Background: The pharmacological treatment for autism spectrum disorders is often poorly tolerated and has traditionally targeted associated conditions, with limited benefit for the core social deficits. We describe the novel use of a cannabidiol-based extract that incidentally improved core social deficits and overall functioning in a patient with autism spectrum disorder, at a lower dose than has been previously reported in autism spectrum disorder.
Case presentation: The parents of a 15-year-old boy, of South African descent, with autism spectrum disorder, selective mutism, anxiety, and controlled epilepsy, consulted a medical cannabis physician to trial cannabis extract to replace seizure medications. Incidentally, at a very low cannabidiol-based extract dose, he experienced unanticipated positive effects on behavioral symptoms and core social deficits.
Conclusion: This case report provides evidence that a lower than previously reported dose of a phytocannabinoid in the form of a cannabidiol-based extract may be capable of aiding in autism spectrum disorder-related behavioral symptoms, core social communication abilities, and comorbid anxiety, sleep difficulties, and weight control. Further research is needed to elucidate the clinical role and underlying biological mechanisms of action of cannabidiol-based extract in patients with autism spectrum disorder.
Keywords: Autism, Cannabidiol extract, Complementary treatment, Phytocannabinoids