The long-term use of cannabis extracts containing high percentages of CBD and low percentages of THC is associated with reduced symptoms in adolescent patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to data published the Journal of Cannabis Research.

Turkish investigators reported on the use of CBD-dominant extracts in a cohort of 33 adolescent subjects diagnosed with mild-to-severe autism. Authors reported: “[M]ain improvements of the treatment were as follows: a decrease in behavioral problems was reported in 10 patients (32.2 percent), an increase in expressive language was reported in 7 patients (22.5 percent), improved cognition was reported in 4 patients (12.9 percent), an increase in social interaction was reported in 3 patients (9.6 percent), and a decrease in stereotypes was reported in 1 patient (3.2 percent). The parents reported improvement in cognition in patients who adhered to CBD-enriched cannabis treatment for over two years.”

Six patients reported no significant improvements in behavior.

Compared to conventional treatments, cannabis extracts were not associated with any significant side effects.

Authors concluded, “Using lower doses of CBD and trace THC seems to be promising in managing behavioral problems associated with autism.”

The study’s findings are consistent with those of several other small trials similarly finding improvements in patients’ ASD symptoms following the use of cannabinoid products. Survey data published in October by the publication Autism Parenting Magazine reported that 22 percent of US caregivers or parents have provided CBD to an autistic child. Survey data from the United Kingdom recently reported that autistic adults were nearly four times as likely as controls to report having used CBD within the past year.

Full text of the study, “CBD-enriched cannabis for autism spectrum disorder: An experience of a single center in Turkey and reviews of the literature,” appears in the Journal of Cannabis Research. Additional information on cannabis and autism spectrum disorder is available from NORML.

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