Medical Cannabis may prove Effective in Treating Autism
by Claire Townsend
A recent study by Stanford University suggests that medical Cannabis may be able to help children with autism. This is because ingredients present in the drug are thought to be able to break through the brain signals of autism sufferers that become blocked, affecting memory and learning.
With the debate over cannabis in the U.S continuing to make headlines, these latest findings are adding fuel to the fire of pro medical Cannabis.
A Positive Link
The paper linking cannabis with the managing of autism was published in Neuron and suggests that the signalling within tonic endocannabinoids could be effective in treating the symptoms of the disease such as learning, memory and pain.
Mice were used in the study to see what physiological effects of two mutations might have in common. One was the deletion of a gene, whilst the other contained a single amino acid substitute. The mutations are considered to be associated with human autism. Electrophysiological recordings were made of the cells in the brains of mice and these were compared with normal brain activity.
Researchers were cautious about the findings, but said they seemed to suggest that endocannabinoid signalling could be connected to autism and therefore medical Cannabis may be an effective treatment.
Families Opt for Medical Marijuana
Families across the U.S are beginning to try medical Marijuana to treat symptoms of autism in their children. Because these symptoms can vary considerably, it is difficult to obtain the right medicine for a particular child and parents are now turning towards alternative medicine.
Whilst the American Medical Association remains sceptical about its uses, parents are finding that giving a careful dose of Cannabis to their child is making a difference to their quality of life. Some families are reporting that their autistic child becomes more attentive, calmer and is able to absorb more information and therefore learn in a much more effective way than before. When the child concerned suffers from dangerous self-injury due to destructive behavior, parents have found that medical Cannabis has a stabilizing effect and the child is able to live a more normal, less stressful life. For these parents, the benefits of this drug outweigh the risks and they are not deterred by the cautionary advice of medical associations. Families who need extra guidance about the treatment of behavioural conditions are able to access guides that give useful advice and peace of mind about the medication and treatments available today.
Effective Treatment without Side Effects
Medical Cannabis is considered less risky than many pharmaceuticals in the treatment of autism because it is not seen to have side effects. Moods can be controlled with an oral dose that can be adjusted according to needs. Parents have stressed that too little is not effective, whilst too much makes a child sleepy and so giving the right dosage is important, although research shows that there is no lethal dose for Cannabis, making it safer to use in self-medication than other drugs and easing anxiety for parents and carers.
At the University of California, it was discovered that Cannabis reacts in a certain way with the human brain and this could lead to treatment for a number of conditions such as schizophrenia and Parkinson’s Disease, as well as autism. The cannabinoids within the drug work with the body’s own inner cannabinoid system and can prevent brain cells from degrading, as well as regulating emotion.
The latest study is significant because it shows that medical Cannabis affects the bodily processes that are blocked by autism, such as hunger signals or pain. This type of autism is known as Fragile X-induced autism and is thought to be the most common genetic cause of the disease. The synaptic failure in the brain can affect childrens’ motor skills, which teaches them how to behave in situations and also basic walking and talking skills. Cannabinoids are thought to block the enzymes that affect the poor signals that take place in autism sufferers. By giving the body the essential cannabinoids it needs, marijuana helps to restore the brain and communication functions.
Researchers believe that these cannabinoids can relieve the symptoms of autism and of other diseases, while not being able to cure them outright.
The use of medical Cannabis remains a controversial issue in the U.S, but with new research, the health implications are reaching a wide audience and promoting the benefits of this drug throughout society.
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