Navigating through life involves learning various new skills, including how to make friends and talk to people—for most people, at least. For some people, however, social interactions and communicating with other people feels foreign and is overwhelming. People with Asperger’s Syndrome have difficulty expressing emotions, and speaking to other people is not as easy as it is for the general population.
We don’t fully understand all the causes of Asperger’s Syndrome, so finding effective treatments for this condition is a challenge. The use of CBD has become a topic of interest for numerous other conditions such as pain, anxiety, and other brain conditions.
CBD Oil for Asperger’s: Just the Facts
Asperger’s Syndrome is considered a high functioning form of autism, which primarily causes issues with social interaction, repetitive behaviors, and emotional processing. There are no specific medical treatments for Asperger’s symptoms; however, many people with the condition require treatment for anxiety and depression. Research on using CBD oil for Asperger’s is just beginning and requires clinical trials.
There is, however, some evidence that CBD may have a place in helping people manage their Asperger’s symptoms in the future.
Understanding Asperger’s Syndrome
Asperger’s syndrome is a term used to describe a type of neurological developmental disorder and, as such, should not be thought of as a “disease.”
The condition is characterized by certain behaviors and personality traits that influence how a person sees, feels, and processes the world around them.
At one point in time, the medical community classified Asperger’s as a specific diagnosis. However, it is now considered part of the autism spectrum disorder. Many people still refer to the condition as Asperger’s, while others refer to it simply as high-functioning autism.
Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome
Typically, parents begin to notice signs and symptoms of Asperger’s in early childhood. One of the first symptoms parents usually notice is a lack of eye contact in infancy. In addition, many people with Asperger’s demonstrate a significant dislike of change and a great need for routine. They often exhibit repetitive behaviors such as eating meals at the same time every day or completing chores in a specific order. It is also common for them to take intense interest in specific topics, for example, insects or outer space, and spend a lot of time learning about and talking about their area of interest.
Parents may also begin to notice that their child does not show emotions as they would expect—they may not laugh at jokes, or they may not show sympathy at appropriate times.
Unlike more severe forms of autism, which may result in a decrease of daily functioning, intelligence, and ability to learn at school or work a normal job, people with Asperger’s do not have any deficits in intelligence or have the same autism symptoms. However, they tend to have some specific personality traits and behaviors that are characteristic of the syndrome. Often, people with Asperger’s main issue is in picking up on social cues and developing social skills.
One person who has Asperger’s describes their experience:
“Imagine if you will, that everyone is playing a board game. It’s a really fascinating game and it seems quite complex. The board is intricately decorated and the playing pieces are beautifully carved and everyone really seems to enjoy playing it. The strange thing is though, that you’ve never seen anyone pick up a rulebook for the game. Everyone just seems to know all the rules.
When you ask someone if they can teach you the rules, they look confused and say ‘Weren’t you born knowing how to play?’
This is how social interaction feels to us. We weren’t born with an innate social ability like most people, so we have had to learn the hard way.”
The Impact of Having Asperger’s
People with Asperger’s tend to know that they are different, and they’re often called “weird” by others. Being judged by others can affect their self-esteem and result in anxiety and depression, both of which can decrease their quality of life.
They often report feeling overwhelmed by their environments, which feel “overstimulating.”
Causes of Asperger’s Syndrome
The cause of Asperger’s is unknown. It is thought to develop from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Conventional Treatment Approaches for Asperger’s
Treating the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome can be challenging, as there are no prescription medications specifically for this condition. Therefore, treatment usually involves therapy and coaching to help a person with his or her social skills, anxiety, or depression.
In some cases, antidepressants (such as SSRIs like Prozac) are recommended to people on the autism spectrum who suffer from anxiety and depression.
In short, there are currently no medications that are an effective treatment for Asperger’s Syndrome itself. This condition is still poorly understood, so new therapies depend on gaining a better understanding of what areas of brain development are affected.
Researchers are beginning to look at the possibilities of using CBD oil for Asperger’s, given its emerging role in other mental health and neurological conditions such as anxiety, seizures, and schizophrenia.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil, sometimes called hemp oil, comes from the industrial hemp plant, and it contains high amounts of cannabidiol, a phytocannabinoid that has been proven to have positive effects on many medical conditions for some people. Although this plant is a sister to the marijuana plant, it does not contain high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis.
CBD products have few side effects, which are typically mild and include fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea for some people.
CBD products are legal to buy and sell throughout the United States. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate CBD products at this time. Therefore, it is of vital importance that you make purchases from reputable companies that use third-party testing, so you know precisely what you are buying. Utilize a good resource to help you find the right CBD products for your needs, and which are high quality and safe to use.
CBD Oil for Asperger’s: What We Know So Far
There have not yet been any randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials conducted on the possibilities of using CBD oil for autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. However, there is some evidence that CBD oil may have a place in helping some people manage Asperger’s symptoms.
As scientists take a closer look into the brains of animal models and people on the autism spectrum, they have reported that there are some differences from the general population.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system has been an area of interest in several medical conditions. This system exists throughout our brains and bodies as a network of receptors. These are cannabinoid receptors, which are stimulated by CBD. They control pain levels and inflammation, and they affect mood.
Researchers have suggested that people on the autism spectrum have an endocannabinoid deficiency, which is responsible, in part, for their anxiety levels and neurological impairments. It is possible that CBD, which activates this system, could help alleviate some of their symptoms.
An article from the Journal of Neurotherapeutics reports that research studies in both animals and humans support CBD oil as an effective therapy for reducing anxiety levels. Anxiety is a widespread symptom experienced by people with Asperger’s. This is due to feeling overstimulated by their environments as well as struggling in social situations.
Oxytocin and Autism
They’ve also discovered that children on the autism spectrum have lower levels of a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone is responsible for the emotional bonding between infants and mothers. CBD oil has been shown in animal models to increase the levels of oxytocin in the brain. Although this process requires more research, as does CBD in general, it is encouraging further study on the possible use of CBD oil for Asperger’s.
A Summary of What the Research Says
There have not been any randomized, controlled clinical trials on CBD for Asperger’s.
Researchers have found differences in the brains of people with autism, including an endocannabinoid deficiency and lower levels of oxytocin. CBD oil stimulates both of these.
CBD has been shown to help with anxiety, a symptom people with Asperger’s commonly experience.
Final Thoughts on the Use of CBD Oil for Asperger’s
There are still significant gaps in our understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome as well as the best approach to manage its symptoms. Based on early research on CBD oil, CBD products may have a place in the management of autism spectrum disorders; however, more research through clinical trials is needed.