Texas MMJ: Treating Autism with medical marijuana
Can CBD help children with autism and Asperger's Syndrome?
There is much controversy surrounding the use of cannabis in Texas medicine these days. This is despite the promising results of numerous studies being conducted worldwide. And this controversy is even more profound when it comes to the treatment of children, and in particular, children with autism.
However, resistance to the idea of treating autistic children with safe, non-psychoactive CBD oil is catching on, with Texas adding Autism as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. Let’s take a quick look at the autism spectrum including Asperger’s syndrome and discuss how CBD oil might provide some measure of relief for these young patients.
What is Autism?
Originally autism was known as Kanner’s syndrome, and later, Early Infantile Autism. Autism directly affects the processing of information in the brain by altering nerve cells and their synapses.
Autism may result in intellectual challenges and is known to be far more prevalent in boys. It generally manifests by the age of three. A few quick statistics:
One in 68 U.S. children has autism. This is broken down into one in 189 girls and one in 42 boys.
One-third of autistic people are nonverbal.
One-third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
The origin of the word “autism” is derived from the Greek word “autos,” meaning “self.” In 1887 Dr. John Langdon Down first described autism as “developmental retardation.” And research conducted in 1943 by Leo Kanner studied multiple patients exhibiting crippling emotional and social limitations as well as withdrawn behavior.
The condition is often referred to as the “autism spectrum.” This is because the condition can manifest in a wide array of different forms.
Asperger’s syndrome is a condition within this spectrum of autism. Asperger’s is characterized by profound difficulties in social interaction. It also results in repetitive and restrictive patterns of behavior.
What are the symptoms of autism?
Autism patients often find it difficult to properly interpret facial expressions. They also have problems comprehending nuance, subtleties, tone of voice, and body language.
Some of the repetitive behaviors associated with autism include rock back and forth, arranging and rearranging objects, and continually repeating phrases or sounds.
Autism patients in Texas can find it excruciatingly difficult to catch on to social cues and are often incapable of seeing another’s perspective. They may also find it challenging to interpret gestures or understand another’s feelings. This behavior may result in certain tendencies brought on by constant frustration such as self-biting, headbanging, and hair-pulling.
Several additional mental health and medical conditions may be present alongside autism. These include:
Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Most treatments for autism involve the use of antipsychotic medications. Actually, only one drug called Risperidone (Risperdal), is approved by the FDA for treating children with autism. It’s mostly used to reduce irritability.
However, other drugs can be prescribed in certain cases, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), anti-anxiety medications, or stimulants, but they’re not FDA-approved for autism spectrum disorder.
These pharmaceuticals have multiple side effects including extreme lethargy. They are challenging even for adults to take on a daily basis. And children are even more susceptible to the damaging effects of these medications.
Can CBD oil help Texas children with autism?
Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is an active compound produced in the cannabis plant. CBD is similar to THC — found in marijuana — however, CBD does not induce intoxication. Today most CBD products use oils derived from THC-free hemp flower rather than marijuana.
One story citing the efficacy of Low THC High CBD medical marijuana in the treatment of autism involves a non-verbal child prone to self-injury who, after a lifetime of being unable to communicate in any capacity, spoke his first words upon receiving a twice-daily dose of hemp oil. Within three weeks the child progressed to sign language. He has continued to make great progress and is now able to enjoy a somewhat normal life.
Studies on CBD for autism and Asperger’s
Several studies have been undertaken to assess the efficacy of CBD in treating patients with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Some studies indicate the lessening of anxiety, rage, temper tantrums, seizures, and outbursts in autism patients without severe side effects suggesting that cannabidiol, aka CBD, might be a safe and effective way to reduce the severity of the condition.
According to one clinical study (May 10, 2019, HealthDay News) medical cannabis and its extracts were shown to be beneficial to children with autism says Dr. Adi Aran, Director, Pediatric Neurology at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Dr. Aran explained that the whole plant extract utilized in the study included many other compounds found in the cannabis plant, not just CBD and THC.
In this study, children with autism were treated for two four-week periods, with a four-week break in the middle.
The children treated with cannabis showed an improvement of 49 percent and 53 percent on the two scales used by parents and doctors to measure symptoms and behavior. Comparatively, the placebo subjects showed a 21 and 44 percent improvement respectively.
Moreover, researchers saw a 50 percent improvement on the scale that indicates the severity of core symptoms but only 22 percent improvement in the placebo group. However, some children suffered from lethargy, disturbed sleep, and decreased appetite when treated with marijuana.
Dr. Aran’s research is yielding positive results for children suffering from autism and is worthy of further in-depth investigation. According to Dr. Aran, researchers are planning a follow-up clinical trial that will include more children from different countries.
Here in the U.S. Dr. Giovanni Martinez has undertaken a significant amount of research and has made great strides in treating autistic children with CBD oil.
Also, in a 2013 study, it was noted that the endocannabinoid system, and particularly its CB2 receptor, has potential therapeutic properties for managing autism.
How does CBD affect autism patients?
Autism comes with a host of emotional and mental challenges. Autism patients who medicate with CBD oil often experience positive changes in behavior.
CBD oil has been shown to help alleviate certain symptoms. Patients often become more relaxed and less prone to seizures and rage. They also become more attentive. CBD also reduces tendencies to self-harm, communication problems, inability to sleep, and repetitive behaviors, as well as reducing anxiety and depression. CBD has also been known to help with sensory difficulties and food acceptance.
How to get medical marijuana for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in Texas
The first step for patients including children suffering from Autism and similar conditions like Asperger’s syndrome would be to visit a Texas-certified medical marijuana doctor. A quick phone call can usually help to determine if a patient qualifies for a Texas High CBD cannabis medicine and set up an appointment for an in-person or online evaluation using medcard telemedicine.
Once an application has been approved, the physician will enter the patient’s name into the state’s patient registry. The patient will immediately be eligible to purchase medical marijuana from a Texas dispensary or via home delivery.