In the ever-evolving landscape of medical cannabis, the quest to enhance the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder takes centre stage. Autism, a complex neurodevelopmental condition, presents unique challenges, and families and caregivers are continually searching for effective solutions to alleviate its symptoms and improve the quality of life for their loved ones. In this comprehensive guide, we embark on a journey to explore the strains of cannabis for Autism and their potential to address the specific symptoms.
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Autism is impacting around 1.5 million people in the UK alone. Among adults, it can result in anxiety about social interactions, difficulty making friends, and issues with communication and routine changes. Social “rules” and conversational norms often feel like a maze to those with Autism. A notable characteristic is avoiding eye contact. For those with severe Autism, “stimming” or self-stimulation behaviour such as arm flapping and finger flicking is common. It can occur for various reasons like stress response or handling sensory input.
Those with Autism can spot tiny details and patterns that most people miss. They can delve deep into an interest but have difficulty focusing in challenging or unsupportive environments. Topics not deemed relevant can be tricky for them to engage with.
Traditional meds often alleviate autism symptoms, and behavioural therapy equips patients with strategies for cognitive and behavioural shifts. However, many are now looking to medical cannabis for symptom management. So, what’s the best cannabis strain for Autism?
In this article, we’ll dissect what you should consider when selecting a cannabis strain for autism symptom management.
The Importance of the Right Strain of Cannabis for Autism
The importance of selecting the right strain of cannabis for Autism cannot be understated. Cannabis strains exhibit a remarkable diversity of chemical compositions, each with its unique combination of compounds, such as cannabinoids and terpenes. These compounds can potentially influence a wide range of physical and mental responses. As such, finding the appropriate strain tailored to the specific needs and symptoms of individuals on the autism spectrum can significantly impact their quality of life.
Whether it’s managing anxiety, improving sleep patterns, or alleviating sensory sensitivities, the careful selection of cannabis strains holds the potential to offer meaningful relief and enhance the overall well-being of those affected by Autism. However, it’s essential to approach this endeavour with care, considering individual variations and consulting with specialist doctors to ensure safe and effective use.
Common Autism Symptoms
Symptoms among adults can include restlessness, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and hyperfocus on certain tasks. Communication is often challenging; some might interrupt a speaker even if they’re genuinely interested in the conversation. The typical interpretation of avoiding eye contact can be rudeness or disinterest, which isn’t usually the case.
People with Autism have an uncanny ability to notice minor details, patterns, smells, or sounds. They can intensely concentrate on subjects they find fascinating. However, they can often struggle to focus and learn in different settings. Behavioural therapy and support can enhance social interaction skills and better interpret nuanced social cues.
Here is the list of common symptoms of Autism;
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hyperfocus on certain tasks
- Challenging Communication
- Avoiding eye contact
- Ability to notice minor details, patterns, smells, or sounds
Autism and Cannabis
Emerging research points to the potential of low-THC and high-CBD products in managing autism symptoms like anxiety, stress, and cognitive function. Medical cannabis is generally seen as safe and effective for most patients.
While scientific studies are still in their early stages, there is anecdotal evidence suggesting that certain cannabis compounds may have the potential to provide relief for some of the symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder. These symptoms can include anxiety, sensory sensitivities, and repetitive behaviours. However, it’s important to note that the use of cannabis for Autism is a complex and evolving topic. Any consideration of its use should be approached cautiously, with input from specialist doctors, to ensure safety and effectiveness while considering individual variations and legal regulations.
Cannabis Effects on Autism
Studies suggest that the ratio of THC: CBD, cannabinoid potency, and terpene profiles can all contribute to therapeutic value. Certain strains can calm a restless mind, while others can induce relaxation and stress management.
However, scientific studies on this topic are limited, and the results have been mixed. Despite the efficacy of cannabis for so many, there are still concerns about the potential risks and side effects of cannabis use, particularly in children and young adults with Autism. It’s crucial for individuals and families considering cannabis as a treatment option for Autism to consult with a specialist doctor for guidance on their specific needs and circumstances.
Benefits and Risks
Medical cannabis can reduce autism-associated stress and anxiety and can also help improve sleep and mood depending on the strain and patient’s symptoms.
However, research is still in the infancy stages, and there are potential risks, like adverse effects, substance interaction, and dependence on cannabis for symptom management. It is worth noting that patients are technically dependent on any effective medication to ensure good symptom management for their condition.
Best Strains for Autism
Identifying the best strain of cannabis for Autism is a complex task that involves considering individual needs and responses. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, some strains have garnered attention for their potential to alleviate certain autism-related symptoms. High-CBD (cannabidiol) strains are often preferred, particularly when treating children with ASD, as CBD is non-psychoactive and may help reduce anxiety and improve mood without the intoxicating effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Those with anxiety and restlessness often prefer Indica strains like Granddaddy Purple, Northern Lights, and Bubba Kush. Sativa strains like Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, and Green Crack can offer an energetic and friendly effect. Hybrid strains like Blue Dream, Harlequin, and ACDC offer a balanced experience.
Choosing Your Strain
Picking the right strain to manage ASD is not a one-fit solution. Patients will need to undertake an exploratory journey to see which cannabis strains – specifically which cannabinoid and terpene balances – work best for managing their symptoms.
Consulting with a specialist doctor is good practice when selecting a cannabis strain in the context of managing autism-related symptoms. They possess the expertise to evaluate your specific symptoms, medical history, and any concurrent medications you might use. Their guidance is invaluable in helping you make informed decisions about the most suitable strain of cannabis for Autism and its potential interactions with existing treatments.
Studies on Cannabis for Autism
- Systematic Review of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Use in ASD:
- Background: This systematic review analyzed studies investigating the clinical effects of cannabis and cannabinoids on ASD.
- Methods: The review was based on the PRISMA checklist, searching four databases without language restrictions and analysed nine selected studies.
- Results: The studies indicated that cannabis products reduced symptoms like hyperactivity, self-mutilation, sleep problems, anxiety, and depression, among others. Improvements in cognition, sensory sensitivity, attention, social interaction, and language were also reported. Adverse effects included sleep disorders, restlessness, nervousness, and changes in appetite.
- Conclusão: Cannabis and cannabinoids might have beneficial effects in treating ASD-related symptoms, but randomized clinical trials are needed for more conclusive evidence.
- Reference: PubMed.
- Current State of Evidence of Cannabis Utilization for Treatment of ASD:
- Background: This paper reviewed recent literature to evaluate the evidence regarding cannabis use for ASD, including systematic reviews, reports, and experimental studies.
- Results: The findings were mixed and inconclusive, except in the case of epilepsy. Adverse outcomes like severe psychosis, agitation, somnolence, decreased appetite, and irritability were reported. There was also a wide range of cannabis compositions and dosages used in the studies.
- Conclusão: The evidence for cannabis use in ASD is currently insufficient, highlighting the need for more large-scale controlled studies to understand the risks and benefits.
- Reference: PubMed.
- Cannabinoid Treatment for Autism: A Proof-of-Concept Randomized Trial:
- Background: This study was a placebo-controlled double-blind trial comparing two oral cannabinoid solutions in 150 participants with ASD aged 5–21 years.
- Methods: Participants received either a placebo or cannabinoids for 12 weeks, followed by a 4-week washout and a cross-over for another 12 weeks. The study tested two types of cannabinoid solutions.
- Results: The primary outcome measures did not show significant differences among groups. However, disruptive behaviour showed improvement in 49% of participants on whole-plant extract versus 21% on placebo. Common adverse events included somnolence and decreased appetite.
- Conclusão: The study suggests that the tested cannabinoid solutions are well-tolerated but offer mixed and insufficient evidence for efficacy, recommending further testing.
- Reference: Molecular Autism.
- Cannabidiol-Rich Cannabis in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Behavioral Problems – A Retrospective Feasibility Study:
- Background: This retrospective study assessed the tolerability and efficacy of cannabidiol-rich cannabis in 60 children with ASD and severe behavioural problems.
- Results: Efficacy was measured using the Caregiver Global Impression of Change scale. Behavioural outbreaks improved significantly in 61% of the patients after cannabis treatment. Adverse events included sleep disturbances, irritability, and loss of appetite. One case of a serious psychotic event was reported.
- Conclusão: The study supports the feasibility of CBD-based cannabis trials in children with ASD, although it’s a preliminary study and requires further research.
- Reference: PubMed.
Maintaining a cannabis strain log can prove to be a valuable tool in your journey to find the most effective strain for managing your symptoms, particularly when dealing with conditions like Autism. By diligently recording your experiences with different strains, you create a personalised database of what works best for you. This log enables you to track the strains themselves and the specific effects and relief they provide. Over time, this meticulous record-keeping can lead to a curated list of strains finely tuned to your unique needs, offering a more targeted and effective approach to cannabis therapy.