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Like many conditions treated with medical marijuana, the personal experience and anecdotal evidence currently runs far ahead of the peer-reviewed scientific research. Autism Spectrum Disorders ASDs are lifelong neurodevelopmental conditions that involve differences in language, behavior, and social interaction. Autism has long been defined as a cognitive deficit. Williams is the parent of an 8-year-old son, Logan, who was diagnosed with ASD a few years ago.
By the age of five, Logan had exhibited countless examples of aggressive behavior: Logan had even knocked out his own teeth—twice. In addition to ASD, Logan also suffered from epileptic seizures. Researchers have noted that ASD is often accompanied by other neurological disorders, which could arise from an underlying central nervous system condition. Williams and her son live in Arizona, one of the many medical marijuana states that do not include autism as a condition that qualifies for medical cannabis.
Arizona does include epilepsy on the list, however. But in June , Arizona legalized the use of medical-grade cannabis for pediatric epilepsy patients. So Williams obtained a medical marijuana card for her son. After a single dose of oil containing terpenes, CBD, and other cannabinoids including a tiny amount of THC , Williams noticed a tremendous difference. Logan stopped rocking back and forth. His flapping hands calmed. Yet autism has yet to be accepted as one of the foundational conditions that qualify for medical marijuana in the 30 states that legally allow healthcare professionals to recommend it.
Only five states—Delaware, Pennsylvania , Minnesota , Georgia , and South Carolina—specifically include autism as a qualifying condition.
Some parents of autistic children have accessed medical cannabis for their child to treat a qualifying co-morbid condition such as muscle spasms or pain and found that the cannabis allays some of the negative symptoms of autism as a side benefit. The world is turning … pic. They found research that showed slight promise, but nothing that definitively connected cannabis to an improvement in pediatric patients. At best, some might consider its use as a last-line therapy when all other conventional therapies have failed.
The conclusions of Hadland and his colleagues may ultimately prove to be overly cautious—or they may be wise words of advice. Mostly it boils down to the potential links between epilepsy and autism.
And when it comes to epilepsy and cannabis, there actually have been a number of peer-reviewed studies. Thomas Deuel, a neuroscientist who is an epilepsy specialist at Swedish Hospital in Seattle.
Autistic brains develop differently. Many—but not all—who have administered cannabis to epileptic children have seen promising results. One of the earliest reports about the effects of cannabis on epilepsy involved Charlotte Figi, a young Colorado girl whose case later became world-famous.
Her seizures, which began when she was an infant, would sometimes last hours, and caused repeated heart failures. Sativa dominance from Panama Punch means that any psychoactivity from this strain is more energized and motivating than lethargic. Hurricane is also very tasty, especially for a CBD-engineered strain. Buds smell tropical and dank, and taste distinctly like grape when inhaled and exhaled.
The taste is earthy with some citrus. Users report enjoying Cannatonic to help medicate migraines, joint pain, and even seizure disorders. Resin sells seeds of Cannatonic for home growing, and provides some comprehensive guidance. The cured buds smell sweet and slightly skunky. When smoked, ACDC has a fruity taste with hints of lemon. Because of its primarily medical usage, ACDC is also frequently available in alternative preparations like pills or tinctures.
As was the case with Benjamin, these drugs often cause their own set of obsessive behaviors and insomnia, along with weight gain. For many children with severe autism, the drugs help for just a few hours; once they wear off, symptoms like hyperactivity become even more extreme. By October , Sharon was desperate. She gave birth to Benjamin alone and chose to move to Israel to be part of a close-knit community. But his condition was isolating. She was lost, alone, exhausted, frustrated.
More than all that, she was sad for her child. He responded with a surprising suggestion. She should contact Dr. Adi Aran, he said, a pediatric neurologist in Jerusalem who had begun experimenting with medical cannabis as a treatment for children like Benjamin. Sharon balked at first.
But at the same time, he was living in a home filled with locks and padded furniture. She had tried every option that conventional medicine had to offer. In other words, she had nothing to lose. Ben and Sharon before treatment Photo Courtesy of Sharon. In Israel, cannabis use is legal in a small number of medical cases, such as epilepsy, severe chronic pain and certain forms of cancer.
At the end of , he began an informal study of medical cannabis for severe pediatric autism. In online forums for parents of children with ASD, Sharon read about some new forms of cannabis that were created specifically for young children. She watched an Israeli documentary from that year that showed children with ASD transformed by medical marijuana.
The more she learned, the more determined she became to enroll Benjamin in the Israeli study. She sent Aran an email begging him to consider treating him, and he invited the mother and son to Jerusalem.
It was a fraught trip. Seeing the severity of his symptoms and the long list of medications that had already been tried without success, the doctor agreed that he was a good candidate.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which is staunchly opposed to legalization of marijuana, had just issued a policy statement opposing medical marijuana outside the regulatory process of the U. The AAP still maintains that stance. But Aran was starting to see evidence in his favor. His first inkling that cannabis could work for autistic kids came from anecdotal reports of parents who had used the drug to treat children with epilepsy.
The brain is filled with cannabinoid receptors, which are named after the plant and function like special locks to which THC is the key. CBD works differently, and often with opposite effects. Instead, CBD interacts with the brain indirectly. That process, called modulation, combats psychosis, depression, inflammation, anxiety and depression. A healthy human brain runs on a balance of excitation and inhibition, a push and pull that regulates information as it flows through the chemical synapses in our head.
With excitation, cells fire, transmitting information and signals. Inhibition keeps that flow of traffic in check. Like high-pressure water flowing through a narrow hose, these two systems work together to distribute information without overloading the system.
People with epilepsy suffer from reduced inhibition, which causes seizures. Over the past five years, a handful of successful studies on the use of cannabis, all employing specialized strains with little to no THC, have shown CBD is a legitimate treatment for certain forms of severe pediatric epilepsy.
Israel has been at the forefront of medical marijuana research since modern health care began considering its merits. He was eager to unlock its chemical components in the same way that researchers had studied and mapped cocaine and heroin in the past, and in his research led to the very first trial on the use of CBD for epilepsy. Charlotte suffered from over seizure-like symptoms and epilepsy before discovering a strain of marijuana that would stop her seizures. Photo by Matt Nager. The results were promising, but the stigma of marijuana as a dangerous psychoactive drug was too strong to lead to immediate change.
Still, Mechoulam and other scientists continued to quietly research CBD and its effects. Partly influenced by their work, which showed marijuana to be a potent pain reliever, California legalized medical cannabis in , with a number of other states following.
But it took an 8-year-old girl to convince the medical community that weed is a legitimate treatment for sick children.
Charlotte Figi, who lives in Colorado, has life-threatening epilepsy. Since infancy, she suffered up to grand mal seizures a week. In , her desperate parents convinced a Denver doctor to prescribe cannabis oil for their daughter.
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Most Popular Cannabis Strains. Blue Dream. Blue Dream. BDm. Hybrid. 18/21% THC; /% CBD. Autism. Voted by 5 users. Happy. Voted by 83 users. Medical Marijuana Strains That Families Use For Autism the federal level, finding out the EXACT strain and ratio of THC to CBD remains a matter of for those with autism, allowing them to gently ease in and out of the high. Dar says that she had to determine the best methods and strains to use It was clear to Sharon [Imberman] and myself that high CBD strains or.