stimulant medication that increases the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. These may effectively reduce the symptoms of ADHD, but with a caveat: undesirable side effects that range from decreased appetite to sleep problems. Anxiety medications, on the other hand, are typically SSRIs, which increase serotonin in the brain, and come with side effects like drowsiness, headaches and upset stomach.14 There is also evidence that ADHD medication can lead to dependency and addiction, making most homeopathic medication a safe alternative.15
Parents who have found success with prescribed medication or CBD do not have to stop using their usual medications if they are interested in trying a homeopathic opton like Brillia. Brillia has no contraindications, which means that it will not cause negative reactions when combined with other drugs, so parents can integrate it into their child’s regimen without worry. Brillia is also an option for parents who are looking to relieve some of the side effects of other prescription medications. Instead of adding more prescription medications to the mix, parents can try Brillia in tandem with other medications and potentially switch to Brillia entirely once the product builds up in the system. Some parents also use Brillia insead of increasing their dosage of the medications their children are taking. Please keep in mind that Brillia is a cumulative product that takes 2-3 weeks to start working. If you are considering stopping other prescribed medication, please consult your doctor first to ensure you’re making the right choice for your child. Learn more about how Brillia works.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles and a mother of one. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.