Cannabis may still be one of the most controversial plants in America’s history, but awareness of its potential medical abilities is steadily increasing. First legalized for medical use by California in 1996, medical cannabis is now legal in 36 states and used to alleviate medical conditions such as chronic pain, cancer and cancer treatment symptoms, epilepsy, glaucoma and Alzheimer’s disease. Thanks to the plant’s potent medical properties, researchers all over the world are constantly running studies to discover the breadth of marijuana’s medical potential.
A pediatric clinical trial at UC-San Diego’s Center for Medical Cannabis Research has found that cannabidiol (“CBD”), one of the many chemical compounds produced by hemp and marijuana, has a positive effect against some of the more extreme symptoms of autism. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that usually results rigidity and repetitive behaviors as well as difficulty understanding nonverbal communication and social interaction. The disorder affects one in 44 children in America and can be accurately diagnosed by the time a child is two years old.
Autism exists on a spectrum, with some people exhibiting mild, easy-to-manage symptoms and others being completely nonverbal and, in some cases, aggressive and violent. It can also lead to self-harm and extremely disruptive behavior in extreme cases. According to Dr. Doris Trauner a distinguished professor of neurosciences and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, “aggression and self-injurious behaviors” are common in children with severe autism. People with less severe autism may have trouble communicating in social settings, she told CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, even if they are capable of speaking quite well.
For example, Ezra Fouquette started exhibiting unusual behavior when he was 17 months old, and he was diagnosed with autism disorder five months later. He soon became aggressive and violent, says Joan Fouquette, his mother. She didn’t want to put him on available pharmaceutical therapies because they can have side effects. This includes an increased risk of developing diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular-type issues. Instead, Fouquette tried a variety of unsuccessful homeopathic remedies and therapies until she heard about the CBD clinical trial at UC San Diego.
She enrolled Ezra into the double-blind placebo-controlled study when he was nine years old. Researchers gave CBD and a placebo to the participants at random and studied their brains to see how cannabidiol affected them. Ezra received both CBD and a placebo during the clinical trial, and after a few weeks, the once nonverbal young boy was singing. He’s not aggressive anymore, Fouquette says, and she can now communicate with him in a way she never could. A year after the study concluded, Ezra is still a happy and communicative young boy.
The study still hasn’t been published, however. Additionally, a lot more research is still needed before CBD is developed into a legal behavioral drug for autistic kids. Such additional research would greatly benefit from making use of advanced dose-measuring devices such as the internet-enabled smart inhalers manufactured by RYAH Group Inc. (CSE: RYAH) since it would help to standardize the dose administered to participants during clinical trials.
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