CBD and autism

A recent study from a group of researchers in Israel backs up what parents of some children with autism already know: CBD helps calm their children. It also improves their ability to communicate and become more self-sufficient.

 Because of the restrictions placed on CBD and medical cannabis in the United States, research is slow to occur. Israel, having had medical marijuana since 1992, has become a front-runner in cannabis research.

 CB receptors and autism

It seems there’s a link between autism and CB2 receptors. One study found that cell mutations present in individuals with autism block those receptors from maintaining homeostasis in the brain.

 The study, led by Dr. Adi Aran, director of the pediatric neurology unit at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, found that CBD had an 80 percent success rate at reducing troublesome symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder.

 In the study, 60 children were treated with high doses of nonpsychoactive CBD oil of 20 percent CBD and 1 percent THC. After the seven-month study parents were given a questionnaire asking how their children were affected by taking the oil.

Here’s what they reported:

·       Eighty percent of parents noted a decrease in problematic behaviors, with 62 percent reporting significant improvements.

·       Half of the children had improved communication.

·       Forty percent reported significant decreases in anxiety. (Note: one-third of the study participants began the study with no anxiety.)

 Another study, Real Life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism; Analysis of Safety and Efficacy, followed 188 patients, also showing that cannabis can relieve symptoms with few, if any, side effects. Only two other drugs have been FDA approved to treat autism. Both are antipsychotics, which don’t always prove to be effective and often cause negative reactions.

Future research

As CBD and cannabis become more accepted in the United States, there’s more potential for American researchers to take up the call. CBD has been effective in a few small studies using animals, which had promising results. Plus, with FDA approval for Epidiolex, a CBD oil-based treatment for two rare types of childhood epilepsy, it may be safe to assume more research will begin.

That may be due in large part by the similarities between epilepsy and autism. In fact, Dr. Orrin Devinsky, who did research on Epidiolex, is now conducting two studies on the effects CBD has on children ages 5 to 18 with moderate to severe autism. 

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