Just four years ago, pediatrician Dr. Orit Stolar was dead set against using cannabis to treat the autistic children under her care. “I would say, ‘you’re off the wall — this is a dangerous drug, it’s illegal.'”
Today, she is running one of the only clinical trials in the world looking at how cannabis can help autistic children, and seeing results in her clinic.
So what changed?
“One kid,” Dr. Stolar explained on The Cannabis Enigma podcast. One of her patients came for a periodic visit vastly improved. “I was very sure it’s not something I did, so I asked the mother, ‘what did you do?’ And she quietly said, ‘you know, I’m giving him cannabis.’
Dr. Stolar stayed up all night that night looking for medical research on cannabis and autism. She couldn’t find any, so she set out to create it herself.
One of the biggest problems she faces in using cannabis as a treatment, she explained, is that it’s extremely difficult to know if the plant, or oil extract in her case, is staying consistent over time.
“That’s what’s happening in my clinic. A family starts and says, wow, this really, really helping my child. And then the next month they say, oh my God, it’s gotten really, really bad. And I don’t know if it’s gotten bad or if it’s the bottle that is changing,” she said.
Dr. Stolar thanks all of her colleagues on her study: Dr. Dedi Meiri of the Technion, who analyzes the blood, Prof. Ilan Dinstein of Ben-Gurion University and his team, who do the sleep analysis and EEG, her team at Assaf Harofeh — for everything.
Edited and mixed by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man. Produced by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man, Elana Goldberg, and Matan Weil. Music by Desca.