Everything You Need to Know About CBD Oil for Autism

December 19, 2018 20 Comments

CBD oil for autism

“Miracle Treatment”

“Healing agent”

“Hope for the autism community”

“My son began to speak after 2 days”

If you’re a parent that has a child with autism, you might wonder if these anecdotal reports about CBD Oil are actually true. It’s hard to ignore the growing popularity of our society using CBD to treat many different conditions and symptoms. Sources like Forbes project CBD products to be a $2.2 billion dollar industry over the next 2 years.

CBD is recommended as a treatment for conditions such as seizures, depression and anxiety, and symptoms such as sleeplessness, inflammation, acne and pain. It seems to be something that everyone could benefit from using; its effects can be so widespread. But can CBD oil really help children and adults with autism?

Do you already know the benefits of CBD and just want to see where we recommend purchasing CBD Oil for autistic children? Click here to see who we recommend and learn more about them.

 

What is CBD?

Cannabis plants produce thousands of compounds but the most recognized belong to a class called cannabinoids. There are several cannabinoids but the two that are most well-known among consumers are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).  

Derived from an extraction process from the flowers and buds of cannabis plants, either marijuana or hemp, CBD does not produce intoxication as it is a non-psychoactive compound, unlike marijuana's "high" which is caused by the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

If you are interested in or have been researching medicinal marijuana for those with autism, CBD oil could possibly be a better option. This is something you should discuss with your child’s doctor.  

You may hear the term “hemp oil” when referring to CBD oil. Hemp is one of the varieties of cannabis plants that CBD is most commonly extracted from. Although in most cases CBD oil from hemp has no THC, it’s important to note that isn't always the case. So going forward, we recommend focusing on CBD oil for those with autism.

CBD oil can be taken orally in many forms - some sources break consumption into categories – ingestible, topical, and smokeable. CBD oil can be administered in a dropper as a tincture, be encapsulated into a pill, baked into a brownie, vaped or even smoked. CBD products include edibles like gummies, beverage drinks, soaps, and creams or a transdermal patch similar to a nicotine patch.

Full Spectrum or Isolate?

Besides the type of plant CBD is extracted from, you can also choose the type of CBD you want based on how it’s processed. Full spectrum, or "whole plant" CBD, has a variety of potentially beneficial cannabinoids plus plant terpenes and flavonoids found in the original plant. CBD isolate is when all the other cannabis compounds are removed and only the CBD is left. It is not "whole plant" based and contains only one part.

It's believed that using full-spectrum has more benefits than using CBD alone.

How do you choose which CBD oil to use?

There are so many brands of CBD oil to choose from. There are also many "snake oils" on the market, so it's important to do your research. Find out the source of the CBD, where it's grown and how it's processed. You should check third-party testing results provided by CBD Oil companies. 

If a company can't provide you with a third-party lab test or a certificate of authentication (CoA), then we would recommend finding another brand.  

Is CBD Legal?

In December 2018, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill which, if it hasn't already, will be signed by the President.

What this means is that CBD processed from hemp, with a THC level less than 0.3%, will be legal in all 50 states. If CBD oil has more than 0.3% THC it is considered non-hemp and has no federal legal protection at all.

And even though CBD oil from hemp is now legal, there are still strict regulations, as well as government oversight as to who can grow hemp, where it can be grown and how it's cultivated and produced. 

Click here for state by state regulations concerning cannabis products that do not fall under the protections of the 2018 Farm Bill. 

Some states allow doctors to use their clinical discretion to prescribe CBD to their autistic patients. Some parents have sought out CBD separately to treat other symptoms such as pain or sleep issues, and have noted the secondary effects on the symptoms of autism. The therapeutic properties of cannabis, primarily of CBD, can help alleviate some of the negative behavioral effects of autism, such as anxiety and epileptic seizures.

Additionally, with CBD oil there are regulation issues around how much CBD vs THC are in the oil. Oral absorption is difficult to measure, and it is thought that less than 20% of the drug is absorbed when taken by mouth.  

A recent study of CBD oil products found some productions had too little and others too much, and 1/5 CBD products contained THC, which can cause anxiety or make seizures worse.

As with any new treatment, it needs to be closely followed by doctors to watch for potential interactions with other meds, as well as resultant liver problems.  

What is the correct dose of CBD Oil for Autism?

There is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) of CBD. Doctors may suggest a dosage to a patient, but don’t typically prescribe it due to legal issues. For doctors in training, the use of CBD oil and its benefits hasn’t been studied enough to be taught in pharmacology classes in medical school – there are no experts here.

CBD Dosage Chart

CBD oil manufacturers often recommend a serving size on the label, but the amount of CBD is different in each product. The most common recommendation is to start small and increase as needed. Our chart will give you an idea of where to start with your child based on his or her weight. 

 

 

Because every child is different, it will take time to find the best dose for your child.

How Does CBD Oil work for those with Autism?

We as humans all have an endocannabinoid system that receives signals from cannabinoid that enters the body. When you consume CBD it enters your bloodstream, brain and nervous system almost immediately.

The endocannabinoid system moves in the opposite direction when compared to neurotransmitters. It moves up to the neurons and attaches to the cannabinoid receptors of the neuron that will send a “message”. Once there, the cannabinoids control what happens the next time the neurons activate and can effectively change what happens to the body and mind.  

Endocannabinoids can help regulate hunger, anxiety, neuronal excitability, protection and pain, among other things. With individuals with epilepsy, CBD oil can help suppress seizures. Those who look to cannabinoid medicine to help with autism believe that it can help bring order to the brain. It is well known that individuals with autism struggle with focus and attention, and cannabis can alter their spectrum of attention.

The effect of CBD oil begins at different rates for different people depending on dosage and product. Vaping/smoking can produce effects the quickest, sublingual tinctures may take 20-40 minutes, and edibles can take 1-2 hours to move through the digestive system. CBD taken topically in a cream or salve can also take an hour to get into the bloodstream, but their effects can last up to 6 hours.

Is it effective for autism?

We want to know how CBD oil impacts autism. Is CBD an effective treatment for autism? Is obtaining medical marijuana for autism a good investment of time and resources? And do the benefits outweigh the risks?

There are multiple facets to consider when answering these questions. The simple answer is that there isn’t a wealth of research done for pediatric patients with autism – there is practically NO study validating the idea that cannabis is an effective and available option for the treatment of autism yet.

Nevertheless, one can’t ignore the reports of this “miracle drug” that has so many proven success stories.

For an individual with autism, a developmental disability with no proven “treatment”, you’re open to many therapies and strategies that might alleviate symptoms. CBD itself has shown promising results as a treatment for a variety of conditions, many of which are otherwise not treatable.

The most well-known properties of CBD are neuroprotective, anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic. CBD also possesses therapeutic value to treat conditions like depression, anxiety, and dependence.

Some reports show a decline in aggressive behavior, a significant decrease in seizures, and improved speech. Some accounts include children who did not speak before treatment who achieved significant results in a short period of time after their first dose of CBD oil.

Can we prove the benefits of CBD oil for autism?

Back in 2015, the Harvard Review and Boston Children’s Hospital put together a baseline study of cannabis research to date, which stated that most research was animal-based and did not yet show generalized impact to human subjects.

The review concluded with the cautionary statement that cannabis treatments should be used as a last resort after all conventional therapies have failed. Indeed, a widespread reluctance exists within the pediatric community to study the effects of cannabis in children, due to the potential of harmful side effects.

There have been hundreds of studies on the effect of marijuana and different health impacts. Currently, there are two studies slated to study cannabis specific to autism – but they have not yet started.  There is a risk to study children in general, and especially with a controlled substance like marijuana, which is known to damage the cells of a developing brain.

In many studies of CBD oil, there have been clinical trials done with adults, but they are not specific to children. Use of CBD oil for antipsychotic, antidepressant or sleep aid uses have been studied on animals but limited research has been to include humans.

Some published studies used case reports and retrospective accounts, but not true research with clinical trials and placebo groups. A recent retrospective study of individuals with ASD did report improvement in disruptive behavior, anxiety, and communications. Unfortunately, there were some (minimally reported) adverse effects such as sleep disturbance, irritability, and loss of appetite in participants.  

A pediatric neurologist in Israel began research last year with 60 children on the autism spectrum and while still to be published, some preliminary results have been released. These qualifying study subjects had not responded to previous conventional drug therapies. 80% of participants who were treated for 7 months with 20:1 ratio of CBD to THC saw improvements. After the study, parents were asked about communication, behavior, and anxiety. 80% of parents noted a decrease in problem behavior, with 62% reporting significant improvement in behavior. Additionally, 50% noted an improvement in communication, 40% reported a decrease in anxiety (2/3 of the participants began the study with anxiety).

In 2017, there was a retrospective study conducted in Chile on 20 children who were given a CBD oil tincture orally for 3 months. The CBD to THC ratio was 1:1 – but the specific dosage wasn’t indicated. In looking at that study, one can note that this substance was not solely CBD, but equal parts CBD and THC.

The positive part of this study was that it was done with children with ASD – something that we don’t have a lot of research on. The outcome of the study was that caregivers reported improvement in at least one core symptom of autism - social communication, language, or repetitive behaviors. Additionally, sensory difficulties, food-based/texture tolerance, sleep disorders, and/or seizures improved as well.

CBD Oil for Autism and Epilepsy

Did you know that less than 2% of the general population has epilepsy, but up to 33% of people with autism also suffer from epilepsy? While scientists do not clearly understand the reasons behind the relationship, they suspect that the different brain development that occurs in autistic children is more likely to create circuits that cause epileptic seizures. Earlier this year, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel unanimously recommended approval of the CBD medication Epidiolex to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. These two conditions have early onset in childhood and present with seizures that are difficult to control. The syndromes have impacts that grossly affect the child’s development and overall quality of life. This news is huge for the medical and autism community; as this is the first time the FDA has approved a marijuana-derived substance.

Where to Buy CBD Oil for Autism

Because of the FDA, no company can sell or market CBD oil specifically for autismADHDhd, or any sort of special needs. This would be making claims not yet confirmed by the FDA. 

When looking for CBD oil for autism, you'll need to investigate on your own if the company is a high quality supplier. 

You'll want to make sure the company uses true, "Full-Spectrum" CBD, offers a Certificate of Analysis, and has their product 3rd Party Tested. 

While you should always do your own research, we at Harkla have tried and really like Natural Stacks CBD Oil combination

They have 2 different blends. One of which you take in the morning that comes with Omega-3, which is important for inflammation and brain development, and another which is blended with melatonin and lavendar oil for a great bedtime combination. 

Click here to read more about their CBD Oils. 

 

What’s Next?

Efforts to legalize cannabis continues –although there are significant concerns that it will become more available to adults and teens, and its dangerous effect on brain development. You probably see the movement in your own states and communities, depending on where you live.  In the meantime, activist groups like MAMMA (Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism) are working tirelessly to add autism as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana use in certain states where it is already legal.

Continued research involving CBD and autism is needed to continue to validate these incredible anecdotal reports. US-based studies are necessary to influence decision-makers in our country. Fortunately, there are more studies coming, which will be conducted in the United States.

Large grants and donations have been allocated for research out of University of California San Diego and Montefiore Medical Center in New York as well as New York University. There was a $4.7 million dollar gift for medical marijuana research specific to autism, the largest private gift for cannabis research in our country.

Safer production, consistent packaging, and streamlined recommendations are needed for medical use of CBD oil. PCP involvement in monitoring the use of CBD oil is crucial – especially to watch for interaction with other drugs, liver health, and symptom management. Patient education about all of these issues is necessary to create informed consumers to validate this new “miracle drug”.

We are at an exciting point as we watch cannabis products, especially CBD oil, become more mainstream in our pool of alternative therapies for autism.

Although with marijuana, there can be a risk to the developing brain and the fear of access for all teens/children, it’s not hard to see why legalization is so difficult. These same risks don’t seem to exist with CBD Oil.

There are so many positive impacts of CBD for conditions that aren’t easily remediated, many of which are the core symptoms of autism. But safety is still a concern.

It’s hard to ignore those accounts of children who have never spoken, of individuals whose behaviors were so difficult but untouched by conventional drug therapies. A parent will do anything to help their child but should know how the risks and benefits compare.

 

About the Author

Molly Shaw Wilson MS OTR/L BCP

Molly Shaw Wilson MS OTR/L BCP is a board-certified pediatric occupational therapist with 16 years experience. She owns a private practice and provides service in homes, community and school settings, as well as her outpatient sensory clinic. Molly enjoys working with young children and their families, focusing on parent-child interactions and home routines. She is a regular contributor to a parenting blog about typical development. Her professional interests have stemmed from her certificate work in assistive technology, hippotherapy practice, and consultation to a nature-based program in New Hampshire. To find out more about Molly, please visit her website at www.trainingwheelsnh.com

 

References:

https://basresearch.com/science/autism-and-cbd-oil/

https://n.neurology.org/content/90/15_Supplement/P3.318

https://www.leafly.com/news/health/autism-and-cannabis-heres-what-the-science-says


20 Responses

Prakash
Prakash

May 14, 2019

My son 24year old having mild autistic symtoms.cannot mixup with anybody.should I give him CBD OIL? What should be dose? Pl advise. Thanks.

Samantha
Samantha

May 14, 2019

I really need information on where I can buy this stuff online, what kind I should get and what dose. My son is 7, 80 pounds, and totally out of control all day long. No medication his doctor gives him has helped and I am at a loss. I’m in Ohio so I can’t access this locally yet, so I was trying to get information on a good site to order from. I looked into care by design but they do not ship. Thanks in advance for any info!

Terri Everman
Terri Everman

May 14, 2019

We tried Lazarus Naturals 25 mg. on my granddaughter today and she spoke her first sentence, was obeying more and no meltdown. It was great. It has also helped me with my nerve pain. I have tried several brands but this one I am sticking with and they have a discount for veterans and low income.
Hope this helps.

California CBD Mom
California CBD Mom

May 07, 2019

As for dosage we do about two to three droppers. He’s 5’1 and about 120. He’s very tall for his age. NOTE: For him Behavior Balance worked initially for a few days but became almost toxic like he was getting three Redbulls at once. So we discontinued Behavior Balance at once. He takes liquid B complex, B12 and D and CBD in the morning and melatonin at night. If he has later day escalation he gets half a dropped of CBD.

Initially when he took CBD wasn’t a daily thing. He really only use it for school sporadically. And we were able to go weeks sometimes months without needing it. This was at about age 7 . Now getting closer to puberty he’s on a daily schedule.
California CBD Mom
California CBD Mom

May 07, 2019

CARE BY DESIGN is the brand to use! Please take my word on this. I’m a client of Dr. Frank Lucido in Berkeley California and CBD has been part of a game changing plan for my son. He too was completely neurotypiical but regressed at about 22 months. We know have excellent improved communication though it was hard hard work. Hes still in an SDC class but this means he gets much more one on one than full inclusion with an Aid. He’s almost ten and testing first and second grade which for us is a triumph. He has a vocabulary and ability to communicate that we never thought we’d see or here. Don’t give up!

To parents out there: fish oil is not the answer CBD is. 1:1 and 2:1 Care By Design has half to 2 parts THC to CBD respectively so it will have a high calming effect but there will be munchies and a come down phase.

4:1 8:1 and 18:1 seem to be the best for an over all calming effect. This is a plant but it is still a drug so weight gain has to be monitored. Lots of exercises early in the day is advisable. We have been able to avoid using ANY big pharmaceutical drugs. He does use Melatonin.

Nicole
Nicole

May 07, 2019

Hi Stephen,

I recommend joining a Facebook group for CBD oil use with kids. There is so much valuable information from personal experience. You can definitely try CBD oil for a child who is 3 by following the dosage instructions on the bottle. It’s best to start with the lowest dosage and work up from there. Hope this info helps.

Nicole
Harkla

Scott
Scott

May 02, 2019

I have a question regarding dosage.  My 5yo son weighs 44lbs or 20kg with what i would call moderate to severe asd per your chart.  So say his dosage is 12mg then.  I recently purchased a cdb broad spectrum oil w/ 21mg per .5ml, which is the serving size.  So i started him at .25ml, a quarter of the dropper, which would be about the 12mg per your dosage chart.
I havent really seen any effects over the past couple days so i was thinking about upping the dosage. 
In doing some research I saw that the cbd oil studies in Israel you mention above are being done at 16mg/kg/d.  I also so other studies at 10mg/kg/d.  So by my math for the 10mg/kg/d thats a dose of 4.75ml as opposed to the .25ml for a 44lb boy(20kg x10mg/kg = 200mg, not 12mg per dosage chart) 
Needless to say, please tell me im wrong in my interpretation of the dosages as compared to the studies currenrly being done.  If thats the case i would be going through a $100 30ml bottle in 6 days…. or are we just getting setup by big pharma that this is all going to have covered by insurance for anyone to afford this.

SUNIL KESAV
SUNIL KESAV

April 26, 2019

my daughter is 11year old autistic she showed this symptom from one and half year.now also she is speechless with ADH

Stephen squires
Stephen squires

April 24, 2019

I would love some more info on CBD oil for my 3 year old boy . Doctors aren’t sure about Autism , his non verbal and has anxiety issues.

Nicole
Nicole

April 24, 2019

Hi Revathi,

Thanks for reading our article on CBD oil for autism. We recommend that you read the instructions of the CBD oil you purchased to be sure. However, it is common to take CBD oil everyday, sometimes twice daily.

All the best,
Nicole
Harkla

Revathi
Revathi

April 23, 2019

Hi
My son is 5.5 yrs old..he is nonvebral and developmental delayed kid.. really wanted to try cbd oil for speech mainly.. currently he is taking Nordic natural fish oil.. I found ur site interesting and useful.. I even ordered natural stack omega cbd oil.. now my question is how much quantity shld I give to my son.. shld it be given daily??

Nicole
Nicole

March 29, 2019

Hi J Terry,

I’m so very sorry to hear what your son is going through. If you tried one brand of CBD Oil and it did not help, you can look into other brands. However, Charlotte’s Web is supposed to be very high quality.

Have you ever heard of PANDAS? PANDAS is an autoimmune disorder that can occur suddenly and is caused by strep bacteria. I recommend reading about it. You mentioned your son’s changes occurred after an illness and that is often what happens with PANDAS. We truly wish the best for your son. Please feel free to reach out to us directly at support@harkla.co if you have any other questions.

Thank you,
Nicole
Harkla

J Terry
J Terry

March 29, 2019

I am feeling really discouraged. My 4 year old son was a happy baby. Engaged. Made eye contact. Babbled and began talking on time. He could answer questions. After he turned 2, he regressed… seemingly after viral illness. He stopped communicating. Now he can’t answer simple questions. He can and will ask for things that he wants, but other than that, his language is a mashup of things he’s heard us say, his teacher say, and things that he’s heard randomly on TV/tablet…no functional language…it’s literally a jumbled/scrambled combination of things he’s heard. Again after another viral illness, he begin having epic angry meltdown…very aggressive and violent towards us and himself, during the meltdown. He is extremely hyperactive and can’t sit still and get through any school tasks. He’s very smart and knows A LOT, but can’t communicate what he knows on command. He is getting ready to go to Kindergarten, and I’m so afraid he is going to fail…even with an IEP, because he can’t follow most commands nor complete the work. We live in a rural area with limited therapy resources. We have no ABA therapy here. Both my husband and I work normal business hours and he’s in school so it’s hard to travel to another area for therapy. We have tried Charlotte’s Web CBD oil, and we have not noticed any major changes while using it. We’ve even played around with the dosage to see if that changes anything. Can someone please suggest a different CBD oil that can help with my son’s behaviors I’ve listed? I am so discouraged and my heart literally breaks for him everyday. My heart also breaks for us as a family, because it’s hard to function like this. We literally can’t go to church, or ANYWHERE because my son’s behaviors and reactions are so unpredictable. He’s receiving OT and speech through his IEP, but it’s only 1 day per week for each therapy for 30 minutes. It takes them the entire 30 minutes to get him to focus, so they never really get to the therapy. Someone please point me in the right direction. I desperately want to help my little boy.

Jim Dunham
Jim Dunham

March 26, 2019

Great Stuff.. It seems, you have researched a lot before posting the blog. Thank you for sharing such a important information, as rarely people know this use of CBD. I know about CBD but not aware the CBD can be use in this way as well.

Jessica
Jessica

March 25, 2019

I can personally attest to the positive impacts that CBD oil can have on autistic children. I currently treat my 3.5yo son with suspected autism (his evaluation is in a couple weeks) with both Nordic Naturals fish oil and Vitalibis Signature 300 CBD oil (300mg per serving, full spectrum oil, I only give him maybe 1/4 a dropper per day in some juice). Many days I feel like it’s not making a difference, but for the two weeks where I stopped giving him the CBD and was only giving him the fish oil, he started having behavior problems in school – ripping up his papers, not following directions etc. Normally his teacher and aides say he is an absolute pleasure in class! So I went back to giving him the CBD again a couple days ago and suddenly he is getting good reports in school again. CBD oil is expensive but worth it!

Nicole
Nicole

March 19, 2019

Hi Laila,

Thank you for your feedback. We’re glad you found this article useful. As far as sites for an 18-year-old with autism, I would recommend joining a Facebook group for adults with autism and getting some input there. I’m sure you’d get many great recommendations.

Take care,
Nicole
Harkla Happiness Ninja

vicki henry
vicki henry

March 19, 2019

My son is 29 yrs. old, weighs about 215 lbs. He is autistic. He was non-verbal until Jr. High and High School age. His speaking ability is around that of a 8-10 yr. old but will have difficulty communicating when he is up-set and in meltdown mode. He also has occasional seizures that developed at age 22 yrs. Having one seizure 12 hrs. after a dose of Prozac. He then had another seizure 1 yr. later. At that time he had an EEG and it showed slight seizure activity in his left temporal lobe when he was a bit drowsy. I then started a treatment using vitamin therapy. It is called Behavior Balance with DMG. This helped to control is seizures for 3 yrs. when he had another episode. It was another 3 yrs. before he had another one. However this past year of 2018-2019 he has had a total of 5 seizures. I was wondering how CBD oil made from hemp, not marijuana, would help him and what dosage would be good for him. He also has aggressive behaviors when he is upset as well as some anxiety and a very bad acne problem, not just on his face but also on his body.

Casey Ames
Casey Ames

March 11, 2019

Hey Howard,

As you know, getting CBD is different from state to state, but the farm bill should make it legal to order is online in any state.

You can check more state by state here: http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx?fbclid=IwAR2GYvhwhcVJe1ZYKvV3n6r87nJ6buTQZ0rCPdi61N9CKqgFYa-vaDzfePM

As far as dosing, we have a chart in the artice that gives recommendations based on weight and how much is needed. I’d reference that since the weight of the child is important. But most things work best by starting lower and working your way up.

For delivery methods, it probably depends on the child, but tincture and pills are probably easiest and most convenient.

Thanks!
Casey

Howard
Howard

March 11, 2019

I’m a child psychiatrist who is interested in exploring this as an alternative to FDA approved medications such as SGAs. My understanding is full spectrum products are preferable, but these are currently unavailable in Illinois other than for certain conditions not including ASD. The legal CBD in Illinois is not full spectrum and is not reliably labelled in terms of dosage. Is there a way a family can legally obtain full spectrum CBD on line for an autistic early adolescent? What delivery method is most tolerated and titratable? I assume we would start low with ~2-5 mg and go up from there, but any dosing suggestions from families or physicians would be appreciated.

Laila
Laila

March 01, 2019

Thanks so much for this open-minded article. Are there any other websites or articles you would suggest for an 18 year old with autism?

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