Ground-Breaking Research on Cannabis for Autistic Children

cannabis for autistic children medicine

1,500 children now have access to cannabis in Israel after ‘phenomenal’ results from a research study

Israel’s Health Minister has opened the gates for better access to cannabis after a cutting-edge investigation by physicians working with Dr Deidi Meiri, Head of the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabinoid Research at The Technion in Haifa, Israel.

Dr Meiri said in an exclusive interview on the Professionally Cannabis podcast: ‘The physicians started to treat these kids with the same cannabis that we gave to the epilepsy study, high CBD low THC, so these kids are not stoned, it is not a sedation.

‘The result was phenomenal. These are the most strong [sic] results I have seen in cannabis.

‘We had around 87% success, what I mean by success is that we saw a big reduction in violence, a big reduction in anxiety, improving eye-contact, improving sleep which reduced from 8.4 times waking every night to waking up 1.2 times’.

Fears regarding brain development in autistic children’s use of medical cannabis have been quashed in favour for a better quality of life that some strains can provide.
The Israel Institute of Technology professor expressed his joy over the feedback that the results got from the families of the children, claiming that it is ‘amazing to hear the stories’ of how these shifts in certain parameters can positively impact life at home.

However, what was perhaps most astounding about the research was the revelation that the strain of cannabis makes a huge difference on its effects, even if the chemical compound is the same.

‘There was one company that more and more kids started to take the cannabis (from) and they actually ran out of their material, they didn’t plan to have that amount of attention in that short range (of time). They ran out after a month and a half and they didn’t have that strain anymore.

‘There is a big difference in the reaction when you change the strain’ warned Dr Meiri.

The former Ontario Cancer Institute research fellow noted that when patients changed in strain to other high CBD strains with a 20:1 ratio, there were drastic results as in the space of four days there was a crash of 40 children who suffered which even led to numerous violent scenes; one case that was so brutal that a child’s mother was hospitalized by him after switching strain.

In addition, when the children returned back to that strain that had previously helped them they became relaxed again.

Dr Meiri’s research in other areas consistently show the importance of understanding the complexity and impact of different strains.

The Associate Professor at the Faculty of Biology at the Technion currently has four key areas in his lab – Neurodegenerative, Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis – however he is beginning to focus new research into how cannabis affects the immune system particularly for those with hyperactivity and inflammation.

Furthermore, his work on the effects of cannabinoids and the movement and growth found in cancer cells in the body similarly underline the necessity to grasp the differences between using different extracts to treat different cancers.

Dr Meiri gives background to his revelation and says: ‘Every cell in our body has got the machinery called the Apoptosis and when it realises that there is kind of a problem or a mistake there is a check-point where cells proliferate or they will commit suicide.’

‘If these cells realise that there is a problem they will commit suicide in order not to hurt the other cells around them, this is happening in every minute in our body, and there are thousands of cells that commit suicide.

‘But when there is a problem in the cell’s Apoptosis machinery or it knows how to avoid this, it is the beginning of cancer. So, Manuel Guzman and then Christian Sanchez showed that when you put cannabis on its cells it brings them back their ability to commit suicide.’

‘The Japanese showed that it is blocking migration, but this shows that it is killing the cells’.

This led Dr Meiri to ask himself the ultimate question – ‘what is cannabis?’ – in exploring this question he has since accumulated 900 different strains of cannabis in his laboratory to investigate.

This is a huge shift in Israeli cannabis research, as four years ago no laboratories were allowed to perform studies using it.

That said, collaboration with other global research teams still poses an obstacle for them as they cannot effectively transfer knowledge yet.

He gives the example of a strain called Tchelet in Israel which is very useful for Multiple Sclorosis.

The Israeli says that even with the same genetics and if one was to grow it in California they would get a different outcome treating MS, because it is grown under a different soil, sun and temperature.

‘There are more than 500 active compounds in the extract I am holding my hand.

‘It is a different plant in the summer than in the winter, if you change the temperature 4o in a tomato plant you change more than 1000 proteins in the chemicals and everything.’

The challenges of these variables in research have forced Meiri’s team in Haifa to continue to work hard on developing analytical tools to develop better research.

This improved quality of research is demonstrated in the Israelis recent ability to now take blood samples and biopsies that have analysed around 150 endocannabinoids in the body with already 87 of them are showing as 100% endocannabinoid.

To listen to the full interview with Dr. Dedi Meiri, check out Part 1 and Part 2