Which CBD oil is good for autism?

Cannabis treatment for autism: new study

The number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD for short) has increased dramatically worldwide, according to the Israeli researchers. The researchers also stated that no special treatments are currently available. Measures would primarily focus on training and teaching self-help skills for greater independence. Various studies in the past have shown that cannabis treatment can help alleviate various symptoms / ailments (Leafly reported).

Cannabis treatment in ASD patients with CBD

In 2018, a study already showed that cannabis treatment can be beneficial for ASD patients. In this retrospective study with 60 children, after treatment with CBD-enriched cannabis, behavioral outbursts improved in 61 percent of patients, communication problems in 47 percent, anxiety in 39 percent and stress in 33 percent of patients. The researchers stated that the reasons for this cannabis treatment were based on previous observations and the theory that CBD effects relieve psychosis, anxiety, facilitate REM sleep, and suppress seizure activity.

Cannabis treatment in ASD patients with THC

A prospective case-by-case study with dronabinol (THC) showed significant improvements in hyperactivity, lethargy, irritability, stereotypy, and inappropriate speech after six months. In addition, cannabis treatment in ten adolescent patients with intellectual impairment resulted in eight patients showing improvement in the treatment of treatment-resistant self-harm.

Current study by the Israeli researchers

The researchers noted that although many people with autism are treated with medicinal cannabis today, there is a significant lack of knowledge about the safety profile and the specific symptoms that are most likely to improve with cannabis treatment.

The aim of the study was to characterize the epidemiology of ASD patients treated with medical cannabis and to describe their safety and efficacy. To do this, the researchers analyzed the data prospectively collected as part of the treatment program from 188 ASD patients who were treated with medicinal hemp between 2015 and 2017. The patients were treated with cannabis mainly with cannabis oil, which consisted of 30 percent CBD and 1.5 percent THC.

The inventory of symptoms, overall patient assessment, and side effects at six months were of interest and were assessed using structured questionnaires.

Participants in the ASD study

A total of 188 ASD patients took part in the study. The diagnosis of ASD was established according to the accepted practice in Israel. Six certified child psychiatrists and neurologists were responsible for the cannabis treatment of 125 patients. The remaining 30 children were referred by 22 other doctors. The mean age of the patients was 12.9 ± 7.0 years, with 14 patients younger than 5 years. 70 patients were between 6 and 10 years old and 72 between 11 and 18 years old. In addition, most of the participants were men (81.9 percent). In addition, 27 patients also suffered from epilepsy and 7 patients from ADHD.

Interim results after a month

After a month, eight patients stopped cannabis treatment. The other participants continued the cannabis treatment. 58 patients stated that they saw a clear improvement and 37 patients indicated that they improved moderately. In addition, 17 patients declared that cannabis did not help them and one patient switched to another cannabis supplier.

Seven patients reported side effects, including:

  • Drowsiness (1.6 percent)
  • bad taste and smell of the oil (1.6 percent)
  • Restlessness (0.8 percent)
  • Loss of appetite (0.8 percent)

Results after six months

After six months of cannabis treatment, nine patients switched to another cannabis supplier. 15 patients completed treatment and 155 continued therapy. 28 patients reported significant improvement, 50 patients showed moderate improvement and six patients reported slight improvement. Eight patients also stated that they had not noticed any change in their health.

Before and after cannabis treatment, quality of life, mood, and ability to carry out activities of daily living were assessed. The researchers found the following results:

  • A good quality of life was reported by 31.3 percent of patients prior to treatment. After six months of cannabis treatment, 66.8 percent of participants said they had a good quality of life.
  • 42 percent of parents said their children were in a positive mood before treatment. After the treatment it was 63.5 percent.
  • The ability to dress and shower independently improved significantly. Before treatment, 26.4 percent had no difficulty doing these activities. After six months of treatment, it was 42.9 percent.
  • Before treatment, 3.3 percent of participants reported good sleep and concentration. After treatment, it was 24.7 percent.
  • Of the 13 remaining patients who suffered from epilepsy, 11 said after treatment that the symptoms had improved.
  • 72 patients also stated that the feelings of restlessness and tantrums had improved.

Changes in your medication intake

The participants in the study most often received the following drugs:

  • Antipsychotics (56.9 percent)
  • Anti-epileptic drugs (26.0 percent)
  • Hypnotics and sedatives (14.9 percent)
  • Antidepressants (10.6 percent

From 93 patients 67 to take medication regularly. Six patients reported an increase in their drug use. In contrast, the drug consumption remained the same in 38 patients and 23 patients reduced their drug intake.

After six months of cannabis treatment, 41 patients took their antipsychotics at the same dose. However, three patients reduced their dose and eleven patients stopped taking it altogether.

Side effects of six months of cannabis treatment

The most common side effects that occurred in 23 patients after six months were:

  • Restlessness (6 patients)
  • Drowsiness (3 patients)
  • psychoactive effect (3 patients)
  • increased appetite (3 patients)
  • Digestive Problems (3 patients)
  • dry mouth (2 patients)
  • Loss of appetite (2 patients)

Of the 23 patients who discontinued treatment, 17 had responded to the follow-up questionnaire after six months. The reasons for discontinuing treatment were no therapeutic effect (12 patients) and side effects (5 patients). However, seven patients who stopped treatment intended to restart treatment.

summary of results

Cannabis treatment in ASD patients appears to be a well-tolerated, safe, and seemingly effective option for symptom relief, the researchers said.

The exact mechanism of cannabis effects in patients with ASD is not fully understood. Findings from ASD animal models indicate a possible dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system. The researchers also state that the mechanism of action may be related to the regulation of GABA and glutamate transmission, in which the endocannabinoid system is also involved

The researchers found another possible explanation in the neurotransmitters oxytocin and vasopressin, which act as important modulators for social behavior. Administration of oxytocin to patients with ASD has been shown to facilitate social information processing, improve emotional recognition, strengthen social interactions, and reduce repetitive behaviors, among other things. There was evidence that CBD may increase the release of oxytocin and vasopressin during social interaction activities.

THC and CBD Effects on Autism Spectrum Disorder

The cannabinoids THC and CBD can have different psychoactive mechanisms of action. THC can improve symptoms in ASD patients. For example, patients reported a lower incidence of anxiety, stress, and depression after administration of THC, as well as improved mood and quality of life. In patients with anxiety, THC led to an improvement in anxiety levels compared to placebo and in dementia patients to a reduction in nocturnal motor activity, violence, and behavioral disorders. In addition, cannabis has been shown to improve interpersonal communication and reduce feelings of hostility in small social groups.

In the study, the researchers were able to show that treatment of ASD patients enriched with CBD can potentially lead to an improvement in behavioral symptoms. These results are consistent with the results of two double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover studies that demonstrate the anxiolytic properties of CBD in patients with anxiety disorder. In one study, CBD had a significant effect on increased brain activity in the right posterior cortex, which is believed to be involved in processing emotional information. Another study found that CBD was able to reduce cognitive impairment and anxiety, among other things.

How safe is cannabis treatment in ASD patients?

The researchers stated that cannabis treatment appeared to be safe and the side effects reported by the patients' parents were moderate and relatively easy to manage. The most common side effects reported after six months were agitation, which occurred in less than 6.6 percent of patients. In addition, compliance with treatment was high and less than five percent stopped treatment because of the side effects. It also states that a careful titration schedule is important, especially in the pediatric ASD population, in order to maintain a low rate of side effects and increase the success rate.

Placebo-controlled studies are necessary

The present results should be interpreted with caution for several reasons. On the one hand, it is an observational study without a control group. Therefore, no causality can be established between the cannabis treatment and the improvement in patient well-being. In addition, this study is based on a subjective self-report of the observations made by the parents of the patients and not on the patients themselves. These reports with subjective variables such as quality of life, mood and general effects can be influenced by the parents' opinion of the treatment. Even if the effect was assessed after six months, the possibility of excessive expectations cannot be ruled out.

The response rate to the questionnaire was 60 percent after six months. As a result, estimates of the effectiveness and safety of treatment may be biased. However, a high compliance (over 80 percent) of the treatment provides good evidence of the satisfaction of the patients and the parents with the treatment.

While this study suggests that cannabis treatment is safe and can improve ASD symptoms and improve the quality of life for ASD patients, the researchers believe that double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are needed for a better understanding of the effects of cannabis in ASD patients are vital.

Here you can find out more about cannabis therapy for autism.

Note: In this article we report on prescription CBD or cannabidiol. This article makes no suggestion as to the possible purpose. Promises of use are left to the pharmacists.