“Alex Echols has Tuberous Sclerosis, a rare genetic disorder that led to autism and seizures from a young age. Medical marijuana is the only treatment that eased his violent behavior, his parents said.”
Though the researchers were quick to deny that cannabinoids hold any potential at actually curing autism, which more than likely was a politically-motivated denial rather than a factual admission, other research and actual case studies suggest that cannabinoid compounds are, indeed, powerful enough to mitigate many or all of the symptoms associated with autism, as well as many other diseases.”
“In an international collaboration of research centers from America and Europe, scientists have revealed that increasing chemicals in the brain that act similarly to marijuana can help repair the debilitating symptoms associated with fragile X syndrome.
The overall success of this study could lead to future treatments for the condition, which has been identified as the most common genetic basis for autism spectrum disorders. The research was published in Nature Communications.
The marijuana-like compound, called 2-AG, is a part of a class of chemicals called endocannabinoid transmitters. These compounds are naturally made by the brain, and they act by combining to receptor proteins in the brain that marijuana chemicals also bind with.
Fragile X syndrome is the result of a mutation of the FMR1 gene in the X chromosome passed on by the mother. The condition occurs mostly in males because females typically have another X chromosome to compensate for the faulty X chromosome. Symptoms of fragile X often include mental disability, walking and language delays and hyperactivity – as well as certain physical characteristics such as an elongated face and large ears.”
“American and European researchers have found that increasing natural marijuana-like chemicals in the brain may help correct behavioral issues related to autism.
Daniele Piomelli of UC Irvine and Olivier Manzoni of INSERM, the French national research agency, led the study, which could result in treatments of anxiety and cognitive defects in individuals with fragile X syndrome, the most common known genetic cause of autism, according to a press release by UC Irvine.
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 said this is the first study to identify the role of naturally-occuring endocannabinoids, which share a similar chemical structure with THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. “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.
“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,” Kwang Mook Jung, a researcher on the study and UCI professor, told The Huffington Post.
In addition, his study of endocannabinoids could result in new treatments for anxiety, pain, depression and obesity, according to UCI.”
“Transcriptional silencing of the gene encoding the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) causes fragile X syndrome (FXS)…
Our data indicate for the first time that mGlu5R-driven endocannabinoid signaling in the striatum is under the control of both FMRP and BC1 RNA. The abnormal mGlu5R/2-AG coupling found in FMRP-KO mice emphasizes the involvement of mGlu5Rs in the synaptic defects of FXSand identifies the modulation of the endocannabinoid system as a novel target for the treatment of this severe neuropsychiatric disorder.
In conclusion, this is the first study addressing endocannabinoid system in a model of FXS. Our results show that dysfunctional mGlu5R signaling leads to abnormal 2-AG metabolism and physiological activity, and indicate that inhibition of 2-AG synthesis or activity at CB1Rs might be a useful treatment option in FXS patients. In this respect, recent investigations suggest that this modulation could be achieved not only by direct pharmacological blockade of CB1Rs, but also indirectly, for example through the inhibition of anandamide degradation or the stimulation of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channels. These two components of the endocannabinoid system, in fact, have been shown to selectively interact with mGlu5R/2-AG coupling in striatal neurons, and might interfere with the synaptic alterations seen after FMRP ablation with less side effects than those of widespread pharmacological inhibition of CB1Rs, which control not only GABA but also glutamate synapses.”
“NBC – Plenty of parents give their kids chocolate. But this is not your typical chocolate bar.
Meiko Hester-Perez is giving her severely autistic 12-year-old son, Joey, chocolate laced with medical marijuana.”
“Hester-Perez didn’t make the decision lightly. But this is what Joey looked like two-and-a-half years ago: he weighed just 42 pounds. It’s a stark contrast to his current weight of 112 pounds.
“My son was absolutely withering away. You could see the bones in his chest,” Hester-Perez said.
Out of desperation, she Googled cannabis and autism, and soon realized she wasn’t the only one that made the connection. Other parents and autism experts found success with medical marijuana as a treatment for autistic children. That was all she needed to take the next step to get a medical marijuana card for Joey. The first time she gave him a pot brownie, she said she saw immediate results.
“Everything is improved. Right now he’s given one brownie every two to three days. Whereas the other medications he was taking every single day, twice a day,” she said.
Hester-Perez said medical marijuana not only gave him a big appetite, which we saw ourselves as he munched almost non-stop on a bag of chips during our interview, it also helped his behavior, she said.
“He was calm, sociable, happy, more productive,” Hester-Perez said.
NBC called dozens of pediatricians, psychiatrists and autism experts looking for someone who would be critical of Hester-Perez’s decision, but no one wanted to talk on camera. We finally found Dr. Seth Ammeran, a Stanford professor who’s also on the American Academy of Pediatrics substance abuse committee. And while he doesn’t question parents’ motives in using medical marijuana to treat autism, he is concerned.
“Parents have the best interest of their kids at heart, and they want to do what’s best for their kids,” said Seth Ammeran. “But as a medical professional who really needs to look at the science behind recommendations, I can’t in good conscience recommend it.”
After all, she has experience. The mother in this story is trying money and awareness for autism and marijuana research through a non-profit called the Unconventional Foundation for Autism.”
Daniele Piomelli from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and her colleague Olivier Manzoni from Inserm, a French research agency, observed that marijuana cannabinoids are very closely related to the endocannabinoid transmitters naturally found in the brain that facilitate the transport of electrical signals between neurons. Known as 2-AG, these transmitters are responsible for regulating a whole host of important bodily processes, which include things like telling the body when it is hungry or when it is experiencing pain.
Children with autism spectrum disorders; however, including those who developed these disorders as a result of Fragile X syndrome, which is said to be the most commonly-known genetic cause of autism, often have poorly or non-functioning 2-AG, which necessitates chronic synaptic failure in the brain. Many children with Fragile X-induced autism end up becoming mentally disabled as a result of this synaptic failure, and have trouble developing basic motor skills like walking and talking, or learning how to behave in various social situations.
But taking marijuana cannabinoids, which as we pointed out in an earlier article are not psychoactive in the same way that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is (http://www.naturalnews.com/035759_cannabis_juicing_health.html), can help effectively block the enzymes that inhibit the proper function of 2-AG. In essence, marijuana cannabinoids essentially restore synaptic communication by feeding an ailing body the cannabinoids it lacks, which are absolutely vital for proper cell function and communication.
“Endocannabinoid compounds are created naturally in the body and share a similar chemical structure with THC … (and) are distinctive because they link with protein molecule receptors — called cannabinoid receptors — on the surface of cells,” explains the UCI report. “Because the body’s natural cannabinoids control a variety of factors — such as pain, mood and appetite — they’re attractive targets for drug discovery and development.””
“Natural cannabis-like chemicals in the brain may help combat the leading genetic cause of autism, research has shown.
Scientists linked blockages in a signalling pathway dependent on the compounds, called 2-AG endocannabinoid transmitters, with symptoms of Fragile X syndrome.
Correcting the fault with drugs led to dramatic behavioural improvements in mice with a version of the condition.
Fragile X syndrome is the most common known genetic cause of autism.
It results from a mutation in the FMR1 gene on the female X chromosome. Men possess one copy of the chromosome, paired with a male Y chromosome, and women two.
Boys are much more likely to be born with Fragile X than girls. This is thought to be because with two X chromosomes, a defect in one may be compensated for by the other.
People with the syndrome suffer mental impairment, learning difficulties, and may be hyperactive or impulsive. They also possess notable physical characteristics such as an elongated face, flat feet and large ears.
“What we hope is to one day increase the ability of people with Fragile X syndrome to socialise and engage in normal cognitive functions,” said lead researcher Professor Daniele Piomelli, from the University of California at Irvine in the United States.
The study was the first to identify the role of endocannabinoids in the neurobiology of Fragile X, she said.
Endocannabinoid compounds are created naturally in the body and share a similar chemical structure with THC, the primary psychoactive component of the marijuana plant, Cannabis.
Endocannabinoids are distinctive because they link with protein molecule receptors — called cannabinoid receptors — on the surface of cells. For instance, when a person smokes marijuana, the cannabinoid THC activates these receptors. And because the body’s natural cannabinoids control a variety of factors — such as pain, mood and appetite — they’re attractive targets for drug discovery and development.”
“Given the many challenges involved in raising an autistic child, parents are willing to try a variety of potential remedies, many of which are controversial and unproven.
But one potential treatment that has gained attention recently is one that was controversial well before its first mention in connection with autism.
“At first I did some research, and I found a doctor who actually had a protocol for medical marijuana in children diagnosed with autism,” Mieko Hester-Perez of Fountain Valley, Calif., told “Good Morning America.”
Hester-Perez made her decision to try giving her 10-year-old son, Joey Perez, medical marijuana after his weight had become dangerously low due to his unwillingness to eat. She said that at the time she began the approach, he weighed only 46 pounds.
“You could see the bones in his chest. He was going to die,” she said.
“The marijuana balanced my son,” said Hester-Perez, noting that she has never used marijuana herself. “My son had self-injurious behaviors. He was extremely aggressive, he would run out of our house… he was a danger to himself and others.”
But just hours after she gave him one of the pot-infused brownies, she said she could see a change — both in his appetite and demeanor.”
“”Within hours, he requested foods we had never seen him eat before,” said Hester-Perez.
She added that her son used to take a cocktail of medications, three times every day, for his condition. He now takes only three, and he has a marijuana brownie once every two or three days. He still cannot communicate verbally.
“I saved my son’s life, and marijuana saved my son’s life… When a mother hears that her son is knocking on death’s door, you will do anything to save his life,” said Hester-Perez.”
“This morning a mother by the name of Anne brought her 21 year old autistic son to my Irvine office to be evaluated for treatment with cannabis. He suffers from sever autism; very agitated, violent, and is unable to speak at all. He requires 24/7 supervised care which his parents assume. Anne described never having any total relief from the stress of taking care of him.
Anne told me she had tried everything to limit her son’s agitation. She routinely has to give him ativan (benzodiazepine) and he takes risperidone daily which is an anti-psychotic.
In my office he was extremely agitated, was continuously banging the desk, jumping up and down and a few times even tried to hit his mother. I could see the desperation on her face as she said “we have tried everything and need your help.”
I went on to explain that although the lack of clinical trials with cannabis and autism that many parents have successfully used it to help their children. Personally I think the benefits clearly outweigh the risks in treating his sever agitation. Cannabis is an excellent sedative and tends to even out patients moods. It seems to modify the extreme highs and lows of both depression and anxiety.
Our goal is for the patient to start with some tinctures or edibles as he is not able to vaporize. If we can get him sleeping and calm throughout the day not only will be able to function better but Anne and her husband can get some rest and relief. We often forget about the toll that autism can take on parents and siblings.
I am confident that this is the right direction for Anne and her son.
Stay tuned for updates on patient K and her mother Anne.
If you would like more information about cannabis and autism please feel free to contact my office at 877-721-0047 or visit my website at www.mcsocal.com
I look forward to speaking with you.
Dr. Sean Breen
Medical Director, Medical Cannabis of Southern California”