Is there a link between using cannabis and neurodivergence?
Over the years, neurodivergents and parents of neurodivergent children have spoken about the ways that cannabis has improved their lives. There have also been some studies that suggest that cannabis may have benefits for those with autism spectrum disorders. But is it really true? Today, Chronic Haze investigates.
Disclaimer: The following information is intended for educational purposes, and should not be used in place of medical advice. Cannabis is not a direct substitute for medications and therapies used to help manage ADHD and other autism spectrum disorders. If you are interested in using cannabis to manage symptoms associated with ASDs, speak to a trusted healthcare professional.
What Do the People Say?
As stated previously, parents of children with ASDs have come forth stating the benefits that cannabis products have had on their children. There are cases in which children with autism characterized by aggressive behaviour have been calmed down immensely by CBD and other cannabinoids. This has been shown to help in cases with epilepsy, as well.
But that’s not all. Many adult cannabis users, specifically those with ASDs, have offered anecdotes regarding how cannabis benefits their lives. Adults whose ASD symptoms include panic, anxiety, stimming, seizures, and self-harm have spoken about how cannabis reduces the frequency and severity of these symptoms. For these people, cannabis is a relatively low-risk way of coping with the difficulties they may experience when interacting with the world.
So as it stands, some neurodivergent individuals claimed to have experienced benefits from using cannabis. Additionally, parents of autistic children have seen drastic improvements in their children’s behaviour. But what exactly is going on here?
What Does the Science Say?
As we’ve discussed in the past, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD strongly affect the production of the neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA. Specifically, they have the ability to inhibit glutamate, which causes feelings of excitement. Coincidentally, autism has been linked to imbalances in the glutamate-GABA system. This may explain why neurodivergent individuals experience benefits when using cannabis.
Additionally, some studies have provided illumination in this area. A 2013 study from Stanford University showed that mice with a genetic mutation linked to autism exhibited altered endocannabinoid signalling in their central nervous systems. Other studies have demonstrated similar findings, leading researchers to make a case for the use of medical cannabis in managing these alterations.
But these are just in mice models. What about humans? Well, a recent study published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology sought to observe the effects of medical cannabis on adults with autism. The subjects were queried about changes in their mental state at one, three, and six-month intervals. They were found to have improvements in areas such as depression, anxiety, and sleep!
So Can Cannabis Help Neurodivergent People?
The researchers in the above study concluded that cannabis can help alleviate the burden of certain symptoms, and rein in distressing thoughts and emotions that would otherwise interfere with a neurodivergent person’s quality of life. They also found cannabis to be relatively well-tolerated by these individuals.
Cannabis also offers certain advantages over conventional medications. Some, such as antipsychotics and benzodiazepines, have side effects that can worsen an individual’s state of min. It’s also worth noting that, in the aforementioned study, many of the individuals taking these medications began to opt out of their medications.
While this all sounds promising, it’s important to remember that we’re still in the early stages of using cannabis for this purpose. The intersection between cannabis and neurodivergence is criminally under-researched, and requires more examination so that individuals can be treated properly with medications fitted to their scenarios. That said, there are other studies that have demonstrated the benefits of cannabis on neurodivergent individuals. It’s possible that these benefits could be widespread at some point. Until then, education and safety should be of the highest priority when it comes to cannabis consumption.
Wanna Learn More?
Need a re-up? Stop by the Chronic Haze online store! We’ve got tons of amazing cannabis and related products, with same-day delivery and curbside pickup in select Ontario cities.
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Also, since we’re already discussing the benefits of cannabis, did you know that CBD may play a role in mitigating hair loss? Check out this blog post to learn more!