Cannabis and autism
In a study of patients with autism, researchers have shown that cannabis as a treatment for autism spectrum disorders appears to be beneficial.
The study examined the relationship between medical cannabis use and improvements in autism behaviour in children with autism who are 18 years old and under, and found that cannabis is a well-tolerated, safe and effective option for relieving symptoms such as seizures, tics , depression, anxiety and anger.
Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center reported that after six months of treatment, 80% of participants reported some level of improvement.
Improving cannabis behaviour and autism
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder that is expressed in almost all dimensions of a child’s development. It is now common to refer to this disorder as a broad spectrum of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) where there are various manifestations and symptoms.
Dr Gal Meiri of the BGU’s Negev Autism Centre, said: “We analysed prospectively collected data as part of the treatment programme for 188 patients with ASD who received medical cannabis between 2015 and 2017. The treatment in the majority of patients was based on cannabis oil containing 30% cannabidiol (CBD) oil and 1.5% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Symptoms, global patient assessment and side effects at six months were the main outcomes of interest and were assessed by structured questionnaires. ”
The study was published in
and showed that after six months of treatment, 30% of patients reported significant improvement, 53.7% reported moderate improvement and only 15% had slight or no change.
Improvements in quality of life
The study also looked at the benefits of cannabis use and improved quality of life in autism. Quality of life, mood and ability to perform activities of daily living were assessed before treatment and at six months. Good quality of life was reported by 31.3% of patients before the start of treatment. At six months, good quality of life more than doubled to 66.8%. Positive mood was reported as 42% before treatment and 63.5% after six months.
Other aspects of independence and quality of life were assessed such as the ability to dress and shower independently. This was significantly improved by cannabis treatment. Only a quarter (26.4%) reported no difficulties before treatment, while 42.9% improved their ability to dress and shower independently at six months.
The study also showed that the hemp oil medicine was able to significantly improve sleep and concentration. Good sleep and concentration were reported by 3.3% and 0% respectively at baseline, compared to 24.7% and 14% during active treatment.
Dr. Victor Novack, of the BGU-Soroka Clinical Cannabis Institute, said: “While this study shows that cannabis treatment is safe and can improve ASD symptoms and improve quality of life for patients with ASD, we believe that double-blind placebo-controlled trials are vital to better understand the effect of cannabis in patients with ASD. ”