Over the last several years parents of children suffering from epilepsy have been championing cannabis for its seemingly miraculous healing properties. Recently, parents of children with autism have been sharing their success stories too.
Autism affects over 3.5 million people in America, it is one of the fastest growing developmental disabilities. Traditional treatments have included medication typically associated with ADHD and anti-depressants, but there is little in the way of standardized care for individuals on the autism spectrum. Most treatments center on modifying the patient’s behavior.
That all may be changing soon, as CBD has been shown to be effective in balancing the excitation commonly associated with autism. It is being described as a “pressure valve” that can help stifle overstimulation that can lead to stress-induced episodes.
Former director of the Autism Research Institute, Dr. Bernard Rimland, was an outspoken advocate for the benefits of cannabis in treating autism. He said, “the benefit/risk profile of medical marijuana seems fairly benign. … The reports we are seeing from parents indicate that medical marijuana often works when no other treatments, drug or non-drug, have helped.”
To date, there have been no reputable, full-scale cannabis studies for autism. Most of the data on the subject comes from animal studies and testimonials from parents who anxiously await a large-scale cannabis study.
A study conducted in Italy showed that the way endocannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, signal in the body can affect autism. Clinical psychologist, Dr. Giovanni Martinez, runs a therapeutic surf foundation for children with autism. He has seen dramatic improvement in patients who take a CBD spray twice daily. One of his participants, a non-verbal child, began communicating after only two weeks of CBD treatments.
While individual tales of success are great. A large-scale study is what is needed to take this crusade to the next level. Parents and medical experts are optimistic that autism can take a similar cannabis path as epilepsy. Epilepsy started out as anecdotal evidence from parents and erupted into the national zeitgeist. Hopefully in the near future we will hear about autism success stories with the same regularity as with epilepsy.