Israeli cannabis brand Tikun Olam is behind a groundbreaking study on the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in children with autism. Researchers observed 53 children and young adults ages four to 22 over the course of two months. During this time, they observed a colossal drop in autism symptoms.
Parents who received licenses through the Israeli Ministry of Health received detailed instructions on how to administer oral drops filled with extracts of Avidekel, a strain loaded with CBD and specifically formulated for autism. Researchers observed a 67.6 percent drop in self-injury and rage attacks. In addition, hyperactivity and sleep symptoms improved by about 70 percent each. Finally, communication skills improved by 86.7 percent.
In Hebrew, Avidekel translates to “father of a palm tree.” In Israel, the Avidekel strain is available in flower form, tinctures, concentrates and capsules, in a variety of different strength percentages and CBD to THC ratios. In the United States, the available options vary by state.
“There is still no standard treatment for autism,” Israel-based Ma’ayan Weisberg, international relations for Tikun Olam told CULTURE B2B. “Cannabis is a safe option to provide to children and their parents to help treat the wide range of symptoms. We have seen incredible changes in our pediatric patients once they begin rich CBD strains use, such as reduction in aggressiveness and violence, improvement in communication abilities and improvement in quality of life for the entire family. In light of these remarkable and moving results we see in our pediatric department every day (treating 500 children suffering from autism), it is important to provide access to the knowledge and information to everyone that can be helped by it, so parents can provide relief to their children and their families.”
Self-injury is sadly a common symptom among children on certain levels of the autism spectrum. The energy and aggression coming from children with autism can be exhausting for any parent, and anything that helps becomes an option. “At Tikun Olam clinics in Israel, we are seeing miracles every day, and reduction in aggressiveness and violence is one of the most dramatic improvements we see in our [patients with autism]. CBD is truly a life changing treatment,” Weisberg said. The company’s pediatric department is led by Na’ama Saban RN BSC and treats 1000 children. Out of those, 500 children are treated with cannabis-based oils made from Tikun Olam’s Avidekel, Erez and Alaska strains. Although some parents of children with autism claim that they need high levels of THC in addition to the CBD, the results are no less impressive.
Almost anybody in the American cannabis industry is aware of the limitations imposed by the federal government that hamper critical medical cannabis research, because of cannabis’ classification under Schedule I with no accepted medical value. “Unlike the United States,” Weisberg explained, “Israel has a national medical cannabis program that sanctions and encourages this kind of clinical and scientific research. This allows Tikun Olam to partner with universities and hospitals to conduct advanced studies, and we have been doing it for many years.
In America, children with autism are commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs like fluoxetine (Prozac) with sometimes horrific side effects. They’re the same drugs that are prescribed for completely different purposes. “Pharmaceuticals often have many unhealthy and unpleasant side effects, and their effectiveness is unreliable at best. However, when we begin medical cannabis treatment, we do not change any of the conventional medications they may be taking. Only when we reach a positive outcome in our patients, and with the recommendation of their physician, do the patients reduce other medications.” The research team has seen very few side effects from their cannabis treatment on the children, which reinforces the concept of safety while using medical cannabis as a treatment for such a vulnerable population.
“Unlike the United States, Israel has a national medical cannabis program that sanctions and encourages this kind of clinical and scientific research. This allows Tikun Olam to partner with universities and hospitals to conduct advanced studies, and we have been doing it for many years.”
Even though recent research has indicated the efficacy of medical cannabis for common symptoms such as ADD, mental illness, hyperactivity, concentrating, depression and mood disorders, in Israel, those do not qualify for medical cannabis, so it cannot be recommended as a treatment. There is still plenty more work to do, when identifying all the ways that medical cannabis can help children with autism.