treat autism with cannabisaustim-help-mobileIn recent years, medical marijuana has been discussed as a possible treatment for countless diseases, illnesses, and conditions. While scientific proof of cannabis’ viability is rare – due mostly to its persistent illegality and the lack of funding for such research – anecdotal evidence exists in many cases. The treatment of autism is one such instance.

The internet abounds with articles discussing cannabis and autism, on both pro-medical marijuana and general research sites. Stories of parents using cannabis-based sprays and tinctures, as well as more traditional ingestion methods, present both positive and negative outcomes.

As with any hotly debated topic, advocates use the success stories (which credit cannabis with calming rage, hostility and anger in children with autism) to tout the use of marijuana in treating autism symptoms, while opponents highlight the failed attempts.

Ultimately, it can be concluded that medical marijuana – or drugs containing cannabis derivatives – may treat some symptoms of autism in some patients. There is no evidence that marijuana cures autism.

Read More: CBD, another important cannabinoid

Cannabis for Autism

Published in February, 2015, a Detroit activist of medical cannabis for developmental disorders relayed the story of a young boy with autism who was successfully treated with THC. The family had already been using a non-psychoactive THC-a compound to alleviate the patient’s seizures. The addition of THC to the treatment (as well as CBD in a ratio determined suitable for the patient) appeared to improve the child’s attention and communication.

The author reported that the child’s developmental age nearly doubled in six months. He no longer required melatonin to sleep through the night, and his ability to focus improved. The improvements are believed to be due to THC’s ability to “redirect the neurons in a way” that can be beneficial to people with autism.1

A study at Stanford University in 2013 suggested that autism may be linked to abnormal development of endocannabinoids – natural compounds found in the human body – and the way in which these compounds interact with the brain.2

Another study, conducted at the University of California, Irvine in 2012, treated mice with Fragile X Syndrome (considered similar to gene disorders found with human autism) with marijuana and found the afflicted mice had improved performance in maze tests, including improved ability to deal with anxiety and fear of open spaces. 3

Another early study conducted at UCI in 2010 suggested marijuana may help patients with schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, and autism, due to its ability to regulate emotion, improve focus, and act as a neuroprotective agent – preventing brain cells from degrading.

While these researchers are not recommending medical marijuana to children, their results certainly suggest that further research into the benefits of some cannabis compounds could be greatly beneficial.

A Final Note

As autism is a condition most often diagnosed during childhood, it is vital to point out the potential dangers of giving cannabis to children. Research suggests that while cannabis may aid a variety of illnesses and symptoms, it may also cause developmental problems if administered to adolescents whose brains have yet to fully develop.

Therefore, it is important to note that today, the evidence for cannabis’ role in aiding children with autism is largely anecdotal. We do not recommend self-medicating, or medicating children with any drug – natural or otherwise – without first communicating with a practiced professional. Most cannabis-based drugs are not yet FDA approved and are unregulated.

Review our Medical Benefits section to learn more about how this natural medicine affects the body and aids numerous conditions and symptoms.

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1Collective Evolution

2The Scientist

3UCI News