Autism is a complex neurobehavioral disorder with a wide spectrum of severity, from minor to requiring institutional care. It is characterized by impairments in language, social and communication skills and is often complicated by repetitive, rigid behaviors. It is currently estimated that roughly one percent of children in the USA have some form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it is five times more likely to affect boys than girls, and the number of cases appears to be rising sharply. A study from 2013 compared children with autism to their non-autistic counterparts and found a difference in the cannabinoid-2 (CB2) receptors, which indicated that neurotransmitters could be a potential target for therapeutic effect. 
The current research is still very limited, but the cannabinoid, cannabidiol, (CBD oil) is showing promising results in the treatment of various behavioral symptoms plaguing people with autism, which includes hyperactivity, violent outbursts, repetitive behaviors, and hypersensitivity to physical sensations. Due to the fact that current treatments are extremely limited and the symptoms can be so serious, many parents of autistic children are exploring alternative methods such as using cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, and CBDV. Currently, documentation on the use of CBD products is found mostly in the form of autism accompanied by seizures, which occurs in up to 30 percent of cases (see our article on How Hemp Works for Epilepsy). Meaning CBD products could prove to be one of the best options due to the fact they work with and through the endocannabinoid system. CBD oil also has a very favorable safety profile with very rare few negligible side effects.
A study from 2013 found a surprising link between a protein implicated in autism and a signaling system that previously had not been considered particularly important for autism. Dr Thomas Sudhof, a senior author at Stanford University wrote about how the findings opened up an entirely new area of research and “may suggest novel strategies for understanding the underlying causes of complex brain disorders.”  The results showed that targeting components of the endocannabinoid signaling system may actually assist with reversing autism symptoms. A 2016 study utilizing CBD oil on 120 autistic children and young adults was launched in 2016, which is the first of its kind to assess the benefits of non-psychoactive cannabis use in autism. 
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the most important system of physiology inside the body responsible for regulating and bringing balance to all other bodily systems, from the reproductive and endocrine, to the immune and cardiovascular systems. If the ECS gets overwhelmed and falls into disorder, it can lead to a range of illnesses and chronic conditions resulting in severe losses in quality of life. The best CBD oils such as in a full spectrum CBD oil derived from the hemp plant that has been lab tested for its pure CBD content, can be found to support and nourish this great system, helping to restore order and balance so it can go to work on correcting any imbalances in the body.
The information contained in this article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Prior to making any changes to your lifestyle or treatment plan, consult with a licenced medical professional. It is recommended that those wishing to explore CBD products or medical marijuana do so with the help and guidance of a physician with experience prescribing the best types of CBD oil so that the dose and delivery method may be adjusted to the individual. At the same time, those who take the time to educate themselves on CBD oil can become their own highly aware health consultants.
For pediatric autism, a similar starting dose to that for epilepsy, roughly 1mg/kg per day every eight hours of CBD, is suggested. Increase by about 0.5-1mg/kg/day every two weeks. The amount for epilepsy is around 5–8 mg/kg/day (2.5–4 mg/lb/day), however, the dose for alleviating symptoms of autism can vary depending on the severity of the disorder. Breaking the dose up into three doses taken every seven to eight hours is recommended, preferably between meals. Always start with a low microdose to test for sensitivity and titrate up as needed within the dosing range until symptoms subside. As always with cannabis, you can always take more, but you can’t less. Start low and slow.
For children, quality CBD-only glycerin tinctures, oil infusions, sublingual products, or pure CO2 extracted CBD isolate items are recommended (no alcohol tinctures). The oil can be taken straight or mixed in with other food like yoghurt. Concentrates can be mixed with nut butters or made into capsules, CBD gummies or suppositories. If the symptoms are not reduced or eliminated, blends that contain a micro dose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are sometimes effective. Be sure to check the amount of CBD per bottle and that the product has been lab tested by a third-party lab.
Adults can ingest any of the above, along with alcohol-based tinctures, capsules and other edibles. For more immediate symptom relief, smoking or vaporizing work well due to the immediate uptake of these methods, with the effects lasting one to three hours. Ingestible products take thirty to sixty minutes before taking effect and last six to eight hours. Vaporizers that utilize a cartridge filled with CO2 concentrates are very effective, and are available in a variety of ratios of CBD to THC. Herbal vaporizers using the whole plant are another effective delivery method.
The Cannabis Health Index is an evidence based scoring system for cannabis (in general,not just CBD) and its effectiveness on various health issues based on the currently available research data. Based on the available research, autism is rated in the possible-to-probable range of efficacy.
In a 2011 study, researchers wrote that it was, “tempting to suggest” cannabinoids for, “irritability, tantrums and self-injurious behavior associated with autistic individuals.” 
A 2015 paper on endocannabinoid signaling (referred to as “eCB signaling” in the following extract) in autism called it a piece of the puzzle that brings together four features of autism: 1) neural development; 2) social reward responsivity; 3) anxiety-related symptoms; 4) circadian rhythm.
“Therefore, any potential therapeutic approach is unlikely to involve a simple choice between activation versus inhibition of the eCB system to target specific features related to autism. Any such approach will need to be precisely tuned to the developmental timeline and to the specific pathogenetic underpinnings of autism in the single patient. Our understanding of eCB signaling in autism is still in its infancy compared with other disorders of the central nervous system or of peripheral tissues, where eCB-based therapies have already reached preclinical and clinical phases. However, research in this field is rapidly evolving, and novel drugs able to hit specifically a distinct element of the eCB system are developed at a surprising speed.”
A 2019 study, published in the Journal of Molecular Autism found autistic children had lower circulating levels of anandamide (AEA), palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), and oleoylethanolamide (OEA). Researchers stated that further studies were needed to clarify if there were a correlation between lower circulating levels of these endocannabinoids and various subtypes of autism. 
It’s important to note then, that anandamide (AEA), as mentioned in a previous article, is only found as a "food source" in breast milk, and is integral to the healthy development of human babies, playing a key role in regulating brain development, motor control, cognition, feeding behavior, and emotional responses including the neural generation of motivation and pleasure in babies.
Oleoylethanolamide (OEA) is made by the intestines and has very unique properties in balancing the control of appetite and satiety, inflammation, and metabolising fatty acids. When OEA is administered to patients, it provides beneficial effects in a variety of cognitive functions, therefore, this compound can be considered a hormone integral in connecting the gut and brain.
Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is naturally produced by the body when it experiences any kind of pain such as in the need to relieve inflammation, promote cell recovery or protect nerves. PEA works directly with and through the endocannabinoid system to regulate the immune system, chronic pain, inflammation, and also to provide neuroprotection.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a molecular system inside the body responsible for regulating and balancing many processes, including immune response, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory, pain, and much more. The ECS was seen to develop at eight weeks gestation, and is supported exclusively through breast milk, not formula, in the first stages of life.
Researchers from the same study went on to say that the ECS is a major regulator of the brain's ability to change and adapt to stressors, whether environmental or internal, and that by making adjustments to the ECS, they were able to correct some autistic social deficits in animal models.
Another 2019 study, published in the Journal, Frontiers in Pharmacology, and involving 53 children averaging age eleven, had researchers find that cannabidiol (CBD) may improve autism symptoms, urging for large long-range clinical studies to be done.  The same was said in another publication studying the effects of the ECS in ASD. 
Again, in 2019, neuroscientists discovered that the cannabinoid, cannabidivarin (CBDV), was able to alleviate symptoms of autism through restoring normal endocannabinoid (system) functioning in the brain and decreasing neuroinflammation (inflammation of the brain). 
2019 was a big year for clinical studies on cannabinoids for ASD. Scientists working with a group of 18 patients with autism, publishing their results in the journal, Frontiers in Neurology, found that the strongest improvement was in those experiencing seizures, reporting that a high-CBD cannabis extract may decrease ASD symptoms even in non-epileptic patients, helping to significantly improve the quality of life for both the ASD patients and their caretakers. 
Finally, one recent paper had researchers conclude that,
“Collectively, the pharmacologically broad-spectrum of CBD covers diverse neurological pathologies of ASD, thereby providing a unique and viable therapeutic opportunity to alleviate multiple core ASD symptoms simultaneously. The increasing interest and attention of its beneficial effects in controlling seizures, behavioral and mood abnormalities in ASD call for systematic preclinical and clinical studies to reveal the mechanisms, efficacy, therapeutic spectrum and safety of CBD in ASD.” 
For more information on this topic, see our other article How Hemp Works for Autism. Our blog contains a range of research backed information on high-quality organic hemp products, CBD products, the benefits of CBD, and how people with autism, or a range of other conditions such as ADHD, Alzheimer's , multiple sclerosis, endometriosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and anxiety can benefit from using the best CBD oils to bring relief from their symptoms.
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