Kalel Santiago, 9, who has autism, spoke his first words soon after beginning cannabis oil treatments.
Though Kalel Santiago of Puerto Rico is only 9 years old, he's already endured some adult-level battles. At just 10 months, he was diagnosed with the rare childhood cancer neuroblastoma, and spent more than two years going through surgical treatment, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. Then came the next medical diagnosis: extreme, non-verbal autism.
“While he was in the hospital, we noticed he didn’t speak at all and had some behavior that wasn’t right, like hand flapping, and walking on his toes,” his father, Abiel Gomez Santiago, said. “But we waited until he was 3 and cancer-free to look at his behavior.”
He and his spouse Gladys-- also have two older kids, now 18 and 20-- did a cram course on autism to further educate themselves on the disorder. They tried numerous schools and treatments, and eventually discovered remarkable success with a distinct surf-therapy school near their home. Then, through an April fundraising event for that program, the Santiagos discovered a treatment that would quickly change their lives: cannabis oil, abundant in the substance cannabidiol (CBD), which has been shown to, at least anecdotally, to significantly reduce symptoms of both epilepsy and autism.
They took a small sample bottle of spray home and began their son's treatment, two times everyday dosages, as directed on the label, right into his mouth. And the results, they state, were surprising: Kalel started talking-- in around 2 days.
“He surprised us in school by saying the vowels, A-E-I-O-U. It was the first time ever,” Abiel says. “You can’t imagine the emotion we had, hearing Kalel’s voice for the first time. It was amazing. The teacher recorded him and sent it to my wife and me and we said well, the only different thing we have been doing is using the CBD.” Quickly thereafter, he adds, Kalel began using consonants to connect his sounds. “He said, ‘amo mi mama,’ ‘I love my mom,’” Abiel says. “I don’t know how to thank [the CBD oil makers].”
Kalel with his mother and father, Abiel and Gladys.
However the product they are grateful for-- Hemp Health, from California, which costs $40 per ounce (virtually a three-month supply)-- is not without debate. It's just one of lots of CBD oils now marketed as lawfully achievable alternatives to the much popular Charlotte's Web-- the most promoted variation of the oil, which is low in THC and rich in CBD. However it's made from specially cultivated cannabis (the cannabis flowers). And given that medical cannabis is not legal in all states, especially for minors, scores of desperate families from all over the country have transferred to Charlotte's Web's source, Colorado. In reaction, Hemp Health and other variations originated from commercial hemp-- THC-free marijuana stalks and seeds-- have turned up on the internet, asserting to be inexpensive and legal options.
But the FDA would disagree. The firm maintains that such items are unregulated and for that reason not proven safe, and that their sale as dietary supplements is in fact illegal. (Though enforcement of such sales, spokesperson Jeff Ventura stated, "would depend on elements including agency resources and the threat to the public health.") In February, the FDA sent warning letters to many CBD oil manufacturers, telling them to stop making medical claims-- like being cure-alls for everything from glaucoma to Ebola-- about their items.
In addition, Project CBD, a not-for-profit organization that promotes and educates on the medical uses of CBD, is wary of hemp-derived oils."[CBD] oils can be effective," director Martin Lee stated. "We would suggest, however, that anyone who is seeking such products should try to access CBD oil derived from cannabis rather than industrial hemp, which is not an optimal source for CBD."
Still, what Abiel and Gladys saw that day in the Hemp Health sample was neither threat nor rip-off, but a small twinkle of hope. And so far, they state, the outcomes have been absolutely nothing short of shocking.
Kalel during surf therapy with Dr. Giovanni Martinez.
"He’s been connecting — like he’s awakening to seeing the world," Abiel says, noting that they have maintained the treatments for simply over a month now, and that Kalel remains to make improvements. “He’s looking you in your eyes, he’s been trying to say different things and imitate what we are saying. He’s saying ‘uncle,’ ‘aunt,’ the names of my two kids. It’s something amazing that I cannot explain.” (Regarding the item's legality, his father notes, “If we had to go somewhere else to get it, we would. I’d go anywhere.”)
Kalel's response has actually surprised others, too, including his teachers, as well as the CBD oil company. “We were really amazed to hear Kalel’s progress, because what they are using is a lower-concentrate product,” Miguel Feliciano, president of Hemp Health's Puerto Rico supplier, Antonio & Associates, said. He includes that word of Kalel's progress has actually gotten out in your area, through the surf-therapy school, Surf4Dem, and that other moms and dads are now asking to try to item.
Kalel's surf specialist Dr. Giovanni Martinez, a medical psychologist who has actually dealt with Kalel since Surf4Dem's creation, has actually likewise been stunned by the his change.
“Like his parents, I am also in shock,” he says. “I never got him to speak, and it was something that was haunting me. Language was something that was missing.” Martinez, who began his surf-therapy school after being influenced by how surfing assisted his brother, who has Down syndrome, said he investigated the various uses of CBD oil after Gladys asked him about it for Kalel. He informed her it was worth a shot. Now he's very carefully positive about how other kids may benefit.
I’m not going to say let’s give this to every kid, because we have to monitor and study it,” Martinez states. “But I am very impressed with his language development. Imagine a mom who has been waiting almost 9 years to hear her child speak?” Though using anything marijuana derived remains to be questionable, he thinks it is something worth defending, offered this type of result. "To me," he says, "the story of Kalel is groundbreaking."
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