Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) reported significant improvements in their social communication abilities after treatment with CBD oil, according to a new study conducted in Israel.
Parents reported a reduction in restrictive and repetitive behaviors of children, reported PsyPost.
The study, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, was conducted on 82 children (65 identified as boys) with an average age of 9. They fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder. Their parents reported disruptive behavioral problems over the preceding six months.
The study was “open-label,” meaning that both participants and researchers knew what substance they were taking.
Parents received a supply of medicinal cannabis whole-plant extract (...) with a CBD: THC ratio of 20:1.
Parents were instructed to start with one drop daily ( 0.3 mg THC and 5.7 mg CBD) and increase the dosage gradually until they notice a decrease in irritability, aggressiveness, hyperactivity, and/or sleep disturbances.
“I would be happy if the doctors who treat children on the autistic spectrum would consider giving cannabis oil the same way they consider giving treatment with risperidone or aripiprazole,” Orit Stolar, a pediatrician and co-author of the study, told PsyPost. “The cannabis oil is really not a panacea (...) but for some children, there is no doubt that it helps them behave and function better on a daily basis.”
“Our art as therapists is to study and identify those children who can benefit from this therapy. For parents of children on the spectrum, I would be happy to give them hope that there is a treatment that can make day-to-day life easier with fewer side effects," Stolar said. "On the other hand, it should be remembered that the research shows that the treatment is only effective for some children."
Limitations Of The Study
In order to monitor and evaluate the treatment, participants completed psychiatric assessments including the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, cognitive assessments (Wechsler Intelligence Scale), assessments of adaptive behavior (Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale), and social skills (Social Responsiveness Scale).
The researchers found that when different participants completed different sets of assessments, “the ability to observe and compare trends of behavioral changes in the entire study sample was reduced.” Likewise, the dose of cannabis was adjusted individually such that each participant received a different dosage schedule throughout the study.
“While this approach allowed maximum flexibility to the needs of each participant and their family, it limited the ability to accurately monitor the influence of different dosages and dosage schedules and associate them with efficacy. More stringent double-blind placebo-controlled studies with comparable dosage schedules are, therefore, highly warranted for determining efficacy using the standardized behavioral assessments presented in the current study,” concluded the researchers.
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