It’s amazing how cannabis can be more than just a plant. Most of the times, we have this head-scratching moment that ticks our forever-inquiring minds about the illegality of the substance, even when science has supported the benefits of the herbal plant.
We have already covered the benefits of cannabis for treating certain disorders. But it doesn’t mean, it ends there. Another benefit of the plant that American and European researchers have found out is that increasing natural chemical compound from cannabis in the brain may help correct behavioral issues related to autism.
In an increasing research on the potential benefits of marijuana for treating disorders, another study led by a Daniele Piomelli of UC Irvine and Olivier Manzoni of INSERM, a French research agency.
The collaborative efforts of different institutions can bring us certain hope in unlocking more keys about cannabis and what it can do specifically to individuals with a certain behavioral disorder that has been like a trend in the psychology realm.
In a Huffington Post article, the research done could result in treatments of anxiety and cognitive defects in individuals with fragile X syndrome. This syndrome, as we have discovered, is the most common known genetic cause of autism.
The study examined 2-AG, which naturally occurs in the brain and is in a class of chemicals called endocannabinoid transmitters. These transmitters allow for the efficient transport of electrical signals at synapses, which is severely limited in people with fragile X syndrome.
The researchers treated mice that exhibited symptoms of fragile X syndrome with novel compounds that correct 2-AG protein signaling in the brain. And the results were promising—the mice showed “dramatic behavioral improvements in maze tests measuring anxiety and open-space acceptance,” UCI reports.
Piomelli, the lead researcher informed that their study is the first to identify the role of naturally-occuring endocannabinoids. This is another compound among several compounds that cannabis has. Another surprising fact is that the compound shares a similar chemical structure with THC, the primary psychoactive compound.
“What we hope is to one day increase the ability of people with fragile X syndrome to socialize and engage in normal cognitive functions,” said Piomelli, a UCI professor of anatomy and neurobiology.
Another researcher and UCI professor, Kwang Mook Jung, told The Huffington Post.
“It would be either an oral or injected drug but that’s at the very end stage of drug discovery, and we are at the very early stage of drug discovery.”
The UCI’s study of endocannabinoids could result in new treatments for anxiety, pain, depression and obesity.
Despite the research done, Piomelli and the other researchers are not advocating in giving cannabis to individuals on the autism spectrum. Their research is just for finding out the the marijuana-like chemical compounds naturally occurring in the brain. That could be a stimulus or even become a singular impetus in driving more institutions and organizations to discover more about the benefits of marijuana.
The thing is with the federal status of marijuana as an illicit substance, researchers may be conducting the studies for research compliance, perhaps. However, we believe that there is a light of hope in the research.
Cannabis for treating autism
Although the research done is for medical and anatomical study purpose only, as we can infer, some have advocated for marijuana as a treatment for people with autism.
In another Huffpost article in 2013, an autistic child in Oregon has been given marijuana to manage self-destructive rages. Parents of Alex Echols have found various ways to treat their autistic child to prevent him from self-harm.
The family from Oregon, despite their discovery about the effect of cannabis to their child, still have to fight their way through the federal level so that their son would be given legal dose of the substance by the state-funded home group where Alex stayed in.
In another report in 2009, a mother of then-ten-year-old son with autism provided marijuana for treatment to her son’s behavorial disorder. Mieko Hester-Perez made national headlines for testifying cannabis, which enabled good change in her son’s life.
As reported in Autism Support Network, Hester-Perez said she tried countless diets and drugs on her son, with no luck. Prescription drugs also made her son suffer from serious side effects.
Marijuana for treating behavioural disorder and to improve the sociability and communication skills is something that researchers and scientists of contemporary times still have to study to derive at certain conclusions. But despite the lack of back-up study on marijuana as a treatment on certain condition such as autism, there will always be individuals whose belief on the benefits of marijuana outweighs whatever the government-backed research that could thwart people from using the substance and attempt the perpetual campaign to block the plant from legally administered as a medicine.
However, there are hopes on the medical marijuana despite claims on study that it could lower testicular count and may pose certain risks to teenagers smoking the pot. Other adverse effects, though documented, may not bring much weight compared to the advantages, it can bring.
As to the study of cannabis as a cause of lower testicular count, probability, a contradictory study may prove that it can even treat sexual dysfunction. The testicular count notion is just something to bring a sort of misinformation for those who want to have kids and family, but we may be surprised to find out that marijuana could help in the act of baby-making.
Now, we digress to the issue at hand, that is supposed to be about cannabis as a potential treatment for autism.