facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

Marijuana-Like Brain Chemical May Fight Autism

A natural brain chemical similar to THC may help reduce behavioral issues related to autism, a study finds.

Image: 

Our brains make their own version of the
pot-molecule THC. Trippy! Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman

09/28/12

| Share

Marijuana-like chemicals in the brain may help reduce some of the behavioral issues related to autism, a new study suggests. Researchers led by Daniele Piomelli of UC Irvine and Olivier Manzoni of INSERM, the French national research agency, treated mice that exhibited symptoms of fragile X syndrome, the most common known genetic cause of autism. The mice were given a class of chemicals called endocannabinoid transmitters, which occur naturally in the brain. These transmitters facilitate the efficient transport of electrical signals at synapses, which is severely limited in people with fragile X syndrome. According to Piomelli, this is the first study to identify the role of naturally-occuring endocannabinoids, which share a similar chemical structure with THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana: "What we hope is to one day increase the ability of people with fragile X syndrome to socialize and engage in normal cognitive functions," he says. The researchers involved don't advocate giving marijuana to children with autism, but are rather focusing on ways to boost levels of this marijuana-like chemical that occurs naturally in the brain. "It would be either an oral or injected drug but that’s at the very end stage of drug discovery, and we are at the very early stage of drug discovery," says Kwang Mook Jung, another professor at UC Irvine involved in the study. But some parents have already spoken out about the benefits of giving actual marijuana to their autistic offspring, claiming it improves their sociability while lowering anxiety and negative behaviors. Research on the effects of marijuana on autistic children is limited.

Most Popular
Sober Living
How I Forgave the Woman Who Helped My Son Die of an Overdose

She introduced him to the drug that eventually killed him. It took a long time, but eventually I had to treat her the way my son would have wanted.

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious San Diego rehab has a program for you—if you can tear yourself away from “the most amazing massages ever."

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv