Autism

Key Research Findings

In May of 2018, Autism was approved as one of the qualifying conditions to receive a Michigan Medical marijuana card. This addition was largely supported by Dr. Eden Wells, Michigan’s chief medical executive, who stated: “Though there is little long-term research on the effects of marijuana on people with autism, my clinical experience suggests the drug works as a balancing agent that allows autistic patients easily overwhelmed by stimuli to maintain ‘a meditative distance’ from the world.” Check out a few studies that examine the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids for Autism:

A Novel Approach to the Symptomatic Treatment of Autism. (2010)
  • “Parents of some autistic children report that cannabis eases behavioral problems more effectively than conventional pharmaceuticals. Their anecdotal evidence should be taken seriously by medical researchers.”
  • “’As a health writer and blogger, I was intrigued when a homeopath suggested medical marijuana. Cannabis has long-documented effects as an analgesic and an anxiety modulator. Best of all, it is safe. A publication by the Autism Research Institute described cases of reduced aggression, with no permanent side effects.'”
  • “Since we started him on his ‘special tea,’ J’s face, which is sometimes a mask of pain, has softened.”
Cannabidiol Based Medical Cannabis in Children with Autism- a Retrospective Feasibility Study (2018)
  • “Following the cannabis treatment, behavioral outbreaks were much improved or very much improved (on the CGIC scale) in 61% of patients. The anxiety and communication problems were much or very much improved in 39% and 47% respectively. Disruptive behaviors, were improved by 29%…Parents reported less stress as reflected in the APSI scores, changing by 33%…Adverse events included sleep disturbances (14%) irritability (9%) and loss of appetite (9%).”
  • “This preliminary study support the feasibility of CBD based medical cannabis as a promising treatment option for refractory behavioral problems in children with ASD.”
Use of dronabinol (delta-9-THC) in autism: A prospective single-case-study with an early infantile autistic child (2010)
  • At the end of the six months, the boy’s symptom severity significantly decreased in five different categories: hyperactivity, lethargy, irritability, stereotypic behavior, and inappropriate speech.
  • “This study showed that the use of dronabinol [delta-9 THC] may be able to reduce the symptoms of autism.”
Enhancement of Anandamide-Mediated Endocannabinoid Signaling Corrects Autism-Related Social Impairment (2016)
  • “We recently uncovered a signaling mechanism by which the endocannabinoid anandamide mediates the action of oxytocin, a neuropeptide that is crucial for social behavior, to control social reward. Oxytocin signaling has been implicated in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and social reward is a key aspect of social functioning that is thought to be disrupted in ASD.”
  • “We found that that social impairment is corrected in two distinct mouse models by increasing anandamide activity through FAAH inhibition.” [CBD has been found to act as an FAAH inhibitor]
The Endocannabinoid System and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Insights from Animal Models (2017)
  • “The endocannabinoid (EC) system represents a major neuromodulatory system involved in the regulation of emotional responses, behavioral reactivity to context, and social interaction. Furthermore, the EC system is also affected in conditions often present in subsets of patients diagnosed with ASD, such as seizures, anxiety, intellectual disabilities, and sleep pattern disturbances.”
  • “…any potential therapeutic approach is unlikely to involve a single targeted molecule.”
Deficient adolescent social behavior following early-life inflammation is ameliorated by augmentation of anandamide signaling. (2016)
  • “In conclusion, our results suggest that FAAH inhibitors may provide a novel approach for the treatment of social disorders. Particularly, in disorders with high amygdala output and altered eCB system components (e.g. ASD), FAAH inhibition could stabilize the eCB system and decrease symptoms. FAAH inhibitors have been tested previously in the fragile X mouse model of autism, and showed promising effects in alleviating symptoms.”
Endocannabinoid signaling in autism. (2015)
  • “As supported by the evidence presented in the previous sections in humans and animal models, any potential therapeutic approach is unlikely to involve a simple choice between activation versus inhibition of the eCB system to target specific features related to autism. Any such approach will need to be precisely tuned to the developmental timeline and to the specific pathogenetic underpinnings of autism in the single patient.”
Cannabinoid receptor type 2, but not type 1, is up-regulated in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of children affected by autistic disorders.
  • “In conclusion, to our knowledge, this is the first study demonstrating an endocannabinoid-CB2 signaling dysregulation in autism, implying the endocannabinoid system may represent a new treatment opportunity for autism pharmacotherapy”
Targeting the endocannabinoid system in the treatment of fragile X syndrome. (2013)
  • “Moreover, CB2R has an important role in the regulation of anxiolytic-like behavior and increased susceptibility to audiogenic seizures. In conclusion, our data point to regulation of the ECS [endocannabinoid system] and mTOR pathway as a potential target for the development of new therapeutic approaches in FXS.”
Issue Brief on Autism Spectrum Disorder by Minnesota Health Department (2017)

 

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