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Study Suggests Cannabis May Help Reduce Dysregulation for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Updated on March 27, 2020.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

The journal of Molecular Autism has published a study that could provide hope for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Researchers looked at the levels of the main endocannabinoids in 93 children with ASD and 93 neurotypical children. What they discovered was lower levels in three of these areas (N-arachidonoylethanolamine [AEA], N-oleoylethaolamine [OEA], and N-palmitoylethanolamine [PEA]) for kids on the spectrum.

What does this mean for those who aren’t bio-scientists? Essentially that kids with ASD have lower levels of endocannabinoids than their peers, which may indicate why children with ASD struggle with dysregulation and social connection.

The researchers acknowledge there is a need for further studies to truly understand the role of these reduced levels of endocannabinoids play for children with ASD. But this isn’t the first time research has suggested kids with ASD could potentially benefit from medical cannabis. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) began working with Australian research firm Zelda Therapeutics in 2018 to study the benefits of medical marijuana for kids with autism, and CBD is known to help maintain the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and dopamine levels.

This latest research simply joins a growing body of evidence that suggests positive benefits of medicinal marijuana for individuals on the spectrum.


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