Research suggests cannabis CBD may help children living with autism

healthcareIt can be heartbreaking to find out that your child has been born with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as there is currently no cure for the disease.  With no cure available, research has been dedicated to easing patient’s symptoms, and in this arena cannabidiol (CBD) could provide some major breakthroughs.

Autism exhibits many problems, both cognitive and behavioral, but CBD oils might be able to enhance the body’s immune response and treat difficult ASD associated behavioral problems.  So far, formal clinical studies are somewhat lacking but lots of anecdotal evidence points toward successful treatments with cannabis.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is becoming known for inducing effects on the human brain and many products are being marketed as remedies for neurological disorders including epilepsy, PTSD, drug addiction and now autism.  CBD is a major compound found in the cannabis plant and is a non-psychoactive ingredient that does not produce the feeling of being “high”.  The research into whether medicinal CBD can help ease symptoms in children suffering from severe forms of ASD has been lacking until now.

The University of California San Diego School of Medicine has recently put forth news of an upcoming investigation into the effects and safety of treating ASD with cannabidiol.  This study is being enabled by a $4.7 million donation from the Ray &TyeNoorda Foundation, together with the Wholistic Research & Education Foundation. It will be the largest donation to cannabis research to date in the United States.

The study will involve 30 children within the ages of 8 to 12 years that have been diagnosed with severe autism.  The School of Medicine’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) aims to better understand the interaction of CBD and how the compound alters neural activity.  The safety of CBD will also be studied as well as its efficacy as an ASD treatment.  The hope is that CBD will show itself capable of treating the more difficult symptoms of ASD such as aggression, repetitive behaviors, hyperactivity and self-injury.  CBD may also help with associated social and communication problems.

Estimates in the United States show that one in 68 children are affected by ASD.  It is a complex disorder that has many known or suspected causes, such as genetics, metabolic dysfunction and environmental conditions.  Abnormal development and functioning in terms of connectivity between neural networks and braincells results in many of the social and cognitive impairments found in children suffering from ASD.  CBD interacts with the bodies endocannabinoid system, which is a network of neurotransmitters tasked with regulating extremely diverse physiological and cognitive processes, as well as responses to stress.  CBD has given hope to those suffering from epilepsy, schizophrenia, anxiety, PTSD and other neurological disorders.  This upcoming study will shed new light onto CBD’s affects, not just for ASD, but for many other neurodevelopmental disabilities too.

There is also another preliminary study that has already been completed and shows encouraging results.  Authors of the study titled “Cannabidiol Based Medical Cannabis in Children with Autism – a Retrospective Feasibility Study”, found that following treatment with CBD, behavioral outbreaks were much improved in the majority of patients tested.  Anxiety, communicative problems and disruptive behaviors were also improved significantly.  Side effects were rarer but included sleep disturbances, irritability and loss of appetite.  This preliminary study shows that CBD based treatments seem a feasible option for treating refractory behavioral problems for children with ASD.

As the research into cannabis and CBD as a medical treatment option increase, so does the hope of a viable treatment for ASD and other neurological disorders in the near future.

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