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Autism and CBD

CBD and its effects on autism have generated a lot of interest. Autism is difficult to treat because it is a spectrum disorder that mainly impacts a persons behavior and some physical abilities. Because traditional pharmaceutical treatment has proved ineffective. According to the National Institute of Health, there is currently no medication that can cure autism or all of its symptoms.

Enter CBD and other cannabidiol-based products. Since the mid 2010s, there have been several noteworthy studies that showcase findings that CBD helps improve symptoms and co-morbidities, which include:

  • Difficulty with social interaction
  • Difficulty with speech or communication
  • Obsessive or repeated behaviors
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Restlessness
  • Aggression or disruptive behavior
  • Insomnia

Autism as a Qualifying Condition

Currently, the Texas medical cannabis program allows qualifying patients with intractable epilepsy to get a prescription to receive low-THC cannabis oil that’s rich in CBD from licensed providers.

One of the biggest driving factors in changing legislation around the use of CBD for Autism treatment are parent and advocacy organizations. Notably MAMMA is a highly active parent advocacy group that has been involved in the push for getting autism “qualifying condition” status in Texas.

Their reasoning? They feel that CBD helps alleviate their child’s autism symptoms without the side effects that other pharmaceutical treatments have. According to the National Institute of Health, there is no medication available that cures autism and all of its symptoms. There are a wide range of drugs that help treat various symptoms related to autism that include:

  • SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors
  • Tricyclics
  • Psychoactive/anti-psychotic medications
  • Stimulants
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Anticonvulsants

The concern has always been that the side effects of these drugs could be ultimately worse than the disorder itself and parents wanted another treatment method made legally available to them. In 2019, the Texas Legislature listened an added autism to its list of qualifying conditions for CBD treatment.

CBD Oil for Autism: What Studies Say

There have been two landmark studies that showcase the impact of CBD on autism and its associated symptoms. The first study was published in Neurology.org’s online journal in 2018. The study, Cannabidiol Based Medical Cannabis in Children with Autism- a Retrospective Feasibility Study (P3.318), was a “study assessed safety, tolerability and efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD) based medical cannabis, as an adjuvant therapy, for refractory behavioral problems in children with ASD.”

The study analyzed 60 children with autism as they took a 20:1 (High-CBD formulation) oral CBD/THC ratio. Of the study:

  • Behavioral outbreaks were much improved or very much improved (on the CGIC scale) in 61% of patients
  • Anxiety and communication problems were much or very much improved in 39% and 47% respectively
  • Disruptive behaviors were improved by 29%
  • Parents reported less stress as reflected in the APSI scores, changing by 33%
  • Adverse events included sleep disturbances (14%) irritability (9%) and loss of appetite (9%)

The other study focused on CBD’s impact on co-morbid symptoms of autism, which include aggression, hyperactivity, anxiety and the parents’ impressions on improvement or decline. Published in 2019, the study showcased a wide range of promising results:

  • Self-injury and rage attacks improved in 67.6% and worsened in 8.8%
  • Hyperactivity symptoms improved in 68.4%, did not change in 28.9% and worsened in 2.6%
  • Sleep problems improved in 71.4% and worsened in 4.7%
  • Anxiety improved in 47.1% and worsened in 23.5%
  • Adverse effects, mostly somnolence and change in appetite were mild.

It goes without saying that there is a lot more research to be done on the efficacy of CBD and autism, but early studies are showing promising results.

Autism (Qualifying Condition) Resources

Autism Symptoms Recommended Formulations

  • DEPRESSION | High-CBD Formulation
  • SEIZURES High-CBD Formulation
  • RESTLESSNESS | High-CBD Formulation
  • INSOMNIA Balanced Formulation
  • TICS | Balanced Formulation

Human-Based Clinical Trial Results

  • Oral Cannabidiol Use in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder to Treat Related Symptoms and Co-morbidities  |  Read More
  • Cannabidiol Based Medical Cannabis in Children with Autism- a Retrospective Feasibility Study  |  Read More
  • Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism: Analysis of Safety and Efficacy  |  Read More
  • ​Ethical Implications for Providers Regarding Cannabis Use in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders​  |  Read More

Articles About Autism & Cannabidiol

The Texas Original blog regularly publishes new articles on autism and cannabis in the State of Texas. Check articles below for studies, customer success stories, research, and legislation on cannabis and its effect on autism as a qualifying condition in Texas.

Cannabis for Autism: What Science Says

A Texas family took a huge risk in sharing a heart-wrenching story about autism.   In a video posted on Facebook, we meet Kara Zartler, a Texas resident with severe autism and cerebral palsy. Press play, and you watch as Kara repeatedly punches [...]

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