Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication, social interactions, and behaviors. People with autism often struggle to manage their emotions and behaviors, which can lead to difficulties in everyday life. There is increasing evidence to suggest that cannabis compounds, or cannabinoids, may be useful in managing some of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. Two of the most well-known cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, while CBD is non-psychoactive and has been shown to have therapeutic benefits.
One of the key symptoms of autism spectrum disorder is anxiety. People with autism often experience high levels of anxiety and stress, which can make it difficult for them to focus or participate in social interactions. Some researchers believe that CBD may be helpful in reducing anxiety and stress levels in people with autism.
In a recent study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, researchers found that CBD had the potential to reduce repetitive behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder. Repetitive behaviors are a common symptom of autism and can include things like rocking back and forth or tapping fingers on a table. The study showed that CBD reduced these behaviors by up to 80% in some participants.
Another potential benefit of cannabinoids for people with autism is improved sleep. Cannabinoids activate receptors in the brain called endocannabinoid receptors CB1R and CB2R that regulate sleep cycles, pain perception, immune responses, and moods such as depression. These receptors play an important role in regulating how you feel throughout the day, so it makes sense that when you’re using cannabis it may help you fall asleep easier or get more restful sleep at night.
However, it’s important to note that there is still much research needed before we fully understand how cannabinoids may be useful for managing autism spectrum disorder. Medical cannabis is still federally illegal in the United States, and it’s not fully approved for safe and legal access in many countries around the world. Even if you live somewhere where cannabis is legal for medical purposes, it may not be approved for treating autism spectrum disorders.
Recently, a pharmaceutical company has created a cannabis-based isolate called Epidiolex, which is available by prescription in all 50 states. Epidiolex contains only CBD and has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy. Some ASD patients still feel that some THC is needed to truly experience the benefits of whole plant medicine in the treatment of ASD. This is called the Entourage Effect.
There are also alternative treatments that may be helpful in managing some of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Probiotics have been shown to improve gut health and reduce inflammation, which can have positive effects on mood and behavior. Some strains of probiotics have been specifically formulated for children with autism, such as Natren Autism Program Gentle Regimens and Protren Trenev Trio Probiotics.
If you’re considering using cannabis or probiotics to manage symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider who has experience working with these treatments. They can help you understand the potential benefits and risks associated with these treatments and determine if they are right for your individual needs.
In conclusion, while there is still much research needed to fully understand how cannabinoids may be useful in managing symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, there is growing evidence to suggest that they may be helpful in reducing anxiety and stress levels and promoting better sleep. Alternative treatments such as probiotics may also be helpful in managing some symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. It’s important to speak with a healthcare provider before trying any new treatments to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your individual needs.