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The Holistic Approach: How 6 Autism Natural Treatments Can Help Your Child Find Relief

12 June 2023

Key Points

  • Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate, interact with others and respond to the environment.
  • People with autism may also experience repetitive behaviours or have difficulty transitioning from one activity to another.
  • Management for autism can include behavioural therapy, dietary changes and nutritional supplements. The right holistic approach can help reduce symptoms of autism and improve the quality of life for both children and adults with this disorder.
  • Medical cannabis has been shown to help with various symptoms associated with autism, including anxiety, insomnia and seizures. The endocannabinoid system plays a role in the development of autism and can be targeted through medical cannabis use.
  • Other natural medicines for autism include probiotics, herbs with neuroprotective functions, and vitamin supplements.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to interact with others and communicate. Children (and even adults) with ASD often struggle with social interactions and communication. They may also show repetitive behaviours, like hand flapping or rocking back and forth.

For families affected by ASD, finding the most effective treatment and management strategies can be an ongoing journey. Conventional therapies and interventions remain the cornerstone of ASD management. However, many are turning to natural remedies to complement these approaches.

With a growing interest in holistic treatments for autism, the exploration of natural remedies has gained considerable attention in recent years. This article will explore some of the most popular natural remedies for ASD and their potential benefits and limitations.

At Lyphe, we believe that everyone should have access to the highest quality, most effective natural remedies. We offer medical cannabis treatments for ASD at the largest clinic of its kind in the UK. Book a call to learn more about our services and how we can help you or your child navigate ASD.

1. Medical Cannabis

Over the years, medical cannabis has gained significant attention as a potential treatment for various medical conditions. One such condition that has sparked interest in the medical community is ASD. Medical cannabis is becoming a viable option for some individuals seeking a complementary approach to traditional ASD treatments.

Medical cannabis alleviates anxiety and aggression

Anxiety and aggression are common behavioural challenges in individuals with ASD. Some studies suggest that medical cannabis, particularly cannabidiol (CBD), may help alleviate these symptoms by modulating the endocannabinoid system or ECS. The ECS is a network of receptors found throughout the body and plays a crucial role in regulating mood and emotional responses.

CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety in both animal models and clinical trials. Furthermore, CBD enriched with terpenes could be more effective than CBD alone. Terpenes refer to the aromatic compounds found in cannabis and other plants. They are responsible for the distinct smell of each strain but also contribute to their therapeutic effects.

A 2022 study published in Frontiers in Psychology suggests that CBD enriched with terpenes had stronger anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and calming effects. Terpenes are generally safe to consume and can be easily incorporated into cannabinoid products.

Medical cannabis is a promising option for managing anxiety and aggression in autistic individuals. Unlike most prescription medications, this natural cure for autism is often well-tolerated, even at higher dosages. The risk of overdosing on this particular cannabinoid remains extremely low.

Medical cannabis improves sleep quality

Sleep disturbances are prevalent in those with ASD, affecting their overall quality of life. Medical cannabis has been found to have a positive effect on sleep patterns in some individuals. By regulating the sleep-wake cycle and reducing nighttime anxiety, medical cannabis may help improve sleep quality for those on the autism spectrum.

A 2019 study published in The Permanente Journal suggests that CBD-rich cannabis medication can help improve sleep quality. In another 2022 review, researchers suggest that medical cannabis is an effective option to treat comorbid conditions (e.g., irritability and sleep problems) associated with ASD.

Medical cannabis reduces seizure frequency

Epilepsy is a common comorbidity in individuals with ASD, with approximately 20-30% of patients experiencing seizures. Some studies have shown that medical cannabis can significantly reduce seizure frequency and intensity in individuals with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

The anti-epileptic and anti-seizure effects of medical cannabis could benefit autistic individuals who suffer from epileptic seizures. In an open-label study published in Epilepsia, researchers administered medical cannabis to patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. This condition is a severe form of childhood-onset epilepsy that typically manifests in children between the ages of 3 and 5. Cannabis significantly reduced seizure frequency in these treatment-resistant patients. 

Medical cannabis treatment for ASD

Medical cannabis is emerging as a potential complementary treatment option for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Other research and anecdotal evidence suggest that this natural herb for autism can improve social skills, self-regulation and communication problems associated with the condition. As the research unfolds, a better understanding of this medication’s role will contribute to more personalised management strategies for those living with autism.

At the biggest and most trusted medical cannabis clinic in the UK, we can help you to explore the potential benefits of medical cannabis for autism. Lyphe has extensive experience helping patients make informed decisions about their treatment. To learn more about medical cannabis, book a call with an expert today!

2. Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria that help to keep the body healthy. They are found naturally in some foods and can also be taken as a supplement. The use of probiotics for autism is not well understood, but some promising studies have shown improvements in symptoms associated with this condition.

Probiotic microbes have positive effects on the digestive and gastrointestinal health of both adults and children. It’s known that the consumption of probiotics as an autism natural treatment may help restore balance in the gut microbiota.

Recent studies suggest that microbiota change in children with ASD is linked to symptoms. For example, A 2020 study published in Autism Research reports that children with ASD are more commonly affected by gastrointestinal problems (e.g., abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhoea). There has been growing interest in probiotics as they may help improve the bowel habits of individuals with ASD.

While the link between gut health and autism is still largely unknown, some researchers believe that probiotics may be a promising avenue for treating ASD symptoms. A 2022 study protocol for a randomised control trial suggests that probiotics supplementation could reduce the abundance of Bifidobacterium in the gut. Bifidobacterium abundance is linked to increased severity of ASD.

Probiotics can be taken as a supplement or found in certain foods, such as yoghurt and kefir. Other probiotic-rich sources include the following:

  • Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Miso paste, which is used in soups and stews
  • Tempeh, a fermented soybean product.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Research suggests omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may benefit children with ASD and other neurological disorders. One of the ways omega-3s help is by reducing inflammation in the brain. Inflammation can impair cognitive functioning and is associated with autism and related disorders.

Furthermore, omega-3s play a role in synthesising important brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Studies have reported that EPA and DHA supplements may reduce hyperactivity in children with autism. Studies have also shown that this natural supplement for autism can help improve symptoms such as hyperactivity, restlessness and communication difficulties.

However, to date, there is no high-quality evidence that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is effective for improving core and associated symptoms of ASD. Instead of viewing omega-3s as a cure, it’s best to use these supplements as adjunct therapy with other interventions, such as behavioural therapy or speech therapy.

4. Herbal Remedies

Although there is no cure to treat autism, there’s an increased interest in medicinal plants with neuroprotective properties. A 2017 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that the use of herbal remedies for autism, in conjunction with conventional therapy, improves outcomes in patients.

Various herbal remedies possess neuroprotective properties that may address the neurological symptoms of autism. One 2022 study reports the following herbal remedies:

  • Curcumin. A compound found in the spice turmeric, curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It may help reduce symptoms of autism by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Ginkgo biloba. This herb is used to improve memory, concentration and thinking skills. It’s also thought to have antioxidant properties that can reduce inflammation in the brain.
  • Green tea. Studies suggest that green tea promotes cell-protective actions in nerve cells and may help address some symptoms of autism. Green tea is also rich in antioxidants, which can protect brain health and improve brain function.
  • Chamomile. This flowering plant has been used for thousands of years to remedy anxiety, insomnia and stomach problems. Chamomile flowers contain compounds called flavonoids that are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. It can also ease stress levels in people with autism.
  • Ginseng. This ancient East Asian medicine contains ginsenosides, chemical compounds believed to have antioxidant properties. In addition, ginseng has been shown to improve mental performance by increasing focus and concentration while reducing stress levels.

Herbal remedies are nowhere near as powerful as prescription medications, but they can be used in conjunction with other treatments like speech therapy or occupational therapy. However, it’s important to make sure that you talk to a medical professional before trying any herbal remedies. Some of these products may interact with other medications or have side effects that can be dangerous when combined with prescription drugs.

5. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays many important roles in the body. It’s also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency in early life can alter brain development, dysregulate neurotransmitter balance and alter the immune system. These features resemble those commonly seen in ASD. Vitamin D deficiency is common among children affected by autism and pregnant mothers whose children will later develop ASD.

Studies have shown an association between the risk of ASD and vitamin D insufficiency. Thus, vitamin D supplements may benefit children with autism by improving core symptoms.

A study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines found that children with ASD who regularly took vitamin D3 showed an improvement in symptoms. The study suggests that the vitamin helps by improving brain development, neurotransmitter balance, antioxidant ability and immune function in individuals with ASD.

Aside from supplements, you can obtain vitamin D through your diet. The best sources of the vitamin include:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna
  • Egg yolks
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified foods like breakfast cereals.

6. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep. It’s produced by the pineal gland, which is located in the brain. Melatonin levels increase at night and decrease during the day.

Melatonin supplements can help improve sleep quality in children with autism. Taking melatonin may also reduce irritability and anxiety associated with ASD symptoms.

A meta-analysis published in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology found that melatonin administration improved sleep and daytime behaviour with minimal side effects. Further studies are needed to determine optimal dosing. Nevertheless, melatonin supplements are generally considered safe and can be taken home.

Conclusion – Natural cures for autism

The exploration of natural remedies for ASD has opened new possibilities for families seeking to improve the quality of life and well-being of their loved ones. Although conventional interventions remain crucial, incorporating various natural remedies into an ASD care plan may offer additional benefits and a more holistic treatment for autism.

The potential of natural remedies is vast. Options such as dietary adjustments, medical cannabis and mind-body practices show promise in addressing various aspects of ASD.

However, it’s essential to remember that each individual with autism is unique. What works for one may not necessarily work for another. Therefore, a personalised and tailored approach to treatment is crucial.

Medical cannabis treatment for autism shows great promise. As the most trusted medical cannabis clinic in the UK, Lyphe Medical Cannabis Clinic is here to help you explore your options and find the right treatment plan for your child. Book a call today!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What natural medicine is good for autism?

Preclinical and clinical data suggest that medical cannabis could be a suitable candidate as a natural treatment for autism. It’s been shown in various studies to have therapeutic benefits to ASD patients while also being well-tolerated.

What vitamins help autism?

In general, autistic kids can have suboptimal levels of omega-3s, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E and calcium. When diet alone fails to provide autistic kids with the nutrition they need, supplementation can be helpful to fill the gaps and potentially improve some challenging symptoms.

What herbs are good for autism?

Ginger, green tea, soybean, turmeric, almonds and ginkgo are some herbs believed to be helpful for autism. These herbs have neuroprotective properties that may help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with ASD.

Can autism be treated at home?

There are various therapies and interventions for ASD, and some can be implemented at home. Behaviour and communication therapies are common at-home treatments for autism done with support from the child’s healthcare team and family members.

Can probiotics help autism?

A study suggests that children with autism have an imbalance of probiotics. Adding the probiotics Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium to a child’s diet may help improve gastrointestinal symptoms and overall quality of life.

References

Bang, M., Lee, S. H., Cho, S.-H., Yu, S.-A., Kim, K., Lu, H. Y., Chang, G. T., & Min, S. Y. (2017). Herbal Medicine treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/8614680

James S, Montgomery P, Williams K. Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Nov 9;(11):CD007992. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007992.pub2. PMID: 22071839.

Madan Cohen J, Checketts D, Dunayevich E, Gunning B, Hyslop A, Madhavan D, Villanueva V, Zolnowska M, Zuberi SM. Time to onset of cannabidiol treatment effects in Dravet syndrome: Analysis from two randomized controlled trials. Epilepsia. 2021; 62: 2218–2227.

Mariana Babayeva, Haregewein Assefa, Paramita Basu, Zvi Loewy. Autism and associated disorders: cannabis as a potential therapy. Front. Biosci. (Elite Ed) 2022, 14(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.31083/j.fbe1401001

Raz, N., Heller, I., Lombardi, T., Marino, G., Davidson, E. M., & Eyal, A. M. (2022). Terpene-enriched CBD oil for treating autism-derived symptoms unresponsive to pure CBD: Case report. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2022.979403

Restrepo B, Angkustsiri K, Taylor SL, Rogers SJ, Cabral J, Heath B, et al. Developmental-behavioral profiles in children with autism spectrum disorder and co-occurring gastrointestinal symptoms. Autism Res. 2020. doi: 10.1002/aur.2354

ROSSIGNOL, D. A. N. I. E. L. A., & FRYE, R. I. C. H. A. R. D. E. (2011). Melatonin in autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 53(9), 783–792. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8749.2011.03980.x

Saad K, Abdel-Rahman AA, Elserogy YM, Al-Atram AA, El-Houfey AA, Othman HA, Bjørklund G, Jia F, Urbina MA, Abo-Elela MGM, Ahmad FA, Abd El-Baseer KA, Ahmed AE, Abdel-Salam AM. Randomized controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in children with autism spectrum disorder. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2018 Jan;59(1):20-29. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12652.

Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041. doi: 10.7812/TPP/18-041. PMID: 30624194; PMCID: PMC6326553.

Siracusano M, Riccioni A, Abate R, Benvenuto A, Curatolo P, Mazzone L. Vitamin D Deficiency and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Curr Pharm Des. 2020;26(21):2460-2474. doi: 10.2174/1381612826666200415174311. PMID: 32294031.

Zhang L, Xu Y, Li H, Li B, Duan G, Zhu C. The role of probiotics in children with autism spectrum disorders: A study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. PLoS One. 2022 Feb 24;17(2):e0263109. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0263109. PMID: 35202432; PMCID: PMC8870536.

Author: Bojan
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Bojan Ambrus, Head of Marketing & Digital Product at Lyphe Group, is a data-driven growth marketing professional with over 15 years of rich experience. His background includes roles such as Head of Marketing at Vaping.com and growth marketing roles in various enterprises, startups, and scale-ups. His expertise in building and positioning businesses is particularly valuable in the cannabis sector, where he navigates its complexities and regulatory challenges. His strategic marketing insights make Bojan a key player in shaping Lyphe Group's marketing and digital product strategies.

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