A twitching finger, a flapping of the hand, and a tippy-toe walk are some noticeable symptoms of autism. Before diagnosis, these symptoms can be confusing and frustrating. Most parents with kids with autism worry about being able to provide for everything the child might need. Other than financially draining, this condition is mentally and emotionally tough. Some juggle between behavioral and speech therapies to doctor’s appointments day in and day out. The ultimate hope of such families and patients with this condition is to get new treatment approaches that are effective for autism. The following article talks about autism and a different treatment approach. It also looks at the treatment’s benefits, risks, and necessary guidelines for use.
What is Autism?
Autism is a condition that involves problems with communication, behavior, and social skills. Autism is referred to as a spectrum disorder because the condition is the same for different people, but it affects them differently. For example, how people with autism learn may differ. Some can be highly skilled, while others severely challenged. It is the same for their daily activities too. While others may live independently, others may need support for the rest of their lives.
According to Poletaev& Shenderov (2018), different characteristics may influence the development of autism, but nobody understands the cause of autism. Some think genetic mutations seem to be inherited, while others occur spontaneously. Research is still undergoing to explore whether viral infections or medications may play a role in triggering the condition. Mandy& Tchanturia (2015) noted that autistic people often have other conditions. These include dyslexia, anxiety, depression, and epilepsy. Currently, no cure exists for autism. Some treatments, though, help maximize the person's ability to function while reducing the condition's symptoms. Asperger's was considered a diagnosis but is now considered a part of the autism spectrum.
CBD for Autism
CBD has the potential to treat symptoms associated with autism. These include anxiety, depression, stress, hyperactivity, aggression, epilepsy, and insomnia.
Anxiety and stress: Blessing et al. (2015) noted that CBD interacts with several receptors in the nervous system which regulate fear and anxiety. It has been shown to increase cannabinoid receptors by elevating endocannabinoid levels in the body. This potentially reduces anxiety-related symptoms, thus benefiting a person living with autism.
Depression: according to de Almeida& Devi (2020), CBD’s effect on depression is related to its positive effect on the serotonin receptors in the brain. Low serotonin levels likely enhance depression. CBD affects how the brain’s chemical receptors respond to the serotonin already in the system. This effect on the brain by CBD produced antidepressant effects.
Epilepsy: Pauli et al. (2020) stated that Epidiolex is a pharmaceutical CBD-based drug that treats three types of seizure disorders. Patients using this drug reported lower epilepsy medication-related adverse effects, greater psychological health satisfaction, and lower rates of anxiety and depression.
Insomnia: cortisol is a stress hormone. Usually, it is typically at its peak in the morning. Mostly that is not the case for autistic patients. CBD oil can lower cortisol levels significantly after use, thus inducing relaxation. It helps autistic patients with sleep when used.
After using different CBD products, patients claimed there were improvements. These included decreased behavioral problems, increased expressive language, and improved cognition, among others. Most of these studies have been done on children and not adults. Pretzsch et al. (2019) showed CBD could not cure autism but symptoms associated with autism. More research is still needed to conclude the above results confidently. This is because most of these studies have been on animals, not human participants.
Does the Use of CBD for Autism Cause any Risks?
Mallick et al. (2016) suggested that it is safe to administer to kids, but there are some risks. They include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, lightheadedness, dry mouth, and diarrhea. Some adverse side effects that have been reported are seizures and increased restlessness. In most cases, the benefits have outweighed the risks involved. However, it is advised to seek the advice of a doctor for any questions about the products and how they may affect a child’s health condition.
Guidelines to Consider
CBD products are available to the public as supplements. Thus, the safety and purity of these products are not guaranteed. It is therefore up to the consumers to research the products they would love to try.
CBD can interfere with other medications. Talk to a doctor first before purchasing any products.
CBD is available in different forms, each with its benefits and cons. When selecting the best product for use, consider the CBD content and concentration your child needs and how they will best ingest it.
Take careful evaluations of the child's symptoms before and after using CBD products to make a comparison to be sure whether the product is working or not.
Check for brand reputation and reviews on the sites where you purchase the product.
With more research needed to verify the positive effects of CBD on autism, the above results are promising. The treatment is effective in associated symptoms of the condition. The significant side effects appear tolerable for most children, thus encouraging. But experts advise that a medical professional must consider and weigh these. It is also important to expand your research on the various products advertised, company ethics, and reviews before use to find the most effective for your child. To conclude, CBD products work differently for different people, therefore, do not close off other available options like therapies and herbal products. Will you try CBD for autism?
Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 12(4), 825-836.
de Almeida, D. L., & Devi, L. A. (2020). Diversity of molecular targets and signaling pathways for CBD. Pharmacology research & perspectives, 8(6), e00682.
Mandy, W., & Tchanturia, K. (2015). Do women with eating disorders who have social and flexibility difficulties really have autism? A case series. Molecular Autism, 6(1), 1-10.
Mallick-Searle, T., Snodgrass, B., & Brant, J. M. (2016). Postherpetic neuralgia: epidemiology, pathophysiology, and pain management pharmacology. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 9, 447.
Poletaev, A. B., & Shenderov, B. A. (2018). Autism: genetics or epigenetics. P. Weerkamp Bartholomeus, Autism: is there a place for ReAttach Therapy, 123-134.
Pauli, C. S., Conroy, M., Vanden Heuvel, B. D., & Park, S. H. (2020). Cannabidiol drugs clinical trial outcomes and adverse effects. Frontiers in pharmacology, 11, 63.
Pretzsch, C. M., Freyberg, J., Voinescu, B., Lythgoe, D., Horder, J., Mendez, M. A., ... & McAlonan, G. M. (2019). Effects of cannabidiol on brain excitation and inhibition systems; a randomised placebo-controlled single dose trial during magnetic resonance spectroscopy in adults with and without autism spectrum disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology, 44(8), 1398-1405.