CBD and Autism

People who have autism are generally faced with the reality of numerous medications for a plethora of different accompanying issues. Many parents and people who have autism have turned to CBD as a plant-based alternative to the pharmaceuticals they are prescribed. With CBD products being a newer mainstream concept, research is minimal thus far. With an eye towards education, we have explored and compiled all the information we could find surrounding CBD interaction with autism.

As there is no medication that treats or cures autism, similarly CBD doesn’t treat autism itself, but studies show it can help to alleviate the symptoms that accompany this condition.

Autism

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to the range of conditions that affect people through their social skills and communication, and is often characterized by repetitive behaviors and speech and nonverbal communication. This condition is a spectrum disorder, meaning that individuals with ASD can range from mild or moderate symptoms to more severe, requiring constant support.

Areas commonly affected by this condition include gastrointestinal disorders, seizures and sleep disorders. Anxiety, depression and attention deficits are usually present.

People with autism typically have a long list of daily medications, which can cause more problems than they solve. This lends itself to more parents and caregivers turning to CBD for alternative treatment, exploring CBD interaction with autism.

Mental Health

Anxiety and depression are commonalities seen in those diagnosed with autism. Many are put on mood stabilizers to combat these symptoms, which have countless negative side effects.

As of late, cannabis has been claimed as a top contributor for easing anxiety amongst the masses, and recent research has started to back these claims. CB1 receptors have been among the neurological transmitters targeted by anti-anxiety medication, as they play a key role in regulatory systems. Cannabinoids such as CBD function as the direct agonist to these receptors, creating an exciting pathway to aiding in this issue.

A study completed in Israel with children with autism around the age 11 concluded that 47% of these patients had lessened anxiety related symptoms. This is significant because it gives hope to those relying on harsh medications that have previously been their only option.

Another study completed with adults who have anxiety showed just under 80% of patients reported improvement in their anxiety levels after just two months of treatment using this cannabinoid.

Communication is a cornerstone concern for individuals that have autism. Verbal and nonverbal communication is commonly targeted in therapies for autism spectrum disorder. These issues can be directly related to anxiety, therefore affected by the same CB1 receptors that CBD has impact on. In a study completed in Brazil on 18 patients diagnosed with autism, communication was reportedly one of the strongest improvement areas.

Health Problems

People who have autism suffer from numerous health problems associated with this condition. An autism diagnosis is commonly synonymous with gastrointestinal problems, seizures and sleep disorders, among others.

As mentioned in our previous blog, cannabinoids like CBD interact with CB2 receptors to help regulate our body’s homeostasis. CBD interacts with regulatory function of the immune system, which can affect diseases with gastrointestinal symptoms. Studies show that a high CBD intake perpetuates regulation of these functions, decreasing symptoms that accompany gastrointestinal problems.

Seizures are also common in patients with autism. Many studies indicate a positive response from individuals with seizure disorders, with one medication currently on the market derived from cannabis.  Seizures occur due to electrical dissonance in one’s brain. CBD works to decrease the amount of excitatory neurotransmitters released to the brain, which lessons possible risk for a seizure. Understanding this concept, CBD has been worked into the pharmaceutical industry through Epidiolex, the first ever CBD drug approved by the FDA. This was specifically designed to treat people with treatment resistant epilepsy disorders, and the success rates quickly showed substantial reduction in seizures.

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder can be plagued by sleep disorders and dysregulated sleep patterns. Hyperactivity and aggression can stem from these sleep related issues. CBD can help mitigate this through affinity towards the CB1 receptors within our systems help to regulate proper sleep.  In a study conducted in Israel, children with autism were given CBD to treat comorbid symptoms of the condition. Results showed that over 70% of the patients studied had improved sleep habits.

CBD has been touted as a cannabinoid assisting in mental health therapy and specific health issues through anecdotal evidence for a while. The symptoms of autism are directly in line with the commonalities CBD has been claimed to treat. This lends itself to a hypothesis and a hope that alternative treatment for autism spectrum disorder is on the horizon.

Recent research has pointed in the positive direction for those growing wary of the multitude of pharmaceutical drugs associated with an autism diagnosis. As always, consult your doctor regarding CBD interaction with autism before including CBD treatment into your daily regimen when treating symptoms of autism.