Can teenagers safely take CBD?

June 5, 2023

As the trusted Londonderry CBD brand that is used right across the UK, we get asked regularly about the possibility of teens using CBD. Common reasons could be dealing with growing pains, helping with the stress of the complex world of teenage hormones, and how to deal with social anxiety as you’re finding your identity.

A teenager with CBD

While CBD can help with all of this in adults, things aren’t quite so clear cut when it comes to teens. To understand what the options are, we’re going to dive into both the legal and the medical side of things. From there, you’ll be suitably informed to make the right decision.

The Legal Side: CBD and Age Restrictions

Firstly, the legal side of things needs to be looked at. Interestingly, in the UK while tobacco and alcohol are age restricted, CBD isn’t at time of writing. This is somewhat surprising given its close relationship to cannabis and the fact that it can help your brain work in different ways. While CBD is clearly not a recreational drug of any sort, it is a supplement that needs to be used carefully if you want to get the full range of benefits out of it. 

The key point to note here is that just because CBD is legal to use, it doesn’t mean it comes medically recommended. Sellers are currently advised against selling to under 18s in the UK, but that’s not to say no one will sell to them. The reason for this isn’t a matter of the law, it’s a matter of science.

Medical Considerations: Why CBD Isn’t Medically Recommended for Teens

In adults, we know precisely how long cannabis stays in your blood. We also know how to answer common questions like ‘how long does cannabis stay in your system?’ and ‘how long does cannabis stay in your urine?’ allowing us to come to a definitive conclusion about how cannabis will affect you. The same is true of CBD where a large number of studies have been conducted on things like absorption times, uptake rates and excretion times. All this helps build a very clear picture of what CBD does in the adult body and the changes that can be expected with the administration of a given dose. The same cannot be said for teenagers at this moment in time.

Scientific Knowledge Gap: Lack of Studies on CBD for Teenagers

While there’s every chance that this will change over time as CBD becomes more and more mainstream, the science simply hasn’t been done yet. Of course, in principle, CBD should do exactly the same in a teenager as it does in an adult, but reality can often be considerably more complicated. You might assume that you have to simply reduce the dosage of an adult in line with the lower body weight a teen will have. On the face of it this sounds very sensible, but it’s just not fully supported by science at the moment. 

Teenagers have rapidly changing levels of hormones due to the onset of puberty, they differ from one another more than adults do as puberty onset times vary, and they’re more prone to mental health issues. All this adds up to mean that teenagers are more complex than simply being treated as small versions of fully developed adults.

Precautionary Approach: Caution and Awareness for Teens Using CBD

Now, while we can’t stop any teenager taking CBD, and we suspect there will be significant benefits in taking it, we like to preach caution wherever possible. The last thing you want to do is oversimplify the situation and take something which unwittingly makes your mental health worse. Add in the attractive branding many use to sell CBD and you can see that it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of assuming you’re buying some form of mental health cure-all product when in actuality it isn’t fully tested for your specific case. 

So, if we’re advising caution when it comes to CBD for teens, what else can we advise? Well, to begin with there’s no better starting point than writing down on a single page what it is you want to achieve. If you want to take CBD for pain management, going to your local GP and talking about the level of discomfort you’re currently experiencing is always the best starting point. You may think you can find everything you need from a quick Google search, but that’s rarely the case. 

If a SERP will spit out the names and prices of all sorts of painkillers in a fraction of a second, you won’t be getting the context that makes these results meaningful. Certain painkillers only work for particular conditions, others will react in a toxic manner when mixed with other forms of medication. Finding all of this out online is something that simply isn’t worth the risk of making a mistake when a skilled medical practitioner will be able to guide you through everything you need to know in just a couple of minutes.

Mental Health Considerations: Conservative Approach for Better Mental Health

Another key area you may be considering, or considering in conjunction with your teen child, is taking CBD for better mental health. While the mental health benefits are firmly established for adults, the science simply isn’t there to support the same types of results in teens. Again, you could make a compelling argument in principle that the effects should be the same, but that doesn’t mean this will be the case in reality. 

When it comes to mental health, we’d recommend a conservative approach that begins with a trip to your local GP. Seek their advice and look to characterise the specific nature of the mental health issues you or your teen are facing right now. Stress, anxiety and other forms of mental health issues all overlap and come in a wide variety of different forms. They also mean that one which works well in one case may not work quite so well in another seemingly highly similar case. 

Finding someone who can give you access to the big picture is the way to go because it will make sure that no stone is left unturned. From there, there’s a whole host of other components, besides CBD, that you can add to your health and wellness regimen. Reducing blue light exposure before bed, daily exercise and a balanced diet, each of these pieces will help. 

What we’d advise is doing the best possible job on all of these components of a healthy mental state before returning to the decision of whether or not to use CBD. That way you’ll already be making progress and you’ll be giving the scientific community more time to do the testing and research that will tell you about what CBD really does for the teenage brain.  For those looking for an instant cure-all this may not be what you want to hear, but if mental health is important to you, you’ll be glad of the advice in the long run. Be conservative and consistent with your approach, tick all the boxes and leave no stone unturned. If you do all of these things, you’ll find your mental health is in a much better place sooner rather than later.

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