Cannabis and Autism – A Complex Pairing

Autism Spectrum Disorder can cause difficulties in everyday life. It causes hurdles in the following:

  • Social interaction
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Speech
  • Repeated behaviors
  • Controlled behaviors

The symptoms and effects vary from person to person. It has different levels of severity. However, this definition does not do justice to it.

ASD packs a group of emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms.

The cannabis plant can help bring improvement in behavior. It can help with problems that have a connection with autism. Furthermore, it also helps to ease bowel disease, epilepsy, and sleep disorders.

Project CBD recently shared some insights on how autism works and its pairing with Cannabis.


In the 1940s, children who had behavioral traits got recognized with the word autism. In the Greek language, auto means self. It is unknown why or how it happens.

The Root of the cause

However, genetics or having children at a later age could be one of the causes. Research published in 2014 suggested a connection with pregnant women who have large meals.

Moreover, in some cases, children under the age of two showed symptoms. It leads to believing that vaccines could be one of the reasons.

Medication and Guidance

Additionally, many parents around the globe have difficulty in managing autism-related symptoms. They often feel helpless without guidance from specialists. Sometimes severe symptoms can often lead to harm or injury.

However, in this case, specialists suggest prescription drugs, which include antipsychotics, antidepressants, or sedatives. They help to keep aggression and violent outbursts at bay.


As time passes by, comprehensive research is helping to understand autism better because of more studies. Some symptoms can occur because of an underlying issue, according to physicians.

Unidentified issues can cause violent outbreaks and harmful behavior. Moreover, in ASD, comorbidities are common. It is when a person has multiple disorders at the same time.

However, for a person with autism, a violent outbreak is the only way to express pain or anger. Therefore, it is vital to understand the cause. If you know why it happens, you can treat it. Behavioral problems will eventually improve.

Other Conditions

According to research, 20% of people with autism also suffer from other conditions. Which includes:

  • Feeding difficulties
  • Sleep disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD 

Endocannabinoid System

The ECS system keeps balance in the brain. The imbalance in neurotransmitters and brain function could cause behavioral ASD traits. It can cause diseases such as restlessness and anxiety. The message to relax is not getting through to the brain.

In ASD, the body does not relax. One of the neurotransmitters known as GABA is reduced in other diseases, like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, depression, and musculoskeletal disorders.

New approach

Moreover, the researchers are now going for a narrow approach. They are investigating specific autism traits. Also, they are researching the ECS system and how the imbalance affects a person.

Maybe it can be the reason behind emotional and behavioral difficulties. Also, it can cause GI issues, epilepsy, and sleep disturbances.

Gene Analysis

A gene expression analysis was conducted on postmortem brains of subjects with autism. It revealed that they all had low CB1 receptor expression.

Children who have autism have alterations in the ECS system. However, it is still not known whether this has any effect on ASD.

Treatment for Autism

CBD has an excellent safety record. It has proved to help in more ways than one can imagine. Clinical studies revealed that Cannabis brings relief to children who have ASD.

Also, cannabis oil has been beneficial for people who were diagnosed with moderate autism. One CBD oil user said that firstly the self-injurious behavior stopped. Secondly, the headbanging stopped, at last, the hyperactivity.

Moreover, around 2500 adults and children receive cannabinoid treatment in Israel. Also, three studies have come out in the last couple of years.

One study revolved around CBD oil. How can it help with hyperactivity symptoms, sleep problems, self-injury, and anxiety?


In a small experiment, 53 children took CBD-rich cannabis oil. They took the oil for an average period of 66 days. There were improvements in self-injury and rage attacks. Also, hyperactivity and sleep problems lessened for some children, while for some, the anxiety worsened.

User Experience

31-year-old software tester Justin Clarke shared his experience too. He took illegal Cannabis, and by default, it had high THC. He took it to manage his ASD.

Cannabis helped his sensory sensors calm down. It helped avoid overloading. Furthermore, it also helped him feel more relaxed. He felt comfortable in a small gathering after taking it. Following the 2018 legalization, a legal prescription for Cannabis is available.

Studies and Trials

Several studies and trials have gone into testing the effects of Cannabis on Autism patients.


In Israel, the scientists conducted a study with 188 ASD-affected children. The children were given cannabis oil for six months.

After six months, 30.1 percent of them reported that they feel good. However, 53.7 percent had moderate benefits. Moreover, there were minimal side effects to be observed.

Additionally, after six months, subjects who had epilepsy reported a disappearance in symptoms.


Dr. Adi Aran published a retrospective study. A total of 150 children and young adults with ASD were a part of the trial. The subjects received whole-plant cannabis oil containing a 20:1 ratio.

Furthermore, they received the same ratio of purified CBD and THC or a placebo. They took it for over twelve weeks.

49% had a positive reaction to the whole-plant cannabis oil 38% to the purified cannabinoids. Moreover, 21% reacted to the placebo.


Medical science still needs to research Cannabis for validating results. There is a lot to learn before we decide what is best for people with ASD. 

Moreover, specialists are yet to make a breakthrough in understanding the internal complexities of Cannabis. Therefore, we are some way from understanding the therapeutic benefits of this plant for autism treatment.

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