The Autism Spectrum has been the subject of media and scientific debate since the terms hit the dictionary. Part of the problem is that the whole concept is so new the research seems to lag the expanding challenge for the affected children, adults, and their parents and families. Lacking the desired research, some are finding value in treating Asperger’s Syndrome with CBD.
Autism vs. Asperger’s
According to the Autism Speaks, “Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.” Manifest in different ways and to varying degrees, autism symptoms include sensory disorders, gastrointestinal problems, spastic seizures, sleep disorders, and mild to severe cognitive difficulties. Because it is a spectrum disorder, all those directly and indirectly connected are frustrated by complex diagnosis and the lack of adequate prognosis and therapy.
Those with Asperger’s Syndrome have long been included on the Autism Spectrum. But the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) has differentiated Asperger’s from Autism since 1994. The Autism Society notes, “What distinguishes Asperger’s Disorder from classic autism are its less severe symptoms and the absence of language delays. Children with Asperger’s Disorder may be only mildly affected, and they frequently have good language and cognitive skills.” Some classify people affected by Asperger’s as “high-functioning.” Well known people with Asperger’s include Alfred Hitchcock, Andy Warhol, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Courtney Love, Dan Ackroyd, James Taylor, Robin Williams, Susan Boyle, Temple Grandin, Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick, Temple Grandin, Vladimir Putin, and more. Some historians name Abraham Lincoln, Beethoven, Ben Franklin, George Washington, James Joyce, Michelangelo, Thomas Jefferson, and many others as evidencing Asperger’s behaviors.
People with Asperger’s want to belong in social contexts but have trouble doing so. If they appear socially awkward, it shows they lack the coping mechanisms of compassion and empathy. They may not appreciate gestures, eye contact, body language, irony, or sarcasm. And, they may show repeatedly compulsive behaviors and/or collect things, actions bringing order to their experience.
Asperger’s Syndrome is not characterized by speech delay although children and adults with Asperger’s may use language in different patterns with uncommon inflections or accents or too loud or high. And, despite public and social behaviors, they are often intellectually and creatively advanced.
Syndromes do not have easily clarified causes. It’s in their nature as syndromes. The Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center at the National Institute of Health reports, Asperger’s Syndrome “has a strong genetic basis, however, the way it runs in families is complex. Doctors believe this is because although a baby may inherit a genetic change that increases their risk for developing Asperger syndrome (genetic predisposition), other factors in the environment are involved in the development and course of the syndrome.” They are saying there is a genetic cause, but its formula and interaction with environmental factors remain a mystery. Researchers are not optimistic about identifying a single causative gene.
Therapies target manifest indicators, including communication skills, obsessive behaviors, and physical coordination. Considering that symptoms may appear as early as 18 months, it presents a significant challenge for diagnosticians and therapists.
However, some therapies have met with success in the treatment of specific patients. Work is reduced to simply communicated, neatly demonstrated but well-structured steps. The steps are repeated and positively reinforced. The treatment may include cognitive behavior therapy, speech therapy, behavioral feedback, social skills training, and more.
The FDA has not approved a specific pharmaceutical solution. Treating physicians and neurologists typically recommend antipsychotics, SSRIs, or stimulants. Other medications routinely prescribed include Risperdal, Risperidone, Olanzapine, Lisdexamfetamine, and Risperdal M-tab — all of which have negative side effects.
Asperger’s and CBD
People on the Autism Spectrum including those with Asperger’s frequently self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol to manage the related anxiety and stress or to increase their perceived comfort in social situations. This is where CBD could offer an effective treatment.
There is increasing interest in cannabinoids, especially cannabidiol (CBD), as monotherapy or add-on treatment for the core symptoms and co-morbidities of ASD. A 2019 study in Progress Neuropsychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry notes, “There is increasing interest in cannabinoids, especially cannabidiol (CBD), as monotherapy or add-on treatment for the core symptoms and co-morbidities of ASD.”
While there are numerous studies on the use of cannabis-based CBD in treating Autism Spectrum Disorders, there are none specific to Asperger’s Syndrome. Moreover, the research has found inconsistent and contradictory results largely because there is conflicting chemistry triggered by the presence of the psychoactive THC known to produce paranoia and schizophrenia in some.
Hemp-based CBD products have been known to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression without the negative side effects. CBD is a natural cannabinoid by-product of hemp. Hemp is botanically related to Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica which both include levels of THC. However, hemp, long farmed for fiber, food, and health benefits, lacks the THC component. So, it can be used without concerns about addiction or dependence.
The CBD cannabinoid maps over to the human’s Endocannabinoid System, the brain and body’s largest and most complex system. CBD’s benefits reach tissues, glands, nerves, and muscles to relieve inflammation, correct hormone imbalances, and neural disturbances. While no one is clear about its mechanism of action, researchers believe CBD does not bind with neural receptors CB1 and CB2. They believe the CBD runs interference, getting in the way of antagonists that trigger pain, spasticity, inflammation, and more.
Shopping for CBD
With thousands of CBD products hitting the market, you should look for some key features when shopping. You need access to ingredients, dosing recommendations, and third-party testing results.
Our Nano-processed CBD ensures a purer distillate and faster bioavailability, speeding its effects. “Nano Hemp CBD, for example, is amped up with an additional scientific step in its processing. With that amplified process, it moves faster through the body to deliver a more efficient effect.”
Without the necessary, long-term, well-financed, double-blind studies, the certain effect of CBD on Asperger’s Syndrome is not clear. CBD has an entourage effect in which the sum of the parts is more effective than any single part. Asperger’s Syndrome is an entourage condition without clear causality. And, that compatibility may explain its effectiveness.