Study: Cannabis-Based Products May Ease Symptoms in Autistic Patients

Boston, MA: The oral administration of cannabis-based products is associated with improvements in autistic patients with self-injurious behaviors and co-morbid epilepsy, according to data published in the journal Seminars in Pediatric Neurology.

A pair of investigators affiliated with the Tufts University School of Medicine described their clinical experience working with children and young adults with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) who had consumed either cannabis or hemp-based products. Among subjects with ASD-associated aggression, 60 percent reported improvements following treatment. Among subjects diagnosed with both ASD and epilepsy, 91 percent reported some improvement in seizure control.

Authors concluded: “Based on our experience, cannabis-based products appear to hold promise for use in patients with ASD. The primary reasons for use in our patient population was treatment of aggressive (including self-injurious behaviors) and epilepsy. Patients were not using these products for core symptoms of ASD such as language and social development, so the response to therapy for core symptoms was not assessed in our patient population.”

Several small clinical trials – such as those reported here, here, here, and here – have similarly reported that plant-derived cannabis extracts are effective and well-tolerated in mitigating various symptoms in patients with ASD, including hyperactivity, seizures, anxiety, and rage attacks.

Full text of the study, “Autism Spectrum Disorder and medical cannabis: Review & clinical experience,” appears in Seminars in Pediatric Neurology.