Israeli study encourages and guides cannabis-for-autism efforts

Israeli scientists are reporting that they have made autistic rats more sociable and less obsessive by giving them cannabis products.

The study could change the direction of efforts to use cannabis to treat the disorder, the researchers say, as it reveals that the wrong compound from the plant is currently the subject of the most attention.

Autistic patients who are informally self-prescribing, and trials are currently underway, mostly use cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis compound well-known to avoid high levels.

One Israeli Studies in 2019 reported positive results for autistic patients treated with cannabis products that were mostly CBD.

The latest study to investigate CBD is taking place at UC-San Diego’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, and on Sunday CNN ran an interview With a mom who said she’s “getting my boy back” thanks to CBD.

However, after studying a large number of autistic rats, Tel Aviv University researchers concluded that another compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes hyperactivity, may be far more effective.

Boy with colored puzzle heart in front of his face to raise awareness for World Autism Day. (via iStock Getty Images)

Researcher Shani Poleg told The Times of Israel, “The studies that are underway mostly don’t focus on what is in cannabis that can help people.” “In our study, we looked at the details, and drew surprising and interesting conclusions.”

“THC was more effective. The main difference was that the THC treatment also improved social behavior, not just repetitive compulsive behavior.” CBD helped rats cope with repetitive compulsive behaviors in most studies.

She said that while THC causes a high, research suggested that the amount of the compound needed to produce results is low. “Our study shows that there is no need for a high content of CBD or THC when treating autism with medicinal cannabis oil,” she said.

“We saw significant improvements in behavioral tests after treatment with cannabis oil containing small amounts of THC and no long-term effects in cognitive or emotional tests performed one and a half months after the start of treatment.”

Discussing why cannabis products may have benefits, he said: “According to the prevailing theory, autism involves over-stimulation of the brain that causes compulsive behavior. In the laboratory, in addition to behavioral consequences, we have observed found a significant reduction in the concentration of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate in spinal fluid – which may explain the reduction in behavioral symptoms.”

Poleg insisted that the research, Prof. More recently supervised by Daniel Offen peer reviewed and published in the journal Translational Psychology, is preliminary and should not be considered treatment advice.

She also noted that the mutation that causes autism in her mice, Shank3, is only responsible for a small minority of human autism cases. “But we hope that it may have an effect both to encourage further exploration of the use of medical cannabis for autism and to use better types of cannabis,” she said.

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