Rachel White, a research associate scientists at Frances Jensen’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania recently presented at the 2019 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois. She presented how “CBD had positive effects in the animals, and no negative ones. She also expressed how CBD eases  eases seizures and improves learning and sociability in mice with mutations in an autism gene called CDKL5. The results add to the already robust evidence that cannabidiol, or CBD, can treat epilepsy and autism.

Infants with mutations in CDKL5 develop a host of symptoms, known collectively as CDKL5 deficiency disorder, previously known as atypical Rett syndrome. Children with these mutations are typically diagnosed with severe epilepsy in the first few months of life, followed by intellectual disability and autism-like behaviors.

A study last year found that the compound also suppresses seizures in children with CDKL5 mutations1. The new findings suggest the compound could improve their behavioral problems too.

The researchers used a mouse model that mirrors the seizure severity along with the social and cognitive problems seen in CDKL5 disorder2.

They injected adult mice with either saline or CBD one hour before testing them. Compared with controls, the animals that received CBD were less prone to seizures, spent more time with other animals and performed better on memory and learning tests.

The researchers plan to study the effects of long-term treatment with CBD.

“These animals grew up without any treatments, and just one treatment at a late age was able to deliver these changes,” White says. Treating the mice earlier in life may give even better results, she says. “It would also tell us if there’s any detrimental effect of growing up with CBD.” (source)

Pretty promising stuff. But, can cannabis help with autism? A new clinical trial at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York is about to find out. Researchers believe since cannabis has had success with treating certain types of epilepsy, that it could perhaps hel with the irritability and repetitive behaviours that are commonly seen with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

It’s not CBD or THC that will be testing though, it’s a compound within cannabis called CBDV, it’s another non-psychoactive chemical component that does not cause a “high.”

The cannabis for the trial will be grown by a British biopharmaceutical company called GW pharmaceuticals.

Some autism experts remain cautiously optimistic about cannabis-based medicines treating autism behaviors. Dr. Alexander Kolevzon, clinical director of the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai, is not involved in the Montefiore research but is encouraged by initial reports on CBD-based cannabis medicine. Kolevzon believes cannabis compounds show enough promise to warrant further study but cautioned that the variation and range in the autism spectrum makes it an especially challenging disorder to treat. (source)

Another recent study conducted by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center has concluded that medical cannabis can be a safe and significant treatment option for many symptoms of autism spectrum disorders in patients ages 18 and under. These symptoms include seizures, tics, depression, restlessness and even “rage attacks.”

In fact, the study, which monitored just under 200 Israelis under the age of 18, revealed remarkable information even Alex Berenson might have trouble disputing: Over 80 percent of the participants who were treated for six months showed either significant or moderate improvement, according to Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider of the BGU-Soroka Clinical Cannabis Research Institute. Less than 10 percent of participants experienced no noticeable effect from cannabis. And how many reported negative effects? Zero