Case Report: Cannabis Extract Associated with Improvement in Autism-Related Behavioral Symptoms

Calgary, Canada: The daily administration of CBD-dominant, plant-derived cannabis extracts is associated with improved behavioral symptoms in a teenager with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a case study published in the Journal of Medical Case Reports.

A team of Canadian researchers affiliated with Caleo Health Services and the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary reported on the effects of low-doses of a cannabidiol-based extract in a fifteen-year-old with autism, anxiety, and controlled epilepsy. The patient used cannabis as an adjunct to other prescribed medications. The patient consumed low doses (0.2 mL) of the extract twice daily. The plant-derived extract contained a CBD to THC ratio of 20 to 1. 

Researchers reported that the patient’s symptoms improved within six-months of treatment, and that he has maintained “positive effects on his behavioral symptoms, anxiety, sleep, and social deficits” since that time. 

“This case report provides evidence that a lower than previously reported dose of a phytocannabinoid in the form of a cannabidiol-based extract may be capable of aiding in autism spectrum disorder-related behavioral symptoms, core social communication abilities, and comorbid anxiety, sleep difficulties, and weight control,” authors concluded. “Further research is needed to elucidate the clinical role and underlying biological mechanisms of action of cannabidiol-based extract in patients with autism spectrum disorder.”

Research published last year by investigators at Tufts University in Boston similarly reported that the oral administration of cannabis-based products is associated with improvements in autistic symptoms in patients with self-injurious behaviors and co-morbid epilepsy, Several small clinical trials – such as those reported hereherehere, and here – have also previously 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, “A pediatric patient with autism spectrum disorder and epilepsy using cannabinoid extract as complementary therapy: A case report,” appears in the Journal of Medical Case Reports.