More Good News for Kids and Autism
New studies show positive results of CBD use with Autism.
With the international rise of CBD-rich whole-plant extracts, evidence continues to mount on CBD’s efficacy for many of autism’s more difficult symptoms. Just last year, a review of research papers found relief reports from otherwise intense bouts of anxiety, sleep problems, aggressiveness and hyperactivity. Another retrospective review focused on children and found similar reduction in rage attacks, irritability and restlessness as well as anxiety. An upcoming paper, soon to be published in Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, gives further insight to CBD’s possible uses in relieving autism’s more debilitating presentations.
The Brazilian study focused on 60 autistic children, aged five to 11, and how they responded to biweekly treatment with a 9:1 CBD/THC hemp extract at low concentration (2.5 mg/mL) for 12 weeks. During the course of the study, which started in January, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which added a further dimension to the study. Autistic children rely heavily on routines for their stability, and the lockdowns created extraordinary disruption. However, they also created added potential to study in real-time how CBD could assist in relieving the added stressors brought on by the phenomena. In addition, the experiment was randomized and double-blinded, which strengthened the researchers’ conclusions.
After the 12 weeks, researchers found significant reductions amongst the CBD group in the following areas:
- Psychomotor agitation (This involves restless activity, such as pacing up and down, or taking off clothes and putting them back on.)
- Social Interaction
- Concentration (mild autism only)
For concentration, it should be noted that all children were classified as either mildly autistic, moderately autistic, or severely autistic. So the CBD group did help autists with their concentration, but only if they were classified as mildly autistic.
The biggest improvements for the CBD users were in social interaction, but the researchers remarked positively about its effect on appetite. “The caregivers said that [the children] had fewer daily meals than desired, had difficulty eating due to sensory and food selectivity issues,” the paper reports. “An improvement was found in eating habits with the use of cannabis.” (The researchers are referring to a relatively new eating disorder diagnosis called Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, or ARFID — a condition which is often comorbid with autism cases.)
Moreover, adverse reactions were only reported in 3 of the 31 children in the CBD group. These reactions were limited to colic, weight gain and dizziness/insomnia. (Sleep quality, however, was not disrupted for any of the children in this study.)
The researchers acknowledged that long-term studies would be needed to determine whether other conditions mentioned in previous literature, such as fatigue, sleep disorders or diarrhea, would be observed amongst these children. They also noted that 86.7% of the children were boys, but also observed that most people suffering from autism or Asperger’s Syndrome are boys or men as well. They, in particular, wanted to test out the entourage effect of whole-plant extracts when compared to CBD isolates and work with higher-concentrated formulas as well for future study. (For this study, children took up to 70 drops a day, starting with six drops daily, with an average of 47.42 drops for the CBD children.)
Nonetheless, it’s still encouraging news for the parents and caregivers of autistic children, especially those who struggle with the paucity of pharmaceutical choices out in the market. For now, CBD is only available for narrowly defined cases of childhood autism; however, there seems to be a lot more where that’s coming from, apparently, and the sooner long-suffering families can get it, the better.
Learn More: Autism and Cannabis