Can CBD Help With Aggression Caused By Autism?

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How CBD interacts with people who have autism has been under the microscope even more so as of late. Just this year, San Diego has accepted a 4.7 million-dollar donation to study CBD and autism. One particular study we are excited about is already underway in Israel, our global leader in cannabis research, which is investigating the effects of CBD and autism aggression. With the information we already have, what are some things we can expect to see in the future for autism aggression treatment? Can CBD oil help with autism aggression?

Cannabidiol may be able to help with aggression in autism because of its deep seeded relationship with the endocannabinoid system. Aggression in autistic children or adults may come from social anxiety and anger rumination. CBD oil has shown in studies that it may be able to help mediate these symptoms through interacting with the endocannabinoid system which can, in turn, reduce aggression.

Prevalence Of Aggression In Autism

Aggressive behavior is when they become threatening and are likely to cause harm. This can be verbal abuse such as yelling or cursing; it can also be physical like punching and biting.

In a study of children with autism, 56% of the participants had aggressive behavior toward their caregivers. This research suggests that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to show aggressive behavior than children not on the spectrum as well as children with other intellectual disabilities.

When looking toward other intellectual disabilities to find any common factors, they found that children who had both ASD and intellectual disabilities were more likely to show aggressive behavior than those who didn't have ASD. 

While having a higher income seemed to be a characteristic that leads to more aggression, researchers explain that there are many factors that could lead to this representation. Families at a higher income may be more likely to ask for help because of their child's aggression while the lower income families fear the stigma and being accused of being bad parents. Families with higher incomes may also have access to better resources which offers new challenges for their child. These challenges could become overly frustrating causing their child to act out. 

The question remains, is aggression a problem that CBD oil can fix?

What Causes Aggression In Autism

Anger Rumination

Scientists believe that anger rumination plays a significant role in aggression in patients with autism. Anger rumination is when the individual tends to dwell on angry thoughts causing increased activity in the hippocampus, insula, and cingulate cortex.

The insula is the part of our brain that helps us be self-aware. The cingulate cortex is in charge of selecting a response and where our attention goes. The hippocampus plays a major role in learning and emotions, as well as fear conditioning. Mix these all together with overactivity and what do you get? Being unable to control how you think and feel about a situation.

Cannabidiol interacts with the endocannabinoid system and acts as a regulator. Studies have shown that CBD may be able to help mediate activity in the insula and cingulate cortex. More studies have also shown that CBD can help reduce the overactivity in the hippocampus which may contribute to the antianxiety effects of the medication.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is when someone is feeling fear or discomfort in social situations. In the study regarding anger rumination and aggressive behavior, they also highlight the role that social anxiety has to play with these symptoms. Feeling that fear and discomfort, and then dwelling on those emotions may contribute to the lashing out that happens with autism aggression.

Studies show that the CB1 cannabinoid receptor may be the key to helping with aggression due to anxiety. The CB1 cannabinoid receptor helps to mediate the neurological functions of the brain which include the appetite, sleep cycle, pain, and mood. Hemp oil can interact with the CB1 receptor through elevating the endocannabinoid anandamide, which contributes to many of the antianxiety effects of cannabidiol.

Researchers think that cannabidiol could be a valid treatment for anxiety, repetitive behaviors, and social deficits associated with autism which may be able to help with the aggression considering where it stems. Studies have even shown that patients who took CBD high strains of cannabis had less disruptive behavior, anxiety, and had better communication.

What Can We Expect?

The future is looking bright for patients suffering from ASD with this research indicating that cannabidiol could be a new type of treatment. As more studies continue to unfold, we may find that cannabidiol can do even more than we had previously thought. However, science is a tricky subject and could prove to us that some hypotheses aren’t as accurate as we assumed.

Have you had success using cannabis products for your loved one with autism? We would love to hear about it! Leave your story in the comment section below!


Sarah Potts


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  • Hey Heidi,
    So sorry about what your family is going through. It can be so hard on the family. Have you thought about going to therapy or programs as a family to help you learn coping mechanisms to help you stay at your best? Because your health is just as important, just something to think about.
    Many families have found that CBD oil helps with the aggression. Giving tincture drops by mouth is one of the best ways for in the moment of a breakdown. Edibles and pills are a way to grant relief throughout the day, but they aren’t as potent as tincture which is something to consider.
    If you want to try this method, be sure to let your doctor know. If she is off all medication, that helps because it won’t interfere with any medication, but it is always a good idea to have a professional in the loop to help you monitor her progress and help you watch out for any side-effects. You may need to let them know this ahead of time so they can do their own reading, because not every doctor is as well informed on medical cannabis in certain areas.
    I hope this has helped and I would love to get an update on your family.
    CBD Instead

    CBD Instead on

  • I am researching CBD oil for my 18 yr.old Autistic daughter. She has over the years…since puberty started to become more and more withdrawn. She likes to stay in her room when at home…most of the time. She acts out mostly at school, but at home once in awhile as well. They are extremely violent episodes…hair pulling, scratching, throwing things etc. etc. Years ago she was put on 7 or 8 different prescribed medications…one was just as bad as the next and it turned her into a monster…even more violent. We took her off of ALL of those meds as I couldn’t take the daily beatings anymore! So…long story short I am looking for something for her anxiety, aggression and I so want her to become more social and not so fearful. Please Help!

    Heidi on

  • Hi Katerina,
    You may need to experiment with different types of oils with different levels of cannabinoids. Everyone is different so everyone will respond to different strains in their own unique way. You may need something with more CBD or CBN in the oil.
    Hope this has helped!
    CBD Instead

    CBD Instead on

  • Hi
    I have a 25 year old autistic son who has severe challenging behaviour. I have been trying him on Charlotte’s web oil for a month but with no effect. Could you possibly advise me. He weighs 97 kilos.
    Many thanks

    Katerina on

  • Hey Ralph!
    First off, have you let your doctor know you would like to start using CBD oil? Having your doctor involved can help you monitor your nephew’s progress as you work with him and can help make sure that CBD doesn’t affect any of the medication he is currently on. CBD tinctures are a great way to help people calm down quickly. When someone with autism is having an aggressive outburst, it comes from the fear response in their brain. They may be overwhelmed, confused, or feeling threatened which is when they start to become aggressive. CBD oil can calm that fear response down, helping his emotions not be so severe so you can work with him to learn how to handle how he feels. Using pills or edibles may also be a valid option because they can give effects throughout the day making these outbursts less common. We would love to hear back from you if you choose to go this route to see how your nephew and your family are doing!
    Hope this has helped!
    CBD Instead

    CBD Instead on

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