Approximately 2 million people in the US suffer from autism, which is a collection of disorders that affect brain development. It leads to social interaction issues, communication difficulties, learning problems, high sensory sensitivity, inability to keep a conversation flowing, repetitive and even injurious behaviors. It is believed that medical cannabis can help children with autism.
Autism is not a specific disease, like muscular dystrophy or Crohn’s. Rather, it is a group of conditions you can refer to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
The causes of ASD are unknown, but as per the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the environment and genetics are both key contributors to the disorder. Autistic people generally have abnormal neurotransmitter levels and brain irregularities, which suggest the disorder is the result of a disruption in normal development of the brain due to the presence of defective genes that control the communication of brain cells.
Medical Marijuana and Its Effects on Autism
Research suggests there is a potential connection between cannabinoid receptors and autism. This is evident in cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2), inside the endocannabinoid system 2, 5, 7, 9. There is sufficient evidence that shows CB2 receptors support the theory that the brain’s inability to send clear cues causes autism. This in turn increases the possibility that using cannabinoids in marijuana can reinstate communication to facilitate proper cell operation and communication. Studies also support cannabinoids efficiency in treating autism, especially in children.
One study concludes an autistic child show significant improvement in lethargy, hyperactivity, stereotypy, irritability and inapt speech after receiving THC for about six months. Furthermore, mice showing behavior similar to humans’ autistic behavior enjoyed decline in depression and succeeded in staying focused on running on the spinning wheel after they were given cannabinoids. A study showed boosting cannabinoids, such as the ones present in cannabis, in the brain helps correct behavioral problems that stem from Fragile X Syndrome, the most widespread genetic cause of autism.
How Medical Cannabis Can Benefit Children with Autism
Increasingly, parents who have children experiencing severe autism have few options for treating ASD symptoms. Keeping this in mind, many are now turning to medical cannabis. People are aware of the anecdotal success reports, as there are promising results present. Although clinical research remains absent, several studies indicate that medical cannabis can:
- Help in autism management thanks to the presence of certain components, like the CB2 receptor. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23585028
- Improve various autism symptoms, such as aggression, panic, anxiety, tantrums, generalized rage, self-harm, and property destruction. This is as per findings of the Autism Research Institute.
- Help with behavioral issues due to the presence of certain chemicals.
Since scientists rely on evidence, few researchers or doctors are willing to prescribe marijuana. They don’t prescribe it for children, as they don’t feel comfortable. However, the therapeutic qualities of cannabis are undeniable, considering the plethora of anecdotal studies available today.