Today, there is perhaps no topic in the medical community that is more divisive than autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Even taking the fringe outcry over standard vaccinations as a separate issue, there is still a tremendous amount of public debate about the potential causes and treatment options for ASD. For many people, there is in fact a concern over whether ASD requires treatment at all.
Nearly all factors of a mother’s pregnancy have been examined for possible connections to ASD, along with every conceivable variable during the early years of childhood development. These include nutrition, exercise, allergies, environmental pollution, genetic variability, social conditions, and more. While this push to better understand the causes of the condition will continue in the future, there is currently no consensus in the medical community about specific causes. On a positive note, there are already a number of beneficial treatments that can help with the management of ASD. As its reputation continues to improve following years of prohibition, medicinal cannabis is emerging as a natural, viable method of treatment for the condition.
A 2019 study published in Nature gives us some insight into the potential uses of cannabis and non-psychoactive CBD in treating ASD. This research, which was conducted by Ben Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center in Israel, was undertaken to determine if medicinal cannabis might help in alleviating common problems experienced by young people who are on the autism spectrum. The results are encouraging. More than 80 percent of patients in the study reported an improvement in problematic symptoms—things like ticks, depression, irritability, anger, and social friction. 48.7 percent reported significant improvement and 31.1 percent reported moderate improvement in a post-study questionnaire of all 188 patients, all of whom were under the age of 18. The vast majority of patients in this study were given a cannabis oil orally that was primarily CBD with a small amount of psychoactive THC.
In a review of the academic literature published in Global Pediatric Health in November of 2018 entitled “Autism Spectrum Disorder and Cannabidiol: Have We Seen This Movie Before?”, we can get some perspective on the issue. The review notes that clinical research into the connection between medical cannabis treatment and ASD is still lacking, and that more studies need to be done for it to be considered a reliable treatment. Since its original publishing, studies have begun to shine a light on this data that the medical community relies on to make recommendations.
The review also cited the safety of cannabis treatment as a positive, noting that the World Health Organization and the National Institute on Drug Abuse consider CBD to be “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.” This description stands in contrast to the majority of pharmacological alternatives.
Given what the medical community understands about the natural antianxiety and antiinflammatory properties of cannabis, it comes as no surprise that people all over the world are finding relief for their ASD symptoms. If you or your child have an interest in pursuing medical cannabis as a treatment, begin by opening a dialogue with your doctor or mental health professional. From there, you can begin to discuss the specifics of how to start using cannabis in the most effective way.