Potential of Cannabinoids as Treatments for ASD
Suffice it to say, the research is limited (but we here at Hemp4X plan on doing extensive clinical studies/trials, with NIS Labs, so as to help ASD sufferers and their families):
Current treatments for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are limited in efficacy and are often associated with substantial side effects. These medications typically ameliorate problem behaviors associated with ASD, but do not target core symptom domains. As a result, there is a significant amount of research underway for development of novel experimental therapeutics.
Endocannabinoids are arachidonic acid-derived lipid neuromodulators, which, in combination with their receptors and associated metabolic enzymes, constitute the endocannabinoid (EC) system. Cannabinoid signaling may be involved in the social impairment and repetitive behaviors observed in those with ASD.
In this review, we discuss a possible role of the EC system in excitatory-inhibitory (E-I) imbalance and immune dysregulation in ASD. Novel treatments for the core symptom domains of ASD are needed and phytocannabinoids could be useful experimental therapeutics for core symptoms and associated domains.
Oral CDB Use in ASD Children to Treat Related Symptoms
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) commonly exhibit comorbid symptoms such as aggression, hyperactivity and anxiety. Several studies are being conducted worldwide on cannabidiol use in ASD.
However, these studies are still ongoing, and data on the effects of its use is very limited. In this study we aimed to report the experience of parents who administer, under supervision, oral cannabinoids to their children with ASD.
Medical Cannabis in Children
The current knowledge on the long-term side-effects of cannabinoids is based mainly on longitudinal follow-up of recreational cannabis users.
Several large studies have demonstrated that the main risks of decreased motivation, addiction, mild cognitive decline, and schizophrenia; are directly related to the THC and CBD concentrations in the strain used; i.e. the higher the ratio of THC to CBD, the greater the risk.
The risk is also elevated among those with younger onset of use (<18 years) and in the presence of other risk factors, such as a family history of schizophrenia and concomitant use of alcohol and tobacco.
Notably, these studies contained very few participants under 10 years old and did not assess daily use of medical cannabis.
Longitudinal follow-up studies in children with epilepsy receiving pure CBD suggest high tolerability and safety, but these studies included very few participants younger than 5 years old.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects up to 2.5% of children worldwide and is a major public health challenge. Individuals with ASD have social and communication difficulties, stereotyped or repetitive behaviors and interests, sensory problems, and, in many cases, cognitive impairment and disruptive behaviors. These deficits are present in early childhood and lead to significant disability.
Approximately 50% of children and adolescents with ASD demonstrate behavioral difficulties, including tantrums, non-compliance, aggression, and self-injury. This rate is higher than in any other neurodevelopmental disorder. The behavioral difficulties of children with ASD increase their social isolation, and often cause more distress to caregivers than the core autistic symptoms. Maladaptive behaviors also limit the child’s ability to benefit from intervention efforts, thereby impairing the long-term prognosis.
Standard treatment for these problems is based on behavioral interventions combined with medications, particularly atypical antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. However, both the efficacy and tolerability of pharmacotherapy in children with ASD are less favorable than among typically developing children with similar symptoms.
As a result, despite extensive behavioral and medical treatment, 40% of the children and youth with ASD suffer from maladaptive behavior that severely impacts their quality of life and takes a heavy toll on their families. The frustration from current medical treatment leads to an exceptionally high percentage of parents seeking help from complementary and alternative medicine.
Epilepsy is one of the most common comorbid conditions in ASD, affecting 10%–30% of children and youth with ASD, and several pathophysiological processes are implicated in both disease processes. Hence, the positive effect of cannabinoids in refractory patients is relevant for individuals with ASD.
The CB1R is highly expressed in the frontal cortex and subcortical areas associated with social functioning. The CB1 receptors and their endogenous ligands anandamide and 2-AG regulate social play and social anxiety in animal models and in humans.
Activation of the endocannabinoid system in the nucleus accumbens (anandamide mobilization and consequent activation of CB1 receptors) driven by oxytocin, a neuropeptide that reinforces social bonding, was demonstrated to be necessary and sufficient to express the rewarding properties of social interaction.
Reduced endocannabinoid activity was demonstrated in several animal models of ASD, including monogenic, polygenic, and environmental models. Activation of the endocannabinoid system and administration of CBD have been shown to restore social deficits in some models. A single oral administration of 600 mg CBD to 34 men (17 neurotypicals and 17 with ASD) increased prefrontal gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity in neurotypicals and decreased GABA activity in those with ASD. Additionally, children with ASD have been found to have lower peripheral endocannabinoid levels.
Four uncontrolled case-series, including 60, 188, 53, and 18 children with ASD and severe behavioral problems, reported high tolerability and efficacy of artisanal CBD-rich cannabis strains. In the largest cohort, data collection was partial, and there was also an unknown overlap between the first three cohorts. Most participants were followed for at least 6 months, and the retention rate was about 80%.
The treatment was reported to substantially decrease the irritability and anxiety in most of the participants and to improve the social deficits in about half of the subjects.
David Harold Moore, CEO
I have alway striven for the golden mean...