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Israeli Doctor to Study Cannabis’s Effect on Autism

A researcher in Israel is preparing to study the potential beneficial effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on children and adults with autism.

An Israeli doctor has plans to study whether cannabis is therapeutically beneficial for treating children and adults with autism, Haaretz reports. Dr. Adi Aran, head of the pediatric neurology department at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, has already obtained approval “in principle” from Israel’s Minister of Health.

Dr. Eran’s study will involve 120 low-to-medium functioning autistic individuals between the ages of 4 and 30. The subjects will be given cannabis oil rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive, natural compound found in cannabis that has been shown in a patent by the US National Institutes of Health to have significant antioxidant and neuroprotective properties.

Autism is a complex neurodevelopment disorder that develops in infancy or childhood and is characterized by social interaction difficulties, verbal and physical communication impairments, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 1 out of every 88 children at age 8 will have an autism spectrum disorder. Males are four times more likely to have the disorder than females.

Dr. Aran’s study will primarily focus on CBD’s effects on the behavioral symptoms associated with autism, which include physical aggression and acute anxiety-related attacks. He is currently in the process of finding research subjects.

Medical Marijuana Research

This past June, Israel’s government approved a plan that made medical marijuana more readily available to its over 23,000 patients. Patients now only need a medical prescription, rather than requiring a permit from the Health Ministry, to acquire legal access. While Israel has yet to recognize cannabis as a treatment agent for autism, patients suffering from severe symptoms have already had it prescribed by physicians. One nurse, according to Cannabis Now, claims that treating autism patients with CBD oil three times daily made them significantly more calm and less prone to violence.

Findings in previous studies indicate that cannabis’ interaction with the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors is effective at repairing the brain’s ability to send clear signals, thereby improving behavior and communication abilities. Cannabis has shown to cause significant improvements in hyperactivity, lethargy, irritability, stereotypy, and inappropriate speech.

In the United States, of the 25 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws, only Pennsylvania has approved medical marijuana for autism. However, several other states — California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington — allow any condition provided it’s recommended by a physician or will consider approval. In Israel, a Health Ministry subcommittee is currently reviewing the rules that would be used to regulate the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of autism.

As of late, Israel has made efforts that indicate it plans to expand its cannabis market. In order to cultivate more cannabis so that it is available for research, so much has become available that the country’s agricultural minister has suggested that Israel may export the cannabis to other countries. According to Breakingisraelnews.com, Minister Uri Ariel recently told Israel Radio that cannabis farmers will be able to legally export the plant “eventually,” predicting it will happen within the next two years.

Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.

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