Can CBD Help With Down Syndrome?
Awareness of the condition is on the rise with Mattel launching Down Syndrome Barbie and more brands promoting inclusivity. But, what is Down Syndrome and can CBD help with Down Syndrome symptoms?
Barbie is launching a new doll with Down Syndrome, with Mattel bosses saying they created the doll to “enable all children to see themselves in Barbie.”
British model with Down’s Syndrome, Ellie Goldstein, appears in the campaign with the new Barbie doll and says “diversity is important to me as people need to see more people like me out there in the world and not be hidden away.”
The announcement of Down Syndrome Barbie comes as many brands promote inclusivity on the runway and across TV and social media campaigns. Recently, Victoria’s Secret featured a model with Down’s Syndrome, Sofia Jirau. Other brands deliberately using children and adults with Down’s syndrome include H&M, JD Sports, CBeebies, and River Island.
‘Down Syndrome Barbie’ searches soar, but what is the condition
“Down Syndrome Barbie” was one of the most searched terms when Mattel’s announcement came out and there is a lot of interest in and heightened awareness of the condition. However, apart from some physical features of Down syndrome, what are the symptoms of the condition? Can therapies help with symptoms? And, can CBD help with Down Syndrome?
What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects a person’s physical and intellectual development. It is caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21 in a person’s cells, which leads to the characteristic physical features and developmental delays associated with the condition. People with Down syndrome may have varying degrees of intellectual disability and may also experience health issues such as heart problems, hearing and vision problems, and thyroid dysfunction. However, with appropriate support and interventions, many people with Down syndrome can lead fulfilling lives and participate fully in their communities.
Today, the life expectancy of a person with Down Syndrome is 60 years. However, as recently as 1983, the life expectancy was just 25 years. This was largely due to the inhumane practice of institutionalizing people with Down Syndrome. Thankfully there is so much more awareness (such as the new Barbie with Down Syndrome normalizing it for young children), acceptance, and resources to help people with Down Syndrome lead long and productive lives.
Can CBD help with Down Syndrome?
Despite all of the improved circumstances for people with this condition, there are still health issues that they face. There is currently limited scientific research on the effects of cannabis, hemp, THC or CBD on people with Down syndrome specifically. While some studies have investigated the effects of cannabis on various medical conditions, it is important to note that Down Syndrome is a complex genetic disorder that affects individuals in different ways. Therefore, the potential effects of cannabis on people with Down’s syndrome may vary depending on a variety of factors, including individual health status, age, and genetic makeup. Also, CBD has only been approved by the FDA for use as a specific pharmaceutical drug for one type of seizures. Other cannabinoids have not been approved to diagnose, treat, cure, or help any disease.
- Research suggests that the human endocannabinoid system may also be involved in Down Syndrome. This 2008 study found that people with Down Syndrome have increased activity in the CB2 receptors which affects the enzyme FAAH, which breaks down the “bliss” cannabinoid, anandamide. Anandamide is responsible for feelings of happiness, pleasure and reduced anxiety. Interestingly, CBC cannabinoid as well as Delta-9-THC have been found to raise levels of anandamide and promote feelings of pleasure. Also, this 2014 animal study on the endocannabinoid system of a mouse model of Down Syndrome was able to improve long-term memory and improve other cognitive deficits.
- Autism spectrum disorder is also more prevalent in people with Down Syndrome. In fact, 16 to 18 percent of people with Down Syndrome are autistic, according to Autism Speaks. Seizures are also more prevalent in people with Down Syndrome than the general population. Rare cannabinoid CBDV (cannabidivarin) is currently being studied for seizures and is being tested on adults and children with autism spectrum disorder to see if it can help with irritability and other symptoms. CBDV oil believed to improve sociability. CBDV has not been studied specifically for Down Syndrome but you can read more about CBDV and autism here.
- One study published in 2017 in the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities investigated the use of medicinal cannabis in a small group of adults with intellectual disabilities, including three individuals with Down’s syndrome. The study found that the use of medicinal cannabis resulted in a reduction in challenging behaviors and improved quality of life for the individuals with Down’s syndrome. However, the study had limitations, including a small sample size and a lack of control group.
- Another study published in 2020 in the Journal of Clinical Medicine investigated the potential therapeutic effects of a cannabinoid-based treatment on cognition and behavior in children and adolescents with Down syndrome. The study found that the treatment improved working memory and reduced anxiety symptoms in the participants. However, this study also had limitations, including a small sample size and a lack of long-term follow-up.
- It is important to note that these studies are preliminary and further research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of cannabis-based treatments for people with Down’s syndrome. It is recommended that individuals with Down’s syndrome and their families consult with healthcare professionals to discuss treatment options and make informed decisions about their care.
Summary of can CBD help with Down Syndrome?
Down Syndrome is a very complex condition that affects people differently. Charities and brands are working to make people with Down Syndrome feel included in mainstream fashion through clothing campaigns featuring people with Down Syndrome. Children are far more aware and inclusive thanks to the presence of individuals with differences on TV and through toys such as the new Down Syndrome Barbie from Mattel. However, in addition to their ability to thrive socially, there are physical and health symptoms associated with Down Syndrome.
So, here we looked at answering the question “can CBD help with Down Syndrome?” In summary, there is no definitive evidence that hemp, cannabis, CBD, THC or any other cannabinoid can directly help Down Syndrome. However, there is some research to suggest that Down Syndrome is affected by the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids such as CBC, CBD, Delta-9-THC, and CBDV are being studied to see if they offer potential to help related symptoms.