Medicinal cannabis could help children with autism – Dispatch Marijuana Dispensary Quebec Canada

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Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a class of neurodevelopmental disorders, defined by qualitative deficiencies in communication and social functioning. Frequently these disorders are accompanied by repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior and interest, usually reported by parents during the first three years of their children's lives. With this article, we want to reflect on how medicinal cannabis could help improve the quality of life of children with autism.

Symptoms detected in children with autism

The comorbid conditions or symptoms are:

  • psychiatric (anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive),
  • behavior (aggressive, irritability, self-injury),
  • Sensory (tactile and auditory sensitivity),
  • neurological (tics, seizures and epilepsy),
  • gastrointestinal (gastroesophageal reflux, constipation, food selectivity),
  • of development (cognitive, language, hyperactivity, hypotonia),
  • and sleep interruption.

Among the autistic spectrum disorders, the Asperger syndrome, a generalized developmental disorder not otherwise specified and autism. About 1 in every 150 children has an ASD, with males especially affected. Because the disorders are multifactorial and highly genetic, there is no cure[1]. Genes that affect synaptic maturation are involved, which alters the connections between neurons and produces bad information processing in the brain[2].

Around the 40% of children with ASD do not respond well to conventional medical treatment. Consequently, a high percentage of parents are seeking alternative help such as the two main cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabinoids activate the endocannabinoid system and regulate a variety of physiological and cognitive processes.

Medicinal Cannabis and ASD

A drug based on THC (Dronabinol) has shown an improvement in the management of self-harm behavior resistant to treatment in adolescent patients with intellectual disability at 6 months of follow-up[3]. While CBD has antipsychotic, anxiolytic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiepileptic properties. It is also not psychoactive.

In 2018, a brief report on cannabis rich in cannabidiol in children with autism spectrum disorder was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. The author showed in the study that after administering cannabis as adjuvant therapy, there was a considerable improvement in behavior (61%), anxiety (39%) and communication problems (47%).

In the study, the treatment consisted of a combination of CBD and THC, in a ratio of 20: 1, respectively, taken sublingually two to three times a day for 2-4 weeks, with increased doses according to the effect and Tolerability The adverse events were resolved by adjusting the night dose and the age of the patients was from 5 to 18 years. Based on promising results, the researcher suggests further research in controlled studies[4].

In 2019, another scientific report was published in Nature. The aim of the study was to characterize patients with ASD who receive medical treatment with cannabis for your autism and describe its safety and effectiveness. The data analyzed were collected between 2015 and 2017 as part of the treatment program in 188 patients with ASD.

The treatment was based on cannabis oil, which contained 30% CBD and 1.5% THC, administered three times a day in most patients (5 to 19 years). After six months of treatment, 155 patients were in active treatment and 93 (60%) were evaluated: 28 patients (30.1%) reported a significant improvement, 50 (53.7%) moderate, 6 (6.4%) mild and 8 (8.6 %) had no change in their disorder. Quality of life, sleep, concentration, seizures, positive mood and the ability to dress and bathe independently also improved after six months.

The most common concomitant chronic medications in the ingestion were antipsychotics, antiepileptics, antidepressants and hypnotics. Antipsychotics were taken by 55 (33.9%) patients, and at 6 months, 11 (20%) patients stopped taking this medication. In general, it was reported a decrease in the consumption of medications in 23 (34.3%) patients. Restlessness was experienced as the most frequent side effect in 23 patients (25.2%). The reasons to stop doing the treatment were: side effects and no therapeutic effect.

In conclusion, Cannabinoids appear to be safe, effective and well tolerated to relieve the symptoms associated with ASD. The mechanism of the effects of cannabinoids may involve the regulation of the transmission of GABA and glutamate, as well as the release of vasopressin and oxytocin. An imbalance of excitation and inhibition of GABAergic and glutamatergic signaling in different regions of the brain is characteristic of ASD.

On the other hand, vasopressin and oxytocin are neurotransmitters that strengthen social interaction, reduce repetitive behavior, control social information and improve emotional recognition. It was found that CBD improves oxytocin and vasopressin during social activities, according to the literature on medicinal cannabis and children with autism[5].

Did you like this post? Make an assessment. This post has been made based on existing research until the date of publication of the article. Due to the increase of studies around medical cannabis, the information exposed may vary over time and we will inform in subsequent writings.

[1] Landa, R. J. Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders in the first 3 years of life. Nature Clin. Pract Neurol 4, 138-147 (2008).

[2] Levy SE, Mandell DS, Schultz RT. Autism Lancet. 2009; 374 (9701): 1627-1638.

[3] Kruger, T. & Christophersen, E. An open label study of the use of dronabinol (Marinol) in the management of treatment-resistant self-injurious behavior in 10 retarded adolescent patients. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics 27, 433 (2006).

[4] Aran, A., Cassuto, H., Lubotzky, A., Wattad, N., & Hazan, E. (2018). Brief Report: Cannabidiol-Rich Cannabis in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Behavioral Problems-A Retrospective Feasibility Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disordersdoi: 10.1007 / s10803-018-3808-2

[5] Bar-Lev Schleider, L., Mechoulam, R., Saban, N., Meiri, G., & Novack, V. (2019). Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism: Analysis of Safety and Efficacy. Scientific Reports, 9 (1).doi: 10.1038 / s41598-018-37570-y


Medicinal cannabis could help children with autism


Medicinal cannabis could help children with autism


Children with autism show the signs of their condition in the first 3 years of life. Medical cannabis can be an alternative treatment for children with autism.


Tim Meiboon

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Kalapa Clinic

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