Sharing is caring!

CBDV For Autism? Yep! Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is a rising star in the cannabis world. Like its cousin CBD, CBDV is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, so it won’t get you or your children “high.” However, CBDV may reduce inflammation, protect the brain, and increase brain cell growth. By calming inflammation and supporting healthy brain cell function and growth, CBDV may help address the underlying drivers of autism. 

This lack of psychoactive properties is what makes CBD and CBDV so versatile. You can go to work, school, or anywhere without fear of impairment. Thanks to its versatility, the use of CBDV for autism appears promising. 

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that features impaired social skills and communication ability alongside restrictive and repetitive behaviors. 

People of all ages with autism experience a “spectrum” in severity and number of symptoms. Some may simply have difficulty holding eye contact or conversations or have an intense, extremely niche interest in something. Others with more severe cases can be nonverbal and unable to do basic functions of daily life. 

Around one percent of the world’s population today has autism; according to the CDC, 1 in 36 children has autism today, whereas that statistic was 1 in 160 children in 2012. Researchers propose a range of potential causes for this increase, ranging from vaccines to the body’s poor ability to clear certain chemicals in plastic

Another theory is that the large sums of disability funding a diagnosis can earn parents in countries such as Australia are fuelling overdiagnosis. There is also concern in America and other nations that social media content is leading to a rise in self-diagnosis. Both of these theories are controversial because some see them as dismissive of those who really do have autism. 

Because we have more cases of autism than ever, a growing need for effective treatments remains.  

6 Ways CBDV For Autism Can Help

Emerging research shows several benefits of CBDV for autism and commonly associated problems such as epilepsy and cognitive impairment. This could be due to the anti-inflammatory effect CBDV has on the brain via the endocannabinoid system

Lab studies show that CBDV can increase levels and signaling of our bodies’ cannabinoids, including in a rat model where valproic acid triggered autism. While the drug increased endocannabinoid receptors to compensate for deficient signaling, CBDV reversed these changes.

CBDV increases activity in impaired brain regions while calming overactivity in other areas. These effects modulate brain activity to levels seen in people without autism. Due to its excellent safety profile, CBDV is being heavily researched for autism. 

  • Social Skills

CBDV’s effects on the brain may restore social abilities and reduce repetitive behavior. A study on mice found significant improvements in willingness to seek out new social experiences, social skills, short-term memory, repetitive behavior, and hyperactivity.  These benefits are likely through both the endocannabinoid system and anti-inflammatory properties. 

CBDV’s benefits for autism may extend to its genetic forms, such as Fragile X Syndrome. This is the most common intellectual disorder caused by a single gene, which involves disrupted protein production in the brain. An animal study suggested that CBDV could prevent social and cognitive disability in younger mice but not in adults. The mice were also more likely to seek out novelty and less likely to overreact to loud noises. 

Human trials on CBDV are still in progress, but the cannabinoid has similar effects to CBD. CBD can significantly improve social communication and socialization in children with autism and may reduce repetitive behavior. Participants with more severe symptoms had the greatest improvements, possibly reflecting a regulatory effect of CBD. 

Additionally, a case study on a boy with autism demonstrated amazing improvements in his ability to speak, respond to communication, and regulate his emotions. He also no longer needed diapers at night and did not show violent or inappropriate behavior (i.e., playing with feces). As he regressed during a week when he couldn’t access CBD and rapidly restored his progress afterward, it was clear that CBD was responsible for the changes. 

  • Seizures

Around one in 10 people with autism also have epilepsy, which can lead to even more debilitating impairments. Research shows that cannabinoids such as CBDV can reduce seizure frequency in difficult-to-treat cases of epilepsy. 

Rett Syndrome was once categorized as part of ASD because of a similar decline in social skills. It also involves epilepsy, but as a genetic disorder, could CBDV help? Possibly!  A small study on five girls with Rett Syndrome found an average 79 percent drop in seizures with CBDV. Three of them had at least a 75 percent reduction. 

  • Anxiety

ASD often causes heightened anxiety and limited emotional regulation, which makes it even more complicated to handle everyday conflicts and challenges, along with worsening other ASD symptoms such as difficulties in speaking. 

CBDV, like CBD, may have calming effects on the brain. However, unlike THC, it does not cause anxiety, paranoia, or the often-distressing couch lock effect. 

Studies on CBD show that it can relieve anxiety during social situations such as public speaking, which is often amplified even more in those with autism. It doesn’t just relieve symptoms, either. CBD can reduce overactivity in areas such as the amygdala, which plays a role in expressing fear and anger. Cannabinoids may also reduce the severity of PTSD, an issue that may be more common in people with ASD because of heightened risks of abuse, bullying, or medical trauma. 

  • Neuron Protection 

The protective and restorative benefits of CBDV for autism may not just be symptomatic; they could partially come from its ability to increase the growth of new brain cells. This means deep, durable support for underdeveloped brain regions, potentially even in older children and adults. 

CBDV increases the division of stem cells in the brain and encourages them to become new brain cells. It also shifts them away from turning into cells with more supportive roles. 

  • Brain Cell Function 

ASD leads to over-connectivity in regions related to speech and language and under-activity across pathways responsible for emotion and motor processing. Research involving people with autism shows that CBDV may normalize the patterns of brain cell function and chemistry. In fact, CBDV can reverse this, but interestingly, it has little effect on people who do not have autism. This resembles other adaptogens, a category of herbal remedies that improve your body’s ability to respond to and recover from stress. 

As for brain chemistry, autism is linked to imbalances in stimulating glutamate and calming GABA. One paper found that CBDV increased glutamate levels in the basal ganglia, which supports motor function, executive function, emotion, and motivation. People with autism showed more varied responses to CBDV, where lower levels of glutamate were associated with more significant increases. This may mean that CBDV is less of a chemical sledgehammer like pharmaceutical drugs and more of a modulating substance. 

“There’s an expanding body of research suggesting that the observed effects of both CBD and CBDV on autism may be the result of their “shifting” of the brain’s excitatory and inhibitory (E-I) systems. E-I differences are believed to be one of the key mechanisms underpinning ASD,” says Eliza Moriarty, founder of Luminary Medicine Co

She adds, “In one recent study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, CBD modulated glutamate-GABA systems in both ASD and neurotypicals, but the prefrontal GABA systems responded differently in people with ASD. Specifically, CBD decreased prefrontal GABA levels in ASD but not in controls…Research shows that cannabinoids are causing a shift that’s different in ASD than neurotypicals. This is consistent with our understanding that a key mechanism of action of the endocannabinoid system is managing the choreography of biochemicals in the neurological and immune systems. Balance. It’s exciting. Until recently, we didn’t know the endocannabinoid system existed, but it’s increasingly evident that it’s crucial to maintaining systemic homeostasis and cellular balance.” 

  • Inflammation

Like other cannabinoids, CBDV may have anti-inflammatory properties. Brain inflammation is linked to the development and severity of ASD, partly by contributing to overactivity in some regions. Reducing inflammation with cannabinoids can relieve symptoms such as repetitive behaviors, memory issues, and poor social communication. 

The benefits of CBD and CBDV that research demonstrates for autism could mean the two cannabinoids are more effective together. For example, CBDV’s ability to improve brain cell growth and balance the basal ganglia could combine with CBD’s anti-anxiety effects in the amygdala. Their shared anti-inflammatory properties may also have an additive effect. This is why Luminary Medicine has developed a unique CBD + CBDV formula to maximize the benefits of these cannabinoids. 

Future Studies on CBDV and Autism 

Early research shows that CBDV is promising for autism, thanks to its ability to clear the mind, improve emotional regulation, and improve brain cell repair and function. 

The interest in the scientific value of CBDV for the medical field in ASD is growing, with plans for various larger-scale studies. As of 2024, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is also conducting research in collaboration with the DOD CDMRP Autism Research Program to test the safety and effectiveness of CBDV over 12 weeks among children with ASD.​ Further critical studies at NYU Langone Health will be on the safety and possibilities for CBDV to provide new therapeutic avenues without adverse effects.

“These cannabinoid compounds seem to exert their effects in two different ways. One is that they can have pretty potent effects in regulating the brain’s excitation/inhibition balance, or E/I balance. Sometimes the brain can have too much excitation or a relative deficit in inhibition if you have too much cortical excitation and not enough inhibition, that can be expressed as seizures — epilepsy, for example. It can also be expressed as disruptive episodes such as meltdowns, aggression, self-injury, or as compulsive or repetitive behaviors. Cannabinoid compounds, including CBD and CBDV, which we’ve been studying carefully, seem to increase inhibition and decrease excitation, so they restore E/I balance,” writes Eric Hollander.

“More human studies are necessary to improve said therapies, but CBDV-rich cannabis oils may provide you or your children with significant relief,” says Eric Hollander, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart