Autism is the name given to a group of social and behavioral conditions called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The conditions in this group relate to issues with brain development that can include intellectual disabilities, problems with motor function, social issues both verbal and non-verbal as well as repetitive behaviors. There can be issues with attention as well as physical effects such as sleep issues, gastrointestinal problems or seizures. Symptoms of autism are wide ranging, depending on the specific manifestation, and range from hyperactivity, attention disorders, seizures, panic disorders and anxiety to tantrums, violence, destructive behavior and self-harm. Some people with autism show exceptional abilities in music, math, art or visual skills.
The Need for a New Medication
A lot of the pharmaceutical medications prescribed for people with autism either don’t work at all or have devastating side effects. In recent years, many parents who have been suffering with concern for their children have started to use medical marijuana to treat their children’s autism symptoms with great success. Due to the fact that there has been such limited research of the effects of cannabis on autism, many parents have had to experiment to find their own dosage. With no marijuana study to use as a guide, Martin of Michigan, helped to treat his own son Emery, and a friend’s son, Noah, by experimenting with different THC and CBD levels.
Many parents have found that while CBD oil helps their children with seizures and other symptoms of autism, higher THC levels tend to be more helpful in dealing with the social symptoms such as rage, violence and unstable, non-attentive moods. Without more research, all of their results have been a matter of trial and error. Having said that, people at the Autism Research Institute are starting to see the potential help offered through marijuana use and there are researchers who have begun the pursuit to find out more answers about how cannabis may be helpful for those suffering with autism.
A Brief History of Marijuana Study in Regards to Autism
A marijuana study done by Dr. Raffaele Siniscalco in 2013 found that compounds in marijuana may help with the treatment of autism, stating, “Our data indicate CB2 receptor as potential therapeutic target for the pharmacological management of the autism care.” Another marijuana study done in 2013, by Dr. Csaba Földy found that “Endocannabinoids are molecules that are critical regulators of normal neuron activity and are important for many brain function. By conducting studies in mice, we found that neuroliginb-3, a protein that is mutated in some individuals with autism, is important for relaying endocannabinoid signals that tone down communication between neurons.”
Medical Marijuana Specifically Designed for Autism
Now Dr. Adi Eran, who is the head of the Pediatric Neurology Department at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel is planning to do a comprehensive study on how CBD oils derived from marijuana can assist those with autism. The study will focus more on the CBD compounds in cannabis, that are very effective for treating seizures amongst other things, rather than the THC compounds, which produce the psychoactive effects of marijuana which many parents have found to be beneficial for treating their autistic children too. The study may lead to specialized medical marijuana for helping those with autism. Israeli company Syqe Medical is positioning itself to produce the world’s first metered-dose medical marijuana inhaler.
The more research that is done, the closer we come to finding a way to treat this debilitating and heartbreaking condition, safely and accurately. Let’s hope these new advances out of Israel inspire more researchers to move towards finding the best treatment for autism.