How the Endocannabinoid System May Be Involved in Autism

  • Its activation helps to produce a hormone associated with pleasure and connected to a molecule that generates happiness and motivation, all of which makes individuals want to initiate relationships. This could lead to a way to reduce the isolation of the autistic.  

A recent study conducted on mice suggests that the endocannabinoid system is involved in social interaction and the links and communications between individuals, with multiple authors at institutions in California, Genoa and the Basque Country endorsing this idea.

According to the researchers,when the endocannabinoid system is weakened the individual's social capacity is affected, which can contribute to autism. However, this may also provide an alternative for treatment and the ability to reduce the isolation of the autistic. Everything depends on the activation or deactivation of the CB1 endocannabinoid receptor, which, in turn, entails the release (or not) of a hormone called oxytocin, which controls the reward for social interaction.

This element, also considered the hormone of love, or hugs, can improve relationships by stimulating the production of neurotransmitters associated with marijuana. Additionally, the process generates a direct connection between oxytocin and anandamide, known as the happiness molecule, which activates cannabinoid receptors in brain cells and boosts motivation.

This research makes it clear that social contact is encouraged by boosting anandamide production and stimulating the endocannabinoid system. However, effort at interpersonal relationships disappears when endocannabinoid receptors are blocked in some way.

All this sheds light on the treatment of autism, as scientists are aware that focusing efforts on researching the relationship between this system, oxytocin and anandamide can help autistic people have an easier time relating to others, thereby reducing their levels of isolation.


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