Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Benefits of Cannabis for Autism

Reports have shown that cannabis can help treat symptoms of autism. Autism is a disorder in brain development that affects social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and signs of repetitive behaviors. Autism has a broad spectrum of symptoms and sources in the body for the resulting behavior.(Source) Five percent of autism cases have also an occurrence of Fragile X Syndrome.

Fragile X Syndrome occurs when the X chromosome has a failure to express the fragile X mental retardation protein or FMRP. There are varying degrees of severity to how bad the mutation is. Symptoms include attention deficit, hyperactivity, anxiety and aggression.(Source)

Studies show that the Fragile X Syndrome affects the part of the body known as the endocannabinoid system. Cannabis affects the endocannabinoid system in the body which is made up of lipids and receptors.  The function of these receptors is to process appetite, feelings of pain, mood as well as memory functions. One of these lipids is 2-AG or 2-arachidonoylglycerol, which is crucial for cell function and communication. People with fragile X syndrome have a non-functioning 2-AG lipid. This lipid is found as a non psycho-active cannabinoid found in cannabis. Studies showing this correlation help explain why these symptoms are reduced when marijuana use replace this non functioning 2-AG in the body. (Source)

Researchers at Stanford University studied mice in which two synapse-adhesion proteins led to a block or slowing of signaling in their brains. This study reflects another form of the spectrum of autism in which there are mutations in neurologin-3 (NL-3) and R451. This study showed that the CB1 receptors  which are affected by these mutations can be helped through targeting of this receptor through use of marijuana treatment.(Source)

The researchers studied mutations in neurologin-3 (NL-3) and R451. . The mutation of neurologin-3 (NL-3), a gene encoding a protein that builds and maintains synapses, demonstrated a deletion of the entire gene.  In contrast the mutation of R451, demonstrated a single amino acid substitution. Both of these mutations have shown to be associated with autism in humans. (Source)

Success Stories

A family in San Diego wrote about their adopted son Sam that who showed signs of autism at 18 months old. The family gave doses of marijuana to their son at age 8 and documented changes in his behavior through a daily journal  read here). Their observations showed behaviors of agitation and aggression diminished leaving their son with a calm focused attention which was previously unobserved in his daily behavior.

Alex Echols, a resident of Oregon, suffers from a form of autism called tuberous sclerosis.  This form of autism has been shown to cause non-malignant tumors in organs. These tumors have affected his brain functions  to the point where he experiences powerful seizures and engages in self- inflicted harm. After trying many different drugs with Alex to no avail his parents decided to give him cannabis.   This resulted in a major reduction in self inflicted harm and a an increased relaxation in use of his hands for exploration. (Source)

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