This post is part of the series Examining the Use of Medical Marijuana for ASD Treatment.
Research into the relationship between ASD and the functionality of the endocannabinoid system is still in its infancy. However, given current knowledge of how the human brain typically develops and functions along with what we currently know about ASD we can speculate about how the endocannabinoid system may function in individuals with ASD. There are several possibilities to consider in three categories, the endocannabinoids themselves, the degradative enzymes that terminate endocannabinoid activity, and the function of endocannabinoid receptors.
a. Not enough endocannabinoids produced leading to insufficient inhibition of certain neuronal signals and networks.
b. Too many endocannabinoids produced leading to too much inhibition of certain neuronal signals and networks.
2. Degradative Enzymes
a. Increased enzyme function leading to a decrease in endocannabinoid activity.
b. Under or inactive enzymes leading to an increase in endocannabinoid activity.
a. Too many receptors.
b. Not enough receptors.
c. Malformed receptors.
Any of these factors, in any combination, in any number of the brain regions regulated by the endocannabinoid system may give rise to the various symptoms and behaviors we have come to associate with ASD.
Next up, ASD and the Cannabinoids.