Says recent USA Today article
Unlike the original article April 25, 2017 USA Today article here we have changed the “marijuana” to “CBD” and added a question mark to emphasize the speculative nature of the statement. The research study the article refers to uses hemp oil for its CBD content, whereas the sensational title of the USA Today article might confuse parents into having their autistic children smoke marijuanna, which is not what the research is doing.
From the article “Aran cautioned against premature conclusions about cannabis as a treatment for autism, but he said many children have shown significant improvements. Some no longer hurt themselves or throw tantrums. Some are more communicative. Others were able to return to classes after they had been suspended for behavioral problems.”
Again, saying “cannabis” when you are really talking about CBD can cause confusion.
But there’s a catch!
“Caution is warranted when administering CBD for Autism or related immune or infectious diseases, and considerations are necessary or CBD may actually result in the opposite of the desired effect. Imagine taking CBD and expecting symptom relief, and instead having it worsen illness symptoms! Being a professional cannabis dosing nurse with Autism as one area of specialty, I have witnessed this very reaction on many occasions” says Janna Champagne, RN, BSN in her article Cannabidiol (CBD) for Autism and Related Immune Disorders.
While only anecdotal Janna Champagne’s actual experience with CBD and autism treatment is interesting, with its finding that it is easy to overshoot with the amount of CBD and cause problems, which she surmises in her article are due to the Herxheimer reaction which is commonly called “die-off”, in which the body reacts negatively when toxins are released by dying infectious cells. A typical example of die-off is the headaches and “feeling ill” one may experience during fasting, when SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) bacteria die because they are no longer being fed the sugar and junk food on which they thrive.
How could CBD be helpful to those with autism?
Champagne also refers to “research exemplifying an increase in production of CB2 (Cannabidiol-specific) receptors in the bodies of those with Autism” (Siniscalco, D., Sapone, A., Giordano, C. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2013)) which may imply why CBD supplementation could be helpful for those with Autism. Champagne’s article is well worth reading and the research journal articles which she references even more so for anyone interested in the research into autism.
Again from the USA Today article “Aran cautioned against premature conclusions about cannabis as a treatment for autism, but he said many children have shown significant improvements. Some no longer hurt themselves or throw tantrums. Some are more communicative. Others were able to return to classes after they had been suspended for behavioral problems.”
Current (non-CBD) treatment for autism can be problematic
From the USA Today article “Only two medications have been approved in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration to treat the symptoms of autism. Both are antipsychotic drugs that are not always effective and carry serious side effects… Adi Aran, the pediatric neurologist leading the study, said nearly all the participants previously took antipsychotics and nearly half responded negatively… When Noa took them, “she was like a zombie,” Yael said. “She would just sit there with her mouth wide open, not moving.”
An open question is the effect of CBD on developing brains. The negative effects of marijuana on juvenile development are known but are there negative effects from CBD? More research is needed so that we can answer this question with more than anecdotal evidence.
By George Bennet,