Autism has many forms and degrees of severity. For some families, caring for an autistic child is a full-time job. Some parents are turning to medical marijuana, specifically cannabidiol (CBD) to help treat their children – especially when prescribed medications don’t work.
*It is important to note that CBD treatment may not work for every autistic patient due to the varying spectrums of the disorder.
The Endocannabinoid System
Every mammal has an endocannabinoid system, but this system doesn’t always regulate itself. This system plays an integral role in the central nervous system’s ability to send signals throughout the body. When it’s broken, it can’t send the right signals. In some cases, it’s not sending signals at all, which can lead to the periods of rage, self-harm and other severe symptoms associated with autism.
When the endocannabinoid system isn’t regulating itself, introducing natural cannabinoids like CBD, and in some cases THC, can help reduce these scary occurrences. What happens is the CBD attaches to viable receptors, the receptors deliver the CBD to the parts of the body that need it the most.
Cannabidiol can help calm the entire body. In some cases, an autistic person may prove to be resistant to pharmaceuticals, so parents might give their children medication but it’s not calming them enough to focus, stop self-harming episodes or have a proper quality of life. In other cases, the body may be hypersensitive to medication, causing negative reactions. CBD helps relax the mind and body, which in return, can help some spectrums regain focus and relaxation – especially when in school and public settings.
Cognitive development is one of the most defining factors in an autism diagnosis. What this means is that the child isn’t developing or communicating at the level he or she should be. It’s often noticed very early in life, before age 1 in many cases but typically by age 3. There are reports of non-vocal spectrum children beginning to speak – which is huge! CBD helps scrub bad cells (or dead cells) away to allow for healthy cells to grow, so the mind can function in proper order rather than bouncing signals all over the body instead of where they need to go.
Difficulty sleeping is also common. It can be hard for those with autism to turn their brains off and relax enough to fall asleep. Using an indica CBD product can help autistic people to relax enough to fall asleep and stay asleep all night long. For some, including indica THC with indica CBD is the ideal combination. Again, it all depends on what spectrum each person is diagnosed with and how receptive their bodies are to the natural treatment.
Autism can come with some physical pain. While not every patient experiences pain, it is a factor for some. CBD is a natural painkiller and has been studied to show that it can be effective. Pain can come from an injury due to self-harm, inflammation, headaches or other ailments that may not be able to be explained by the patient.
Increased Social Interaction
Social disconnection is seen in many spectrums. Sometimes an autistic person lacks the ability to connect with or communicate with others. Sometimes they just don’t desire to be around other people, so they prefer to be by themselves. CBD may help with symptoms like social anxiety and the lack of interest to participate or connect.
Autism with Epilepsy
Receiving a diagnosis of autism with epilepsy can be heartbreaking for a parent. The list of pharmaceuticals prescribed may seem like it’s a mile long, but the child may not be improving. Sometimes, they may be medicated too much and are zombie-like with no reaction to sounds, visuals or commands. The seizures may not stop or reduce.
Seizures often occur when the brain is over-stimulated, aggravated or overly excited. Warning signs don’t always present themselves. Families around the world have reported that CBD has stopped or significantly reduced seizures in their children.
The CBD helps regulate the brain – or calm it down if you will. It’s less aggravated and is able to process signals better.
CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory. Inflammation can occur in some spectrums, which can cause joint stiffness, mobility issues, headaches and general discomfort. To combat inflammation, topical rubs can be used for instant relief. At the same time, you can administer your typical CBD product, such as oil, tincture or vaporized CBD and it is okay. Sublingual applications do act fast, but the topical rub will at least stop pain associated with inflammation while the other application gets busy in the body.
Eating issues are common with autism. Some are rather picky about texture and texture, so getting them to eat a variety of foods may be difficult. Then, the worry about proper nutrition comes into play. In other cases, children are just resistant to try new foods or just have no appetite. Food may cause nausea in some with autism, so again, they don’t want to eat.
Some CBD strains, especially when combined with specific THC strains, can help reduce nausea and increase appetites at the same time. Since the senses are heightened, this may be an ideal opportunity to put a few new things on a plate or your loved one may be craving something they don’t normally eat. The idea here is – while they have the appetite, give them what they want to eat.
Speaking of food, food is a great vehicle for delivering medicine daily. If you use an RSO-like product, it is thick and doesn’t taste very good, so you can hide it in a bite of food and mask the flavor/texture.
Every person with autism is different. It will take a little trial and error to determine the proper dose of CBD that is the most effective. If you choose to combine CBD and THC, it’s also a trial and error process. More severe spectrums will likely require higher, stronger doses of combined CBD and THC to notice an improvement. One of the benefits of CBD is that it is natural and the body is designed to respond positively to it. For some patients, CBD and/or THC are their only treatments for autism. Autism is such a complex disorder that it can be difficult to determine a specific dose as the body can develop a tolerance over time where lager doses may be required down the road to achieve results.
Studies regarding the effectiveness of cannabidiol for treating autism are ongoing.