Cannabis may help relieve Autism symptoms, Israeli study shows
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Cannabis may help relieve Autism symptoms, Israeli study shows

Researchers record sharp improvement in measures such as quality of life, ability to dress and shower independently after 6 months of cannabis oil treatment

Illustrative: In this photo from April 17, 2017, various cannabis oil products are displayed in the office of Georgia State Rep. Allen Peake, in Macon, Georgia.  (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Illustrative: In this photo from April 17, 2017, various cannabis oil products are displayed in the office of Georgia State Rep. Allen Peake, in Macon, Georgia. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Medical cannabis has been found to ease the symptoms of Autism in children, with few side effects, according to an Israeli study published in Nature.

The joint study conducted by Ben Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba showed that cannabis oil was an effective treatment for a variety of Autism-related symptoms including seizures, tics, depression, restlessness and rage attacks for patients under the age of 18.

The study found that after six months of regular consumption, 30 percent of patients reported significant improvement, 53.7% reported moderate improvement and only 15% had slight or no change.

“Overall, more than 80% of the parents reported significant or moderate improvement in their child,” co-author Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider said in a statement.

The team analyzed the data collected as part of the treatment program of 188 teens diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) between 2015 and 2017 in order to examine a change in quality of life, mood and ability to perform daily tasks before and after treatment.

Illustrative: A worker tends to cannabis plants at a growing facility for the Tikun Olam company near the northern city of Safed, August 31, 2010. (Abir Sultan/Flash 90)

Following the treatment, 66.8% of patients reported having a good quality of life, more than double the 31.3% who reported so before hand, while 63.5% said they had a positive mood after the six months, up from 42%.

Furthermore, 42.9% of patients were able to dress and shower independently after the treatment, an improvement from 26.4%, and 24.7% reported having good sleep and 14% good concentration following the study, up from 3.3% and 0% respectively.

In the majority of the cases, the treatment consisted of cannabis oil containing 30% cannabidiol oil (CBD) and 1.5% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD is a non psychoactive compound found in the marijuana plant.

“While this study suggest that cannabis treatment is safe and can improve ASD symptoms and improve ASD patient’s quality of life, we believe that double blind placebo-controlled trials are crucial for a better understanding of the cannabis effect on ASD patients,” said Dr. Victor Novak, another of the study’s authors.

The study, which was titled “Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism: Analysis of Safety and Efficacy,” was funded by Tikun Olam, a medical marijuana firm in Israel.

CBD has recently been gaining in popularity for its proclaimed wellness benefits, though there has been limited scientific research on its use and long-term effects.

Proponents say CBD offers a plethora of health benefits, from relieving pain to taming anxiety.

The US National Institutes of Health database shows at least 100 studies across the world involving CBD that are either recruiting subjects or active.

AP contributed to this report.

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