Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts a person’s physical, mental, and emotional life experiences.
Over the years, medical professionals and scientific researchers have devoted more time and effort to figuring out treatments and therapies for autism. Interest in cannabis as a healing tool has also recently grown in the autism community.
If you or a loved one live with autism and you’re looking for an alternative means of treatment, this article is for you. Here, we’re breaking down the history of cannabis, how the plant works, and what it can do for people living with autism.
Early intervention is prized in the treatment of autism. However, finding the right therapy tools can take some trial and error.
The more common types of therapy include:
Prescription medications are also a popular option. The two most common prescriptions for autism are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and antipsychotics. Many people living with autism find relief when using these medications.
Unfortunately, unwanted side effects from pharmaceutical drugs can reduce someone’s overall quality of life. Common side effects include heart problems, weight gain, movement disorders, and diabetes.
The side effects are one of many reasons why some turn their attention toward alternative healing methods like medical marijuana.
Breaking down cannabis into its different components allows you to have a fuller understanding of how the plant itself works.
First, you have the hundreds of cannabinoid compounds that make up the cannabis plant. These components work together in unique combinations to produce something called the entourage effect.
Though it doesn’t hurt to dig a little deeper into the different components of cannabis and what they do, you only need to know about three to start.
This cannabinoid contains psychoactive compounds and is responsible for the high people typically associate with cannabis.
Strains with a high level of THC tend to:
THC is a great option for people who struggle to stay awake during the day or individuals who are looking for a little boost in creativity.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is associated with “body highs”—in other words, the feeling of physical relaxation. Since CBD isn’t psychoactive, it doesn’t leave the user feeling intoxicated in the ways they might while using THC.
It can, however:
CBD is often a favored option for people who struggle with sleep schedules and those who want to bring more relaxation and calm into their lives.
Terpenes are non-cannabinoid compounds that affect the scent, flavor, and look of cannabis. These are perhaps some of the biggest players in the entourage effect, explaining why different strains with the same concentrations of CBD and THC can still have vastly different results.
Unique subtypes of the Cannabis sativa plant are called strains, and each strain is carefully curated by expert growers to produce a precise concentration of THC, CBD, minor cannabinoids, and other compounds. Strains are grouped into three categories:
Indica strains typically have higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC. The plant itself visually stands out to the point that growers can easily identify them by sight.
They’re sought-after for their physical relaxation properties and milder cerebral effects compared to Sativa strains.
On the other hand, sativa plants typically have higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD.
Sativa strains are prized for people who want higher levels of energy and focus but still desire physical relaxation.
Hybrid strains are cross-bred from both indica and sativa plants. Many of today’s most popular strains are hybrids, and these can be either sativa- or indica-heavy or offer relatively even representation of both parent plants, genetically speaking.
Growers often curate hybrid strains to fine-tune the THC and CBD concentrations of the resulting plant.
Cannabis was used globally for centuries as a prominent tool for healing, and Western doctors also studied it extensively through the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Historically speaking, cannabis has been used to treat:
However, political and socio-economic movements in the 1930s saw the U.S. ban the use and sale of cannabis. This made it difficult to continue research into its health benefits. Thanks to a recent resurgence in the interest in understanding cannabis, the doors have opened for more studies.
Currently, small-scale studies on cannabis for autism show promising results. Most participants saw a reduction in comorbid and core autism symptoms, including marked improvements in restrictive interests and language.
Observed reductions also occurred in:
Anecdotal evidence from adults living with autism and parents of autistic children also suggests positive effects of the safe use of cannabis.
This is where TeleLeaf comes in. We’ve been in your shoes and understand how hard it is to navigate through life with only traditional medical tools at your disposal. That’s why we’re proponents of medical cannabis, and we’re here to help you build a bridge to better health. How?
We connect you with a medical professional who can help you get your medical cannabis card, opening the door to the start of your stress-free cannabis journey.
When looking for cannabis strains for autism, keep one thing in mind above all else: cannabis is highly individualized. Generalized advice may not apply.
That said, studies and anecdotal reports tend to suggest that high-CBD or balanced strains may be preferred over high-THC and low-CBD strains for people with autism. CBD seems particularly effective in combating seizures and behavioral hurdles.
Noted strains to try include:
When in doubt, always start with lower THC levels and low doses first. You’ll likely need to do some experimenting and safe trial-and-error to find the strain that works best for you.
If you live with autism, you don’t have to let your path to healing be limited by mainstream methods. Though therapy and prescription drugs have their place in the treatment and management of autism, they don’t have to be the only tools you use. Consider trying medical cannabis.
You may want to start with a high-CBD strain, but the sheer number of options out there can easily overwhelm newcomers to the medical marijuana scene. This is why it’s important to have a medical professional guide you through your journey. Cannabis-informed providers can warn you about interactions with prescription drugs, give you a heads-up about strain side effects, and guide you to the strain that will work best for you.
If you’re ready to get started on your medical cannabis journey, reach out to TeleLeaf. We’ll set you up with a virtual appointment and help you unlock a new world of possibilities.
National Institute of Mental Health. Autism Spectrum Disorder.
WebMD. What Are Psychotropic Medications?
VeryWellHealth. Indica vs. Sativa: What’s the Difference?
Thinking Autism. Clearing the confusion surrounding medical cannabis, hemp extract, and CBD oil for autism.
LeaderPost. Can cannabis really help people with autism?