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The purpose of this systemic literature review was to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and tolerability of medical cannabis in the treatment of aggression, irritability, and self-injurious behaviors in autistic children that are currently receiving risperidone. For this literature review, DynaMed, Cochrane, PubMed, ClinicalKey, and CINAHL were searched using various keywords and phrases. Studies that were included in this review were published after 2005, were peer-reviewed, and included systemic reviews, journal articles, clinical trials, randomized control trials, and meta-analyses. Studies that did not directly discuss autism and behavioral issues; autism treatment with risperidone, medical cannabis, or cannabidiol; that did not specifically address the pediatric or adolescent population; or that did not directly discuss human subjects were excluded. Ten resources were selected for this review. Risperidone treatment effectively decreases symptoms of aggression, irritability, and self-injurious behaviors, by half, in autistic children. However, with long-term use weight gain, extrapyramidal symptoms, and hypersomnia are common. Rare cases of metabolic syndrome have occurred. Research regarding cannabidiol treatment in autism is limited. Recent studies show a lessening of aggression and self-injurious behaviors when treated with cannabidiol; however, decreased appetite, somnolence, and restlessness are common. One case of psychosis has occurred. Current research regarding cannabidiol use in treating behavioral outbursts in autistic children shows promise; however, more large-scale, double-blind studies should be performed before treatment with cannabidiol can be considered a safe and effective adjunctive therapy to risperidone treatment
Physician Assistant Studies
Date of Work
Cannabis, cannabidiol, risperidone, autism spectrum disorder, behavioral outbursts
Medicine and Health Sciences
Dowell, Cherie, "Cannabidiol: An Adjunctive Therapy to Risperidone for Autistic Children Experiencing Behavioral Outbursts" (2021). Physician Assistant Scholarly Project Posters. 173.