April is Autism Awareness Month, which promotes acceptance, understanding, and appreciation for those living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Fundraising to research new treatment options is an important goal. Medical cannabis has shown a lot of promise as a possible therapy for people with autism.
Autism Awareness: A Brief Intro
Autism affects the ways in which a person interacts with and relates to their surroundings. People with autism might be sensitive to certain smells, noises, or sensations. Others might have difficulty developing language skills and learning non-verbal cues.
Each person has a different set of challenges and strengths, as autism exists on a spectrum. For example, one person might have trouble learning new words, while another person may not be able to speak at all.
Children with autism tend to show signs of the disorder when they are two or three years old. Sometimes, doctors can even diagnose autism as early as 18 months.
It is very important for parents to learn about the many treatment options available, including medical cannabis. Spreading this type of knowledge is exactly what Autism Awareness Month is all about.
Can Cannabis Treat Autism?
Right now there is no known cure for autism. However, different treatment plans can help make life easier for those with the disorder. Everyone with autism responds differently to treatment.
Some treatment methods include family counseling, anger management, medications like Risperdal, and speech therapy.
Could cannabis soon be considered a helpful form of treatment? Some studies seem to suggest so.
In 2013, researchers found that certain compounds could help autism patients. That same year, researchers at Stanford University found that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in autism.
The endocannabinoid system is a group of natural cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These receptors are important to almost every part of the human body and its many functions. When the receptor signals have trouble communicating, young patients may develop autism.
As it turns out, cannabis produces numerous cannabinoids that interact with the endocannabinoid system in a variety of ways. For example, it might trigger a release of a feel-good hormone called “oxytocin”.
Oxytocin helps with bonding and positive social interaction. You may also feel oxytocin released when you hug someone. Increased oxytocin can be helpful for those who have difficulty socializing with others.
Cannabis could help ease symptoms and improve overall quality of life for those with autism. However, a lot of medical research is still required.
So far, a cannabinoid called cannabidiol, or CBD for short, has shown promise. Medical marijuana companies now sell a number of medicinal CBD products. It will be important to continue learning how CBD may help treat autism.
Autism Awareness: Cannabis Produces Amazing Results So Far
Research on the positive effects of cannabis for those with autism is on-going, but anecdotal evidence shows no signs of slowing down.
For example, a mother in Israel saw her teenage son’s transformation after he started medicinal cannabis treatment. Similarly, parents in Puerto Rico said their son, Kalel, began to speak for the first time just days after starting on a CBD oil spray.
Kalel had been diagnosed with severe, non-verbal autism, meaning that he could not speak at all. After taking CBD oil spray a few times, his parents were surprised that he could say his vowels.
“It was the first time ever,” his father Abiel told Yahoo Parenting. “You can’t imagine the emotion we had, hearing Kalel’s voice for the first time. It was amazing. The teacher recorded him and sent it to my wife and me, and we said, ‘well, the only different thing we have been doing is using the CBD.'”
More Research Needed
Medical cannabis is still a young field. And that means there is still work to be done.
But so far, data suggests that medical cannabis can help treat a number of health conditions. That includes anorexia, certain types of cancer, chronic pain, ADD, anxiety, depression, Tourette’s syndrome, and epilepsy. It may even help heal broken bones .
As new varieties of CBD oil continue to become available, more benefits will likely continue to be discovered.