A pediatric patient with autism spectrum disorder and epilepsy using cannabinoid extracts as complementary therapy: a case report

 Journal of Medical Case Reports | Home page“The pharmacological treatment for autism spectrum disorders is often poorly tolerated and has traditionally targeted associated conditions, with limited benefit for the core social deficits.

We describe the novel use of a cannabidiol-based extract that incidentally improved core social deficits and overall functioning in a patient with autism spectrum disorder, at a lower dose than has been previously reported in autism spectrum disorder.

Case presentation: The parents of a 15-year-old boy, of South African descent, with autism spectrum disorder, selective mutism, anxiety, and controlled epilepsy, consulted a medical cannabis physician to trial cannabis extract to replace seizure medications. Incidentally, at a very low cannabidiol-based extract dose, he experienced unanticipated positive effects on behavioral symptoms and core social deficits.

Conclusion: This case report provides evidence that a lower than previously reported dose of a phytocannabinoid in the form of a cannabidiol-based extract may be capable of aiding in autism spectrum disorder-related behavioral symptoms, core social communication abilities, and comorbid anxiety, sleep difficulties, and weight control. Further research is needed to elucidate the clinical role and underlying biological mechanisms of action of cannabidiol-based extract in patients with autism spectrum disorder.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32958062/

https://jmedicalcasereports.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13256-020-02478-7

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Autism Spectrum Disorder and Medical Cannabis: Review and Clinical Experience

Seminars in Pediatric Neurology “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a multifactorial, pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder defined by the core symptoms of significant impairment in social interaction and communication as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior. In addition to these core behaviors, persons with ASD frequently have associated noncore behavioral disturbance (ie, self-injury, aggression), as well as several medical comorbidities. Currently, no effective treatment exists for the core symptoms of ASD.

This review reports the available preclinical and clinical data regarding the use of cannabis and cannabidiol in the treatment of core symptoms, noncore symptoms and comorbidities associated with ASD. Additionally, we describe our clinical experience working with children and young adults with ASD who have used cannabis or cannabidiol.

At present, preclinical and clinical data suggest a potential for therapeutic benefit among some persons with ASD and that it is overall well tolerated.

Further research is required to better identify patients who may benefit from treatment without adverse effects.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32892960/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1071909120300449?via%3Dihub

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Cannabinoids for People with ASD: A Systematic Review of Published and Ongoing Studies

brainsci-logo“The etiopathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remains largely unclear.

Among other biological hypotheses, researchers have evidenced an imbalance in the endocannabinoid (eCB) system, which regulates some functions typically impaired in ASD, such as emotional responses and social interaction. Additionally, cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating component of Cannabis sativa, was recently approved for treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Epilepsy represents a common medical condition in people with ASD. Additionally, the two conditions share some neuropathological mechanisms, particularly GABAergic dysfunctions. Hence, it was hypothesized that cannabinoids could be useful in improving ASD symptoms.

The findings were promising, as cannabinoids appeared to improve some ASD-associated symptoms, such as problem behaviors, sleep problems, and hyperactivity, with limited cardiac and metabolic side effects. Conversely, the knowledge of their effects on ASD core symptoms is scarce.

Interestingly, cannabinoids generally allowed to reduce the number of prescribed medications and decreased the frequency of seizures in patients with comorbid epilepsy. Mechanisms of action could be linked to the excitatory/inhibitory imbalance found in people with ASD. However, further trials with better characterization and homogenization of samples, and well-defined outcomes should be implemented.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32825313/

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/10/9/572

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Possible therapeutic applications of cannabis in the neuropsychopharmacology field.

European Neuropsychopharmacology“Cannabis use induces a plethora of actions on the CNS via its active chemical ingredients, the so-called phytocannabinoids.

These compounds have been frequently associated with the intoxicating properties of cannabis preparations. However, not all phytocannabinoids are psychotropic, and, irrespective of whether they are psychotropic or not, they have also shown numerous therapeutic properties.

These properties are mostly associated with their ability to modulate the activity of an intercellular communication system, the so-called endocannabinoid system, which is highly active in the CNS and has been found altered in many neurological disorders.

Specifically, this includes the neuropsychopharmacology field, with diseases such as schizophrenia and related psychoses, anxiety-related disorders, mood disorders, addiction, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anorexia nervosa and other feeding-related disorders, dementia, epileptic syndromes, as well as autism, fragile X syndrome and other neurodevelopment-related disorders.

Here, we gather, from a pharmacological and biochemical standpoint, the recent advances in the study of the therapeutic relevance of the endocannabinoid system in the CNS, with especial emphasis on the neuropsychopharmacology field. We also illustrate the efforts that are currently being made to investigate at the clinical level the potential therapeutic benefits derived from elevating or inhibiting endocannabinoid signaling in animal models of neuropsychiatric disorders.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32057592

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0924977X20300365?via%3Dihub

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Medical Cannabis in Children.

 Logo of rmmj“The use of medical cannabis in children is rapidly growing.

While robust evidence currently exists only for pure cannabidiol (CBD) to treat specific types of refractory epilepsy, in most cases, artisanal strains of CBD-rich medical cannabis are being used to treat children with various types of refractory epilepsy or irritability associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Other common pediatric disorders that are being considered for cannabis treatment are Tourette syndrome and spasticity.

As recreational cannabis use during youth is associated with serious adverse events and medical cannabis use is believed to have a relatively high placebo effect, decisions to use medical cannabis during childhood and adolescence should be made with caution and based on evidence.

This review summarizes the current evidence for safety, tolerability, and efficacy of medical cannabis in children with epilepsy and in children with ASD. The main risks associated with use of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD in the pediatric population are described, as well as the debate regarding the use of whole-plant extract to retain a possible “entourage effect” as opposed to pure cannabinoids that are more standardized and reproducible.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32017680

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Medicinal Use of Cannabis in Children and Pregnant Women.

 Image result for Rambam Maimonides Med J.“The increasing medicinal use of cannabis during recent years has largely overlooked children and pregnant women due to litigious and ethical concerns.

However, over the last few years medicine has observed increasing numbers of children treated with cannabis for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and pregnant women treated for hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).

This review provides an account of major findings discovered through this research.

Specifically, cannabis may offer therapeutic advantages to behavioral symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and to the severe nausea and vomiting in hyperemesis gravidarum.

The use of medical cannabis in children and pregnant women should be further discussed and researched in this patient population.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31826800

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Effects of cannabidivarin (CBDV) on brain excitation and inhibition systems in adults with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): a single dose trial during magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Image result for translational psychiatry“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a high cost neurodevelopmental condition; and there are currently no effective pharmacological treatments for its core symptoms. This has led some families and researchers to trial alternative remedies – including the non-intoxicating Cannabis sativa-derived compound cannabidivarin (CBDV). However, how CBDV affects the human brain is unknown.

Previous (pre)clinical evidence suggests that CBDV may modulate brain excitatory-inhibitory systems, which are implicated in ASD. Hence, our main aim was to test, for the first time, if CBDV shifts glutamate and/or GABA metabolites – markers of the brain’s primary excitatory and inhibitory system – in both the ‘typical’ and autistic brain.

Our subsidiary aim was to determine whether, within ASD, brain responsivity to CBDV challenge is related to baseline biological phenotype. We tested this using a repeated-measures, double-blind, randomized-order, cross-over design.

We used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to compare glutamate (Glx = glutamate + glutamine) and GABA + (GABA + macromolecules) levels following placebo (baseline) and 600 mg CBDV in 34 healthy men with (n = 17) and without (n = 17) ASD. Data acquisition from regions previously reliably linked to ASD (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, DMPFC; left basal ganglia, BG) commenced 2 h (peak plasma levels) after placebo/CBDV administration. Where CBDV significantly shifted metabolite levels, we examined the relationship of this change with baseline metabolite levels. Test sessions were at least 13 days apart to ensure CBDV wash-out. CBDV significantly increased Glx in the BG of both groups. However, this impact was not uniform across individuals. In the ASD group, and not in the typically developing controls, the ‘shift’ in Glx correlated negatively with baseline Glx concentration. In contrast, CBDV had no significant impact on Glx in the DMPFC, or on GABA+ in either voxel in either group.

Our findings suggest that, as measured by MRS, CBDV modulates the glutamate-GABA system in the BG but not in frontal regions. Moreover, there is individual variation in response depending on baseline biochemistry. Future studies should examine the effect of CBDV on behaviour and if the response to an acute dose of CBDV could predict a potential clinical treatment response in ASD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31748505

“Here we report that CBDV can ‘shift’ subcortical levels of the brain’s primary excitatory metabolite glutamate (measured as Glx) both in the neurotypical and autistic brain; but that there may be significant response variability in ASD. These findings add to our understanding of the effects of CBDV in the adult human brain. Nonetheless, future studies will need to explore (i) the mechanisms of action of CBDV; (ii) the impact of CBDV on (ASD-related) cognition and behaviour; (iii) if single-dose responsivity could facilitate the identification of pharmacologically homogeneous sub-groups; and (iv) if acute CBDV effects are indicative of the impact of long-term treatment in ASD.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-019-0654-8

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Effects of CBD-Enriched Cannabis sativa Extract on Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms: An Observational Study of 18 Participants Undergoing Compassionate Use.

Image result for frontiers in neurology“Autism Spectrum Disorders comprise conditions that may affect cognitive development, motor skills, social interaction, communication, and behavior. This set of functional deficits often results in lack of independence for the diagnosed individuals, and severe distress for patients, families, and caregivers.

There is a mounting body of evidence indicating the effectiveness of pure cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD-enriched Cannabis sativa extract (CE) for the treatment of autistic symptoms in refractory epilepsy patients. There is also increasing data support for the hypothesis that non-epileptic autism shares underlying etiological mechanisms with epilepsy.

Here we report an observational study with a cohort of 18 autistic patients undergoing treatment with compassionate use of standardized CBD-enriched CE (with a CBD to THC ratio of 75/1).

Among the 15 patients who adhered to the treatment (10 non-epileptic and five epileptic) only one patient showed lack of improvement in autistic symptoms. Due to adverse effects, three patients discontinued CE use before 1 month.

After 6-9 months of treatment, most patients, including epileptic and non-epileptic, showed some level of improvement in more than one of the eight symptom categories evaluated: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; Behavioral Disorders; Motor Deficits; Autonomy Deficits; Communication and Social Interaction Deficits; Cognitive Deficits; Sleep Disorders and Seizures, with very infrequent and mild adverse effects.

The strongest improvements were reported for Seizures, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Sleep Disorders, and Communication and Social Interaction Deficits. This was especially true for the 10 non-epileptic patients, nine of which presented improvement equal to or above 30% in at least one of the eight categories, six presented improvement of 30% or more in at least two categories and four presented improvement equal to or above 30% in at least four symptom categories.

Ten out of the 15 patients were using other medicines, and nine of these were able to keep the improvements even after reducing or withdrawing other medications.

The results reported here are very promising and indicate that CBD-enriched CE may ameliorate multiple ASD symptoms even in non-epileptic patients, with substantial increase in life quality for both ASD patients and caretakers.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31736860

“The findings presented here, taken together, support the notion that many autism symptoms are associated to neuronal hyperexcitability, and indicate that CBD-enriched CE yields positive effects in multiple autistic symptoms, without causing the typical side effects found in medicated ASD patients. Most patients in this study had improved symptoms even after supervised weaning of other neuropsychiatric drugs.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2019.01145/full

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The Endocannabinoid System as a Window Into Microglial Biology and Its Relationship to Autism.

Image result for frontiers in cellular neuroscience“Microglia are the resident, innate immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS) and are critical in managing CNS injuries and infections. Microglia also maintain CNS homeostasis by influencing neuronal development, viability, and function. However, aberrant microglial activity and phenotypes are associated with CNS pathology, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Thus, improving our knowledge of microglial regulation could provide insights into the maintenance of CNS homeostasis as well as the prevention and treatment of ASD.

Control of microglial activity is in part overseen by small, lipid-derived molecules known as endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids). Endocannabinoids are one component of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which also includes the enzymes that metabolize these ligands, in addition to cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and 2 (CB2).

Interestingly, increased ECS signaling leads to an anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective phenotype in microglia. Here, we review the literature and propose that ECS signaling represents a largely untapped area for understanding microglial biology and its relationship to ASD, with special attention paid to issues surrounding the use of recreational cannabis (marijuana). We also discuss major questions within the field and suggest directions for future research.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31619967

“Microglial activity can be modulated by eCB signaling, which makes the ECS a potentially forceful tool in the prevention and management of CNS dysfunction.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2019.00424/full

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Preclinical and Clinical Evidence Supporting Use of Cannabidiol in Psychiatry.

Image result for hindawi “Cannabidiol (CBD) is a major chemical compound present in Cannabis sativa.

CBD is a nonpsychotomimetic substance, and it is considered one of the most promising candidates for the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

The aim of this review is to illustrate the state of art about scientific research and the evidence of effectiveness of CBD in psychiatric patients.

RESULTS:

Preclinical and clinical studies on potential role of CBD in psychiatry were collected and further discussed. We found four clinical studies describing the effects of CBD in psychiatric patients: two studies about schizophrenic patients and the other two studies carried out on CBD effects in patients affected by generalized social anxiety disorder (SAD).

CONCLUSION:

Results from these studies are promising and suggest that CBD may have a role in the development of new therapeutic strategies in mental diseases, and they justify an in-depth commitment in this field. However, clinical evidence we show for CBD in psychiatric patients is instead still poor and limited to schizophrenia and anxiety, and it needs to be implemented with further studies carried out on psychiatric patients.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31558911

“Results of our research, enriched in assessment of methodological quality of the studies, confirm the view of this cannabinoid as a promising molecule especially in particular sectors of psychiatry such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and autism. CBD is considered a safe substance and is one of the most promising candidates for the treatment of psychiatric disorders”.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2019/2509129/

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