CBD for Autism: Benefits and How to use


 | Last revised

Nov, 2022

The number of children diagnosed with autism has tripled in the last 30 years. There’s an undeniable need to look into new treatment options for this disorder.

So, can CBD treat autism spectrum disorder?’ In short, yes.

Recent studies indicate that cannabis-based medicines, including both CBD and THC, can successfully treat behavioural aspects of the disorder.

Autism spectrum disorder is classed as a complex neurodevelopmental condition that impacts learning abilities, speech and communication, social interactions, and behaviour.

There is a broad spectrum of symptoms that vary in nature and severity from one person to the next.

So, how does CBD help both children and adults diagnosed with ASD?

We’ll explore what the latest research says about CBD and autism, share some anecdotal success stories and discuss dosages and how to buy CBD oil.

How is CBD helpful for Autism?

Studies have found children with Autism have atypical neurotransmitter function within the brain [1], and additionally, many of those diagnosed also have a low endocannabinoid system (ECS) tone [2].

The ECS is primarily involved in keeping the body in a state of homeostasis and regulating emotional and behavioural responses as well as things like stress, pain, sleep, appetite and energy.

So it stands to reason that CBD, which binds to and activates receptors in the ECS, can offer a natural therapeutic treatment for symptoms associated with Autism.

A 2017 review of an animal study confirmed dysfunctional signalling of the ECS is present in those diagnosed with ASD, and researchers believe this to be true for humans as well.[3]

An Israeli study found that children with ASD had lower circulating levels of anandamide (the primary endocannabinoid humans produce) compared with neurotypical children. [4]

Furthermore, Israeli researchers monitored the symptoms of people aged between 4 and 22 who were given a CBD-dominant oil.

After six months of treatment, researchers found that hyperactive behaviours improved in 68 per cent of participants, self-harm and rage attacks improved in nearly 68 per cent, 71 per cent slept better, and 47 per cent had less anxiety.

Although, about 25% of participants experienced some mild side effects, the most common being restlessness. [5]

In another study of 188 ASD patients who were given cannabis oil containing 30% CBD and 1.5% THC, around one-third experienced a significant improvement. At the same time, more than half of the participants reported a moderate improvement in systems. [6]

Child laying on a wooden floor with hands on a red love heart.

Recent research breakthrough: How does CBD treat Autism exactly?

While all of these studies indicate the therapeutic potential for CBD to help treat Autism, you’re probably left wondering about the mechanisms by which CBD improves Autism-related symptoms.

Researchers explain some fascinating science behind CBD for Autism in a paper titled “Cannabis Responsive Biomarkers: A Pharmacometabolomics-Based Application to Evaluate the Impact of Medical Cannabis Treatment on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

It’s an overwhelming title with a lot of medical jargon; what does it mean, and how is CBD helpful for autism?

The observational study looked at cannabis-responsive biomarkers, which are chemical messengers that help our cells operate correctly.

Other examples of biomarkers are white or red blood cells that are tested via blood samples and provide insight into a patient’s health.

In the study, researchers collected saliva samples of both neurotypical (developing normally) and neurodivergent children (developing with deficits) and measured hundreds of different biomarkers.

Out of hundreds, they narrowed it down to 31 different biomarkers that showed relevance to Autism and cannabis treatment.

The study showed that administering cannabis-based medications to children with Autism corrected their out-of-range biomarkers and revealed that these biomarkers trended towards levels seen within the neurotypical children in the study [7].

“Taken collectively, the data presented demonstrate the potential of pharmacometabolomics to identify metabolic biomarkers that respond to MC [medical cannabis] treatment, which may be used to construct metabolic profiles for future personalization of MC treatment in children with ASD.”

CBD for Autism: Anecdotal success stories

Trawling the internet for others’ experiences using cannabis-based medicines for Autism is probably something any desperate parent has spent hour upon hour doing, googling ‘is CBD good for autism’?

But it’s fascinating to read about people’s experiences and successes. Below is a heartwarming success story shared by one father.

He posted on Reddit about his 11-year-old son’s phenomenal improvement after CBD oil was administered.

He first tried a 20:1 CBD: THC (20mg CBD and 1mg THC) and noted within four days, his son was much calmer, and tantrums had dramatically decreased.

After a few weeks of improvements, he started his son on a 20:5 oil (20mg CBD and 5mg THC), and the improvements were life-changing.

His son was no longer having any tantrums or exhibiting violent behaviour. He started making his own food, engaging with his family and others and enjoyed spending time with people.

Mother and child sitting together playing a game on ipad.

CBD for Autism: Is it safe to give to children?

First and foremost, we always recommend speaking with a doctor or trained cannabis clinician about using CBD oil for kids with autism.

There is the possibility of drug interactions with other medications, and there is no long-term safety data on CBD supplementation in children. Additionally, research regarding how THC affects a developing brain is thin on the ground.

Although, the low doses of THC that appear to be effective for children with autism would likely cause no impairment.

Additionally, according to the World Health Organisation, CBD is generally well-tolerated and has an excellent safety profile.

One of the studies mentioned above also states, “Cannabis in ASD patients appears to be well tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms associated with ASD.” [6]

However, CBD is showing promise for other common conditions diagnosed in childhood, such as ADHD.

Are there any side effects?

As mentioned above, one study found that some children responded to CBD with increased restlessness and agitation.

Slow titration of the product is critical to minimising this type of side effect. Furthermore, finding a product with the correct ratio of CBD to THC is important.

Common side effects of CBD include:

  • Drowsiness or fatigue with large doses
  • Digestive upset
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth

Common side effects of THC include:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased anxiety
  • Dry mouth

Where to buy CBD oil for autism in Australia

There are many different considerations when treating a child with CBD oil, and we always recommend speaking with a trained professional to ensure you’re taking all precautions to avoid a negative experience.

Going through a cannabis clinic or trained cannabis clinician guarantees you the best medical care and recommendations for your child’s condition.

Doctors can prescribe a wide range of medical cannabis products with varying ratios of CBD and THC.

Remember, the goal is not to have your child stoned but to administer a specific therapeutic dose that creates the best outcome without any side effects or impairment.

However, many decide to go it alone due to their doctor’s reluctance to consider cannabis-based medicines or the cost of accessing legal medical cannabis products.

Many parents are seeking CBD products via the green market.

If this is something you’re considering, it’s absolutely imperative to do as much research on the company and product as possible.

Don’t just google ‘how do I find CBD oil for autism online in Australia’ and pick the first website that pops up.

Finding a company that supplies high-quality, organic, third-party-tested products is of the utmost importance.

The last thing you want to do is purchase an inferior product with either little to no CBD or full of other chemicals or toxins that can further harm your child.

What CBD dosage treats Autism?

There is no standard dosage for autism or any condition for that matter.

Cannabis-based medicines are incredibly nuanced and require fine-tuning as you progress through your journey.

We always suggest starting out low and going slow; this means starting out at a very low dosage and slowly increasing the dosage until the best effects are felt by the child and witnessed by the parents.

CBD improves behaviour-related symptoms of autism

CBD is certainly gaining notoriety for its ability to treat a range of conditions, and while it may not directly treat the cause of autism, it works indirectly to modulate not only the immune system but also neurological processes to improve behaviour-related symptoms.

Of course, there’s no conclusive data that indicates CBD is a cure-all for ASD, but the anecdotal evidence and emerging research are very positive for those considering this natural alternative.

CBD’s ability to calm aggressive behaviour and reduce anxiety is most certainly a welcome relief for many parents and patients.

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1. John P Hegarty, Dylan J Weber, Carmen M Cirstea, David Q Beversdorf, "Cerebro-Cerebellar Functional Connectivity is Associated with Cerebellar Excitation-Inhibition Balance in Autism Spectrum Disorder".
3. Erica Zamberletti, Marina Gabaglio, Daniela Parolaro, "The Endocannabinoid System and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Insights from Animal Models".
4. Adi Aran et al., "Lower circulating endocannabinoid levels in children with autism spectrum disorder".
5. Dana Barchel et al., "Oral Cannabidiol Use in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder to Treat Related Symptoms and Co-morbidities".
6. Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider etal., "Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism: Analysis of Safety and Efficacy".
7. Michael Siani-Rose et al., "Cannabis-Responsive Biomarkers: A Pharmacometabolomics-Based Application to Evaluate the Impact of Medical Cannabis Treatment on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder".


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Disclaimer. While we strive to relay the most factual education available, this shouldn’t replace official medical or legal consultation and recommendation. This is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Happy days.

Hinterland co. Byron Bay, Australia

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