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This is what Studies say about the use of CBD oil for autism

This is what Studies say about the use of CBD oil for autism

What is autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), popularly known as autism, is a developmental disorder that occurs mainly in childhood and mainly affects communicative and social interaction functions and cognitive functions such as attention, concentration. , behavioral inhibition and mental flexibility. 

It has a prevalence of 1 %( 2) and can also be diagnosed late.

There are different profiles of people with autism, some capable of maintaining an autonomous life while others can develop a high degree of dependence due to the severity of the symptoms. Asperger syndrome, for example, is considered part of ASD but without the appearance of intellectual dysfunctions. 

Autism can be accompanied by other conditions of emotional origin such as depression, anxiety and insomnia and even episodes of self-harm. These factors may be a consequence of communication and social difficulties, such as not understanding what behavior to expect from others; or what others expect. 

Furthermore, in 10-30% of cases, ASD is associated with epilepsy, a factor that can subsequently worsen the clinical picture.

(1-3-4)

What symptoms does autism have?

People's profiles can be very variable, depending on how different functions are affected: 

  • Problems in communication and social interaction: the person with autism in some way seems not to “understand” the external world, therefore they have learning difficulties about how to relate to others; how to understand pragmatic or non-literal verbal communication; non-verbal communication and consequently how to express oneself in the most appropriate way.
  • Atypical activities: usually reduced and repetitive
  • Attention disorders: difficulty focusing attention or concentrating, sensitivity to some specific details, learning disorders and possible presence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 
  • Higher cognitive functions: a certain degree of mental rigidity and difficulty inhibiting certain behaviors or reactions usually appear, in addition to having difficulty adapting to novel situations or those that may change. 
  • A certain degree of intellectual deficit: frequently accompanied by a specific ability of an excellent degree, for example related to memory or calculation.

(1-3-4)

What causes autism?

The main cause of autism seems to be represented by genetic factors whose expression can be facilitated or hindered by environmental factors, although currently the genetic causes can be traced in only 15% of cases. 

There is scientific evidence that considers an imbalance of the immune system in the maternal organism as a risk factor for the development of ASD, which would cause the same problem in the person with ASD, who would also develop a chronic inflammatory state at a neurological level throughout the Nervous Central System. (8)

The most effective treatments focus on psychosocial intervention strategies to improve the development of cognitive, social and communicative functions, optimizing children's learning method at an intellectual and behavioral level. 

Pharmacological treatments are prescribed primarily to treat emotional and behavioral problems and relieve anxiety, nervousness, impulsivity and depression.

(1-3-4)

Can CBD help with autism?

Unlike internal use, through which it is possible to administer CBD in different dosages, with external use, the dosage is more fixed and standardized. Applying a greater amount of product does not increase its absorption. 

Depending on the size of the area of the body you want to treat, 1-2ml (the equivalent of half a teaspoon of coffee) can be used for smaller areas such as the knee or neck, while for larger areas such as the back or the entire leg can be used up to 10ml

Three to five applications can be use daily. It is very important to massage gently until complete absorption to optimize the bioavailability of the CBD oil, the effect of which can last 2-3 hours.

Are there any side effects derived from its use?

There are studies both in animals and in children with ASD that have shown an alteration in the functioning of the Endocannabinoid System responsible for maintaining the balance of our body, recording: 

  • A deficiency in the levels of Anandamide, one of our main endocannabinoids.
  • Alterations in different neurotransmitters related to the ECS.
  • An imbalance of the endocannabinoid CB2 receptors, responsible for modulating the immune system and inflammatory processes in the body.

(5-8)

Anandamida

Thanks to its properties, CBD can represent a very valuable therapeutic tool for people who suffer from ASD, providing:

  • An anxiolytic and antipsychotic effect very useful to improve emotional management and social behavior
  • A stimulating effect on the ECS, favoring an increase in Anandamide levels
  • A favorable effect on cognitive functions and on communicative and social functions 
  • A relaxing effect, to promote sleep and mental and physical relaxation 
  • An anti-inflammatory and regulatory effect on the immune system, to improve imbalances in the defense system and the state of chronic neurological inflammation

Studies on the use of CBD oil for autism

In one study (5) an improvement in behavioral symptoms has been recorded in 61% of the participants after treatment with sublingual CBD oil, while in others a cognitive, communicative and social improvement has also been observed consequently on the quality of life. It is also important to mention an improvement in sleep problems, hyperactivity and episodes of self-harm, in addition to the beneficial effects in case of epilepsy. (6-7-9) 

According to the evidence on its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, CBD would represent a first-choice tool to improve chronic inflammation at a neurological level and the body's immune response, (8) which could lead to different types of improvement.

Should THC be avoided to treat autism?

Traces of THC are present in the oils used in the studies due to its importance in promoting the effect of CBD as part of the broad-spectrum extraction, but never in its pure form due to its psychoactive effects that can negatively affect children with ASD. (5-6-7-9)

Therefore, it should not be avoided, although it is advisable not to exceed low levels in products that maintain a CBD: THC ratio of approximately 20:1.

What CBD oils should I use?

In autism, in order to take advantage of the benefits of CBD it is necessary to use it internally (not regulated in the EU).

In some studies, doses of 0.7 to 2 mg per kg of weight per day have been used, without exceeding an amount of 40 mg to 70 mg per day. Other studies, however, have used high doses of up to 600 mg of CBD per day, although it may be that, Due to the biphasic effect, other side effects such as drowsiness or restlessness may appear (5-6-7-9). 

For this reason, it is advisable to use a medium concentration oil (5-10%), starting with a low dosage and gradually increasing until the effects appear. In any case, it is always advisable to be able to obtain advice and follow-up with a specialized health professional.

Bibliography:

  1. https://www.who.int/es/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/autism-spectrum-disorders
  2. Global prevalence of autism: A systematic review update. Zeidan J et al. Autism Research – marzo de 2022
  3. http://www.autismo.org.es/sobre-los-TEA/trastorno-del-especto-del-autismo
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/spanish/autism/facts.html
  5. Aran, A., Cassuto, H., Lubotzky, A., Wattad, N., & Hazan, E. (2019). Brief Report: Cannabidiol-Rich Cannabis in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Behavioral Problems-A Retrospective Feasibility Study. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 49(3), 1284–1288. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3808-2
  6. Bilge, S., & Ekici, B. (2021). CBD-enriched cannabis for autism spectrum disorder: an experience of a single center in Turkey and reviews of the literature. Journal of cannabis research, 3(1), 53. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-021-00108-7
  7. Barchel, D., Stolar, O., De-Haan, T., Ziv-Baran, T., Saban, N., Fuchs, D. O., Koren, G., & Berkovitch, M. (2019). Oral Cannabidiol Use in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder to Treat Related Symptoms and Co-morbidities. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 1521. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.01521
  8. Carbone, E., Manduca, A., Cacchione, C., Vicari, S., & Trezza, V. (2021). Healing autism spectrum disorder with cannabinoids: a neuroinflammatory story. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 121, 128–143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.12.009
  9. Silva, E., Junior, Medeiros, W., Torro, N., Sousa, J., Almeida, I., Costa, F., Pontes, K. M., Nunes, E., Rosa, M., & Albuquerque, K. (2022). Cannabis and cannabinoid use in autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review. Trends in psychiatry and psychotherapy, 44, e20200149. https://doi.org/10.47626/2237-6089-2020-0149

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Neuropsychologist | Specialised in treatments with Medical Cannabis

Tommaso Bruscolini

Tommaso Bruscolini (Rimini, Italy) is a neuropsychologist and phytotherapist based in Barcelona, where he has been running his private practice since 2014, both in person and online, where he formulates and produces different preparations with all kinds of medicinal plants, as well as making personalised recommendations.

A member of the Official College of Psychologists of Catalonia and qualified as a Health Psychologist, he is a specialist in Neuropsychology, the branch that studies the brain and its neurological function. Tommaso complements his training with studies in Phytotherapy and Herbalism at the Guild of Herbalists of Catalonia and two Masters, one in Nutrition and Herbal Dietetics and the other in Mindfulness.

In recent years she has specialised in Medical Cannabis, through private training and collaborations with different entities in the world of Medical Cannabis, coordinating for a year a clinic specialising in cannabinoid medicine, carrying out consultations, writing articles, talks, training courses as well as carrying out consultations and patient follow-up.

He currently collaborates with several entities of the cannabis sector in Spain, among other things he is the coordinator of the therapeutic area of the magazine DolceVita España, consultant in the SmokingMap portal, collaborator of the Unión de Pacientes por la Regulación del Cannabis (UPRC) and Alpha-Cat certified technician to perform cannabinoid analysis.

What fascinates him most about the Cannabis plant is the possibility it has to change the current medicinal and therapeutic paradigm towards a more holistic vision as it acts on our body, mind and mood, in a synergic way.

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