Parents of autistic children heard by the scientific community
A diagnosis of autism can be life changing for parents. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is both incurable and often difficult to treat. Many parents of children with autism spectrum disorders say that cannabis can help their children. But due to a lack of research, it is difficult to understand how cannabinoids work and how to use them remains unclear.
Autism - incurable, on the rise, a target for cannabis therapy
The year 2021 was marked by great advances in research and the visibility of this alternative treatment, which relayed the results of new research.
Five essential things to know:
- ASD or "autism spectrum disorder" presents as a wide range of behaviors ranging from mild to severe, with cognitive deficits in areas such as speech, eye contact and / or repetitive behaviors.
- Its prevalence is currently 1 in 44 children in the United States. It even affects 1 in 26 children in California, where early detection and services may have increased diagnoses, according to the. Washington Post.
- "The advanced age of the parents (especially the age of the father) has been identified as one of the most important risk factors for autism," the researchers concluded.
- Mutations in more than 100 genes controlling neurodevelopment appear to cause nervous system dysfunction in sufferers.
- In some cases, the body's nervous signaling system - the endocannabinoid system - seems to be malfunctioning. Because cannabis changes how the endocannabinoid system works, people with ASD may benefit, according to case reports. This is important because there is no FDA approved drug for the main symptoms of ASD, and only two for irritability.
Dr Sanjay Gupta takes a look.
The recent CNN special with the Dr Sanjay Gupta, WEED 6 : Cannabis and Autism, which aired on Sunday, December 19, was a big step forward in the visibility of cannabis as a treatment for autism and its symptoms.
In this special, Dr. Gupta interviewed several families who have had "miraculous" results with cannabis to treat their child's autism symptoms. Researchers, doctors, autistic patients and their families have discussed how cannabis can change the lives of people with ASD.
"We are seeing some pretty impressive changes." Dr. Doris Trauner, professor of neuroscience and pediatrics at UC San Diego.
Dr Trauner said that the aggressiveness of some autistic children had "disappeared".
“I mean she's gone,” Dr Trauner said. “Many children are more social”.
Fourteen states allow medical cannabis for severe autism, noted Dr. Gupta. Sometimes cannabis works for the chronic, intractable symptoms of autism, such as self-harm.
“These parents tried everything - including strong mind-altering drugs. … It's heartbreaking. [With cannabis] these families have found something that they think works. "https://www.leafly.com/news/health/cannabinoid-research-autism-2021
Dr Gupta took the cultural dialogue to the next level - starting with WEED, his original cannabis special that shed light on the journeys of children with epilepsy who have found great benefit in CBD. The massive mainstream audience promises to draw attention to the potential benefits of cannabis for autism.
Cannabis clinicians who actually treat children with autism also collaborated like never before at the Navigating The Complexities of Autism & Cannabis: Facts and Myths digital conference on November 28. The nonprofit Society of Cannabis Clinicians brought together eight doctors and parents of autistic children to review research and present treatments that work.
During the session, many doctors (as well as two parents of autistic patients) spoke about the successes they have seen in using cannabis for autism, detailing which particular cannabinoid treatments have worked well.
THC vs CBD for autism
Doctors have reported a high success rate with THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. In contrast, most research on cannabinoids tends to focus only on CBD. This is because American medicine remains suspicious of THC, say cannabis clinicians.
“The literature is very late on what we do with patients,” explained Dr. Bonni Goldstein MD at the conference. “I think this is partly due to the difficulty in accepting that cannabis can help these children,” she added, explaining that many still fear the side effects of THC.
But Ms Goldstein and others have reported that their autistic patients using THC are doing well. "Most of us don't see significant side effects."
Dr Justin Sulak also praised the benefits of THC for autistic patients, explaining that THC may be the best way to account for the neurochemical deficiencies seen in autistic patients. More specifically, theanandamide, the organism's "bliss" molecule. THC works similarly to anandamide.
“Maybe CBD could be used to simulate anandamide, but I think THC will be the most useful tool. So if someone has this deficiency, so to speak, it makes sense to treat them with THC. "
Although THC has been put forward, doctors have clarified that different varieties of cannabinoids, such as CBD, CBDA, CBDV, THCA and CBG also appear to have beneficial effects for autistic patients.
Doctors also pointed to the numerous studies of cannabinoids for ASDs in 2021 - another big win.
Conference headline physician Dr Patricia Frye explained that research dates back to 2016, when a study concluded that boosting anandamide may help fight autism. But interest in research has grown in recent years.
“In 2021… we have more and more preclinical and observational data, which specifically examines the risks and benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids in the treatment of main and coexisting conditions. "
A dozen new studies have looked at the benefits of cannabis for autism, making 2021 a big year of progress.
Cannabis decreases biomarkers of harm
Last November, Dr Bonni Goldstein published new research showing that cannabis reduces the levels of biomarkers of nerve inflammation, aggression and pain. Abnormally high biomarkers in autistic patients returned to normal after a year of treatment, concludes Dr. Goldstein.
These biomarker changes are correlated with improved behavior, according to reports from parents of autistic patients. According to Dr. Goldstein, these biomarker tests could help measure the effectiveness of cannabinoid treatments for autism.
The year 2022 promises to see even more progress in our understanding of how to treat autism. For some of the roughly 75 million people with ASD around the world, the answers could be life changing.