Cannabis and autism: An informal update 2019
I have now had the privilege to treat over 500 autistic kids with medical cannabis in Israel. This report is meant to support this treatment by documenting a more extensive experience than the original 100 cases I reported on a year and a half ago.
The results continue to be rather consistent. As I reported earlier, about 60% of children respond well to an oil that is 20:1:: CBD:THC. Another 15-20% need a higher proportion of THC, often more THC than CBD. The last 20% or so remain somewhat enigmatic; at times a change of strains makes a big difference, sometimes we admit have to admit treatment failure.
I try to make the treatment as systematic as possible, despite our ignorance regarding more of the compounds in the cannabis plants we use. I try to get an optimal effect of the appropriate oil (60% of the time the CBD rich oil, 20% of the time the THC rich oil) in the morning dose by increasing by a drop every few days until increase yields no improvement. Then I try to “fine tune” the CBD:THC ration with the other oil in the same way until optimal effect is reached. Then I see how long the dose lasts and add one or more additional doses during the day until a good result over the entire day and good sleep is achieved. This trial and error takes about a month.
My experience suggests that this systematic approach creates the most reliable results. There are others whose experience leads them to “guess” when to add the THC oil to the CBD oil, or when to add additional doses, but I find when I reevaluate the treatments at the annual license renewal that oftentimes a less than optimal result has been achieved. There is no data-based way to study this.
When the first approach is not effective, I then systematically attempt to try other strains and about half the time this yields good results. Therefore at least 10% of the children in my experience require access to a variety of full strains in order to achieve treatment goals. I can state unequivocally that I have personally witness children who respond entirely differently to different strains whose CBD:THC ratio is identical.
Excellent results are attained along the full range of the autistic spectrum. Most studies for some reason favor looking at low-function children with violent outbursts. My experience show that high-functioning children respond extremely well, with an increased sharpness in their listening, presence, precision of language and more appropriate responses to humor. They feel much better as human beings and more secure in social settings. Many of these children are able to recognize the improvement as an improved connectivity between resting and executive brain states that I had suggested in an earlier communication. I have treated several dozen very young children, less than 4 years of age, with results as encouraging as those for the older children.
I have seen almost no side effects to this treatment. Some rare children (about 3-4 out of 500) whose sphincter control was borderline lost control (3 of bladder, one of both bladder and rectum) temporarily. The regression was reversed when the particular oil was discontinued. No one became addicted and there were absolutely no outbreaks of anything like psychosis due to cannabis treatment.
It is very impressive to see just how many children are able to discontinue other psychotropic medication once they stabilize on cannabis. I would estimate about three-quarters of children on medications are able to discontinue and feel better for doing such.
Two areas remain less clear. One is the exacerbation of seemingly obsessional behaviors that comes together with improvement of other areas such as explosive expressions of frustration. My preliminary view is that this is likely to be temporary and be a result of heightened presence and awareness. AT times I have added St. John’s Wort with occasional success. This is an area for more study.
The second area is that of attention. In Israel many overactive autistic children are given the additional diagnosis of ADHD, something I feel to be rather unscientific. In my experience 80-90% of the treatments with stimulants are either unsuccessful or deleterious. However, the results of cannabis ion attention are less reliable than in other areas. I would estimate that perhaps half of the children become more attentive. This issue may involve the way the school setting interacts with the cannabis treatments. It is another are for more systematic study.
This very form of this communication documents the need for differential research in this field. So far published reports do not distinguish characteristics of the children, and correlation with doses and strains. This is an obvious desideratum. I am grateful to TOI for the use of this blog to communicate with the community of families and physicians who are nearly starved for information and can get little guidance from published studies to date.
Mother Gives Son Marijuana to Treat His Autism
Nov. 23, 2009— — Given the many challenges involved in raising an autistic child, parents are willing to try a variety of potential remedies, many of which are controversial and unproven.
But one potential treatment that has gained attention recently is one that was controversial well before its first mention in connection with autism.
“At first I did some research, and I found a doctor who actually had a protocol for medical marijuana in children diagnosed with autism,” Mieko Hester-Perez of Fountain Valley, Calif., told “Good Morning America.”
Hester-Perez made her decision to try giving her 10-year-old son, Joey Perez, medical marijuana after his weight had become dangerously low due to his unwillingness to eat. She said that at the time she began the approach, he weighed only 46 pounds.
“You could see the bones in his chest. He was going to die,” she said.
“The marijuana balanced my son,” said Hester-Perez, noting that she has never used marijuana herself. “My son had self-injurious behaviors. He was extremely aggressive, he would run out of our house. he was a danger to himself and others.”
But just hours after she gave him one of the pot-infused brownies, she said she could see a change — both in his appetite and demeanor.
“Within hours, he requested foods we had never seen him eat before,” said Hester-Perez.
She added that her son used to take a cocktail of medications, three times every day, for his condition. He now takes only three, and he has a marijuana brownie once every two or three days. He still cannot communicate verbally.
“I saved my son’s life, and marijuana saved my son’s life. When a mother hears that her son is knocking on death’s door, you will do anything to save his life,” said Hester-Perez.
Allen St. Pierre, executive director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said that marijuana for children is something that draws concern even from parents within his advocacy organization.
“While there have been some people within NORML’s ranks who remain put off by this, I think speaks to just how fearful some are [of marijuana],” he said.
And this reaction remains out of proportion to the possible risks from the drug, he said, noting that, just as some children are given doses of medical marijuana in more regulated settings, children can be given controlled doses of strong drugs such as amphetamines or opioids without drawing as much opposition.
“They probably wouldn’t raise an eyebrow,” St. Pierre said of parents’ responses, “but because reefer madness has been so profound in the United States, that’s one of the only things that makes it notable.”
But some opposition to this type of treatment is medical concern.
“He is intoxicated. He’s stoned,” said Dr. Sharon Hirsch, a child psychiatrist at the University of Chicago. “It means that he’s under the influence of a drug and may have an addiction. It can cause psychosis, may lead to schizophrenia. [There’s] no evidence at all at this time and no reason to prescribe any kind of marijuana for a child with autism.”
Pot and Consequences
Because of a lack of research on marijuana and autism, the effect of actions like Hester-Perez’s are unclear.
“The data on early exposure and long-term exposure in kids, at least one study suggests small decreases in IQ long term,” said Mitch Earleywine, a psychologist and associate professor at the University at Albany who has researched marijuana and currently serves on the advisory board for NORML.
“My only concerns are based on those data of deviant brain development or loss of IQ points, but again, we’re talking about someone who is autistic, so I’m not sure how nuts to go about that,” he said.
Noting that he only infrequently hears about parents using it for their children’s autism, Earleywine said, “My friends who are big in autism treatment, this is not reaching them at all. The news doesn’t reach them and they think little of this approach,” he said, explaining that many doctors who work with autistic children prefer to use behavioral therapy instead of pharmaceutical intervention.
“I prefer to see people really go with the behavioral treatments as the first line,” he said. However, he understands why a parent might choose to give a child marijuana to treat autism symptoms.
“The day to day life with an autistic kid is really difficult to understand,” he said. “Having some kind of intervention like this can mean the different between someone’s going inpatient or not.”
Referring to a Rhode Island mother who wrote about her experience with pot in the online magazine Double X, Earleywine said, “I hope other folks don’t give her too much trouble until they’ve walked a mile in her shoes.”
When There’s No Smoke
By giving the marijuana to the child in food, parents may avoid some of the negative side effects of smoking, said Earleywine. And while marijuana may be available in pill form, he explained that that is probably not an appealing option.
For one thing, he explained, the pharmaceutical forms of THC — an active component of marijuana — available may not have all the benefits that marijuana itself does, and the pills can be expensive as a treatment, since they can range, Earleywine said, from $4 to $11 each, with a child needing three per day.
Meanwhile, he said, it seems a child’s dose from growing the drug in-home was probably around $1 per day.
While some parents who have used marijuana for autism may swear by it, it remains rare and unstudied, at least on any significant scale.
“I’m not aware of any research on the efficacy of marijuana on the treatment of autism,” said Stephen M. Edelson, director of the Autism Research Institute, which collects information from parents on alternative treatments they try. “That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, it just means there’s not scientific documentation that it does work.”
“We still hear reports from parents who have tried it. I cannot say that everyone who tries it sees a change,” he said.
“As far as research, no there isn’t and I would think there should be,” said Edelson. “That could be one of the few options to treat children who have these very severe behaviors.”
But while parents have tried a variety of treatments for autism, the common thread may be the calming effects these treatments have, rather than anything about the treatment itself.
“If medical marijuana calms down some children with autism it may work in the same way that massage or swinging therapies do. These things feel good and that could have a settling effect on kids that are prone to be hyperactive,” said Becky Estepp, mother of a child with autism and a spokeswoman for autism advocacy group Talk About Curing Autism.
Marijuana Research In America
St. Pierre said one of the primary problems with marijuana research has been that government funding policies have not allowed research into possible medical benefits, only potential harms. His statement appears supported by a search of the database of clinical trials funded by the government, showing trials of
“One of the big concerns we’ve had for over 30 years is that the federal government has a series of skewed funding priorities,” he said. “If the government allowed researchers to move more naturally…we would see more studies on cannabis and autism.”
“[The National Institute on Drug Abuse] would not fund a trial of marijuana as a treatment of autism,” said Earleywine.
And he said that is unlikely to change even under a more liberal administration.
“It’s a competitive time to get those research dollars,” said Earleywine. “I think it’s unlikely, even thought the attitudes are less conservative.”
Dosage of cbd oil for toddlers with autism
CBD is among the most popular compounds found in the cannabis plant. It has been proven to offer several health benefits, including pain relief, stress and anxiety reduction, assistance in dealing with epilepsy, and more.
CBD has also been used to help aid symptoms in children with another common illness – autism. A study done in 2018 showed that CBD could be helpful in relieving extreme outbursts in autistic children. In this article, we will highlight another recent study on CBD and its positive impact on children dealing with autism.
CBD Oil and the FDA
Although cannabis is generally banned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the department has approved CBD oil for treating epilepsy. Other medical benefits of CBD are being studied by the federal government, and advocates of cannabis for medical use are hopeful.
A UC San Diego Study
There is a recent study being conducted at UC San Diego where researchers are looking into how CBD compounds may help children who suffer from different stages of autism. The purpose is to identify if the cannabis compound can be of aid to decreasing problem behaviors in epileptic patients.
Pediatric neurologist and the principal investigator of this study, Dr. Doris Trauner, explained that it will not target mild behaviors that are a consequence of autism. Instead, this study will aim to find out if any of the aggressive behaviors associated with autism can be eased with CBD consumption.
Phases of the Study
There are currently two phases planned for the study: the first one is with thirty boys between 7 and 14 years of age. The second phase, which will begin later, will examine girls in the same age range. The lead investigator said that the reason for choosing the group of boys was that males are four times more likely to show symptoms of autism than females.
Researchers are conducting the study separately on boys and girls because they believe that both of them have unique endpoints, and what might be normal for one gender may be a severe case for the other.
What Will Happen During the Study?
Researchers are looking into severe cases of stereotypic behaviors, including persistent self-injurious actions. Such behaviors often hinder their basic life functions, making it difficult to live out normal, daily routines.
Participants will be selected based on their IQ, degree of autism, and several other tests to identify whether they are suitable for the study. Participants will also undergo different medical exams, including blood tests and electrocardiograms during the study.
Each participant will be given a small oral dose of CBD or a placebo for about eight weeks. After that, a four-week period free from CBD consumption will be observed to wash away all the previously consumed compounds. Once the CBD is flushed out of the users, the researchers will then provide participants with doses of whatever each participant was not initially given.
Dr. Trauner states that constant checkups will enable them to properly monitor if and how the consumption of the CBD or placebo affects the body. The results from this study will be highly beneficial for children suffering from autism’s effects.
Medical Marijuana Doctors Near Me
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Visit us at MMJ Health today to see if you qualify for a card, and find out from our experienced and knowledgeable staff how the variety of products that we offer can help you.