CBD for Autism Spectrum Disorder – Effects and Uses
Did you know that 1 in 59 children1 in the United States is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)? Unfortunately, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders has been escalating in recent years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2. Autism impacts the individual, their families, and society as a whole. This has prompted guardians and medical experts to explore alternative options to assist those with developmental disorders. As a result, it’s not surprising that CBD (cannabidiol) has become a popular alternative option for autism spectrum disorders recently. Burdened by the increasing challenges of ASD, could parents find relief in CBD? In this article, we will dive into the evidence that supports the use of CBD and discuss its promising role for autism spectrum disorders.
What are Autism Spectrum Disorders?
According to the latest definition by WHO3, autism spectrum disorders “refers to a range of conditions characterized by some degree of impaired social behavior, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively.” Medical professionals used to describe different types of autism, such as Asperger’s syndrome, autistic disorder, and pervasive development disorder, but now they are all regarded as a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, statistics show that children with ASD are often dually-diagnosed4 with downs syndrome.
ASD begins in childhood and continues to persist through the individual’s life. Although the causes of ASD are not clear, it is associated with genetic factors, parental age, and other chronic conditions. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics5, it is advisable for all children to be screened for autism spectrum disorders. The American Psychiatric Association sets the diagnostic criteria. For a complete diagnosis of autism, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)6 require patients to exhibit the following symptoms:
- Repetitive behaviors and restricted interest
- Difficulty interacting and communicating with others
- Negative symptoms that inhibit the patient’s ability to function properly in daily activities
Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders
Although it is necessary to consult your doctor for a diagnosis of ASD, you can determine whether your loved one is showing signs of autistic behavior if you observe the following:
- Heightened sensitivity to sensory input
- Easily irritated by changes in routine
- Intense focus and interest in certain objects or topics
- Echolalia – repeating unusual behaviors such as certain phrases
- Difficulty understanding other viewpoints
- A mismatch in gestures and speaking
- Difficulties with one-on-one conversations
- Delayed response to social cues
- Inconsistent or little eye contact
- Reluctance to listen or look at other people
- Irritability and sleep problems
It is important to note that the overwhelming behavior associated with autism is heightened sensitivity to sensory inputs. This symptom can lead to unusual social behavior and communication challenges. Aside from these exhibited effects highlighted above, people with ASD may also have a variety of strengths including an aptitude for math, art, music, and science. Individuals with ASD can also be strong auditory and visual learners with an improved ability to retain information. It is important to remember that everyone is unique with beneficial strengths that they can contribute to society.
What are the Potential Benefits and Effects of CBD?
As you can guess, ASD is a particularly challenging condition for doctors to address. Where does CBD come in? CBD is one of 85+ cannabinoid compounds found in hemp plants. Unlike the chemical THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is non-psychoactive. Which means that CBD doesn’t get you high or have psychoactive effects. Plus, scientific evidence shows that CBD may be an effective option to address the behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorders.
In particular, CBD is touted to have therapeutic properties including lowering anxiety, improving sleep, and managing inflammation. These benefits counteract some of the symptoms of ASD and improve the individual’s quality of life.
The Simplified Science of CBD for ASD
There are numerous testimonials of finding relief for autism spectrum disorders thanks to the therapeutic effects of CBD. News reports by USA Today7, National Public Radio8, ABC News9, and FOX News10 cover different first-person accounts of families who have significantly improved their quality of life due to the intervention of CBD for autism. However, it is essential to remember that anecdotal evidence is not scientific evidence.
The body’s natural endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the key to how CBD can improve the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. The ECS is a system comprised of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), enzymes, and cannabinoids that are found throughout the brain and body. Most of the symptoms associated with autism can be regulated by enhanced action from the endocannabinoid system. The ECS is responsible for helping with a variety of regulatory functions including motor control, pain perception, control of memory, mood variations, immune functionality. Specifically, studies show that the indirect activation of the endocannabinoid receptors by CBD helps regulate neuroinflammation11, immune functionality12, social interactions13, and emotional responses14.
Scientific Evidence about CBD for Autism
- In a recent study15 published in the Journal of Scientific Reports, the researchers concluded that CBD is well-tolerated, safe, and effective for autistic patients.
- Another study16 in the International Journal of Molecular Science showed that the endocannabinoid system and the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders are closely related and CBD is a promising intervention to alleviate the symptoms of ASD.
- According to researchers, CBD shows significant benefits in mitigating and regulating negative behaviors that are common in autistic children. Their results, which were published in the Journal of Neurology reported up to an 80% success rate14.
- The findings of a recent study17 demonstrated that CBD had improved behavioral outbreaks, communication problems, anxiety, stress, and disruptive behavior in children diagnosed with autism.
How to Take CBD for Autism
There are numerous ways to take CBD for autism and other developmental disorders based on individual preferences. CBD is often sold and administered as an oil that is consumed sublingually and held under the tongue for 60 seconds. But if this is not a viable option, you can also mix the CBD oil with your favorite food or drink, or buy premade CBD edible gummies. There is not a standard amount of CBD that you should take. Instead, it depends on factors like your desired benefits, age, weight, metabolism, and more. Daily CBD users often take 25mg/day of CBD to experience their desired effects.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Autism
As you can see, there is substantial evidence supporting the use of CBD for helping individuals with autism spectrum disorders. The research above highlights that CBD can help children and adults with autism by reducing negative behaviors, improving social interaction and communication, and helping regulate mood and emotional response to everyday situations. CBD is an exciting alternative for helping manage life with ASD and may improve the quality of life for the individual and their support system. If you are interested in trying CBD check out our online store for U.S. Hemp Authority Certified CBD products.