The use of medical cannabis in treating autism is still shrouded in mystery. While studies show that cannabis can reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms in autistic children, the American Academy of Pediatricians is still against the legalization for both medical and recreational use. Read on to know more about the efficacy of medical cannabis and the treatment of autism.
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A little About Autism
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one in every 59 children has been diagnosed with autism. The disorder causes cognitive impairments in children. Autistic children will find it challenging to relate socially, communicate nonverbally, and accomplish tasks. Autistic children also engage in repetitive behaviors— like rocking back and forth, repeating sounds, and arranging and rearranging things.
Though the disorder is widely spread among the US population, it has no cure. Parents of autistic children mostly give them medications that suppress the symptoms or take them for therapy.
Though therapies like speech therapy, coping therapy, and the applied behavioral analysis can help negate the severity of some symptoms, a more reliable treatment that assures a longer-lasting relief is necessary. That’s why researchers have been working to establish the link between medical cannabis and the treatment of autism.
Scientific Research on the Efficacy of Medical Cannabis for the Treatment of Autism
Today, the application of medical marijuana in combating autism is no news. CBD oil is the most used form of cannabis in medical applications. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t cause the psychedelic effects for which marijuana is known. Though many parents have testified on the effectiveness of medical cannabis, peer-reviewed reports that point to the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating autism is still lacking.
In 2015, The Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital reviewed earlier research that had been done on cannabis and autism. They found the vast body of research promising and even opined that CBD might soon be declared an effective method of treating autism.
Another research done by Israel’s Ben Gurion University of Negev reported that medical cannabis can be used as an effective autism treatment. The 2019 study that lasted six-long months involved 188 autistic children aged 18 and below. The research reported that after the children were treated with CBD oil for six months, showed significant improvement.
The children showed improvement in varied ways. The patients reported having a good night’s sleep before the treatment began— the percentage jumped to 25% during the treatment. Concentration levels also improved, indicating that CBD oil can be used to calm hyperactivity in autistic children.
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The study also reported that the treatment also improved the ability of the patients to complete tasks. At the end of the trial, 43% of the patients were able to take a shower and dress by themselves— an increase from 26% when the trial began.
The patients also saw improvement in other side effects of autism. At the end of the trial, 85% of the patient stopped having seizures completely. 91% of the patients showed reduced restlessness, while 90% of the patients reported reduced frequency and severity of rage attacks.
Unlike other medications that might wear the patient out, patients who went through this study reported good moods and improved quality of life. Before the trial, only 31.3 were assessed to have a good quality of life, a figure that jumped to 66.8% after the six-month-long treatment.
The promising research reports are a good sign that medical cannabis might soon end the suffering of autistic patients. The promise gets more significant because, in 2018, the FDA approved a cannabis-based Epidiolex as a treatment for severe seizures.
Epidolex proved effective in clinical tests after decreasing seizures in Dravet syndrome patients by 45% on average. Dravet Syndrome is a rare form of childhood epilepsy known for severe seizures.
Why Most Parents are Turning to Medical Cannabis for Autism
Most parents with autistic children are coming together to fight for the legislation of medical marijuana to help in managing autism.
Parent advocacy groups are coming up to drum up support to the cause. One such advocacy group is the Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA). The group is dedicated to making medical marijuana accessible to all autistic children.
On their website, you can read testimonials and real-life stories from parents of autistic children. The parents, most of whom had to leave their states to move into states where medical cannabis is legal, tell personal journeys of using cannabis for autism. Most of the parents praise cannabis for its effectiveness in reducing aggression, self-injurious behavior, and the frequency of seizures.
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Most parents won’t like to read cannabis and children in the same sentence. Thanks to the controversy around medical cannabis and the stigma around marijuana use in general. However, to a parent who is taking care of an autistic child, the studies around medical cannabis and autism spell hope.
If you need medical cannabis for autism, get in touch with MD Berry. They will help process your medical marijuana license and explore different treatment options available for you.