Is using cannabis a viable and effective treatment for autism spectrum disorder? Autism spectrum disorder is defined as a developmental affliction that significantly hampers a person’s ability to learn and communicate with others.Those diagnosed are characterized by having deficits with regards to social skills, often engaging in repetitive behaviors, and/or having difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication. These symptoms will usually prevent the person from being able to function properly in society and live a fulfilling life.
Right now there is no known cure for autism so researchers around the globe have for years been trying to find a means to eliminate the disease or at very least lessen the symptoms as much as possible. As a result, some have looked into the potential of using cannabis and its different compounds as a form of treatment. One of the compounds that seems to have some promising positive effects and caught the attention of researchers in recent years has been CBD. A new wave of clinical trials is set to begin in the U.S. to look into whether or not the marijuana compound is effective and safe enough for young children with autism to use as a form of treatment for their symptoms. With 1 in 68 children in the U.S. being diagnosed with autism as of 2017, these trials are most definitely timely.
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A growing number of clinical trials are looking into whether compounds in marijuana can be used to treat some of the symptoms of autism.
One of these clinical trials was just announced at the University of California, San Diego, and others are slated to take place in New York at Montefiore Medical Center and New York University, and in Israel at Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
These trials were prompted, in part, by the success of other clinical trials investigating whether cannabis could effectively and safely treat other neurological disorders, including two rare forms of epilepsy and a condition called fragile X syndrome.
There have also been a slew of anecdotal stories from parents of children with autism saying that cannabis improved their children’s symptoms. But more evidence is needed to make sure that specific compounds in cannabis are a safe and effective treatment for symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, who is involved in two of the upcoming clinical trials. (Parents should not give their children cannabis, or cannabis-related compounds, without consulting with a doctor first.)
“There’s not been a huge amount of data generated in this area,” Devinsky told Live Science. “There’s a lot of religion and not a lot of science.”