Recent studies show that medical marijuana and CBD oil can reduce disruptive behavior in children suffering from autism and enhance the social responsiveness of both children and adults.
Considered a developmental disorder, autism runs the gamut in terms of the sufferer's difficulty with social interaction and communication. Some people with autism can communicate well but show problems with prosody whereas others with autism are essentially non-verbal or may repeat the same phrases endlessly.
Studies back up the intuition that many parents have had for years - that there's an alternative to pharmaceuticals when it comes to treating autism. Whole-plant cannabis extracts and CBD oils have been shown in clinical studies to reduce autistic symptoms, especially social symptoms. The positive effects of whole-plant cannabis extracts and CBD oils were clinically significant, and the studies in which these effects were noted were placebo-controlled studies.
THC is the chemically active constituent in marijuana responsible for marijuana's psychoactive effect. CBD, on the other hand, has been shown to bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain without providing the user with any kind of psychoactive effect. The lack of psychoactive effect with CBD is part of the reason that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already cleared a CBD-derived product known as Epidiolex for the treatment of epilepsy.
Both whole-plant cannabis extracts and CBD oils have been shown to decrease disruptive behaviors in autistic children, but whole-plant cannabis extracts given to autistic children come freighted with a few unwanted side effects. These side effects have included: sleepiness, shallow sleep, and lowered appetite. It is not yet clear whether these side effects are associated with the dosages used in the studies, the age of the studies' participants, or the fact that these studies deal with a special-needs subset of the population.
Noting these potential side effects, researchers and parents have started leaning towards CBD as a treatment for autism. CBD stands for cannabidiol, and its consumption has been linked to decreased levels of pain, anxiety, and insomnia. The beauty of CBD in treating autism is that parents can be confident that it will reduce social symptoms (e.g., disruptive behavior) in their autistic child without any of the "high" associated with marijuana. Adults less concerned about avoiding a high could well see more of a reduction in autistic symptoms by seeking out a combination of whole-plant cannabis extract and CBD oils.
CBD oil alone has been associated with lower anxiety and stress levels, which is a godsend for many families struggling with autism. CBD comes in many different forms, including but not limited to: oil, pill, cream, and tincture. Parents of autistic children might consider CBD in chewable-pill format. Adults struggling with autism might consider edibles infused with CBD in the form of coffee and breakfast pastries.
While CBD is still being studied for its ability to curb symptoms of autism, there's reason to believe that CBD can help with the social barriers, sensory challenges, and repetitive behaviors associated with the developmental disorder.