Quackery

Quackery Exposed: Cannabis for Autism

 
 
 

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Recently, Louisiana has passed a bill that permits doctors to prescribe medical cannabis more freely to patients with a variety of conditions. This is the latest in a series of actions that originate to the 1970’s in Louisiana. Since its recent acceptance, there have been billboards and celebrities endorsing brands since law have been more loose in regards to criminal possession. 

 
The cannabis plant contains over 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids. The compounds of greatest interest is tetreahydrocannabinoid (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is a psychoactive compound. Its use leads to a “high” including symptoms of euphoria, memory loss, altered coordination and altered perception. CBD is not high inducing but it does have effects on the brain.

 

 
*Disclaimer: If you are an adult then you can make your own decision. Adults enjoy recreation cannabis and there is no issue with that. The effect on a growing brain is the primary concern here. Please read the scientific information and talk with your doctor before taking any medication or drug*
 

Advocacy Organization for Medical Cannabis for Autistic Children

There is a medical cannabis advocacy group called Hope Grows for Autism that was founded in 2016. It was founded in by Erica Daniels. Erica Daniels is a mother of an autistic child who was diagnosed in 2007. After she took him to many specialists and experimenting with over a dozen treatments with no success, she started using diet and cannabis. Hope Grows for Autism partnered with Ilera Holistic Health to develop Hope 1 and Hope 2, cannabis products marketed for autistic children.
 

A Cannabis Product Specifically for Autistic Children

Daniels also is an advisor to Ilera Holistic Health’s line of “Autism treatment” called Hope. Hope was released about two years ago and now is in dispensaries in Pennsylvania and in Australia. In Louisiana, Hope costs $100 for a 30 milliliter bottle of oil. It is placed under the tongue and has “varying results.”Ilera claims that 60% of patients have significant improvements and do not continue with other medication.

Studies by Ilera

One study that the company did perform was published in an open access journal from the “publishers of nature.”Its a journal publishing from all areas of “natural and clinical sciences.” Its a broad scope journal and welcome all research.  It is not a reputable publication.
 
The study tests 118 children. They were measured based on restlessness, “rage attacks” and agitation. The product was applied to the participant under the tongue. The study had promising results for those parents who want a quick fix instead of supporting their children.
 
 
23 children had discontinued the study due to side effects. The side effects of this mixture were:
  • sleepiness
  • bad taste and smell of the oil
  • restlessness (weren’t they trying to treat that?)
  • Reflux
  • lack of appetite
There are a few problems:
  • This study wasn’t published in a reputable journal
  • There is no method of data collection specified
  • If the method of data collection was reported by the participants parents, it is not a scientific method of data collection, the study does not prove anything
Another study was published in June 2020 for the use of three of Iilera’s formulations of Hope, a cannabis product marketed for autistic children. This was a survey of 50 participants whose children are being administered these substances. The results showed improvement but there is no empirical evidence. There was no observation by the professionals running the study. They relied solely on the untrained opinions of the parents of the participants.

What The Science Says

FDA

Approved Uses

The FDA has only approved four cannabis related drugs. Any of these applications must have a prescription from a doctor.
 
Epidiolex is for a rare seizure disorder called Lennox Gastaut Syndrome or Dravet Syndrome in patients 2 years of age or older.
 
Marinol, Casamet and Syndros are synthetic derivatives of cannabis for use for nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and for the treatment of anorexia associate with weight loss in AIDS patients. They are proven to be safe and effective.
 

Position on Unapproved Uses of Cannabis

The FDA is aware of unapproved cannabis and cannabis derived products being used to treat a variety of different conditions and illnesses. The use of unapproved cannabis and cannabis derived products can have unpredictable and unintended consequences, including safety risks. There has been no FDA review of data from clinical trials to support that these are safe and effective.

American Academy of Pediatrics

According to the AAP, the adverse effects of cannabis have been well documented and studies demonstrate negative consequences of short therm and long term recreational use in adolescents. The prefrontal cortex, area controlling judgement and decision making, is not fully developed until the mid 20’s.
 
These consequences include:
  • short term memory loss
  • decreased concentration
  • shortened attentions pan
  • impaired problem solving
  • alterations in motor contro
  • alterations in coordination
  • alterations in judgement
  • alterations in reaction time
  • alterations in tracking ability
  • negative health effects on lung function when smoking it
  • high rates of psychosis in patients with predisposition to schizophrenia
In a recent analysis of four independent trials found that cannabis use during adolescence is associated with reductions in the odds of high school completion and degree attainment and increases of use of other illicit drugs and suicide attempts dose dependent fashion that suggest that cannabis use is causative.

Autism Science Foundation

The Autism Science Foundation is a problematic organization that aims to find the cure to autism. This problematic organization is even against cannabis for autism. According to the ASF, the growing interest in CBD has spread to the autism community (not autistic community, there is a difference). There are anecdotal reports of improvement in anxiety, depression and restlessness. This is why some people use it in a way thats not approved by the FDA. There are no results from a well designed and carefully conducted study. There is no clinical guidance on the use of cannabinoids in autistic people.
 
There are many known adverse effects of THC. They are:
  • increased anxiety
  • psychotic thinking
  • cyclic vomiting
Due to its psychoactive properties, it should not be given to children. It should not be smoked as there is evidence of smoking cannabis leads to lung cancer.
 
Autism Science Foundation agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics and is against the use of cannabis in children when it is not approved by the FDA.
 
Uses unapproved by the FDA in children should never be attempted. The effects on a growing brain is too risky to make a child seem more neurotypical. Supporting the child to be their best is the best type of “treatment.” If a parent is thinking of trying any type of over the counter or treatment, its best to contact the pediatrician.
 

The American Psychological Association

Since cannabis has been legalized for use, the usage has increased in adults and the APA is very concerned about children getting thier heads on it. There is no clear way to monitor how many children are using it and what the implications might be. This also includes accidental ingestion.
 
With the rise of vaping, the line is blurred between legal and illegal drugs. The expansion of medical cannabis, even with lack of medical evidence, introduces access to potential comfort therapy for life threatening and debilitating conditions. This ac cess must be weighed against the risk of introducing this substance into a developing brain. Caution is prudent until there is evidence of safety and efficacy of both cannabis and its components given the known risks of children using cannabis.
 
Children and adolescents and more likely to be vulnerable to neuropsychiatiric traits linked to cannabis. The risk for psychosis is a major concern given the onset of this is usually late adolescence.
 
Because there is a lack of scientific evidence that supports safe cannabis use, the APA is against the use of cannabis in children, adolescents and young adults up to age 25. This is because the brain is still developing until the age of 25.
 
APA recommends increased monitoring of youth patterns of cannabis use, especially in states where it is legal. They also recommend comprehensive policies to ensure manufacturers are held accountable for providing accurate information on the risks associated with cannabis use.
 
There should be a strict enforcement of regulations that limit marketing and advertising to children and adolescents, especially formulations that mici candy items and limiting production/sales of such children targeted products.
 

The Name Marijuana is Rooted in Racism

I just found out this name is rooted in racism. During the prohibition era, it was supposed to sound like an exotic word to emphasize its foreignness to white Americans and it appealed to the xenophobia. Harry Aslinger, a bureaucrat who led the prohibition effort, said,”There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US and most are Negros [his quote, not mine], Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Thier Satanic music, Jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”
 
Now the words marijuana and cannabis are use interchangeably but cannabis is the non racist term.
 
In 2016, there were almost 600,000 arrests for cannabis use in the US. This is more arrests than all violent crimes combined. The majority of these arrests were for low level possession. This disproportionally effected BIPOC. The statistics show that different races use it at the same rate but BIPOC are more likely to face prosecution.
 
After Trump was elected in 2016, some Republicans showed a willingness to co exist with cannabis, the attorney general Sessions was still misinformed. In 2016 he said,”Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
 
He then came down harder on ordinary law breakers, who are predominately BIPOC. The industry’s respsonse has been to let him while encouraging people to call the plant cannabis.
 
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, between 2001 and 2010, Blacks were arrested for cannabis possession 4 times the rate of whites
 
 
Sources:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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