Take careful notes of any changes you see yourself so you can easily review your records to determine how helpful the new treatment really is and keep an eye open for any troubling side effects. Be sure to communicate any side effects to a doctor or healthcare professional immediately.
Additional studies have provided similar results: CBD has proved to be helpful in a majority of cases in lessening emotional and behavioral issues and can even help to improve social communication skills. These preliminary findings, along with the low incidence of significant side effects, are very encouraging. Studies are ongoing in clinics and research centers around the world.
For example, it may cause better sleep and lower anxiety (which can reduce aggressive behaviors), fewer seizures (which can lessen stress and make it easier to interact socially), and lower anxiety to make it easier to learn and use social communication skills.
Children with autism grow and learn every day, simply because they are maturing. As a result, there is no simple way to determine whether a change in behavior or an increase in skills is due to a particular treatment or to ordinary maturation. This reality makes it very easy to see a change in behaviors and inaccurately attribute them to the newest treatment you've tried. By far, the best way to know whether a particular treatment is truly effective is to be rigorous about evaluating your child before and after its use.
Given all of the positive findings for CBD and the low risk associated with it, it may make sense to try using it with your child with autism (or trying it yourself if you are an adult with autism). Before buying a bottle of CBD oil, however, it's important to follow these steps:
A few full-scale studies have explored the impact of CBD on children with autism—none, however, have explored its impact on adults on the spectrum. One of the largest such studies took place in Israel. The report includes the following finding:
In general, it's best to start with a lower dosage. In fact, studies of CBD for other disorders such as migraine suggest that a lower dose may be more effective.
In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and in some cases, it was able to stop them altogether. Recently, the FDA approved the first-ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD. CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.”
CBD is not helpful for everyone who uses it, and, in rare cases, it can cause side effects such as sleepiness or nausea.
While CBD isolate is not a legally regulated substance (since it does not have any psychoactive effects) it has been given a status of a ‘Novel Food’ in many countries, including the UK. This means that manufacturers of food products that contain CBD isolate must apply for a lengthy and expensive novel food approval process. The same is NOT the case with whole-plant or seed extracts that contain the full spectrum of plant ingredients.
A major disadvantage of using full spectrum (or ‘broad-spectrum’ – where only one or several components have been removed, see above) products is lack of standardisation and replication.
What is medicinal cannabis, or medical cannabis, and how does it differ from ‘plain’ cannabis- or hemp-derived products?
Something that is called medicinal or medical cannabis is, broadly speaking, not different from the products that are derived from cannabis or hemp and that are being sold over the counter (i.e. without doctor’s prescription) in health food shops.
This is a shortened and simplified version of the article that was originally published on our Autism Science & Research section:
Cannabis for Treating Core and Comorbid Autism Symptoms – Where are we at?
What is the difference between CBD oil, hemp oil, hemp extract, and cannabis extract?
Cannabis-based products that are meant to be applied like a cream and absorbed through the skin are also becoming increasingly available. However, the CBD molecule is not readily absorbed through the skin, and again in most cases only a small amount will reach the bloodstream. For this reason many manufacturers are actively exploring and developing special formulations to improve the skin absorption rate of cannabis compounds. In addition, according to some practitioners and researchers, the site of administration of CBD topical products is just as important. (One experienced clinician for example recommends to his patients to apply creams and oils on the back of the neck and hairline).