This article will explore the role of rare cannabinoid CBGa in Autism treatment
Autism is a complex condition that’s affecting an unprecedented number of people worldwide. Its medical causes remain something of a mystery in a society that chronically misunderstands people on the spectrum. For those with autism and their loved ones, choosing a treatment option can be just as difficult.
As time goes on, people with autism and other wide neurological conditions are coming to the natural conclusion that a drug-free, lifestyle-based solution is the best answer. Psychotropic medications should be a last resort as their side effects present significant health risks.
Plant Medicine holds the Keys that Unlock New Life
Plants are a storehouse of medicines. Most of these plant-based compounds can mimic endogenous molecules and interact with receptors to proffer solutions to man’s ever-increasing medical challenges. The ancient Chinese, Egyptian, and Roman empires understood this principle thus, explaining why they had so much interest in plant-based medicines.
The ancients also understood food as medicine, and that plants have special mental qualities that are activated through a mindful relationship with the substance in question. In other words, they knew how to use Nature to affect the “mental matter” underlying physical reality to heal people.
Now our society is experiencing a new awareness of plant-based, and the cannabis plant is perhaps foremost in this reawakening.
Cannabis and Autism
Cannabis and cannabinoid therapy has served important purposes in controlling several disease conditions, including epilepsy, chronic pain, mental disorders like autism, and more. These therapeutic activities are possible thanks to the mimetic potentials of cannabinoids. By imitating the structure of endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG, phytocannabinoids can proffer solutions to several diseases. While the focus has been on neutral cannabinoids like CBD, THC, CBG, and CBC, quite a few rare cannabinoids may possess some novel activities.
Rare cannabinoids like CBGA and CBGV are restoring hopes in the lives of autistic children. Information from the CDC shows that about 1 in 44 children in the U.S are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The disease is 4 times more common in boys than in girls. This skewed sex ratio has been a major source of argument since the disease was first described in 1943.
Children on the spectrum find it difficult to socialize (social phobia), express excessive worry or rumination, and undergo avoidance behaviors. Symptoms associated with autism go on and on. People who are autistic seem to have a brain that is “wired” differently. This leads to certain behaviors that are quite unusual.
ASD is the third most common mental disorder in children, after anxiety disorder and ADHD. It is a combination of neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive patterns of behavior. They also experience difficulties engaging in social interaction and connection.
Research shows that the autistic brain may differ from the non-autistic brain. The difference in brain structures may be responsible for individuals’ repetitive patterns and underdeveloped behaviors. Most people suffering from ASD may experience difficulties with social connection and interaction. They may exhibit little to no eye contact and find it difficult to talk about feelings.
It is quite impossible to pin down the cause of ASD to a single source as it can be triggered by genetic factors, environmental factors, comorbid neurological and mental conditions such as epilepsy, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and ADHD. People on the spectrum may also face anxiety, depression, and OCD more than the non-autistic community. Children with ASD may also exhibit disruptive behaviors like aggression, noncompliance, and irritability.
The Endocannabinoid System and Autism
The endocannabinoid system is deeply involved in the moment-to-moment regulation of hippocampal and cortical excitability, thus suggesting how an impaired ECS signaling could be involved in epileptic and autistic seizures. There is a dysregulation of the ECS in people suffering from ASD. It is pertinent to note that the ECS modulates highly compromised behaviors in ASD like learning, emotional processing, memory, motor control, and social behavior. Some scientists have also discovered a dysregulated ECS in autistic patients.
Autism is often accompanied by a vast array of physical and mental health conditions, some of which includes; gastrointestinal problems, epilepsy, feeding issues, disrupted sleep, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, many of which have been proven to be treated or managed with cannabis extracts and cannabinoids.
Several reports point to the possible roles of Cannabinoids and extracts from medical marijuana to assist children with autism. Research shows that cannabinoids can reduce disruptive behavior while improving social responsiveness in autistic children. It was discovered that children treated with cannabis extracts containing CBD, THC, and other rare cannabinoids like CBGA and CBGV had improved symptoms compared with the placebo group. Some of the commonly reported therapeutic potentials of CBGA and other cannabinoids are discussed below;
- Anti-seizure potential
Seizures and epilepsy form an inseparable duo. They exist as comorbidities in autistic individuals. However, the correlation between the two is still unknown as researchers are still trying to understand if seizures lead to autism or the other way round. Seizures are more common in autistic children than in normal individuals. This can be attributed to the nature of the autistic brain with a miscommunication between the brain parts.
While there are reports on the possible use of FDA-approved drug (epidiolex) to treat dravet syndrome, recent information shows how CBGA and other rare cannabinoids may offer a better anti-seizure potential than CBD. In one of the research works, CBGA was found to be 20 times better than CBD at providing anticonvulsant and anti-seizure properties. The report also shows how CBGA can improve the activity of clobazam, an anti-seizure drug. This activity could be the missing link to identifying a novel medication for managing and treating autism.
Cannabivarin (CBDV) was also reported to possess an active anti-seizure property on epileptic and autistic patients. The cannabinoid can interact with several cannabinoid receptors to provide its anti-seizure and anticonvulsant activities, which were impressive. A study reports how medical cannabis can reduce seizures in epileptic patients by over 86%.
Autistic people may exhibit signs of insomnia or difficulty sleeping. This problem may arise from their inability to unwind and the irregular secretion of melatonin levels (the sleep hormone). Lack of sleep is a major concern in adults and children battling autism, and this may affect the schedule of parents/caregivers.
The sleep-inducing properties of CBGA and other cannabinoids show that cannabis extracts can go a long way in assisting with insomnia and sleep problems in autistic children and adults. Recall that CBGA and other cannabinoids provide a modulatory activity on the body, which includes modulating the secretion and activities of melatonin.
- Anxiety and depression
The antidepressant and anxiolytic activities of CBGA and other cannabinoids have been widely reported. There are reports on how CBGA offers the best antioxidant activity to maintain homeostasis while neutralizing the harmful effects of free radicals. Although CBGA may exhibit a low affinity to CB receptors (CB1 and CB2), it can interact with about 8 cannabinoid receptors to reduce anxiety, promote cognitive activities, and more.
Other Cannabinoids for Autism
While it is a commonplace to compare the therapeutic potentials of cannabinoids, it is pertinent to note that this is not a battle of supremacy as every cannabinoid has its unique strengths and weaknesses. This is why it is often advised to consume full-spectrum or broad-spectrum cannabinoids since they contain a vast array of cannabinoids. Note that cannabinoids can act singly or in a consortium to provide their activities. These cannabinoids may even inhibit the psychoactive properties of other cannabinoids and determine how they act on receptors.
CBGA possesses an antioxidant activity that is more pronounced than any other cannabinoid, thanks to the phenolic and hydroxyl groups present in its structure. It was found to improve the penetration of ocular drugs by 300% and, most importantly, can promote the activities of other cannabinoids via the entourage effect. Combining CBGA with other cannabinoids shows an improved activity in their binding affinity and therapeutic potentials. CBGA has a way of boosting cannabinoid activity.
CBGA was also found to possess more pronounced anti-seizure properties than CBD and was found to undertake this activity at a lower dosage supporting the fact that less is more with CBGA.
Cannabis is offering hope to the autistic community
CBGA and cannabinoids seem to be offering a new ray of hope to people suffering from ASD. With the right dose of CBGA and other cannabinoids, autistic people can live a better and more balanced life.