- A recent clinical trial has shown promising results in the use of medical cannabis to manage Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) symptoms in children.
- The study observed significant improvement of ASD symptoms among the children treated with a plant-based cannabis extract, or a precisely calibrated mix of CBD and THC, when compared to a placebo group.
- Despite the positive findings, the study’s lead researcher advises parents to tread cautiously and gather more information before considering medical cannabis as a treatment option due to observed side effects such as decreased appetite, increased sleepiness, and disrupted sleep patterns.
- While the report’s findings suggest the possible benefits of medical cannabis, experts warn against considering it a cure-all for autism due to potential side effects.
- Future research is planned to confirm these initial findings with a larger and more diverse participant group, underlining that while promising, cannabis should not be viewed as a miraculous solution for autism.
The use of medical cannabis products in the management of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) symptoms among children is showing promising results, according to a recent clinical study in Israel.
Potential Benefits of Cannabis for Autism
Children who were subjected to treatment with a plant-based cannabis extract or a distinct combination of cannabidiol (CBD) and THC displayed a large enhancement in their ASD symptoms. This improvement was significant in comparison to a placebo-controlled group.
However, despite these encouraging findings, it is important for parents to exercise caution and seek more information before leveraging medicinal cannabis as a treatment for their children living with autism, suggests the study’s lead researcher.
Details of the Clinical Study
The study involved examining 150 children with autism. These children were divided into three separate groups. One received a placebo, the second one was treated with a whole-plant cannabis extract, and the third group received a carefully measured mix of CBD and THC.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the component in cannabis that typically produces intoxicating effects, whereas CBD doesn’t produce intoxication but seems to interact with the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. CBD has demonstrated anxiety-reducing abilities in several studies, which led researchers to hypothesize its potential for treating problematic behaviours frequently found in children living with autism.
A blend of THC was included in the therapy since it’s hypothesized to enhance social competencies, a common challenge among autistic individuals. The overall cannabis plant extracts used in the treatment also contained other compounds found in cannabis.
Over two four-week treatment periods (with a four-week break in between), children receiving the cannabis extract exhibited a 49-53% improvement in autism symptoms and disruptive behaviours, as assessed by medical professionals and parents. This exhibits a significant improvement when compared to the 21-44% improvement observed among children in the placebo group.
Additionally, children in the treatment group exhibited a 50% improvement based on a scale that assesses core autism symptoms. This shows another stark contrast to the 22% improvement observed in the placebo group.
The findings of this study suggest potential benefits of medical cannabis in managing adverse autism symptoms. However, some side effects, such as decreased appetite, increased sleepiness, and disrupted sleep patterns were observed among children who were treated with cannabis.
Word of Caution
Despite the positive outcomes, experts warn against considering cannabis as a cure-all for autism. Simon Baron-Cohen, president of the International Society for Autism Research, commends the authors for their research but also emphasizes the need for caution given the reported side effects.
Researchers plan to reinforce these initial findings through additional clinical trials with a broader participant group, including children from varied national backgrounds. Ultimately, while cannabis is gaining attention as a potential tool in the broader range of autism treatments, experts caution against viewing it as a miraculous solution.
For more extensive information on the interplay between cannabis and autism, consider reading on resources provided by Autism Speaks.