Medical cannabis has been cited as a possible future treatment for autism spectrum disorder, or autism. This has become a slightly controversial claim, as the evidence to support it remains sparse. However, there are some researchers who insist that cannabis has real potential as a treatment for the condition.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition, the causes of which remain somewhat of a mystery. Defined by the difficulties it causes with social interaction and behavior, this condition is typically diagnosed at 7 years of age.
The symptoms of autism vary widely according to the severity of the condition. While some patients experience only subtle symptoms which are almost invisible to the naked eye, others are much more apparent and can impact every single aspect of the patients life.
Researchers believe that cannabis could act as an effective treatment because of how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system, a regulatory system which has been linked to autism.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system of receptors which are found throughout the bodies of most animals, although the majority are located in the skin and brain. Scientists have discovered that this system is very tightly linked to a range of bodily functions, including brain health.
The chemicals which are found in the cannabis plant are known as cannabinoids. Interestingly, the ECS naturally produces and processes its own cannabinoids. These are known as endocannabinoids and they are the fuel that keeps the ECS functioning at its best.
Researchers believe that the cannabinoids found in cannabis can act as a sort of nutritional supplement to the ECS and support it in its functions. This means that cannabis can have a beneficial effect on brain health, and disorders which are caused by a problem in the brain.
There is not enough research into this relationship at present to say conclusively that cannabis can or can not help to treat autism. Unfortunately, the effects of the drug on the brains of autistic patients just isn’t understood well enough.
However, there is certainly more than enough evidence to suggest that cannabis has real potential to treat autism and reduce the severity of the symptoms it causes. Until more research is conducted, this is all we can say for sure.