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CBD and Autism CBD and Health CBD Benefits

CBD and Autism: Everything You Need to Know

CBD has an incredibly vast number of benefits on symptoms derived from severe conditions like autism. Most of these are based on anecdotal evidence and the research that could prove them is ongoing or not enough.

However, there is research that investigates the link between CBD and autism. The obstacle for CBD users with diagnosed autism is now able to reach a legal status that allows doctors to prescribe CBD as a treatment for autism disorders legally. 

What is Medical Marijuana?

The term ‘medical marijuana’ refers to any cannabis-derived product prescribed or recommended by a licensed physician. For doctors to legally prescribe CBD or any other cannabis-derived product as a treatment for a specific condition, the product must be first approved by the FDA as proper medication.

This applies to CBD oil for autism compared to any other cannabis-derived item, including finished goods and raw substances alike.

So far, there is a minimal amount of cannabis-based finished goods that can be legally prescribed by doctors around the world. In fact, in the U.S., there is only a single FDA-approved cannabis-based medication that has that privilege.

These are essential medications with legal approval for a prescription to date:

1. Epidiolex

The FDA has approved Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of cannabidiol (CBD) and is primarily used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients two years of age and older. That means the FDA has concluded that this particular product is safe and effective for its intended use. [1]

2. Sativex (Nabiximols)

A prescription drug available in Canada and Europe. It is designed to mimic the effects of the cannabis plant and is often used as a pain relief medication. Sativex contains a mixture of THC and CBD with varying ratios but generally following a 1:1 rate.

3. Cesamet (Nabilone)

Nabilone comes in the form of capsules, sold under the trademarked name ‘Cesamet.’ The drug is a synthetic cannabinoid often used as an analgesic or antiemetic, which is approved by the FDA.

Dronabinol is another FDA approved synthetic cannabinoid sol under the brand names Marinol and Syndros.

4. Marinol (Dronabinol)

5. Syndros (Dronabinol)

Medical marijuana can come in a variety of different forms, as you might have assumed by now. Medical marijuana can also include any cannabinoid, whether it’s synthetic or sourced from the cannabis plant.

Is CBD Legal? Is Medical Marijuana Legal?

The legal status of medical marijuana depends on the state and country where you're attempting to purchase it. Key markets for the industry like Canada, U.S.A, and Europe have legalized medical cannabis use.

However, regulations will vary significantly from country to country and state to state.

Perhaps the country that has advanced the most in terms of legalization in the past 20 years in the U.S.A. Even so, marijuana is not federally legal in the country yet, due to regulations being different in almost every state.

As of right now, marijuana is still a part of the list of Schedule 1 substances. Schedule 1 is a list of substances that have not currently been identified as substances with potential medical use and have a high potential for abuse.

Some other examples of substances listed in Schedule I are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine ("Ecstasy").

However, this is not the case for CBD, a substance that has been federally legal since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. CBD is legal in all 50 states if it comes from hemp sources and contains less than 0.3% THC.

Within the U.S., people can purchase medical cannabis for approved conditions in 33 states. Prescription requirements and qualifying conditions will vary by state. Some of these requirements include having a qualifying medical condition and having a legally approved medical marijuana card.

Medical Marijuana for Autism

CBD prescription drugs are non-existent in the U.S., except for Epidiolex, as explained above. This is the list of states that include autism as a qualifying condition for prescription of medical cannabis:

1. Colorado

2. Delaware

3. Georgia

4. Illinois

5. Iowa

6. Louisiana

7. Michigan

8. Minnesota

9. Missouri

10. New Mexico

11. Pennsylvania

12. Puerto Rico

13. Rhode Island

14. Texas

15. Utah

Many ongoing clinical studies aim to determine if the use of cannabis and its derivatives on autism can have a positive effect, but none are conclusive yet.

The effects of CBD enriched cannabis on autism spectrum disorder symptoms analyzed in a 2019 study from Fleury-Teixeira et al., where CBD was found to have a positive impact on the following symptom categories:

1. ADHD

2. MD

3. CSID

4. BD

5. SD

6. SZ

The improvements for each symptom category varied in effectivity, some resulting in better returns than others.

How Can CBD Help With Autism?

CBD is commonly used to treat autism-related symptoms like:

1. Restlessness

2. Tics

3. Seizures

4. Aggressive Outbursts

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is the physical entity in the body responsible for interpreting and activating cannabinoids, including CBD, THC, and any of the other 111 components identified to date.

The ECS is composed of CB1 and CB2 receptors. Each one with its cannabis-independent duties. ECS receptor roles divide like this:

CB1

CB1 receptors are located in the brain and throughout the body. CB1 receptors have been tied to brain signaling functions and are known to inhibit neurotransmitter release.

CB2

The CB2 receptor has been associated with essential gastrointestinal and immune system functions.

In research from Bar-Lev Schleider et al., investigators found that “cannabis in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) patients appears well-tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms associated with ASD” [6]. The study results do not represent conclusive evidence but exemplify the potential benefits of CBD oil for autism.

CBD Oil Dosage for Autism

Based on research from Bar-Lev Schleider et al., an effective dose delivered in a study with 188 ASD patients was found to follow a 30% CBD and 1.5% THC content ratio. After six months of treatment, 28 patients reported a significant improvement, 50 moderate improvements, six a slight improvement, and 8 had no change in their condition [6].

While the research online is not abundant on the subject, and much more needs to be researched before concluding that CBD is an effective therapy for autism, the existing research available online has become quite promising.

Conclusion

The availability of legal marijuana and CBD has grown exponentially over the past three years. Medical marijuana is any prescription drug with cannabis-derived content legally allowed to be prescribed by a licensed physician. The list of possibilities of legal (FDA-approved) drugs with cannabinoid content reduces to only a few options around the world.

The legal regulations around cannabis prescription drugs will vary significantly from country to country and state to state. CBD oil for autism has positive effects on patients within a few small sample studies. However, much more needs to be researched before the effectiveness of CBD on autism can be conclusively determined.

References

[1] Office of the Commissioner. (2020, October 1). FDA and Cannabis: Research and Drug Approval Process. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-and-cannabis-research-and-drug-approval-process

[2] Verbora, M. (2019, April 23). What Prescription Cannabinoids Are Approved by Health Canada? Canabo Medical Clinic. https://www.canabomedicalclinic.com/what-prescription-cannabinoids-are-approved-by-health-canada/

[3] autism friendly states. (2020). #cannabis4autism. http://www.mammausa.org/autism-friendly-states.html

[4] Fleury-Teixeira, P., Caixeta, F. V., Ramires da Silva, L. C., Brasil-Neto, J. P., & Malcher-Lopes, R. (2019). Effects of CBD-Enriched Cannabis sativa Extract on Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms: An Observational Study of 18 Participants Undergoing Compassionate Use. Frontiers in Neurology, 10, 1. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2019.01145

[5] Wanner, N. M., Colwell, M., Drown, C., & Faulk, C. (2020). Subacute cannabidiol alters genome‐wide DNA methylation in adult mouse hippocampus. Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, 61(9), 890–900. https://doi.org/10.1002/em.22396

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

Hemmfy articles and blogs are meant to entertain and educate. However, we are not medical professionals and do not intend to give medical advice through them.

The knowledge around CBD and other cannabis-derived products is growing and constantly changing, as does their legal status. Hence, we recommend checking with your local authorities and a licensed physician prior to consumption.

Simon Cartagena

Simon Cartagena is a full-time cannabis copywriter. This has led him to write for companies like Hemmfy.com where he acts as Senior Content Writer and other world-renowned cannabis publications. Simon has created Content Marketing strategies and articles that have helped company revenues increase by up to 1,000%. Simon’s goal is to help people understand cannabis in an industry where misinformation seems to be predominant.