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How Does CBD Work for Autism Spectrum Disorder?

By August 8, 2019 No Comments

How Does CBD Work for Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Last year the Public Health Agency of Canada released a startling statistic in that 1 in 66 Canadian children, aged 5-17 has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

Boys are 4-5 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder than girls. 

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder

Since autism presents differently in different people and can take different forms, the disorder autism has now been redefined on a spectrum and is now referred to autism spectrum disorder or ASD to reflect the diversity in challenges and strengths that people on the spectrum have.  

According to the organization Autism Speaks, autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech, and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. It’s believed that ASD is caused by different genetic and environmental influences. 

Supporting a child with ASD requires a great deal of love, dedication, and physical, emotional, and financial support by family members. The estimated cost of supporting a child with ASD is $90,000 annually. Autism spectrum disorder is something that not only affects the individual but also affects the family and caregivers. 

There is no early detection or cure for autism. Current traditional interventions include the use of antipsychotic drugs that have strong side effects that include sleepiness, tremors, focus issues, depression and weight gain. 

Now, cannabis and in particular CBD Oil are emerging in the discourse on the treatment of ASD, with families and individuals finding hope for a regained childhood through cannabinoid therapies. 

ASD and the Endocannabinoid System

Many who study autism believe that the condition is caused by a disruption of the brain’s ability to send clear signals and are encouraged by what evidence is available. 

Like many of the observational and clinical studies on CBD, the endocannabinoid receptors in the human body are integral to the way the brain sends signals and improves cell function within bodily systems. Therefore, there has been significant speculation that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a significant role in the development of, and treatment of, ASD, with the recognition that the ECS plays a major role in synaptic plasticity and neuromodulation. 

Other studies support that cannabis can contribute to significant improvements in hyperactivity, lethargy, irritability, and compulsions towards inappropriate speech. 

Emerging Research on CBD and Autism

The research on cannabis and autism for children has been delayed in comparison to other areas of research involving cannabis. Because of the legal status of cannabis, and the ethical question of administering cannabis to children, research has been delayed, at least in North America. 

Luckily for the world of cannabis research, Israel has been a hotbed since 1992, since medical cannabis was made legal in that country. Israel has long been the country that the world has looked to since Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, “The Godfather of Cannabis” began researching cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. 

Another researcher out of Israel is making some serious research change in the field of autism and CBD. Dr. Adi Aran and his research team assessed the effects of an oral cannabis product containing a 20:1 CBD:THC ratio. Following the treatment, the researchers made the following observations: behavioural outbreaks improved or very much improved in 61% of patients; anxiety improved in 39%, communication issues improved 47%, disruptive behaviours improved by 29%. Parents also reported less stress. Some adverse effects that were reported were sleep disturbances, irritability in 9%, and loss of appetite. 

This study led the researchers to affirm “the feasibility of CBD based medical cannabis as a promising treatment option for refractory behavioural problems in children with ASD” and have now dedicated to doubling this research study to include 120 patients.

Another study coming out of Israel published this year looked at the efficacy of cannabis oil to treat ticks, depression, and rage attacks. “Overall, more than 80% of the parents reported significant or moderate improvement in their child,” lead study author Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider said in a statement about the study to the Times of Israel. 

The study concluded that after six months of regular consumption, 30 percent of patients reported significant improvement, 53.7% reported moderate improvement and only 15% had slight or no change.

Exploring CBD Oil for Pediatric Autism Spectrum Disorder

Parents and families who are looking at other options other than anti-psychotic drugs for their child living with autism spectrum disorder to have an option to treat with medical cannabis.

Under the Cannabis Act, medical cannabis use does not have an age restriction, meaning that children are eligible to receive a medical cannabis recommendation which is managed by a licensed medical professional. 

Apollo Cannabis employs pediatric doctors and patient educators who are familiar with pediatric patients. Contact Apollo Cannabis Clinic at apollocannabis.ca if you are interested in finding out more about how cannabis may help your child living with autism spectrum disorder.

CBD Oil for Adults with Autism

Most of the research on CBD and autism spectrum disorder focus on the manifestation of the condition in the childhood years, with studies involving adults with autism spectrum disorder a bit rarer to find.

One recent study tested the effects of CBD on the adult autistic brain, concluding that CBD contributes to the regulation of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission in both the typical and the autistic brain, yet this research study states that more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of CBD on the adult living with autism spectrum disorder. Also, while acute responses to CBD were observed within the adult brain, more studies need to be conducted to understand the long-term or longitudinal effects of CBD on the autism spectrum disorder brain.

Exploring CBD Oil for Autism Spectrum Disorder with Apollo

Families and adults who are considering cannabinoid medicine for the treatment of symptoms related to autism spectrum disorder are welcome to connect with Apollo Cannabis Clinics. 

We are an evidence-based clinic that has been conducting observational research on medical cannabis and conditions since 2014. Our staff includes health care professionals to assist patients of all ages and backgrounds, including pediatric doctors. 

Our cannabis physicians will work with specific concerns and medical conditions facing those living with ASD and will explore with the patient how medical cannabis can help.