There are a number of criteria that I require for the cannabis products used by my pediatric patients. Most pediatric patients are using cannabis in the form of oil. I recommend that the oil be concentrated.
Children with epilepsy and cancer often require high doses and if the oil is not concentrated, larger amounts must be taken, which can be challenging with an uncooperative child. The more concentrated the oil, the smaller the volume that needs to be taken.
Consistency of strain is extremely important. Many pediatric epilepsy patients have tried numerous CBD-rich oils and have only found one to work, showing that for some, the strain of the oil is very important to achieving a successful response. CBD-rich strains are not interchangeable for many of these patients.
Additionally, all oils must be tested for potency, terpenoid content, presence of contaminants, residual solvents and pesticides. A parent of one of my patients received oil from a neighbor who generously donated it to her ill child. I insisted that she have it tested prior to use, and it was found to contain 9% rubbing alcohol, teaching us that despite all good intentions, testing is mandatory before use.
The oil supply must be reliably available as many of these children are able to wean off of other drugs. It is life-threatening for a child with severe epilepsy who is on lower doses of or who has discontinued other medications to not get their oil.
Also, the oil should be affordable. Some parents report that they cannot increase doses because the out of pocket cost is too much.
The concerns that many have about using cannabis in these patients is mostly related to THC and its psychoactive effects, but I have found that CBD is an effective treatment for many. Children previously devastated by uncontrollable seizures regain control and have developmental progression instead of regression. Some of my patients with autism have had results that now allow them to attend school, have less anxiety and achieve a quality of life that was thought to be unattainable. Children suffering with cancer can tolerate treatment and some have had extended life. I don’t use the word “cure” as we desperately need more studies; however, I believe that we can get there if allowed to proceed with proper research. While important to note that cannabis may not work for everyone, after witnessing some of the sickest children who were alive but not living, finally get a decent quality of life, I feel quite strongly that cannabis needs to be an option for all those who are ill. As Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who has led the investigation into cannabis as medicine over the last fifty years, stated, “plant cannabinoids are a neglected pharmacological treasure trove.”
“Cannabis Products for Pediatric Patients” is the fifth installment of a five-part series on Children and Cannabis Medicine.
Part 5: Cannabis Products for Pediatric Patients
To learn more about the compounds in cannabis and how they’re healing everything from chronic pain to epilepsy, check out Dr. Bonni’s wonderful new book: Cannabis Revealed
Di Marzo, Vincenzo, Maurizio Bifulco, and Luciano De Petrocellis. “The endocannabinoid system and its therapeutic exploitation.” Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 3.9 (2004): 771-784.
Mechoulam, Raphael. “Plant cannabinoids: a neglected pharmacological treasure trove.” British journal of pharmacology 146.7 (2005): 913-915.