Autism – Can Hemp Have A Role In Treating Symptoms – Or Preventing It?


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, 1 in 88 children has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Autism is a range of neurodevelopment disorders. Autism covers a range of conditions – classical autism, Asberger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, and childhood disintegrative disorder.

Most scientists agree that there is not a single definitive cause of autism; it may be the result of genetic and environmental factors.

Studies of people with ASD have found irregularities in several regions of the brain.  Other studies suggest that people with ASD have abnormal levels of serotonin or other neurotransmitters in the brain.  These abnormalities suggest that ASD could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development caused by defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other, possibly due to the influence of environmental factors on gene function.” (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)

A 2007 study by the California Department of Public Health found that women in the first eight weeks of pregnancy who live near farm fields sprayed with the organochlorine pesticides dicofol and endosulfan are several times more likely to give birth to children with autism. The association appeared to increase with dose and decrease with distance from field site to residence. The study’s findings suggest that on the order of 7% of autism cases in the California Central Valley might have been connected to exposure to the insecticides drifting off fields into residential areas.” (Wikipedia)

Studies also suggest the following:

  • Children born to older parents are at slightly higher risk.
  • A small percentage of children who are born prematurely or with low birth weight are at greater risk for having ASDs.
  • Some harmful drugs taken during pregnancy have been linked with a higher risk of ASDs; for example, the prescription drugs thalidomide and valproic acid.” (www.cdc.gov)

Some scientists suggest that autism can be the result of low levels of Omega 3 fatty acid.

University of Alabama researcher Dr. Yasmin Neggers, a professor of human nutrition and hospitality management, found a possible lipid metabolism disorder in children with autism. “Many studies have shown omega-3 fatty acids to be neuro-protective because they decrease the risk of neurological problems,” Neggers said.  “We were surprised when we didn’t find studies that looked at omega-3 levels in children with autism.” (University of Alabama News)

As you can see above, there are many possible factors that could possibly be a precursor to autism. What caught my eye was the possibility of low Omega 3 fatty acids as being a cause of autism.

Omega fatty acids are ‘brain food’. The brain consists mainly of Omega fatty acids; an imbalance or insufficient amount of fatty acids can cause many diseases and disorders. Some believe that an overabundance of Omega 6 fatty acids and a low amount of Omega 3 fatty acids may be a reason for autism. This is where hemp comes into play – specifically, the Omega fatty acids in hemp.

Omega-6 is similar to omega-3 in that it is also considered an essential fatty acid and that the body is unable to produce it from other unsaturated fats. Omega-6, however, is much easier to obtain through the diet. In fact, many people get too much omega-6 because it is found in so many common products, such as the butters and oils used in many cooking and baking processes in both home- and factory-prepared foods. Side effects of too much omega-6 cause an inflammatory reaction in the body.” (livestrong.com)

Generally it’s an insufficient amount of Omega 3 that will exacerbate neurological and brain related disorders. Omega 3 is the most important, but it is also a little more difficult to get into the diet.

Hemp has the perfect 3:1 ratio needed by the human body. It is one of the only plant sources that has that perfect ratio.

Can hemp reduce the instance of autism, or treat the symptoms? Some believe so. It has been shown that eating hemp during pregnancy helps healthy brain cells grow, and also increases infant cognizance.

Some government and medical sites clearly state that there is no ‘known cure’ for autism. Perhaps more studies need to be done. In the meantime, it certainly can’t hurt to add hemp to the diet to balance the Omega fatty acids, increase brain health, and aid in the production of neurotransmitters.