CBD Oil for Autism – a potential therapeutic aid or another non-starter?

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this guide is meant to be construed as medical advice or guidance. The information herein is for educational purposes only. Further, any use of CBD supplementation should first be discussed with your (or your child’s) primary care physician. While CBD that contains under 0.03% THC is generally legal in most places, rules and regulations may vary depending on where you reside. As such it is also up to you to do your due diligence on what is or is not allowed in your jurisdiction.

Autism, a developmental disorder resulting from a combination of genetic mutations and environmental factors, affects a stunning 1 in 59 children in the United States alone. As reported by a recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this number could be even higher due to misdiagnosis. Despite many advancements in medicine, there does not currently exist a singular medical test that can accurately say with certainty that a child does or does not have autism.

Children with autism often exhibit a wide array of unique characteristics and behaviors that fall on a spectrum of severity that varies per child. Even though there currently is no cure for autism, many parents of children with autism have reportedly found relief through the use of CBD oil with their children.

In fact, the internet is flooded with testimonials from parents who have seen success and benefits of using CBD oil to treat their child’s autism. In particular, most parents have seen CBD oil’s positive effect on seizures.

CBD’s therapeutic properties may help to alleviate anxiety, epileptic seizures, as well as some of the negative behavioral effects that stem from autism. It seems like on a weekly basis new and exciting information and research is coming out regarding the use of CBD for a broad range of health concerns.

In fact, anecdotally, many parents are reporting decreases in aggressive behavior, a decline in the number of seizures and improved speech. Some are even reporting verbal improvements with those children who were previously nonverbal speaking. These success stories give hope to parents who have tirelessly searched to find a means of relief and an improved quality of life for their children who are living with autism.

While more research is needed, current real-world feedback looks very promising and may yield insights that can be leveraged to drive medical trials.

The Facts About Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition affecting brain development that impacts speech, social communication, coordination, and attention, among other things. Children on the spectrum typically have issues with repetitive behaviors, hyperactivity, dyslexia, dyspraxia, anxiety, and depression. Autism is an extremely complex disorder that affects each person in a different way. Among the autism community, the saying often goes, “If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.”

How Autism and Epilepsy are Linked

Epilepsy affects one-third to one-fifth of people who have autism. Studies have shown that autism and epilepsy often overlap in children and with adults who also have an intellectual disability.

Researchers are hypothesizing that developmental brain changes associated with autism also contribute to the seizures related to epilepsy. Since the brain development in an autistic person has been developmentally disturbed, this causes changes to neuron activity in the brain. In a normal brain, neurons are responsible for sending out signals to the rest of the body. However, in an autistic brain, disturbed brain development causes an interruption in normal neuron transmissions — which can and often do ultimately lead to seizures.

Treating epilepsy is especially important due to the potential for brain damage and death that results from seizures that are not controlled. Diagnoses of seizures in a person with autism are especially difficult due to the fact that seizures in autism are not openly apparent and many autistic individuals cannot properly express and communicate that they are having a seizure.

How CBD Oil Functions in the Body

CBD enters the bloodstream and the brain shortly after being consumed — whether it is smoked or taken in oil, gummy, tea, or any other edible form. The cannabidiol will then interact with specialized receptors located on neurons called cannabinoid receptors. These special receptors are part of your body’s own natural cannabinoid system that is widely spread throughout the nervous system and important for a broad range of physiological and biological processes.

The Benefits of CBD Oil

Research and testimonials have shown CBD to be an effective natural aid for a wide array of conditions that were otherwise poorly addressed by traditional pharmaceutical medications.

While you should never stop taking medication prescribed to you by your doctor, discussing the use of CBD as a potential additive treatment or as a test to see how you or your child responds may be worth a discussion.

CBD’s anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties are why people seek it out as a treatment in the fight against autism. CBD has also demonstrated promise for conditions such as depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness.

Some additional benefits of CBD oil may include:

  • Reduces nausea and vomiting
  • Anticonvulsant – reduces seizure activity
  • Antipsychotic – fights psychosis disorders
  • Anti-inflammatory – fights inflammatory disorders
  • Anti-oxidant – fights neurogenerative disorders
  • Anti-tumoral/Anti-cancer – fights tumors and cancer cells
  • Anxiolytic/Anti-depressant – fights anxiety and depression

Continued research is taking place to solidify CBD oil’s place in the treatment of autism, epilepsy, cancer, and other disorders and diseases. But thanks to testimonials and research findings that are available today, more and more individuals with autism are finding comfort and hope through the use of CBD oil.

An Interesting and Important Study

A recent study conducted assessed the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of cannabidiol based on medical marijuana as a therapy in treating behavioral issues in children with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers reported that after being treated with cannabis there was a 61 percent improvement in behavioral outbreaks, a 39 percent improvement in anxiety, and a 47 percent improvement in communication issues in participants.

Reports also demonstrated that following treatment, disruptive behaviors improved by 29 percent. In light of these findings, parents also disclosed that there was less stress overall following the medical cannabis treatment. These outcomes were more openly seen in boys with no other documented neurological diseases. Interestingly, the study also found that adverse effects such as sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, and irritability were relatively minor overall.

Closing Thoughts About Autism and CBD

Even though treating autism and seizure disorders with CBD oil is a fairly new concept, initial feedback from users and underlying research suggest that this natural compound may hold hope for those suffering.  

Many people suffering from anxiety, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorders, seizures, and depression, among others, are already finding relief from their symptoms thanks to regular use of CBD oil.

There are still ongoing studies and research surrounding the use of CBD oil in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder, however, scientists are hopeful that the results will yield overwhelmingly positive results.

Keep an eye on this space, and discuss with your doctor how incorporating CBD oil into your regimen may help.