Cannabis Shows Promise in Treating Autism and its Symptoms

kid marijuana
Disease Research

kid marijuanaWith 1 in 68 children being diagnosed with autism this year, its time to seriously look at what is causing this surge, and figure out how to further prevent it. Research tells us that environmental toxins play a large role in autism development, so some type of toxic reform would likely help tremendously, but what else can be done? Likely surprising to many, compounds in marijuana have actually been found to be useful in treating the symptoms of autism. Perhaps it’s time to look at medical marijuana for the healing plant that it is.

Stanford University has said that the debilitating effects of autism are primarily caused by a gene mutation that blocks the body’s natural production of cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, hindering the way those molecules communicate with the brain. We all have our own natural endocannabinoid system.

In some individuals it works better than others. In parents who have autistic children, they are observing blank stares become loving hugs with medical marijuana use.

Researchers discovered that a mutated gene, neuroligin-3, responsible for creating and sustaining normal communication between brain cells, appears to have a direct relationship with autism. By introducing derivatives of cannabis to the brain, they could ease symptoms associated with the disease.

While the exact way in which the endocannabinoid system is disturbed in autistic persons is still not understood, researchers say there is significant evidence that suggests medical marijuana may be a highly feasible treatment for autism.

Researchers from the University of Irvine in California believe the scientists at Stanford are on the money. They have also uncovered a link between endocannabinoids and autism.

In a study of mice with fragile X syndrome, it “showed dramatic behavioral improvements in maze tests measuring anxiety and open-space acceptance.”

The active compound in marijuana, THC, stimulates the same receptors as the endocannabinoids:

“ . . .increasing natural marijuana-like chemicals in the brain  [that] can help correct behavioral issues related to fragile X syndrome, the most common known genetic cause of autism.”

Researchers are not advocating giving children medical marijuana just yet, though, stating that more research is needed. But some parents of autistic children think otherwise.

Chrissy Hetrick-Leonard is one mother with a child that suffers from a list of ailments, including autism, Dandy Walker Syndrome, and epileptic seizures. After trying  an array of pharmaceutical drugs which gave her daughter no relief, marijuana compounds ‘saved her.’ This same story is not uncommon among other parents, who found that cannabis could save their children from terrible seizures. The plant even shows promise in combating cancer – especially brain cancer.

“Within the first week, I saw her come out of almost like a closet,” Chrissy says. “I got eye contact, direct smiles at me … The improvement after six months is mind blowing.” 

Once again, medical marijuana is helping people change their health and lives for the better.

Additional Sources:

The Huffington Post

The Scientist