Why Are Parents Turning To CBD Oil As A Treatment For Autism?

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Having a child on the spectrum can be both a blessing and a struggle. While it teaches you a crash course of unconditional love and how to have thick skin, it also can become overwhelming when you aren’t prepared. It can be heartbreaking to watch your child unable to communicate, self-harm, or become overwhelmed by sensations by the world around them. Many parents are turning to hemp oil because it has the healing power of cannabis without the high.

The chemicals in cannabis called cannabinoids are so useful when interacting with our mind and body because of the endocannabinoid system. This system helps regulate our body, which can turn the dial down on an outburst or make the world around the child on the spectrum easier to handle. Sensory overload, poor communication skills, and other symptoms of autism have been highlighted in the world of anecdotal evidence.

What Is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a collection of cognitive disorders that hinder brain development. It is considered a spectrum disorder because each case of autism is different from the next. Some symptoms are present in many of patients with autism at various severities that can help in the process of diagnosis.

Common Symptoms Of Autism

Difficult Time In Social Interactions

Many people who have autism have a hard time interacting socially or maintaining those interactions. They react differently in social situations because they feel different in them. When the majority of us are in a group of people or having a conversation, our reward system goes off giving us a good feeling from dopamine and oxytocin. People on the spectrum may not get that chemical reaction, making it uncomfortable to stay in conversation if they can even start one at all.

Difficulty Understanding Emotions

While there is a stereotype that people with autism lack emotion and have no empathy, this isn’t necessarily the case. While many people with autism may not understand their feelings, autism may not be the underlying cause. The reason it is still considered a symptom is that the disorder that does make the individual have a difficult time understanding emotions called alexithymia is more prevalent in patients with autism than those not on the spectrum.

Underdeveloped Speech

There are some people who have autism who can talk up a storm, while there are others who can’t speak at all. Scientists still haven’t discovered what causes nonverbal autism, though the disorder does show lack of development in necessary communication skills. This is also a symptom that may pass overtime with researching showing that the majority of children with nonverbal autism learn language skills later on in life. This can also look like more than just not speaking. Having underdeveloped speech can be parroting what they hear, using few words, and having a difficult time discerning which pronouns to use.

Limited and Extreme Focus

Some children with autism may have a hard time focusing on the majority of their life but can have an almost supernatural ability to stay focused on one thing that peaks their interest. At early ages, it may be a toy, and as they age, they can’t stop talking about trading cards, a TV show, or a game they love. If your child is uninterested, it may be difficult for them to focus.

Repetitive Behaviors

Children on the spectrum are more likely to develop anxiety disorders, but that doesn’t mean that their repetitive behavior is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While it isn’t impossible for a child with ASD to have OCD, repetitive behaviors aren’t always an indication of this anxiety disorder. Children with autism may have their rituals, the difference being that they don’t obsess and think about those rituals regularly like many with OCD do. The drive to complete these rituals isn’t to make sure something bad doesn’t happen like with OCD. Instead, they are to help to keep their lives in a constant state of sameness.

Managing Autism Symptoms

While there is no cure for autism yet, there are ways to make the symptoms more manageable. Many parents exercise options like therapy, special diets, and medication to help their loved one on the spectrum.

Therapy

Not every therapy works for every person diagnosed with autism. While occupational therapy seems to have the highest success rate at 39% in a general survey, your loved one may have more success with speech therapy or applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy. If you find that your child isn’t taking to the current therapy you’re working with; it is always a good idea to expand your horizons and try out different types of treatments.

Special Diets

Many parents have reported their child’s symptoms becoming less severe when they changed their child’s diet. This should come as no surprise considering how much food interacts with our bodies. Casein and gluten-free diets have shown the most success with parents, though there is still little scientific evidence explaining why precisely these diets work. These diets have shown to reduce hyperactivity, tantrums, and even improved language.

Medication

The word “chemical” has become such a scary word, though it’s essential to remember chemicals are all around us. All natural does not necessarily mean better. That being said, many medications that are considered harsh chemicals do have side effects that parents wish their children didn’t have to endure while also battling the commotion going on in their minds.

One of the most popular medications used for autism has side effects such as drowsiness, weight gain, hormonal changes, and in rare cases, involuntary movements. Not every child benefits from these medications, making parents switch from pill to pill just searching for something that will help their child. This is why many parents are starting to look toward cannabis oil as an alternative.

How CBD oil Helps With Autism

The areas of the brain that are most affected by autism are parts of the limbic system and the cerebellum. These parts of the brain also have a high density of cannabinoid receptors giving cannabis access to mediate their functions.

The CB1 Receptor

The CB1 cannabinoid receptor is a part of the endocannabinoid system, and it helps regulate the functions of the neurological system. Though it is located all over the body, the population of these receptors is denser in the brain. Cannabidiol (CBD) interacts with this receptor by elevating the endocannabinoid anandamide. Researchers think that this could be an indication that CBD oil can work as a treatment for autism.

The CB2 Receptor

Our other cannabinoid receptor, the CB2 receptor, helps to mediate the immune system in our bodies. Since scientists have found large amounts of immune cells in the brain of autistic patients, they believe that inflammation may also be a cause of this disorder. Cannabidiol can help with inflammation by elevating the 2-AG endocannabinoid which binds to the CB2 receptor. Showing another reason why CBD oil may be a valid treatment for autism.

Symptoms CBD Oil May Help Reduce

Social Impairment

In a rodent model study, they found that raising anandamide activity in CB1 receptors has shown improvement in social impairment. Because individuals with autism may have reduced inhibitory brain signaling, CBD may be restoring the excitability in those neurons. Cannabidiol’s anti-anxiety effects have also been speculated to being a contributor to rehabilitating the individual with their social impairment.

Seizures

Seizures can unfortunately also accompany autism. Luckily, there has been extensive research regarding CBD oil and epilepsy. Cannabis oil has shown to stop seizures while they are happening as well as in a preventative way. During a seizure, brain damage can occur. Cannabidiol can also aid with this issue with its neuroprotective effects.

Hyperactivity

Some children and adults on the spectrum have issues with hyperactivity. ADHD is also common with patients who have autism. Cannabis oil has shown that it can reduce hyperactivity, making it easier to focus on things that don’t even interest the individual.

Behavioral Issues

CBD has shown to help with behavioral issues by reducing learned fear, protecting the cells in the hippocampus, and aiding with cognitive impairments. Though these tests still haven’t been studied on human models, there is still plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that the theory may be fact.

Improving Sleep and OCD

If your loved one also has issues with sleep or OCD, this may be in part because of the anxiety often associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. By reducing the overactivity in the brain from the anandamide elevation, CBD oil can reduce the anxiety that drives compulsions and keeps people awake.

Talk To Your Pediatrician

There are many reasons to switch to CBD instead of pharmaceutical medicines. There is no lethal dose of cannabidiol, it’s nonaddictive, it has fewer and less severe side-effects, and can help treat a wide array of symptoms with just one dose. Before you switch your child’s medication, be sure to speak with a doctor. Make sure that your child isn’t taking any other medicines that may interfere with CBD oil or could be metabolized differently making symptoms worse. When you are ready to take the next step, we will be here waiting for you with safe and reputable products.

 

Sarah Potts

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