Research findings on medical marijuana being a likely boon for autistic kids were presented at the yearly meet of the International Society for Autism Research in Montreal.
The study undertaken at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem had150 autistic children forming part of one of three groups with the first group being the placebo, the second group being administered whole-plant marijuana extract while the third a combination of CBD and THC pure blend in the ratio of 20:1.
THC is the intoxicating agent in marijuana while CBD though not intoxicating is supposed to network with cannabinoid receptors in the relevant area of brain. CBD was included as it was thought to alleviate behavioral issues in autistic children like violent behavior or acting out.THC was included to enhance the social shortcomings in such kids. The whole plant marijuana extract included many more elements other than CBD and THC.
The kids underwent the treatment for a period of two months with a one month break in between. Kids ingesting the cannabis extract showed improvement by 49% and 53% on dual scales used to measure autistic symptoms and disrupting behavior. 50% progress was shown on the scale tracking core autistic symptoms. On the other hand, the placebo group showed an improvement of 21%, 44% and 22% respectively.
Alongside, certain adverse effects such as reduced appetite, disturbed sleep and sleepiness were shown by kids who were administered marijuana.
However, all parents were advised to hold patience till more data was obtained for administering medical marijuana to their autistic kids; more so as several undesirable side effects were observed. At the same time the authors of the study received commendations for conducting such a study as it provided an opportunity to parents and autistic individuals to have a better awareness of risks and benefits and make knowledgeable choices.
A clinical trial which will have a more comprehensive and global patient sample is expected to follow.