With cannabidiol oil and hemp becoming a hot commodity in South Carolina and across the country, adults are increasingly using CBD in a variety of ways to ease anxiety, insomnia, pain and more.
Parents are using it for their children, too, but many experts suggest consulting with a physician before using CBD products for alternative medical use, especially among kids.
In South Carolina, residents must be over 18 to purchase CBD oil products. And there is only one CBD treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration, said Dr. Conrad Williams, director of the pediatric palliative care program at the Medical University of South Carolina.
It's a drug called Epidiolex that is used to treat severe forms of epilepsy.
Williams works extensively with children with critical health issues. He knows of several South Carolina parents who have been prescribed Epidiolex for their children.
But as consumers continue turning to CBD to ease health care issues unrelated to epilepsy, some parents likely give CBD products to their children and avoid disclosing the use to a pediatrician out of potential shame, Williams said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened commonly."
Experts say it's essential that doctors are aware of the potential use of CBD by patients with serious health issues. It's even more important for those patients who are on prescription medications as a result of those health concerns.
“CBD is safe," said Dr. Bonni Goldstein, the medical director of the Canna-Centers in California. "But this should not be taken lightly when a child is ill."
Goldstein said part of the reason parents and people, in general, should consult with a physician is because of how CBD reacts with certain enzymes in the liver, where many pharmaceuticals are metabolized.
She explained, in some cases, CBD can block the clearance of drugs. This may cause drugs to accumulate in the body. Alternately, CBD can dangerously speed up the clearance of other drugs, Goldstein said.
Either of those scenarios could be life-threatening to a patient.
Goldstein previously worked with a child who had a brain tumor. There was a prescription medication the patient was taking that could have become toxic had it interacted with too much CBD.
But CBD doesn't react this way with all medications. “This is why medical supervision is so important," she said.
CBD is sold in South Carolina at a variety of outlets, ranging from gas stations to grocery stores. There is no way the average retail employee would have sufficient knowledge about prescription medications to provide adequate guidance to parents and consumers, Goldstein explained.
FDA regulations acknowledge this information gap. That's why the federal government prohibits CBD oil vendors from giving specific dosage recommendations to customers with health concerns.
"I can't do that," said David Bulick, owner of the Charleston Hemp Co. “The FDA regulations are just cut and dried.”
In South Carolina, the public may purchase and use CBD or hemp products, but other variations of cannabis are banned.
The Charleston Hemp Co. designates the second Tuesday of every month as a time when residents can come and share their own experiences with CBD. This includes success stories with treatment or information about the hemp industry.
Bulick suggests customers look for certifications or information detailing the amount of CBD in a product. He also recommends that customers consult with medical professionals.
Hemp farmers and sellers like Bulick are not allowed to give blanket statements like "this will help you." But they can offer small anecdotes.
“My wife uses (CBD) every night," Bulick said. She has arthritis.