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A series of clinical trials in the past have suggested that the magical plant marijuana has many healing properties. Sure, there are psychoactive effects as well, but this is not enough reason to overlook the wide plethora of benefits it has to offer. Many trials have been conducted to also find the correlation between autism and the herb.

One of the popular trials was conducted by University Of California, San Diego and more are to take place in New York (Montefiore Medical Centre, New York University) and at Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Israel. These trials took place after a bunch of clinical trials in the past showed some degree of success, meaning that the results showed that cannabis had the potential to treat many psychological and neurological disorders. This gave the researchers a push and figure out if these safe solutions could also be applied to Autism as well. The disorders cannabis had the tendency to reduce the symptoms of were two rare forms of epilepsy, along with another condition known as the fragile X syndrome.

Many parents of children suffering from various forms of autism also reported that cannabis helped improve the symptoms of their children. But to put down concrete facts and studies, more evidence is required so that the CBD and THC can be used widely to treat all symptoms of the autism spectrum disorder, according to Dr. Orrin Devinsky, who is the director of New York University’s Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Centre. Dr. Devinsky also plays a huge role in the two upcoming clinical trials testing the effects of cannabis on autistic patients. Please note that parents should, under no circumstances, give their children cannabis or cannabis compounds without consulting a doctor prior the administration. In an interview with Live Science, Dr. Devinsky explained that there is not enough research done in this field in the past. He said that there is a lot of religion, but not enough science, ironically.

Clinical Trials

  • It is estimated that 1 in 59 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. This statistic is provided by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a condition that affects the neurodevelopment of the child – their communication, interaction with peers and general social and private behavior.
  • So far, no cure for autism has been discovered, even though a fraction of the affected percentage does show a tendency to grow out of the autistic symptoms with age. There are very few treatments to suppress the symptoms of autism. But ever since the medicinal properties of cannabis have risen in the scientific industry, many have tried to figure of the relationship between autism and cannabis.
  • The Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation, the NPO from Utah donated a massive fortune–$4.7 million to be exact–to the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at UC San Diego School of Medicine. This was the largest private donation made to date towards the research for medicinal marijuana in the United States.
  • The researchers at CMCR aim at using this generous donation to run a clinical trial to test if CBD (cannabidiol), which is the non-psychoactive component in cannabis can be used to suppress the symptoms of severe autism in children. CBD, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), does not give the feeling of being high in individuals.
  • The trial aimed to determine whether cannabidiol is a safe and effective solution for children with autism. They wanted to understand how CBD can alter the chemical messengers in the patient’s brain, if CBD helps improve the neuroconnectivity and if the biomarkers of brain inflammation are also affected by CBD.
  • The trial, which is to be conducted in about a year from now, has to be a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with just 30 children aged 8 to 12. This means that half of the children participating in the trial will be given a placebo and half would receive the actual drug. Neither the participants or the researchers would know who has been administered what, until the end of the trial.
  • CBDV (cannabidivarin) is another compound found in cannabis which has non-psychoactive properties. Researchers are planning to conduct another study which would also be a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial which would be bigger in size, with 100 children suffering from autism. The goal of this study is to understand whether CBDV can help children with autism by improving their behaviors and symptoms. This was the statement given by Dr. Devinsky who works alongside Dr. Eric Hollander, who is a clinical psychiatrist at Montefiore Medical Centre.
  • In the meantime, Dr. Devinsky is also working on another trial at New York University, which also aims at investigating the effects of CBD on children and whether it can be used for the effective treatment of autistic children.
  • Researchers in Israel are busy working on the issue whether a measured mix of CBD and THC is safe to be administered to autistic children.
  • The trial which will take place in Israel will be a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study which will have 150 people ranging from the ages 5 to 21. This trial will test all the participants on different behavioral and social patterns over a long period, about 12 weeks long.

Dr. Devinsky states that it is not a surprise that more and more trials are being conducted to see whether cannabis can be used for the effective treatment of autism. He says that the use of cannabis is huge since the legalization in the 29 states and the District of Colombia. In these legalized states, the parents of children suffering from autism can obtain medical marijuana from a physician to keep a wide range of problems at bay – like anxiety, aggression and sleep issues. But it is still essential to emphasize on the fact that the actual effect of cannabis on autism is comparatively unclear. This is the reason the clinical trials are necessary and will continue to carry on until a concrete answer has been found.

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