The autism community is (literally) buzzing over several recent studies showing that cannabis and CBD-based products may help those on the spectrum, alleviating symptoms, and creating a much better quality of life.
The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that in a study of 60 children on the autism spectrum, the use of cannabidiol-rich cannabis improved behavioral outbreaks in 61% of patients. Building on that vein, a study published in January 2019 found the same results. With 188 patients on the autism spectrum treated with medical cannabis between 2015 and 2017, the study found that an oil with 30% CBD and 1.5% THC not only offered patients improvement, but the oil appeared to be “well-tolerated, safe and effective.”
Some parents claim that CBD can alleviate behavior related to outbursts and anxiety. Often coupled with anxiety, both autism and anxiety has been so stigmatized, many choose to stay quiet about their diagnosis. New studies and growing conversations around the role of cannabis and CBD between both caregivers and those on the autism spectrum are opening doors for greater understanding and less fear to try different and innovative methods of managing symptoms into solutions.
AmyLou Fawell, cofounder and president of MAMMA USA is focused on making CBD and cannabis available for children with an autism diagnosis. Passionate about what she’s witnessed, Amy recently shared, “The medical community needs better options when it comes to treating autism. Our children are routinely prescribed heavy duty pharmaceuticals (for example anti-psychotics or benzodiazepines) that come with potentially devastating side effects. Our families would prefer something like medical cannabis, which has an incredible safety record. Between emerging research and anecdotal evidence, it is clear that cannabis can improve many symptoms of autism, from core symptoms to maladaptive behaviors. Even tough cases and older kids are finding relief with the addition of cannabis to their treatment plan.”
Photo by Nik Shuliahin via Unsplash
According to the Interactive Autism Network, “About 40 percent of youth – and up to half of adults – meet the clinical criteria of an anxiety disorder, such as social anxiety, phobia, panic disorder, or generalized anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Forty percent is an astounding number of individuals who have the opportunity to seek different methods of alleviating symptoms and evaluating new methods to find peace.
Mothers for Medical Marijuana Treatment for Autism has a platform dedicated to sharing stories of how cannabis is a safe, affordable, and effective medical option for autism spectrum disorders. Jennifer, the mother of a little girl named Abby, shared on the site that her little girl benefitted from cannabis almost immediately.
“After almost a year of experiencing the intense, self-injurious episodes, (Abby) finally found relief for her daughter using a 3:1 THCA:THC oil.”
Sitting down and chatting with parents and individuals in the past two weeks, I found similar stories related to their children or themselves. Put simply; cannabis was a game-changer.
CBD and cannabis have shown improvement in anxiety in hundreds of trials, all over the globe. A woman from Colorado, Nichole, shared with me something truly powerful. She stated, “I’m a better person today because CBD and cannabis gave me the ability to get out of my head and live.”
Echoing the same, Ernie, an individual who identifies on the autism spectrum, recently shared that the role that CBD and cannabis are paramount to her everyday health. She explained, “CBD really helps me deal with large crowds of people and loud places -better- than without.”
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State Medical Marijuana rules are slow to keep up with the growing demand that offers accessibility and options to caregivers and those with autism. The National Conference of State Legislatures updates a list of each state’s laws and notates, “As of June 25, 2019, 14 states and territories have approved adult-use cannabis.” For many, it’s a welcome addition to their toolkit of therapies.
“Cannabis is an answer to a prayer,” Nichole explained as she smiled. “It’s so amazing to me to see myself now compared to who I was four years ago before I began my research.”
Whether cannabis will remain a Schedule 1 drug seems to be less important in conversations than where families can purchase, or what has been vetted. One point remains certain: With the stigma of cannabis fading by the day, more families are exploring treatments that are more accessible and less pharmaceutical.