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  • by Nicola Boulton August 29, 2022 5 min read

    CBD Oil and Autism: What the Research Shows Us

    Much research has been done on the effects of CBD oil on treating autism syndrome; each showing that CBD oil can help tame some autism symptoms. This provides data about; what autism is and the types of CBD oil for autism treatment. It also discusses when to avoid CBD oil.

    Since the legalization of hemp plant-derived products across the country, clinical studies have been done on the potential benefits of CBD to various disorders like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and autism syndrome. CBD oil is extracted from the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant and then diluted with organic oils such as coconut or MCT oil. The oil is a non-psychoactive product that doesn't cause the euphoric effects   associated marijuana use.  Studies show that ingestion of CBD oil can not cure autism. There is no reported cure for the disorder; however, CBD has significantly suppresses common symptoms of autism like hyperactivity, anxiety, sleeping problems, aggression, and behavioral problems.

    CBD Oil and Autism: What the Research Shows Us

    What is Autism?

    It is generally referred called ASD (autism spectrum Disorder). Hodges et al. (2020) stated that autism is a developmental disability caused by the inability of the brain in controlling some psychological functions. ASD is characterized by social communication, interactions, and behavioral problems like repetitive interests. These problems become a daily challenge resulting in a problem in their social lives and overall productivity. Patients portray signs like avoiding eye contact, repetitive words, delayed language and movement skills, inattentive behaviors, and unusual eating and sleeping habits.

    Types of CBD Oil for Autism Treatment

    There are various cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, including the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is not suited for treating autism since it heightens the condition's symptoms. Research shows that CBD has non-psychoactive, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, neuroprotective, and antioxidant properties, making it best suited to treat the syndrome. However, different companies use distinct extraction methods resulting in 3 types of CBD oil available for the treatment of autism;

    • CBD isolate- it is pure, tasteless, containing only CBD compounds. During extraction, all other cannabinoids are extracted from the hemp plant leaving isolated CBD compounds. The compound is infused with oil since it is fat soluble. It ideal for autism because it does not have cannabis impurities (Marinotti & Sarril, 2020).
    • Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all other compounds of the cannabis plant, including small traces of THC. It offers entourage effects to autism patients since the many cannabinoids like terpenes work in synergy to provide a wide range of effects. However, some full-spectrum CBD oil may contain more than the recommended THC level and thus not best suited for kids.
    • Broad-spectrum CBD oil- contains cannabinoids except for THC. It offers an entourage effects to autism patients without the risk of having negative psychological effects.

    What Does Research Say About the Benefits of CBD Oil IN Autism Treatment?

    There is growing research focusing on the impact of CBD on autism alongside its symptoms. When ingested, CBD enters the bloodstream, interacting with cannabinoid receptors. The interaction alters the patient's response to social interaction, reducing repetitive behaviors. Sometimes CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, responsible for tackling body imbalances such as sleep disorder, stress, and anxiety associated with autism. Fleury-Teixeira et al. (2019) highlighted the following benefits associated with the interaction of CBD with body’s receptors.

    Reduction of Anxiety and Stress Caused by Autism

    Research shows that CBD can potentially alleviate anxiety in people with autism. CBD has antidepressant abilities that reduce anxiety by changing how brain receptors respond to problems.   CBD also regulates the production of amino acids, which act as neurotransmitters responsible for inducing relation to autism patients. Additionally, CBD increases the production of serotonin hormone, which is responsible for stress relief.

    Reducing Repetitive and Addictive Behaviors

    One of the common symptoms with children associated with Autism disorder is to be repetitive in their communication and being addicted to object toys or television watching. CBD reduces the production of oxytocin molecules in the brain, which is responsible for addiction. It makes people feel stressed if they're not doing or taking something. Moreover, CBD increases the production of brain neurons responsible for thought and speech, aligning the communication flow, thus reducing the repetition of words or stories.

    Improve Sleeping problems

    People with the disorder have difficulty sleeping and being attentive during the day. CBD has been shown to have calming effects on the body, ideal for achieving sleep. At the same time, it keeps the patient alert and fresh during the daytime, thus stabilizing the sleeping patterns of the autistic patient. Therapy is another method to compact the symptoms of autism which requires a relaxed mindset. CBD used alongside therapy sessions improves sleep and a relaxed mind during the session period.

    CBD Reduces Hyperactivity in Autism patients

    CBD is known for reducing anxiety. Mansell et al. (2022) said that hyperactive people have excessive worries to little problems, thus making irrational decisions. Sometimes autism syndrome reduces the production of endocannabinoids in the body, which regulate mood and anxiety. Taking CBD oil increases the number of these compounds, helping the Endocannabinoid system perform its functions.

    In addition, research shows that patients with hyperactivity tend to use marijuana for relaxation. However, marijuana complicates the situation due to a high level of THC. Therefore, CBD can reduce autistic symptoms with little risk of psycho activity.

    Regulating the Immune System

    Bilge et al. (2021) said that autism syndrome, if not controlled, can lead to other complications such as nervous system failure or weakening of the immune system. CBD oil prevents these complications due to its anti-inflammatory properties and reducing the occurrence of seizures. Boosting the immune system also tames autism with other medications. Drugs prescribed by doctors to control the disorders are more effective when combined with CBD oil. 

    When to Avoid CBD Oil?

    Research made by medical students from Havard School says that taking CBD oil for autism may have some side effects, mostly if you are under other medication. They reported the following side effects:

    • Nausea
    • Fatigue
    • Irritability
    • Reduction of weight
    • If the CBD oil contains traces of THC, it can lead to more anxiety and confusion.


    More research is continually being performed on the effectiveness of CBD in treating various conditions, including autism. CBD oil is more widely available to many. The oil has shown potency in relieving symptoms of autism. However, seek medical advice to understand the most effective and safest way to manage your symptoms better. You can use CBD products alongside therapy sessions to get a wider range of effects; more cannabis derivatives can synergize with related medication to broaden the experience.


    Bilge, S., & Ekici, B. (2021). CBD-enriched cannabis for autism spectrum disorder: an experience of a single center in Turkey and reviews of the literature. Journal of cannabis research, 3(1), 1-11.

    Fleury-Teixeira, P., Caixeta, F. V., Ramires da Silva, L. C., Brasil-Neto, J. P., & Malcher-Lopes, R. (2019). Effects of CBD-enriched cannabis sativa extract on autism spectrum disorder symptoms: an observational study of 18 participants undergoing compassionate use—frontiers in neurology, 1145.

    Hodges, H., Fealko, C., & Soares, N. (2020). Autism spectrum disorder: definition, epidemiology, causes, and clinical evaluation. Translational pediatrics, 9(Suppl 1), S55.

    Mansell, H., Quinn, D., Kelly, L. E., & Alcorn, J. (2022). Cannabis for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a report of 3 cases. Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids, 5(1), 1-6.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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