The use of medical cannabis as a possible treatment for ASD has caught the attention of researchers worldwide, with Israel leading in global medical cannabis research. The endocannabinoid system of the body is a regulatory feedback system which influences the function of many other systems – neurotransmitters, hormones and more. This means that it tells the body to send more or less of these other chemicals to where they are needed. The endocannabinoid system sends its messages via cannabinoids that are produced’ in house’ (CB1 and CB2) and there are receptors for these cannabinoids on almost all parts of the body. When the endocannabinoid system isn’t working right, the body isn’t getting the information it needs to know how much and where to send various other chemicals and imbalances can then occur.
In the case of ASD, it has been seen that individuals with ASD often may lack certain cannabinoids normally found in the human body (Lower circulating endocannabinoid levels in children with autism spectrum disorder). The theory of treatment with medical cannabis is to give the body the plant-based version of the cannabinoids that are lacking and to restore balance to the endocannabinoid system and thus to the various systems under its influence. In studies performed in Israel treating children with ASD with medical cannabis, significant improvement was observed in many of the core issues of ASD including speech, social interaction, challenging behaviors and more. (Brief Report: Cannabidiol-Rich Cannabis in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Behavioral Problems—A Retrospective Feasibility Study and
Autism Spectrum Disorder and Medical Cannabis: Review and Clinical Experience)