Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), commonly referred to as autism, is a broad term used to describe atypical behaviors in people including difficulties interacting with others, hyperactivity, repetitive behaviors like those exhibited in individuals with obsessive compulsive behavior (OCD), and more.
Autism is often described as a developmental disability that becomes apparent within the first few years of life. It usually sets children apart at an early age, due to their impaired social abilities. People with autism often lack awareness of other people’s feelings, and are often poor at reading nonverbal signals, along with misinterpreting verbal communication, like sarcasm for example.
The range and severity of symptoms vary among individuals affected by autism, which is why autism is classified as a spectrum of disorders. Depending on the individual with autism, they could need very little or not much assistance at all in their daily lives. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 1 in 54 people have been diagnosed with autism, and that all types of people can be diagnosed with autism, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background.
Until recently, treatment for autism has only included special curriculum catered to the autistic person, a high staff to student ratio, individual programming, specialized teachers, family involvement, and sticking to routine. In other words, treatment has been contained to educational and psychological means (excepting extreme cases where medication is sometimes involved).
While this treatment has been shown to be effective in helping the autistic person in an educational environment, there hasn’t been much treatment targeted at reducing the symptoms of people affected by autism. However, with recent studies, CBD has shown potential for the treatment of autism.
CBD Treatment for Autism
Research into using cannabis, and specifically CBD, for medical treatment has been growing quickly in recent years. Today, CBD is used to treat arthritis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and much more. Although the FDA has only approved CBD for treatment of seizures, recent studies have shown it might be effective in treating other medical issues such as chronic pain, acne, anxiety, and autism.
In October 2019 a study called “Effects of CBD-Enriched Cannabis sativa Extract on Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms: An Observational Study of 18 Participants Undergoing Compassionate Use” was conducted to research the effectiveness of CBD on managing the symptoms of autism. 18 autistic patients were given CBD-enriched Cannabis extract; 15 of the 18 patients adhered to the regimen, and of those 15, only one patient showed a lack of any improvement in autistic symptoms.
After six to nine months of treatment, all 14 patients, some epileptic and some non-epileptic, showed improvement in at least one of the eight symptom categories they outlined: “Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; Behavioral Disorders; Motor Deficits; Autonomy Deficits; Communication and Social Interaction Deficits; Cognitive Deficits; Sleep Disorders and Seizures, with very infrequent and mild adverse effects”. The strongest improvements in symptoms were shown as improvements in seizures, ADHD, sleep disorders, and communication and social interaction deficits.
Until that study was published, CBD had only been proven to be effective in epileptic individuals who experience seizures. With the findings reported the October 2019 study, CBD is now seen as a more verifiable treatment method for the symptoms of autism, such as sleep disorders, social and communication deficits, and more, opening the door to more studies to be conducted.
Another study is being carried out by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine for a clinical trial, further testing the potential of CBD in the treatment of autism.
Also, because CBD does not require a prescription, this means that parents of autistic children, or grown autistic individuals, may purchase CBD to see if CBD treatment is right for them.
CBD is also being reviewed as being potentially helpful for anxiety and sleep. By sleeping on a CBD Pillow, sleepers can experience improved sleep, and sleeping more soundly and often longer than not sleeping on the CBD pillow.