Can CBD Treat Autism?
CBD may very well be a viable treatment for autism, a neurodevelopmental condition that affects 1 percent of people worldwide.
To better understand how CBD’s potential in treating autistic children, let’s provide an overview of what autism is, and how it is currently being treated.
What is Autism?
Autism is a serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact. While treatment can help people with autism, the condition cannot be cured (as of current).
It is often referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), referring to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication, all of which impacts the nervous system.
The range and severity of symptoms of autism can vary widely, with common symptoms including difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors. Autism is typically developed in infancy or early toddlerhood.
How is Autism Being Treated?
Early recognition (it is typical for signs of autism to not show up until a child is 2 years of age), along with behavioral, educational and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning.
Doctors traditionally treat symptoms of autism with antipsychotic medications, which often have harmful side effects. Some children don’t respond at all to the medications, causing even more feelings of helplessness for the parents.
Scientists agree that the earlier in life a child receives early intervention services, the better the child’s prognosis. But still, the odds have not been in autistic children’s behavior with traditional medications, which is why CBD treatment for autism is so intriguing.
The cause of autism is still largely unknown. Some people have blamed vaccinations, while others believe no vaccinations to be the culprit, and others yet claim certain food and beverages are linked to autism. The condition is more prevalent in males than females, which is also a fact without understanding.
What we do know is that CBD treatment for autism may be an incredible thing, spoken both from scientific studies and from parents of autistic children who have shown signs of improvement upon taking CBD.
We take a look at one study in particular, which shows promising results linking CBD to the improvement of autistic children’s health and behavior.
80 Percent of Autistic Children Saw Improvement From CBD
A fascinating study indicates CBD could be a promising treatment for children with autism, reporting that “conditions in 80 percent of children improved,” all of whom had not shown improvement with conventional drug therapies.
The study was led by the director of pediatric neurology at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Hospital, where Dr. Adi Aran treated the 60 autistic children part of the study with a high concentration of CBD oil (20 percent CBD, 1 percent THC). The children were given the CBD oil for 7 months.
After the treatment period was over, parents of the children answered assessment questionnaires to characterize their child’s condition, in terms of overall behavior. The questions revolved around behavioral change, the ability to communicate and shifts in anxiety levels.
Here is what the parents reported:
- 80 percent of parents noted a decrease in problematic behaviors
- 62 percent of parents reported “significant improvements” in their child’s behavior
- 30 out of the 60 children had improved communication
- 40 percent of parents reported “significant decreases” in anxiety
The Connection Between Autism and Epilepsy
While less than 2 percent of the general population has epilepsy, nearly 33 percent of people with autism also suffer from epilepsy, giving medical professionals headway to conduct further research on CBD and autism.
Earlier this year, the FDA approved the first ever cannabis medication for children, a CBD-based medication called Epidiolex, which treats rare forms of epilepsy. One study (so far) has found Epidiolex reduces seizures in patients by 42 percent.
The thought is that as doctors and parents begin to see positive results from the CBD-based medication on epileptic children, they will begin delving further into the research on CBD.
Since autism and epilepsy go hand in hand, CBD is showing promise for treating both conditions.