Can medical cannabis improve autism?
American mother Marie Myung-Ok Lee says medical cannabis is completely safe for her autistic son – and the dramatic improvement in his condition says more than enough.
The Independent Reports a Story regarding an Autistic Boy and his success being treated with Medical Cannabis
The boy, J, has autism. Having had two major operations for a tumour in his spinal cord alongside an inflammatory bowel condition, he has been in a world of pain. Though, sadly, he is unable to tell us. Many words, he can speak, but it is hard for him to convey the real meaning in his words. For some time, anti-inflammatory medication was able to alleviate his pain. But in this past year, the medicine stopped working as it should. J began to bite and to smack the glasses off his mother’s face, due to the pain he was experiencing. J’s school placed a call to his father to talk about the tantrums he was having. They were affecting him to such a degree he couldn’t learn. His teachers were clothed in Tae Kwon Do arm pads to protect themselves from his biting. Their solution at this meeting was to give us contact details of child psychiatrists. As children with autism can’t do talk therapy, this would mean sedating him with, drugs like Risperdal, which is an anti-psychotic.
In the last year, Risperdal has been prescribed for more than 389,000 children in the USA, a whooping 240,000 falling under the age of 12 – for ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder and other disorders. Strangely the drug has never had long term tests done for safety in children. The side effects also carry severe warnings. Just during 2000 to 2004, Risperdal, or one of five other popular drugs classified as “atypical antipsychotics”, was linked to 45 paediatric deaths. This, according to a review of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data by USA Today. A 2002 study on the use of Risperdal prescribed for autism, in The New England Journal of Medicine, indicated mere moderate improvements in “autistic irritation”. The study did not follow the children over an extended period. It was limited to 8 weeks, and followed only 49 children.
Meeting with J’s doctor, who was aware of the studies, he agreed that Risperdal and any other medications similar to it would not be suitable for treating J’s autism. Repeated contact with the school had J’s parents querying what they could do. As an occasional health writer and blogger, J’s mother became intrigued by a suggestion from homeopath who suggested trying medical cannabis as an autism treatment. As it turns out cannabis has had long-documented effects as an analgesic. This is also true of it’s ability to modulate anxiety. Best of all, it is safe. Referring the parents to a publication by the Autism Research Institute therein detailed cases of reduced aggression using medical cannabis, with no permanent side- effects. Rats studied who were given 40 times the psychoactive level fell asleep. An emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School named Dr Lester Grinspoon, with over 40 years committed to cannabis research admits he has yet to encounter a case where cannabis caused death, nor from lung cancer.
Marinol, which is a prescription drug containing synthetic cannabinoid medicine, seemed mainstream enough to bring up with J’s doctor. After a week of fiddling with the dosage, J began garnering a few glowing school reports: “J was a pleasure have in speech class,” instead of “J had 300 aggressions today.”