Autism spectrum disorders appear to have become more common these days, and the numbers prove. One in 40 American children have a form of mild or severe autism that affects their motor skills, communication, cognitive development, behavior, or social interaction.
Autism can leave parents and caregivers feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and helpless. So when news of a trending natural compound known as CBD that provides life-changing benefits to people with a wide range of disorders hit the market, it is natural for parents to want to give this new type of medication a try.
But how safe is CBD for children, and how effective is it for autism disorders? This article will dig deeper into the CBD phenomenon and its benefits for children with autism.
What is CBD?
Cannabinol (CBD) comes from the Cannabis Sativa family, just as marijuana. However, a significant difference between industrial hemp and marijuana is that while the latter contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in abundance, the former does not. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive and will not make you high.
Preliminary research on CBD has shown that this natural compound works on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The latter manages critical bodily functions to attain constant balance in the body — also known as homeostasis. Through its receptors, the ECS controls our body temperature, sleep, appetite, fertility, mood, and more.
Researchers have yet to understand how CBD affects the receptors, but what they have observed so far is that this natural compound signals them to promote change. For example, CBD is known to signal the receptors to release more serotonin in the body. The latter is known as the happy chemical, and when we have enough of it in our system, anxiety is reduced, and we feel calmer and more peaceful.
CBD can encourage sleep in high doses or promote alertness in low doses. Most people prefer CBD vape juice for sleep and by doing that experience a great balance between their mind and body. CBD can also bring balance to our hormones, reduce pain and inflammation, and even play a crucial role in male and female infertility.
Is CBD safe for children with autism?
CBD is proving to be of great benefit to people suffering from various health issues. However, because research is limited, medical professionals are still unable to state with conviction whether it is safe to give CBD to children.
So far, the only FDA-approved medication containing CBD is Epidiolex. This drug is useful for children suffering from a severe form of epilepsy starting from two years of age and older. Although there is a long road ahead when it comes to autistic disorders, studies analyzing CBD for autistic children have shown encouraging results.
One study, conducted in 2018 in Israel, shows 60 children with autistic disorders being given CBD doses. In this study, the researchers observed how CBD oil lowered autism-induced communication, anxiety, and behavioral problems.
In 2019, a similar study was conducted, with 15 autistic patients — five of whom suffered from epileptic fits. In this study, researchers observed how only one patient showed no improvement in autistic symptoms, while three patients stopped using CBD before the first month because they suffered from adverse effects.
However, the rest of the patients showed improvement in one of the following categories — motor deficits, ADHD, communication, behavioral disorders, cognitive disorders, seizures, autonomy deficits, and sleep disorders, during the six to nine months of treatment.
What doctors are saying about CBD for children with autism
Although the former studies are encouraging, medical professionals recommend that parents of children with autism should not take it upon themselves to start administering CBD to their children. These days, finding CBD products online or in brick and mortar store has never been more accessible.
People have used CBD for insomnia, they have invested in oils, balms, gummies, candles, and even pills to treat whatever ails them. Although it is possible to find high-quality organic CBD products, users must be wary of the varying CBD dose from one product to another. While you may need to take two drops of CBD oil from a particular brand, you may only need one drop from another CBD brand.
This variation makes it tricky, especially when you are administering a dose to a child. Moreover, CBD oil products are not tested in labs, so they may contain other ingredients besides CBD such as THC. It is critical for a CBD product to have less than 0.3 percent of THC for it to be safe and have no psychoactive effects.
Besides the dosage issue, medical professionals also remind parents that while studies on CBD have shown positive results, it is not an FDA-approved medical treatment for autism. Mainly due to lack of research, we know little about how CBD may affect children in the future as researchers have yet to learn how exactly CBD is absorbed in the body.
Doctors are also concerned that if a child’s sleep improves with CBD, then they may become dependent on it to rest. Additionally, CBD can interact with other medications the child is taking and potentially block them from working optimally.
How can a parent use CBD to help a child with autism?
If you want to try CBD to see if it helps your child, the best way to do so is to speak to a medical professional who can guide you every step of the way so you can administer CBD safely.