Israeli study: Treating autism with cannabis oil – “Significant improvement in behavioral tests”

Tel Aviv University study finds that cannabis oil improves the behavioral indicators of people with autism • Researcher: “Indeed there is a beneficial effect on compulsive or anxious behavior” • Despite promising results, this is a preliminary study but the hope is that it will break through to more effective treatment

Researchers at Tel Aviv University, led by Shani Poleg and Prof. Daniel Offen of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, have successfully treated model animals with autism using medical cannabis oil. The researchers found that cannabis oil treatment improves the behavioral and biochemical indices of autism. Translational Psychiatry from Nature.

“The usual process in approving new drugs is research on petri dishes, then on model animals and finally also a clinical trial in humans,” explains Prof. Daniel Offen. “In medical cannabis, the process was reversed: treatments began directly in humans. Since cannabis is not defined as a drug, trials have already been conducted in children and adolescents with autism – without first conducting basic research on questions such as cannabis’ effects on biochemical processes in the brain, spinal fluid and blood. “There is a lot of misinformation about the subject of medical cannabis and autism, and the research that Shani Poleg conducted as part of her doctoral dissertation is a basic and pioneering study on the question of treating autism using cannabis oil.”

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder whose main symptoms are social impairment and compulsive behavior. The disorder has a wide range of hardware, and a large number of factors – environmental and genetic. However, a genetic change (mutation) in a single gene called Shank3 causes the disorder to appear. This phenomenon is relatively rare and is responsible for only about 1% of all autism cases. In the experiment, researchers from Tel Aviv University used a model in animals carrying a mutation in the Shank3 gene to test the effectiveness of cannabis oil in relieving symptoms.

“We have seen that cannabis oil does have a beneficial effect on the compulsive or anxious behavior of model animals,” says Shani Poleg. “According to an accepted theory, autism has an increased arousal of the brain that causes, among other things, compulsive behavior. In addition to the behavioral results, we saw in the laboratory a significant decrease in the concentration of the stimulant neurotransmitter, glutamate, in spinal fluid – a decrease that can explain the moderation of behavioral symptoms.” In addition, the researchers examined the ingredients in cannabis oil that alleviate autism, and found that the THC ingredient, which is responsible for the euphoric feeling associated with cannabis use, is effective in treating autism – even in small amounts.

“Clinical studies in the field of medical cannabis treatment for autism, it is customary to treat strains that contain a very large amount of CBD, due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the substance and because it does not cause the euphoria associated with cannabis use,” says Poleg. Most of THC, partly due to concern about the feeling of euphoria and also about the long-term effects of using THC. In the second phase of the study, we examined what is the active ingredient in cannabis that is responsible for behavioral improvement. We were surprised to find that in treatment with cannabis oil containing THC but not CBD, the positive behavioral and biochemical effects were equal and even better. Beyond that, our results suggest that CBD alone has no effect on the behavior of the model animals at all. ”

“Of course, this is a preliminary study,” Poleg concludes, “but we hope that through basic research we will be able to improve treatment in the clinic. Our research shows that when treating autism with medical cannabis, there is no need for CBD-rich cannabis oil, and no cannabis oil with “Large amounts of THC. We detected a significant improvement in behavioral tests after treatment with cannabis oil containing small amounts of THC, and no long-term effects were seen on cognitive or emotional tests we conducted about a month and a half after starting treatment.”

By Editor

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