In order to understand what is happening in an Autistic individual we must touch upon the critical role of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
A low-grade chronic infection is a primary challenge in autistic individuals – resulting in systemic inflammation. A pro-inflammatory state in both the brain and the gut are symptoms of Autism which points to a malfunctioning ECS.
Our ECS is made up of lipids and receptors and is located in the brain, immune and nervous systems. The ECS regulates physiological systems, including appetite, pain, inflammatory response, thermoregulation, intra-ocular pressure, physical sensation, muscle control, energy balance, metabolism, sleep health, stress responses, motivation/reward, mood, and memory. 1
Autism and its relation to an imbalanced or inefficient ECS is one of the main research findings by the late great Doctor Bradstreet out of Melbourne, Florida. Stanford University research also shows us the powerful link to the ECS and Autism as well as studies put out by The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics. 2 3
Further research suggests that a gene mutation is present in autistic individuals blocking the body’s natural production of endocannabinoids. 4 This then results in behavioral challenges, issues with psychological development and imbalances in cognition.
Another key finding is that this gene mutation is what causes spastic communication instead of calm communication between pathways, this directly links to an inefficient ECS. 5
Take for example an Autistic person that displays an addiction to certain foods. The ECS regulates this type of impulse. An imbalanced ECS can cause irregular cravings as well as leaky gut. The ECS controls all of these physiological systems and without sufficient endocannabinoid production, it is challenging for the body to communicate properly.
Autistic individuals are also highly sensitive to environmental toxins because their system does not properly control toxins from passing through the gut lining as well as the blood-brain barrier.
This shows us a direct connection to a weak ECS. Their brain is susceptible to toxins because the ECS in the brain is malfunctioning, allowing toxins to pass the blood brain barrier causing irritation. Cannabinoids – like cannabidiol – help to seal the matrix of the brain and protect the neurovascular environment. Because our ECS is also a part of the digestive system this same challenge happens with the gut wall; causing irritation and imbalances. It too must be sealed and cannabinoids help to accomplish this.
With a restored and nourished ECS, a proper foundation is created leading to the healthy signaling of transmitters in the brain and gut.
Cannabinoids are a foundational part of a healthy and optimal functioning body.
Using extracted cannabinoids from the cannabis plant could be a therapeutic approach offered by nature. These fatty acid compounds help to:
- Nourish the brain – ease inflammation
- Seal the blood brain barrier from toxins, as well as
- Heal the protein-tight-junctions in the gut so that pathogens do not get through.
With this improved state of one’s immune system, the signaling can be restored to optimal function and communication can operate in a healthy manner.
Research and real life examples show supplemental usage of cannabis oil helps to calm down these individuals and restore the ECS.
Here is an infographic sharing the importance of a well-nourished endocannabinoid system and its connection to Autism.
*This article is dedicated to the late Dr. Jeff Bradstreet for his impeccable service to share his findings with the Autistic community.