Brief Report: Cannabidiol-Rich Cannabis in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Behavioral Problems—A Retrospective Feasibility Study
1 Neuropediatric Unit, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, 12 Bayit Street, 91031 Jerusalem, Israel; 2 Clallit HMO (Kupat Holim), Jerusalem, Israel
Anecdotal evidence of successful cannabis treatment in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are accumulating but clinical studies are lacking. The purpose of this retrospective study, conducted by the Neuropediatric Unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, was to evaluate the tolerability and efficacy of cannabidiol-rich cannabis in 60 children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and severe behavioral problems. Following the cannabis treatment, behavioral outbreaks were much improved or very much improved in 61% of patients.
STUDY POPULATION: 60 children with ASD.
STUDY PRODUCT: About half of the patients in the study received the company’s products regularly (CBD-enriched, mostly avidekel 30%).
- Sixteen children (27%) stopped the cannabis treatment during the 13 months of follow-up, three of them were treated for less than 2 weeks so they were excluded from the efficacy assessments.
- Improvement in behavioral outbreaks – Significant improvement in behavior outbreaks was reported in 61% of the children.
- Improvement in anxiety – Considerable improvement in anxiety was reported in 39% of the children.
- Improvement in communication – Considerable improvement in communication was reported among 47% of the children
- Decrease in medication – Following the cannabis treatment, 16 (33%) received fewer medications or lower dosage, 12 (24%) stopped taking medications and only 4 (8%) received more medications or higher dose.
- Side effects included sleep disturbances (14%), irritability (9%), and loss of appetite (9%). One girl who received high doses of THC had a transient serious psychotic event which required treatment with an antipsychotic.