Early Acetaminophen Exposure May Damage the Endocannabinoid System, Leading to ASD

Can Cannabinoid Treatment Help Fix the System and Lessen Autism Symptoms?

An international team of scientists recently published a mini-review article which examined the relationship between dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Through a system of complex cell signals, the ECS assists in regulating sleep, mood, appetite, memory, reproduction and fertility. However, acetaminophen (Tylenol) may disrupt the normal functioning of the ECS, especially if the drug was used in conjunction with Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The review’s researchers propose that acetaminophen disrupts the normal functioning of the ECS to fight infection from the three viruses contained in the MMR vaccine. In response to the infection, high levels of inflammatory cytokines are produced in the brain which could disrupt the normal growth and myelinization of axons for neurons in the developing brain. This situation could lead to the development of  autism. The review points out that increased inflammatory cytokines have been previously found in the brains of individuals with ASD. The researchers also suggest that a decrease in the endocannabinoid tone in the brain is associated with a greater risk of autism. They theorize that cannabidiol (CBD) may actually have properties that can increase this tone and increase endocannabinoid activity in the brain. The review’s authors call for further research to determine if CBD or other cannabinoids may be effective in treating ASD. 

Original Study

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