Autism affects about 1% of children worldwide. Cannabis treatments are once again proving their worth
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 68 children has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In severe “low-level” autism, the symptoms are more pronounced and often violent.
Children affected by this severe form engage in repetitive and sometimes dangerous behaviors, such as rocking and slamming their heads, and are hypersensitive to sound and light, with exposure often triggering temper tantrums. They cannot sleep and have temper tantrums. Some of these children never learn to speak, or they reach their teens with just a few words.
ASD does not cure and most symptoms in children are treated with medication for depression, anxiety or hyperactivity.
Benjamin is a four year old child, living in the city of Naharya, in northern Israel. In 2015, he moved from the United States to Israel with his mother, Sharon. He has been under this type of heavy treatment in order to relieve the symptoms of his autism.
These drugs often cause their own set of obsessive behaviors and insomnia, as well as weight gain.
For many children like Benjamin with severe autism, the drugs only work for a few hours. Once they go away, symptoms like hyperactivity become even more extreme.
For Colin Jackson, 9 years old, residing in Georgia in the United States, the symptoms are similar. His father, Dale, tried to find a solution. He managed to pass a law in 2017, listing autism as a disease allowing the use of cannabis.
Cannabis oil: an effective treatment
… But difficult to obtain.
In Israel or the United States, the solution has been found in cannabis treatment.
For young Colin, his father faces a Kafkaesque problem. Her son received a state cannabis authorization card. Indeed, autism is indicated as being part of the diseases allowing to be legally treated by the plant. However, it remains nowhere to be found in Georgia.
Indeed, local law requires all production and consumption related to medical cannabis to take place within the borders of the state.
“Georgia has really done our citizens a disservice because they provide us with a card that gives us nothing. »Says Dale Jackson.
However, the cannabis oil he was able to obtain allowed his son to see his symptoms greatly subside.
“Imagine not being able to see your child sleeping at night, waking up banging their head against the wall. Dale continues of the effects of autism without cannabis.
This father's fight is now to change the law.
A different situation in Israel
For Sharon, Benjamin's mother, the idea for cannabis therapy came from her pharmacist. As she exposed him to the side effects of Ritalin, which Benjamin was feeling, he recommended that she contact Dr Adi Eran.
This pediatric neurologist consults at Shaare Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem. While cannabis is prescribed for cases like epilepsy, chronic pain, and some forms of cancer, Dr. Eran started in 2015 to experiment on severe forms of autism.
Following this consultation, Sharon received a prescription for an oil from a special Israeli strain.
Since then, young Benjamin's behavior has changed radically. Mother and child can now have a normal life, going out without fear of episodes of violence, or fear of seeing the son hurt himself with furniture at home.
The science behind cannabis oil
Dr Aran explains that the cannabis treatment works because of the functioning of the brain. The latter includes many cannabinoid sensors. The association between THC, CBD and one of its sensors affects behavior and sensations.
On a normal brain, they allow you to either feel the sensation of plastering or of relaxation and relaxation. In the case of autism or even epilepsy, the chemistry of the brain and its reactions is again balanced by the cannabinoids.
Thus, if Israel is at the forefront in the field of cannabis treatments, the legislation in the US is delayed.
The father of young Colin in the United States hopes for a federal reform which he no longer dares to hope for.