An Israeli team of researchers has found that high-CBD cannabis was effective in treating 80% of children with autism involved in the study. The study’s publication is forthcoming, and will be published in the journal Neurology. The children who were included in the study suffered from autism that had not shown improvement with other medications. The children were given the 20-to-1 CBD-THC medication (levels at which are comparable for many CBD oils and CBD products in the United States) for seven months, where roughly 4-in-5 saw marked improvement of their condition.
Promising Research for CBD Treating Autism
Little is known about how cannabidiol may impact autism—which is why the study’s findings are so promising. The study relied on the participants of the children’s parents as well. When the treatment period was completed, parents filled out surveys to report on any changes to their child’s condition. Researchers wanted to know the extent of change—if any—they noticed in their child’s behavior. Of the 80% of children who showed improvement, 62% of parents noted that they saw significant improvement in their child’s behavior. But it wasn’t just behavior that had improved in some children; 40% of parents reported that they noticed CBD significantly improved anxiety in their child.
Dr. Adi Aran, the study’s lead researcher and director of pediatric neurology at Jerusalem Shaare Zedek Hospital, has previously been involved in studies on CBD treatment for Autism. In 2017, he and a team of researchers began a project that aimed to test the effects of cannabinoids on 120 children and young adults with autism. The study attracted so much attention that Aran’s waiting list soon became full. Prior, Aran found that cannabis extracts improved epilepsy symptoms, a condition that also impacts 20% of autistic children. The findings were integral to Aran’s study on CBD and autism.
Growing Public and Private Support for CBD Research on Autism
The study was funded by the Israeli government and is among the largest government-funded studies on CBD’s impact on autism—or any condition. But it isn’t just government support that’s fueling findings on CBD. Nachshol Cohen, Founder of Cannabium, stated that “According to the astonishing report, eighty percent of the children reported improved functioning! We hope that this research will help to bring about a conceptual change by regulators and policymakers, which will lead to a scientific momentum that will unequivocally demonstrate the positive effects of cannabis on a variety of health problems.”
Further Research Still Needed
The relationship between epilepsy and autism is still unclear—but researchers do have clues. It is thought that, when the brains of children with autism are developing, circuits that cause epileptic seizures may be created. While there is growing evidence and treatment for epilepsy with CBD-based medications, there’s still little evidence for exactly how CBD may improve autism. But, if Dr. Aran’s study fuels further research into the relationship between CBD and improved autism symptoms—and public and government support continues to grow—we may soon have a better understanding.