Cannabidiol - A Natural Treatment for Autism | cannabisMD

Cannabidiol – A Natural Treatment for Autism

Cannabis as a natural treatment for Autism

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Cannabidiol might just be the natural treatment for autism you’ve been looking for. Autism Spectrum Disorder remains a largely mysterious developmental disability characterized by a wide range of unique and repetitive behaviors that can impede quality of life for people with autism. Many drugs and therapies have been introduced to the market in hopes of easing negative symptoms of autism, with varying levels of success. New studies in the use of cannabis and cannabinoid oil in the treatment of autism are promising. They are showing that cannabis and CBD oil may be more effective, with fewer side effects than anything else in the treatment of impeding autistic behaviors, that may ultimately lead to an increased quality of life for those seeking it. In this guide, we will take a deep look at how Cannabis and CBD can be used to treat autism without the use of potentially harmful pharmaceuticals.

The Challenge of Treating Autism and the Miracle Cure of Cannabis

First of all, what is autism? Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a neurological disorder and developmental disability diagnosed not by a single medical test, but by a group of professionals who look for various communication and behavioral deficits and abnormalities. People with autism may have trouble with verbal and nonverbal communication, have a difficult time interpreting emotonal responses and other skills associated with social interaction, may not hold eye contact, may prefer to be alone, have a pattern of repetitive behaviors, and may have an intense and limited interest in one or two areas. They may also show irritation in response to certain sights, sounds, textures, and other sensory input. As it is a spectrum disorder, symptoms in each person varies widely, and can fluctuate from mildly to profoundly disabled. Asperger Syndrome, a previously separate diagnosis typically given to those on the ‘high functioning’ side of the spectrum now falls under the same ASD diagnosis. These people may have genius level intellectual capabilities.

In addition to autism being a very broad diagnosis, scientists still have not pinpointed a definite cause of this intellectual disability. Once thought of being the result of ‘refrigerator’ mothers who did not show enough love toward their children, and later attributed to vaccinations, the current consensus in the medical and scientific fields is to look at genetics to answer the questions autism poses. As genetic research progresses, autism advocates are hoping to get closer and closer to solving the riddle.

In the meantime, parents with autistic children are taking the disorder into their own hands and searching for a cure or treatment in other ways. Noa Shulman is a 17-year-old girl with autism that renders her severely disabled. Her mother cares for all her needs, from feeding and bathroom needs to keeping her self-destructive behaviors at bay. Faced with a grim future that may include many caretakers and perhaps living in a specialized facility for disabled people, Noa’s mother has been able to secure her a spot in a trial using cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, which aims to improve the quality of life of people with autism. She is still in the middle of the trial, but Noa’s mother reports that she is having more calm days and her aggressive behaviors are decreasing. For once, she has hope for her daughter.

Meiko Hester-Perez, mother to Joey who suffers with autism, says medical marijuana saved his life. Prior to using cannabinoids to treat her son, Joey weighed a mere 46 pounds. He had tried out over 13 different medications to treat the various symptoms autism was causing. All these caused their own terrible side effects, which left Joey sick, tired, and still unable to function in daily life. Hester-Perez tried using cannabinoids as a last resort, and now says Joey is eating, staying calm, and even began speaking, a miracle for her and her son.

Many parents have turned to marijuana and its parts such as CBD oil in a desperate attempt to help their children find relief. And many have found it.

The Controversy of Treating Kids with Cannabis

Success stories of treating autism with cannabis continue to come to light. Still, it is not without its controversy. In fact, the opposition is as intense and passionate as the advocates are. Before the cannabis culture crossed over into the medical world, cannabis had a very different reputation. Known more by one of its nicknames like pot, reefer, and even the devil’s lettuce, marijuana was seen as a recreational drug used by either hippies or low-lives to alter their state of consciousness, or to ‘get high’ with their buddies. These ‘stoners’ were heavily stereotyped to be unproductive, lazy, and constantly in a stupor. For those who continue to hold onto those outdated stereotypes, giving this drug to children seems irresponsible and dangerous, and worries about brain development in these children remain high.

One of the first big media stories of treating kids with cannabis was the news of Charlotte Figi, age 5, who suffered multiple seizures on a daily basis as a result of her Dravet’s Syndrome. Charlotte found profound relief through a specific strain of cannabis high in CBD, later named Charlotte’s Web in her honor. The world watched as she went from as many as 300 grand mal seizures weekly to just 2 years later being mostly seizure free, and developing in ways her parents could only dream of before CBD oil. Since Charlotte’s incredible story became known, hundreds of families have flocked to Colorado and other states where it is legal, in hopes of obtaining similar results for their loved ones. And many have found the relief they were hoping for.

One may think these results speak for themselves, but many doctors and parents remain skeptical. Indeed, because of the legal restraints in the United States on marijuana in all forms, peer-reviewed studies have been few and far between. Some doctors, despite the anecdotal evidence and the continued education on the subject, feel it is not the time to be doling out prescriptions to children. Until there are more scientific studies, more research on long-term benefits and risks, and more data relating to children using marijuana, these people choose to wait for the data to back up what other parents and doctors already know.

Check out Can Using CBD Oil and Cannabinoids to Treat Autism be Effective? for more information about treating autism with CBD oil.

The Link Between Endocannabinoids and Autism Related Immune Dysregulation

Just like an immune system, everyone has an endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is responsible for keeping your body in a state of homeostasis, despite external factors. The reason cannabis is thought to be effective in the treatment of autism becomes clear as you learn the effect of autism-related immune dysregulation. More scientific evidence is coming out suggesting that the immune system in autistic individuals may not be working properly. There is a fine balance the immune system requires in order to fight off disease without also fighting off healthy tissue. When this system becomes dysregulated, you see things like autoimmune disease and allergies, which is the immune system’s overreaction to either a person’s own body or common, usually harmless substances, respectively. It is suggested that in those with autism, the immune system has become dysregulated and is not keeping the balance that it should, contributing to its associated symptoms. When cannabinoids are introduced, cells begin communicating with each other, the immune system becomes more regulated, and the body gets closer t a state of homeostasis.

To learn more, check out Finding the right cannabinoids and strains to treat your autism.

Should I use Hemp Oil or Cannabis Oil for treating Autism?

So you want to try using cannabis for treating autism, but if you look at what is available on the market you may leave more confused than where you started. After all, there is hemp oil, cannabis oil, CBD oil and all other kinds of oils claiming to come from the cannabis plant. Which one do you choose?

The first step is to understand the terminology. Indeed, hemp and cannabis oils hail from the same plant, cannabis sativa. They are, however, different strains of the plant. There are over 85 different cannabinoids in cannabis plants, the most famous being THC, responsible for the psychoactive effects often associated with recreational marijuana, and CBD, most commonly associated with its healing properties. Each strain will contain a different percentage of all of these cannabinoids, giving the user different effects.

Hemp Oil is an industrialized form of cannabis sativa, bred to be used in a wide variety of ways such as clothing fiber, as a nutritional supplement, and for its oils used in lotions and beauty products. It is low in THC. In fact, to be classified as hemp, it must contain less than 0.3% of THC. It is not, however, high in CBD like some think. Although the hemp plant primarily is used for its stalk, the flower and leaves that inevitably gets mixed into the harvest is responsible for the CBD it does contain. According to Hemp Industries Association, it is not considered to be a rich source of CBD. Be aware of mislabeled products on the market claiming to be hemp oil for the benefit of healing.

Cannabis Oil is any oil that is high in CBD, which is the cannabinoid most widely known for its healing properties. Depending on its source, the percentage of concentration of CBD and THC will vary greatly from one strain to the next. It is important to remember that CBD and THC are only 2 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, out of 85 cannabinoids currently recognized. As study of cannabis continues, many experts believe it is not the effect of one or two cannabinoids responsible for the seemingly miraculous wellness properties, but the synergy between all of the cannabinoids working to bring the body back to homeostasis.

In this light, and armed with the knowledge of the difference between hemp and cannabis oil, you will see that there is not one holy grail of pure CBD oil that will do the trick for everyone on the autism spectrum. As each person with autism will have different needs, deficiencies, and symptoms relating to their disorder, it may take time to determine which strain of medical marijuana and its oil will be of most help to that individual. Many have found relief from seizures by using Charlotte’s Web strain, which has its own unique properties. For those with autism that do not suffer from seizures, this particular strain may be of little help. Many families have tried different strains to know the effect on their loved one and to find the right fit for them.

For more information on using CBD oil to treat Autism, see Can Using CBD Oil and Cannabinoids to Treat Autism be Effective?

The logo for Autism is represented by a puzzle piece. This little puzzle piece has been controversial unto itself, but it does well to embody the mysteriousness of the disorder, the ongoing research in the field, and the vast range of symptoms and treatments for each person with autism. For many with children on the autism spectrum, we are searching for that missing piece that when put into place, will help the child feel more whole, more complete, and more capable of life’s challenges. As more study and scientific discovery happen in the fields of cannabis and autism, more puzzle pieces will fit together to give us a better understanding on how to use cannabis more effectively to treat the negative symptoms of autism. It is an exciting field, with thousands of families already seeing life-changing benefits by using CBD oil in the treatment of their loved one with autism.

Please consult your doctor before trying CBD and other cannabis products.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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