Autism/Asperger Syndrome

Autism is thought to be a “neurodevelopmental spectrum disorder” characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal & nonverbal communication, and restricted & repetitive behavior. Sensory processing difficulties are also common, as autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and synapses connect and organize.

Self-harm, ritualistic or compulsive behaviors, delayed speech, an inability to understand or connect to others’ emotions and extreme anxiety are some of the symptoms of autism, though this may differ somewhat between “high-” and “low-” functioning individuals. However, one of the commonalities between autistics of all “types” seems to be extreme sensitivity to external stimuli. Autistics are more likely to be synaesthetic.

Most research so far suggests that it is the CB2 receptors that are worth targeting for the management of autism, as autistic children display immune system dysregulation, which cannabis may help regulate. Other research suggests that “mutations found in individuals with autism block the action of molecules made by the brain that marijuana’s active chemical acts on.”

Check out the positives and negatives below and if you’d like to speak to Doctor Frank about your condition or getting a medical marijuana card, get in touch!

Value of MMJ

25 people out of 4,276 people in our study use cannabis for autism. At the moment, more than half of those with autism are prescribed drugs such as antidepressants, antipsychotics (e.g. risperidone, aripiprazole) and stimulants in order to treat irritability, the propensity to self-harm, sleeplessness and repetitive behavior. However, there is little evidence out there showing the efficacy of these drugs, and many of them (in particular antipsychotics) have some pretty nasty side-effects such as increased risk of suicide, increased likelihood of developing diabetes and movement disorders such as tardive dyskinesia.

Positives

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Negatives

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Treatments

Could cannabinoid-based medications be a way of managing autism? Possibly, although there is little evidence out there apart from anecdotal reports. Cannabis may potentially help children with Fragile X syndrome, and working around the CB2 receptors may help manage autism. One theory is that anandamide may help treat autism by regulating social reward – a theory postulated by Dr. Daniele Piomelli.

Dosage is another concern. However, the theory for using medical marijuana for autism is in its infancy, and it could very well be an exciting method of treatment for the negative aspects of autism.

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