Around the world, tens of millions of people are affected with autism and ASD. In the United States, ASD affects more than 3 million people. According to the statistics conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 68 American children are considered to be on the autism spectrum. Also, according to the study conducted by the CDC, autism is 4-5 times more common to boys than girls.
In the United States alone, it is estimated that 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 89 girls are affected with autism. A study was also conducted by the U.S. government and it was found out that people diagnosed with ASD and autism have been increasing by more than 10 percent every year. It is believed that the improved diagnosis and understanding on ASD and autism are the main reason of this increase.
What is Autism and What Causes It?
Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are complex disorders of brain development. The most common symptoms of children diagnosed with autism and ASD are social interaction difficulties, repetitive behaviors, sensory processing problems, pica or the tendency to eat things that are not food, and verbal and non verbal communication. While attention and motor coordination difficulties, intellectual disability, and physical health issues are linked and associated to ASD, it is also a proven fact that people with ASD sometimes excel in music, math, arts, and visual skills.
Every person diagnosed with autism is unique. That is why treatment and medicines vary for each individual. Most people with autism may also suffer from seizures, sleep disturbance, and gastrointestinal distress. When these conditions are addressed, their attention and learning capabilities are greatly improved.
The advancement in the field of medical technology and research has done wonders in identifying what causes autism. Scientists have identified a number of rare genes that are associated with autism. These rare genes that the scientists have identified can change and mutate and even just a single mutated gene can cause autism. Autism can also be caused by a combination of autism risk genes as well as environmental factors that can influence early brain development.
It’s true that the latest advancements in the field of medical technology has lead to the better understanding on what autism and ASD are all about. But be that as it may, it is still sad to say that there is still no cure for autism. The good news is, there may be hope on the horizon as some families claim to have found comfort from a seemingly effective remedy: CBD Oil.
Studies and their Findings: Benefits of CBD on Autism
Sixty children with ASD were treated with CBD oil in a study led by Dr. AdiAran. Following the treatments, it was noted that behavioral outbreaks were much improved or very much improved in more than 60% of the participants. Anxiety and communication problems were also much or very much improved.
Some adverse effects were reported:
- sleep disturbances (14%)
- irritability (9%) and
- loss of appetite (9%).
Due to the mostly positive results of the study, a large, double blind, placebo controlled cross-over trial with 120 participants was launched and currently on-going. Dr. Aran projects that results could be released in 2019.
This is considered to be the most promising study about the relationship between cannabis and autism to date. It was kickstarted with a donation of $4.7 million (considered as the largest private donation to date for medical cannabis research in the U.S ) to the Center for Medical Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
The main goal of the study is to determine whether CBD treatment is safe, effective, and tolerable in children with autism. The study will also seek to determine whether CBD can alter the chemical messenger known as neurotransmitters, and how this process occurs, whether CBD is capable of improving brain connectivity and if there is any change in the biomarkers of the brain inflammation which is a symptom associated with autism.
This year, in New York, researchers will be conducting one of the largest studies on non-psychoactive compounds of cannabis for the treatment of autism. The tests will be done at Montefiore Medical Center and NYU Langone on children and adolescents aged 5 to 18 diagnosed with severe autism. The study consists of being double-blind, where neither the children nor the researchers know who is getting a placebo instead of the cannabis compound.
Some Anecdotal Evidence
There are also testimonies and success stories of families which indicates that using CBD to treat autism just might actually work.
A good example is the Collins family, where two of their children were diagnosed with autism. According to them, after they started treating their boys with CBD oil, they noticed that the treatments had a calming effect which allowed the two boys to function more normally. According to them, using CBD oil permanently changed the course of their young sons’ lives for the better.
The Valenzuela family is another good example of the effectiveness of CBD oil in treating autism. In an interview (you can watch it here), they detailed the hardships their son encountered while growing up and how at times he reacted irrationally because of the anxiety of social interaction that was simply too much for their son to cope with.
But after they started giving their son medical cannabis, particularly CBD oil, he showed incredible improvements. Because of this great result, there is no doubt in their mind that their son will be able to live out his dreams and have a wonderful life.
Using CBD to treat autism is still in its infancy stage. That is why most parents will still be doubtful and would think twice before giving CBD to their kids who are diagnosed with autism. However, the benefits of CBD are already proven in relation to disorders such as hyperactivity, anxiety, attention deficiency, and seizures, which are some common symptoms among kids with autism.
With the ongoing studies not only in the U.S but also around the world on the effects of CBD on autism, the medical community as well as the general public is very hopeful that some of the results of these different studies will be even more optimistic than we could ever expect.
For now, the most important thing to remember for a parent with a kid diagnosed with autism is that, with the help, support, understanding, guidance, and love fromhis family, a child, even if he has autism can grow to become a successful adult.