Medical Cannabis for Autism, Anxiety, Epilepsy, and Everything-but-Autism

zorroI had the dubious pleasure of having both annoying stoner neighbors and an annoying stoner roommate in college.  When they fired up the bong, they’d blast Red, Red Wine over and over, with the woofer pushed up against the wall so it resonated through my room.  And my roomie was annoying mostly because she would crash asleep at 8:00 pm — sleeping straight through Red, Red Wine — and get As in upper-class Organic Chemistry. Duuuude! And I stayed up all night studying for Organic Chemistry for Liberal Arts Majors and squeaked by. It was not my scene, and, no lie, I was pretty judgy about it.

So it will come as a surprise to some of the people who know me well that my current favorite research subject is medical cannabis.

fightorflightI pretty much ignored medical cannabis until my middle child was diagnosed with epilepsy.  His situation is complicated by massive anxiety.  I thought I knew what fight-or-flight was, but this kiddo taught me what it really means.  And it ain’t pretty.  It’s an eight-year-old boy silently flying down the stairs and sprinting into the night —  and clearing the block in seconds —  because it dawned on him his dad will die one day.  It’s an oversized stainless steel Tonka truck flying through a picture window because he was startled and upset.  It’s a black eye for Mom because I came up behind him, and he threw his head back like a hammer, he was so startled.

When I started filling my son’s pill sorter with three prescriptions per day for anxiety, mood stabilization, and seizures, a pot brownie here or there seemed a lot less scary.  My oldest son, now 17, recovered from autism (a full 299.0, thank you very much) with specialized diet, biomed support, herbs, homeopathy, and physician-led detoxification, so I’m used to thinking outside the box.

Medical Marijuana ClinicAt the 2014 AutismOne conference, I learned about products derived from industrial hemp that were high in the endocannabinoid CBD, the part of medicinal marijuana, like Charlotte’s Web, that appears to treat seizures. CBD was highlighted in the Sanjay Gupta special Weed  about medical marijuana.

I made a point to attend all the sessions on medical marijuana and autism. You can see them here and here .  Even though my middle son doesn’t have autism, he pretty much has everything BUT a 299.0 diagnosis. Brain dysfunction is brain dysfunction is brain dysfunction. (And no, I’m not talking about quirky, lovable differences.  I’m talking about speech problems, learning problems, crippling anxiety, poor hemispheric communication, neurotransmitter imbalances, and chronic inflammation that manifest as behaviors and challenges that make my son’s life very difficult.)  I sat in on several group discussions with a dad from California who’s been using medical cannabis to help his son with autism and seizures. I don’t think I asked a single question; I just absorbed the information.

pot plantsAt the conference, I met the reps from HempMedRx and headed home with a tube of RHSO Gold. I contacted my Facebook friend Gabby DeVelbiss and picked her brain. Gabby has been my single most helpful source of information and has been invaluable.  We saw a nice smoothing out of my son’s anxiety, and we’ve continued to use CBD ever since, trying a couple of different sources, all hemp-derived, but coming back to the RHSO Gold.

When a fourth medication —  second anti-epileptic — was added to my son’s regimen, I decided to look more deeply at medical cannabis.  His seizures are causing memory loss and interfering with his ability to learn or retain new information. It’s neuronal loss, and it’s in the wrong part of his brain.

caregiver cardBecause I live in California I’m able to get medical marijuana legally with a medical card.  Further, some cities will provide a card to caregivers of minors, but others won’t.  I circled around the the idea for months. With our pediatrician’s blessing, I finally bit the bullet and headed up to San Francisco to take my son to the kindly old lady doctor at the hippie clinic so I could get a legal caregiver card. But you know what? I knew more than she did about CBD and seizures.  I was kind of shocked to be honest.  Me? I knew more about pot for seizures than the pot doctor?  In what universe?? She will oversee the medical aspects of the case and referred me to some in-house experts — well-educated patient advocates — at a co-op that will sell to caregivers of minors, which happened to be the same co-op Gabby had recommended. I’m heading over to Oakland next week to get the appropriate tincture.  Turns out it was developed by that same dad I quasi-stalked at AutismOne.

So, in the end, another parent, another Thinker was the best resource I had.  I was really pleased when I heard the Thinking Moms’ Revolution was going to have an eConference on just this topic (registration available here) and even more pleased when I learned Gabby was going to be a featured speaker.  I will not be missing this one.

There is so much we need to learn and the information has been pieced together.  This eConference is going to put it together in one place.  I can’t wait.

~ Zorro

Register for TMR’s eConference on Medical Marijuana for Children with Autism here.

For more by Zorro, click here.

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47 Responses to Medical Cannabis for Autism, Anxiety, Epilepsy, and Everything-but-Autism

  1. guy blumenfeld says:

    hey,
    there is a doctor in israel who says that %5 of the epilepsy Patients who will use canabis will have more Epileptic seizures, what do you think about that?
    do you know any study that links use of canabis for autism and the start of Epileptic seizure?
    thank you

  2. Linda says:

    Zorro,

    This article states that you have a son who was 17 and had autism, but through homeopathy and other things he is cured. Can you tell me if you ever used cbd oil for him and who was the hp who helped him?

  3. Amanda Vogel says:

    I have a 15year old who has autism and non verbal. What dosage is recommended to start when using charlottes web?

    • Is the Charlotte’s Web in CBD oil form (no THC?)
      If it is I would start with 10 to 15mg CBD and see how he does. How much does he weigh? You want to start with a low dosage and build up as you find the right dosage for him and he will also build tolerance, needing a higher dosage over time. If it has THC, you want to start even lower. 2.5 mg of THC is a good entry dose.

    • Neal Musk Jr says:

      I would like to also know dose to start. I am really thinking about cbd

      • If you’re talking about CBD oil, start low and increase dosage slowly as needed. There’s so little research, not to mention it’s subjective, that it’s tough to give an exact dosage. I would begin with 10 mg CBD and a very small amount of THC, maybe 1 mg. I am a proponent of cannabis derived CBD, not hemp, and also some THC for the entourage effect. Google the difference between CBD from cannabis and that from hemp.
        Best wishes.

  4. Claudia green says:

    My son is 15 with autism I want him off all these meds they give him with horrible side effects I am in ny and having slot if trouble getting that medical necessity letter to bring to a doctor who prescribes cbd oil can u please help anyone know if doctors in ny that can help us

  5. Thanks for writing this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve
    never been compelled to leave a comment. I subscribed to your blog and shared
    this on my Facebook. Thanks again for a great
    article!

  6. Jennifer Morris says:

    I Have recently taken on my Niece and nephew. They are 10 and 11 years old. My Nephew is currently hospitalized due having several violent outbursts and harming some children. He has been on Risperdone, Guanfacine for a few years. The hospital has changed it to Xyprexa Guanfacine and another med to control his nightmares. I really want to find a better way to help this child. He was born addicted to drugs and spent the first 6 months of his life in the hospital. We are trying everything Dr. are telling us but a lot of the side effects of these meds scare the crap out of me. CAn anyone help us?

  7. Jhonson says:

    This post is helpful for everyone. Medical Cannabis kicks anxiety and depression out of user’s mind, this is one of the most prominent impacts of the drug and no scientific study is needed to demonstrate this. However, for the skeptical minds, a research carried out at Harvard Medical School showed that drug’s most benefits occur mainly because it helps improve the user’s mood and can even act as a mild sedative. Thank you for sharing.

    • Michelle anderson says:

      I live in California and my daughter takes risperdone for anxiety. Can I legally give her Cbd oil

      • Elizabeth says:

        If you are giving her CBD oil derived from cannabis, you would need a recommendation from a physician to legally purchase the CBD oil. There are a few doctors who will recommend to minors, but they are harder to find. Most people in California get their recommendation from a “420” doctor – the clinics such as mmjdoctoronline.com or 420 Evaluations. Most of the parents that I talk to have their own recommendation and then give the minors the CBD oil. You could try the online physicians I mentioned above, but I honestly can’t speak to whether or not they will recommend to minors.
        I hope this is helpful, good luck with the CBD oil. I can say from experience that it works and there are no side effects. Let me know if this answers your question.

  8. hello i am 35 year old male 200 pounds i have chrons bipolar anxiety and depression im looking for an oil i can buy online thats low in thc high in cbd i am on disability for bipolar so i dont have much money but all the medications i am given dont work i wanted to get a card but im in illinois and got a drug felony 15 years ago so they wont allow me to get a card .if you can help please email me [email protected]

  9. Mioschi Stewart says:

    To VIVIAN, PROFESSORTMR AND ZORRO, Could you PLEASE share with me what you did to cure your children of autism? I have a younger brother who is 13 years old and high functioning autistic. My mother has tried many things such as neorobiofeedback therapy and several social groups. We feel as though he is getting worse! PLEASE, if there is any information that you would be so kind to share with us, we would truly be FOREVER Grateful to you!! Right now he is extremely anxious and anti-social. He is also taking chlorella each day to rid mercury. We were interested in the marijuana, but are unsure of the dosage and strain. THANK YOU TREMENDOUSLY FOR YOUR TIME!

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      Hi, Mioschi! My kids never had autism, but my first instinct (given the number of kids I know who have recovered) is to say get Patricia Lemer’s book “Outsmarting Autism” for your mother. She outlines a very valid approach to treatment that can help you pinpoint the biggest issues for your brother.

      There’s SO much to consider, but effective treatments often include getting rid of food’s that cause sensitivities (or at least treating those sensitivities), gut healing, anti-inflammatories, detoxification (the IonCleanse footbath does this well), homeopathy, and lately we’ve heard great things about the e-Earth energy mat.

  10. cassandra mesnick says:

    I know this post is old, so I wonder if I will get a response. I am about to try medical marijuana for my 14 you son with severe anxiety which becomes anger outburst. Does anyone have an idea of what strains and delivery method is best for this?

  11. Magomed says:

    Hello there!
    Me and My wife need your Help.
    We just learned that our almost 3 year old son has ABD….. although none of our family members have/had autism and the kid is perfect except for the developmental issue obviously…we are desperately trying to help him, believing there is a cure with Gods help. We are doing Tomatis and ABA right now, along with brain developing vitamins/vitamins/injections for kids, physical therapy etc. We are thinking to try CBD as well, but still researching this option, not sure what CBD oil we can try with our child.
    I read stories here where moms tell stories about a kid cured using CBD oil and this gives us a huge breath of hope and belief, please share your experience in numbers and names, in locations and dosage, not just stories but useful information, please that would really
    help.
    Please help us with an advise or with whatever you can in our fight agains Autism.
    Thank you in advance.
    M.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Try a CBD tincture without THC for children. I like the CBD from cannabis rather than hemp, provides more terpenes and benefits than industrial hemp. Dosage varies – depends on weight, tolerance. Experimentation is really the only way to find out. But with no THC, there aren’t too many worries of overdoing it. I get mine from amastoned.com, they’re very knowledgeable and secure.

    • Rebecca says:

      Did you ever get to trying it ?

    • Neal Musk Jr says:

      I hope you started and would love to hear how it is going

  12. Your article clears each and everything properly. The post is beneficial for the readers.

  13. Jennifer morris says:

    Have tried 6 different seizure Medes without good and even horrifying side effects. Had craniotomy last year and struggle with seizures. Severe depression and panic attacks. What type of marijuans strands is recommended.

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      Jennifer, I recommend watching our cannabis webinar. I’ll see if I can find the link, then get in touch with whichever practitioner seems would be most helpful. Good luck!

    • Edd Botero says:

      The medical cannabis strains for epilepsy are suggested by medical cannabis doctors. They are based on strains that are specifically known to have high CBD content, for example, Harlequin, AC/DC , Cannatonic and Charlotte’s Web. However, there are different names for each drug. This is why I’m for the FDA approved med Epidiolex and other drugs that the FDA approves and markets for specific treatment for autism and epilepsy. I don’t want to always rely on dispensaries and growers. While I wish I could, the sad fact is that this is a big game. It’s about money. It’s about politics. And as a parent I don’t give a Shi* about any of that. All I want is my child to be seizure free. And not be suffering. I don’t care where the medicine comes from, so long as it’s safe, effective and studied.

  14. Jon R Horton says:

    Thanks Levi, It looks like you know what you’re talking about. I am presently on both Topiramate and Lamictal, and have been looking for for strains of MJ to treat my PTSC/Anxiety and seizure problems (and I don’t mind a bit of a buzz). Can you recommend any additional strains? I’d like as comprehensive a list as I can get, so I can leave it with my medical dispensary and have them call me when they get some in. Here in Colorado the variety is immense and confusing because the sales people are mostly just rumor mongers. I just bought some from one who highly recommended “Lavender” but it is so high in THC that it keeps me up almost all night.

  15. Jess says:

    You’re article is correct on many levels, and I hope many see the positives in it. However, something you wrote really bothered me as a mental health professional and relative of individuals who have ASD. You said, “My oldest son, now 17, recovered from autism (a full 299.0, thank you very much)…” Two things bother me: first, you use the term recovered as if it is curable and needing to be cured; second, you reference the specific ICD-9 code as though to legitimize your statement.

    So, you are defining your son as being broken but fixable and labeling him a specific number?

    Autism isn’t curable. It is genetic. It is a functional and structural difference in the brain. Symptoms can be managed and treated, but not recovered from. He will always have some struggles, and you must recognize that as his mother. If you don’t, the day he crashes — because we all do — you will feel like a failure and you are not. You can only teach him and help him function, and help the symptoms. You can’t cure him and you shouldn’t want to. Individuals with ASD are unique and can bring new about changes. Just look at some of the great minds many believe had ASD like Einstein.

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      Jess, there is NO evidence that autism is a fully genetic disorder. You have been listening to the wrong people. Study after study has shown that genetics can only possibly account for about half of autism. If there were an “autism gene,” or even combination of genes, it would have been found long ago. This is just one of the many studies http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/autism-risk-half-genetic-half-environmental/81249825/. Still researchers are “surprised” by what many parents of children with autism could have told you (and the researchers) if you’d only been listening: there is NO autism in their families. Where did this so-called “genetic” disorder come from?

      And how do you know it’s not “curable”? There have been case after case of children who have recovered completely. Even a recent mainstream study quoted by no less than IACC Chair Thomas Insel recognized that. Why is that not “cure”? If someone goes from being profoundly autistic to not having any sort of diagnosis, why would you insist “he will always have some struggles”? EVERYBODY has struggles. It doesn’t mean they have autism.

      Raun Kaufman was diagnosed as profoundly autistic before he was two years old. He didn’t respond to anything, lived in his own world of spinning objects, and his parents were told to put him in an institution because there was nothing they could do. He “would never” talk, go to school, take care of himself, hold down a job, etc., etc., etc. His parents didn’t buy that the “experts” knew what they were talking about, however, and his mother embarked on an expedition to entice Raun out of his own world and into theirs. In his case, it worked. Completely and utterly, and you would know that if you saw him give one of his dynamic lectures that he gives all over the country in his role as the Director of Global Education at the Autism Treatment Center of America.

      A question you might ask yourself as a “mental health professional” is why you are denying possibilities for your relatives with ASD as well as the rest of the population? Is it because in your head to do so would be to imply that someone is “broken”? Frankly, I find that ridiculous. I have asthma. It does not mean I’m “broken” whether or not I ever manage to cure it. I hear others have managed it, and I aspire to what they have achieved because I would rather NOT have asthma than have asthma. If someone identifies highly with their condition, as many people with autism do, then they may prefer to have the condition than not, and that’s fine. But because some people feel that way does not mean that they should get to define life for others with the condition.

      You might want to read this piece which covers many of the medical aspects of autism very well: https://aydansrecovery.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/how-dangerous-is-it-to-find-an-autism-cure/ When, as a “mental health professional.” you make your pronouncements about autism, you are missing a great deal of the picture that includes all the comorbid medical conditions. The fact that those conditions are part of the picture for a large segment of the autistic population means that autism is not a separate genetic mental condition from the rest of the symptoms that are clearly the result of overall toxic burden. If you reduce the toxic burden, you can reduce autism symptoms and behaviors. And that’s a good thing for people who would rather not have autism.

      • Edd Botero says:

        Raun Kaufman was never autistic. Move on. Spare us.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        Right, Edd. Because the progression of his condition didn’t follow YOUR ideas of the way things are supposed to work, all the MANY doctors and “experts” who diagnosed him with autism (which, by the way, contained all the symptoms of severe “classic” autism before there were any diagnostic changes) were obviously wrong. Sorry, dude, but that’s logical fallacy. You are basing your conclusion on a lousy premise: “Autism is incurable.” The correct logical conclusion is that autism was cured in at least one case, therefore autism is not “incurable,” and no valid conclusions whatsoever can be based upon that premise.

      • LeighAnn says:

        My son Nic is severely autistic non verbal. And we recently found out he several other health problems. Including Still active stage 3 liver disease with bridging fibrosis. We can’t put him on any phyc meds I believe that’s why he is this way. He was on one from the time he was 3 till now 9. We live in Pa although it is legal here. You can’t get it here yet. My guess would be pharmaceutical company’s delaying any of are family’s from getting it so they can still take everyone’s money. No matter what it’s doing to our children. How can I get around this. Poor Nic is loosing his mind! We came so far but he can’t stay still. I really need more info on the exact type, breed, generation of the plants that help autistic people get rid of the severe anxiety they suffer from. And he also has severe muscle spasms. And he needs to eat more. So all I’m looking for is something to help his anxiety, muscle pain, and the munchies would really help. Without this medicine I’m afraid he will be forced on meds and it will kill him. We were in the hospital all July. By the time I can go to a dispensary here it will be to late! How can I get this NOW! I’ll do what ever it takes how ever far I have to! He has been threw enough bullshit and I’m not waiting any longer! Please tell me who to talk to who can over ride all the bull shit delays PA’s paper work is held up on?
        Desperately seeking LeighAnn

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        Hi LeighAnn, the situation is enormously complicated, and the lowdown I hear is that no one in Pennsylvania is likely to be too much help, though I will email you the phone number of someone who might be able to give you some info. In the meantime, I was told to send you to the MAMMA website and call the number on there: https://www.mammausa.org/contact-us.html Someone will help you. Good luck!

    • Victoria says:

      Sorry, gotta jump in here. I have two children diagnosed with severe autism. One is now 50% better, the other is entirely recovered…cured in fact. It wasn’t without a lot of diet and other interventions as well as some behavioral therapies. Every time I see one of these posts from either people who claim to be autistic, or people who claim to defend autistic people and advocate for ‘neurodiversity’ and dispute a cure or the need for one I make it a point to counter such claims.
      My child is cured and while I love my children with or without autism I wish for them to function at their highest potential. Most autism families I know want the same thing. Autism is not the cool, nerdy, trend that some people think should be celebrated. Not when you are scraping poo out of the crevices of your wood floor, dealing with bruises and blood from head banging, watching your child writhe in pain from intense chronic GI upset. and changing the diapers on a 17 year old. I know plenty of autism families who have been doing just that for years and now are worried about how to transition their child to a group home when they are too old to care for them. Einstein was not autistic and whatever nut made that up needs to go read up on Einstein’s childhood. When the diversity movement shows me one person who is non verbal and in diapers that communicated the desire to keep themselves just exactly as is for perpetuity then I will take your agenda more seriously. In the meantime don’t preach at us families about what autism is or isn’t…we are on the front lines living it every day. I’m here to educate you that like many illnesses and dysfunctions of the body, autism can be reversed and sometimes cured. Remember, my daughter was severely autistic, recovered, had her diagnosis removed and is now cured. She vividly remembers and describes what autism was like and she states very emphatically that she is grateful to be cured of autism. And by the way, there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic. And nope, not one single family member with any type of cognitive dysfunction in any side of the family.

  16. jennifer stark says:

    I have to kids 16,12 that both have been on seizure meds and very autistic both are very moderate cognitive border severe.we live in indiana.we are very limited with money.but there meds are not doin what they should be.and because they can only take non stimulants weve always been limited.so my question is where do i start? Im not getting any younger and takin care of them seems to bet getting harder.my youngest over the past year is more hyperactive than ever.need some help how to start this journey so i can help them.

    • Vivian says:

      Please let me know if you got any answers to your question of how to start the treatment. My son is 13 moderate/severe autism and recently diagnosed with seizures. Need help in getting start our journey with cannabis.

      • Katie says:

        Buy some from someone you trust or grow your own plants.. Unless of course you live where it is legal or can move to where it is. If you need some help in the process of growing then email me. This is for anyone on here wanting help. My email is [email protected]

  17. Levi says:

    Israel is making great progress on medical cannabis used to treat autism. Also, according to research, strains that are effective in treating epilepsy in autism are SFV OG KUSH; AC/DC (I know, the name is odd, but so is Valporic Acid, Topiramate and Lamictal, which lead to all sorts of terrible side effects, including liver failure, a much more scarier side effect than a name of a strain that helps); Pinesoon, Blue Dragon and of course, Charlotte’s Web….

    • LeighAnn says:

      What strands help severe autism, anxiety, muscle pain and will give the munchies to my son. He has liver disease and terrible food issues!

      • Elizabeth says:

        I would start him on a high CBD / low THC strain like Cannatonic. CBD counteracts the anxiety some people may feel from THC. If he’s still anxious you might try a CBD tincture or edible with no THC at all. CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory

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