CBD could be a viable treatment for people living with autism, according to comprehensive research published by Neurology in 2018.
During this study, 60 children diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) were administered high doses of CBD oil for over seven months. The results showed that over 40 of these children reported significant improvements in their conditions.
Scientists discovered that CBD oil helped to reduce behavioral and communication problems while lowering levels of autism-related anxiety.
Previously, none of the participants had responded to traditional pharmaceutical drug therapies to alleviate the symptoms associated with their autism.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2.5% of all US children are diagnosed with ASD. Therefore, these results bring significant hope for children, parents, healthcare providers, and caregivers.
CBD is widely regarded as a popular alternative treatment for a wide range of health conditions.
What is Autism?
Officially named Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), autism is a collective term for a range of developmental and neurological disorders that show prominence during early to late childhood.
People diagnosed with these disorders often experience difficulty with communication and social interaction. They usually show restive, repetitive, and stereotyped behavioral patterns. These behaviors can lead to difficulty in forming and maintaining healthy relationships during adolescence.
ASD is diagnosed following several different medical evaluations, screenings, and genetic tests.
According to the World Health Organization, roughly one in every 160 children worldwide is diagnosed with autism. Across the world, approximately 75% of diagnoses are found in males, with just 25% of cases being prevalent in females, these statistics are backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Despite being more prevalent in males, ASD affects people of every economic class, race, county, ethnicity, and culture. At the time of writing, there are five officially recognized subtypes of ASD under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Autism has no known cure at present. However, combinations of occupational, speech, and drug therapies are used to alleviate the severity of symptoms caused by the condition. Additionally, the root cause of autism is still unknown, although its thought that genetics, environmental factors, and viral infections could all contribute to the development of ASD.
CBD and Autism: The Science
To be clear, there are currently no known therapies or medications that can completely cure or eliminate the central symptoms of autism. By central symptoms, we’re referring to sensory dysfunction, problems with social interaction, and repetitive/restricted behaviors.
However, CBD may help to alleviate the symptoms of conditions related to ASD. Disorders such as insomnia, epilepsy, tiredness, anxiety, and stress. Several scientific studies indicate CBD oil as an effective treatment option for managing the symptoms of conditions related to autism.
Scientists have already explored the links between ASD and the endocannabinoid system, a part of our bodies that CBD targets when alleviating symptoms related to epilepsy, chronic pain, anxiety, and inflammation.
In 2013, a study revealed that specific mutations found in people diagnosed with ASD interfere with the way the endocannabinoid system sends signals in the brain.
Later, in 2015, a study showed that CBD manages to reduce the frequency of seizures in people living with a form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, leading to an improved quality of life.
In 2017, a study showed that CBD also helped to reduce the number of seizures experienced by patients diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet’s syndrome. Another 2017 study conducted on mice revealed that small doses of CBD helped to increase and enhance social interactions and communication, two deficits associated with autism.
In 2018, scientists discovered that people diagnosed with autism tend to have less anandamide in comparison to healthy individuals. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that is imbalanced or deficient in people diagnosed with disorders directly related to autism, including anxiety, stress, seizures, and insomnia. For this reason, scientists think that CBD products could help to alleviate symptoms of these disorders, which are closely linked to ASD.
In 2019, a comprehensive study was undertaken by scientists in Israel. One hundred eighty-eight children diagnosed with ASD were treated with large doses of CBD oil. Following six months of treatment, almost 90% reported reduced levels of restlessness, with 84% noting reduced agitation. Caregivers reported decreased rage episodes and improved sleep in 89 and 58.6% of participants, respectively.
Ultimately, although CBD will not cure any of the core symptoms associated with autism, it may offer relief to some of the compound issues related to the condition. Associated problems such as sleeplessness, anxiety, seizures, stress, and irritability may all be relieved after using CBD regularly.
With improved sleep and reduced anxiety, aggressive behaviors may become easier to manage. Reduction in the occurrence of seizures can help to reduce stress levels and lead to improved social interactions, thus improving communication skills.
Research into the field of CBD as a treatment to symptoms associated with ASD is ongoing. We’ll keep you up to date with the latest news and scientific research.
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