New Study Backs Cannabis as a Treatment For Autism
84% of patients reported significant to moderate improvement after using CBD to treat autism-related symptoms in childhood.
188 children were treated with sub-lingual oil derived from a high-CBD, low-THC strain in a study conducted by the Israeli medical cannabis company, Tikun Olam.
A large percentage of the patients ranging 5 to 18 years old, reported improvement in their symptoms, with little to no side effects.
Since CBD-based medicine became accepted as an effective and natural treatment for epilepsy-related seizures, numerous families began contemplating the cannabinoid as a way to calm symptoms in children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders).
Anecdotal evidence has started to gather up in recent years, with an increasingly growing number of patients (especially children) finding relief in the use CBD-rich cannabis, for symptoms like anxiety, aggression, panic, tantrums and self-injurious behavior. However, there has been little clinical research on the subject so far.
The Israel-base researchers set out to find scientific evidence to back this hypothesis and found very positive results. According to the study, published in Nature Magazine, “Cannabis in ASD patients appears to be a well tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms associated with ASD.”
A Problem for Many
According to the Autism Society of America, about one percent of the world population is born with some kind of ASD. In the US, the prevalence rate is 1 in 59 births, and it’s estimated that over 3.5 million Americans live with some kind of autism disorder.
Although there is no known cure for autism, treatment usually includes behavioral modification therapy, but in many cases, patients can also be prescribed with antipsychotics and antidepressants, which can have serious side effects like facial ticks, seizures and liver damage. The possibility of replacing these medications with a more natural alternative has lead patients and their families to become especially interested in cannabis, yet, lacking a proper record of clinical studies, medical professionals can still show skepticism towards this type of treatment.
That’s why this study gains particular importance as a way to clinically check the anecdotal evidence gathered up by the autism communities, and serve as evidence to help develop new policies that allow this type of treatment as a legal alternative to mainstream pharmaceutical medication.
Between 2015 and 2017, 188 children diagnosed with ASD were treated with cannabis oil containing 30% CBD and 1.5% THC. Almost 90% of the patients were male and the mean age was 12.9 years of age, with patients ranging from 5 to 18.
The most common symptoms presented were restlessness, rage attacks and agitation, followed by sleep problems, speech impairment, cognitive impairment and anxiety.
After six months of treatment, significant improvement was attested: 71% of patients declared an improvement in restlessness, 65% in rage attacks and 57% in agitation.
Quality of life was reported as good by 31.3% of patients prior to the treatment, a number that raised to 66.8% in the six-month follow-up.
Side effects were reported by only 25.2% of patients, and included restlessness (6.6%), sleepiness (3.2%), psychoactive effect (3.2%), increased appetite (3.2%), digestion problems (3.2%), dry mouth (2.2%) and lack of appetite (2.2%).