Autism is a neurological disorder that is characterised by communication difficulties, routine behaviour, learning problems, and social interaction problems.
Just as there is no known cause for autism or autism spectrum disorder, there is also no known cure for it either.
However, there is an increasing body of alternative or unconventional therapies that have been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of autism, which are many.
The latest and so far the most controversial addition to this body of therapies is Hemp Oil or CBD Oil, an extract from marijuana and hemp plants. Another common name which you are likely to come across is cannabidiol.
What is Hemp Oil or CBD Oil?
Hemp oil is an extract from marijuana and hemp plants. While marijuana has a higher concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), than hemp which users can thank for “feeling high”, hemp has more of cannabidiol or CBD than marijuana.
CBD oil obtained from hemp plants has a lower concentration of the medicinal cannabidiol however, so it is much more customary for producers to breed marijuana plants to have higher levels of CBD for extraction of the oils.
CBD has been proven to be effective in the treatment of arthritis, epilepsy, seizures, inflammation, multiple sclerosis and, much recently, cancer.
All this without the increased psychoactivity or “high” associated with THC.
Hemp Oil and Autism
There are plenty of cases where the administering of hemp oil has proven beneficial in treating neurological cases. The first significant cases were witnessed in the treatment of epilepsy, but more and more cases are cropping up everywhere supporting the claim that hemp oil is hugely beneficial in treating autistic cases as well.
Take the case of Kalel Santiago, a nine-year old boy whose autism was so severe he could not speak. After having hemp oil sprayed into his mouth daily, Kalel was able to start speaking after only about three weeks. “He started using the product three weeks ago. He was a full non-verbal patient. He only made sounds. The only change in his treatments was the use of CBD,” according to Dr Giovanni Martinez, a clinical psychologist in Puerto Rico.
Or maybe the case of the mother Meiko Hester-Perez, who founded The Unconventional Foundation for Autism after witnessing medical marijuana help her autistic son.
Cases abound of the possible therapeutic benefits of hemp oil to those suffering with autism. So the obvious question follows: why are doctors not prescribing hemp oil more?
The answer: Lack of evidence.
All the cases in the world fall under the banner of anecdotal evidence.
Doctors will not prescribe cannabis to children without evidence and no scientist is willing to carry out test of something as precarious as cannabis on children.
This does not close the door on hemp oil treatment however. On the contrary, according to Dr Daniele Piomelli, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists and endocannabinoid researchers, “Anecdotes should not be dismissed,” while she herself is not willing to prescribe it just yet, she is aware of the benefits of further research, “An anecdote is a pointer. It’s something that suggests something needs to be either proven or disproven.”