In previous articles we discussed Cannabidiol (CBD) and the benefits it can provide for you. From pain and inflammation relief to fighting cancer, CBD has helped many people throughout history. Did you know that Queen Victoria used cannabis that had high amounts of CBD for menstrual cramps in the 19th century? That is an article for another day though, in this article we will learn what the Endocannabinoid system is and how CBD is helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
What is ASD?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disability that can cause social, communication and behavioral challenges. Those with ASD may have restricted interests and repetitive behavior but some people may not show symptoms. The CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network estimated that 1 in 44 children were diagnosed with ASD in 2018. According to CDC researchers approximately 2.2% of adults in the United States are on the autism spectrum. Depending on how severe this disorder is, people on the spectrum may be able to work successfully and live a normal life with little to no help.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) working with ASD
Inside our complex body we have what is called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which is made up of endocannabinoids, receptors in the nervous system as well as around the body, and enzymes that help break down endocannabinoids. ECS is naturally found in our bodies and is crucial for homeostasis.
What is homeostasis you ask? Homeostasis is a mechanism that maintains a stable internal environment regardless of the changes present in the external environment. Which is just a fancy way of saying, it keeps your body in balance. For example, when you’re really hot and begin to sweat, that is your ECS kicking in to cool you down. Stomach growling? That is also your ECS activating to remind you that your body needs fuel.
The ECS does this by sending signals to cannabinoid (CB) receptors found in select tissues throughout our body. We have at least 2 types CB receptors which include the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors are found in the central nervous system (brain and nerve cells) while CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system (nerves in your extremities), specialized cells in the immune system, and our digestive system. Through these receptors the ECS helps regulate a list of functions such as appetite, digestion, motor control, sleep, mood, memory, inflammation including neuroinflammation, and many more.
In one of our previous articles we learned that CBD is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and how it can help improve quality of life. This leads us to the big question, how can CBD help with ASD?
CBD As a Natural Tool
While CBD or any pharmaceutical drug can not cure the core symptoms of autism, CBD can help relieve some disorders that are associated with ASD such as anxiety, stress, epilepsy and sleeplessness through our endocannabinoid system as explained above. One example includes using CBD for sleep and anxiety to help reduce aggressive behaviors and make it easier to learn and use social communication skills. CBD can also help with fewer seizures which can relieve stress and make it easier to interact socially, but what are some ways of taking CBD?
Luckily, CBD can be taken in many forms like CBD oil, tinctures, gummies, vapes and smoking strains with high amounts of CBD. For children we obviously want to stay away from smoke and vaping products so tinctures, oil or gummies will be the route to go.
When first starting CBD it is recommended to start at a low dose and wait for about a week to start seeing more clear results. You can always increase the dose as needed, we have included a suggestive chart for a baseline dosage. Of course when starting any new medication or supplement we recommend speaking with your physician first. Not all physicians are created equal so make sure to get a second opinion if given an answer that may sound biased because unfortunately some physicians are still “old school” when it comes to cannabis and health; still there are more physicians that are starting to dive deep into cannabis research every day.