Medical Research News

Cannabis Extracts for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

cannabis extracts
Written by Cara Wietstock

A research team in Chile documented the effects of cannabis extracts on patients diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Preliminary studies in Chile show that whole plant cannabis extracts could be used to treat the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Researchers at the Fundación Daya, Direccion de Investigacion y Estudios Clinicos in Santiago, Chile took note that anecdotal case reports and preclinical studies suggest endocannabinoid deficiency as a root for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Their preliminary research showed that oral whole plant cannabis extracts were more effective than conventional medicines in treating this small series of ASD patients.

The study consisted of 21 patients -20 children and one adult. All provided informed consent before taking part in the trials. Ages ranged from 26 months to 22 years old with a median age of nine years and 10 months. Each patient has an ASD diagnosis according to the DSM-V and was reviewed after taking cannabis extracts sublingually for at least three months. Patients were reviewed between three and 12 months, with a median review period of about six or seven months after having taken the extract. All patients documented the type of cannabis cultivar, the CBD to THC ratio of the extract used, daily CBD/THC/CBN doses, and any adverse effects were well documented. 71.5% of patients involved used a balanced THC to CBD extract, 19% used a high-CBD option, and 9.5% used high-THC extracts.  

Researchers reviewed demographic/clinical data, neuroimaging EEG studies, vision/audition/genetic/metabolic tests, and parental/school/neuropsychological reports. All clinical changes were estimated using the Autism Parenting Stress Index (APSI) and Clinical Global Impression of Improvement. Most cases improved at least one of the core symptoms of ASD using cannabis extracts. Social communication, language, and/or repetitive behaviors were among the symptoms relieved by the clinical treatment. Most cases also saw an improvement in sleep disorders, seizures, feeding disorders, food acceptance, and sensory difficulties.

This research team was confident that in this small scope of ASD patients cannabis extracts proved dramatically more effective than conventional medicines. The conclusion is that large randomized and controlled trials are necessary to establish the safety and efficacy of cannabis extracts as a treatment for symptoms of ASD.

About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

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