When we discuss autism as a condition, we’re truly discussing an extreme range of disorders. This includes a few comparable conditions that fall under the same umbrella, such as Asperger’s syndrome, hyperactivity and attention deficit. Surprisingly, as it turns out, worried parents and their children don’t have to rely only on the pharmaceutical drugs.
But before we start digging in the subject, let’s take a closer look at the nature of autism.
Autism is an unfortunate neuro-degenerative disorder and the exact reason behind it is still unknown. But some researchers believe that autism is caused by mutations on some specific, rare genes. This disorder disables the patient’s natural social communication and affects social activity and interactions with patients often showing repetitive behaviors.
Thus far, science hasn’t discovered that a cure for autism exists. Behavioral treatment only masks its symptoms and helps control the unwanted behaviors . In more serious cases, doctors recommend drugs to their patients. However, these drugs come with numerous side effects, not to mention that a regular pharmaceutical treatment involves a couple of drugs for different symptoms.
More importantly, as autism starts to develop in childhood, parents of autistic children really feel the effects of daily struggles caused by these drugs. On top of that most prescription medications are not suitable for children. Given this, it doesn’t come to our surprise that some desperate parents are looking for other methods to help their children.
Can CBD for autism succeed where pharmaceuticals fail? We’ll get to that in a moment. But as for now, I’d like you to learn some science behind Cannabidiol
What is CBD?
CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is a cannabis compound that has remarkable medical benefits but does not make people feel “High”. In fact, CBD can prevent the psychoactivity of THC.
It is a major phytocannabinoid that can account for up to 40% of the plant’s extract. The fact that CBD-infused cannabis strains are mostly non-psychoactive makes CBD products a good option for patients seeking relief from various conditions associated with deficits in the endocannabinoid system.
CBD for autism: how may cannabidiol help?
Like we said, we know there is no cure discovered for autism yet.
On the other hand, the number of autism-related conditions and repetetive behaviors seems to overlap with symptoms that CBD may actually help combat.
Anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression are very common among autistic people. This applies to both young and adult patients. Scientists have proven that CBD is an ideal natural anxiolytic agent and can successfully treat both anxiety and depression.
Generally, the aforementioned symptoms go hand in hand. This is how the use of CBD for autism can alleviate them:
- To begin with, CBD interlocks the webs of 5-HT1A receptors in the Endocannabinoid system. Thus, it is responsible for reducing anxiety and stress. It also prevents our natural negative response to stress without any side-effects. CBD boosts serotonin levels by decreasing serotonin reabsorption in the brain. Higher serotonin levels increase the feelings of happiness and well-being.
- Furthermore,CBD reduces anxiety and depression-driven behaviors by triggering a mechanism known as hippocampal neurogenesis. This increases the growth of new cells in the hippocampal area of our brain through activation of the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors.
- Finally, CBD has a prohedonic effect which keeps our mind calm and washes away troubling thoughts.
Hyperactivity and Attention Deficit
Autism and ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder), also known as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), are firmly related and both share the same symptoms. In both cases, patients find it difficult to function among other people, which often includes a focusing/attention disorder.
Studies show that the use of CBD for autism is potentially effective in fight against those conditions that are normally observed in some autism patients. Cannabidiol affects the brain by decreasing hyperactivity and expanding the ability to focus. People with health imbalances normally have higher levels of cortisol which is responsible for mental stress and reduction in dopamine levels – a chemical compound that moderates our mood.
CBD decreases the amount of cortisol and its reaction rate with dopamine receptors by seducing serotonin receptors in the brain. As a result of this phenomenon, the overall effects of some health imbalances are reduced.
Autism and Bipolar disorder, closely connected with one another. Around 27% of autism patients experience bipolar disorder, which is the partial result of an imbalanced endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Recent studies showed that an imbalanced ECS triggers mood-related disorders. CBD helps bring the ECS to optimal conditions by tapping to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. This way CBD works as a natural mood-stabilizer and antipsychotic.
People struggling with autism often suffer from sleep deprivation as a result of insufficient levels of melatonin. CBD is known for its tranquilizing effects, which makes it beneficial for sleep. As a matter of fact, CBD can increase our average sleep time by controlling the sleep-wake cycle.
Wrapping it up
In the past few years, many scientific studies on Autism and CBD has been conducted. But what is the future of CBD for autism, then? Only time will tell. For now, let us hope that researchers will dig deeper into the subject CBD and its health benefits.