Friday, December 1, 2017

Medical Cannabis Benefits: Treating Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rare disease in which specific nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord slowly die. The disease affects motor neurons, which are responsible for controlling the muscles that allow you to move the various parts of your body.

Those afflicted with ALS gradually become more disabled as the disease progresses over time. ALS makes it hard to walk, speak, eat, swallow, and even breathe. These problems can lead to injury, illness, and eventually death. In most cases, death will occur within 3 to 5 years after symptoms begin, although some people do live for many years, even decades. Unfortunately, doctors have not been able to determine the cause of ALS, and studies have not suggested that the disease is hereditary. Currently there is no cure for ALS and conventional treatment options are limited.

Using Cannabis to Treat ALS

Cannabis is a complex medicinal plant that may actually be used to treat a variety of debilitating symptoms caused by a surprisingly large number of ailments. It’s usefulness as a non-lethal medicine (you cannot die from an overdose of cannabis) cannot be overstated and it’s versatility in terms of how it can be consumed and as to how it can be useful for so many illnesses is something to be excited about. However, it is important to remember that consulting with your primary care physician should be your first priority when considering incorporating cannabis into one’s medical regiment and that cannabis is to be used as an adjunct therapy and not a replacement. It is also your responsibility to communicate with your doctor as to how your use of cannabis has affected your health and of your progress with utilizing medical cannabis.

With that said, exciting studies have shown that cannabis may be quite useful for treating individuals suffering from ALS for the following reasons: slowing disease progression; protecting the sufferer’s nerves from further degradation; significantly reducing pain caused by the disease; relieving anxiety; appetite stimulation to combat appetite loss; elevating one’s mood to combat depression; assisting with uncontrollable drooling.

Cannabis has long been determined to be beneficial in slowing ALS’s progression and offering relief from its associated symptoms. Preclinical studies indicate that cannabinoids found in cannabis, including the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. Numerous animal trials have demonstrated that the administration of cannabinoids in cannabis can delay the onset of ALS, prolong the survival of neurons and slow the disease’s progression.

Cannabis can also help ALS patients manage the pain, appetite loss, depression, sleeping problems, spasticity and drooling symptoms associated with the disease. Cannabis combats ALS-associated pain because of its analgesia and anti-inflammatory effects, and manages spasticity with its muscle-relaxing properties. Because of its appetite stimulating effects, it helps prevent the wasting that can occur in the final stages of ALS.

Out of the 29 states that have adopted medical marijuana legislation, 19 have approved cannabis for treating ALS.

These states include: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Several other states will allow medical cannabis to be used for the treatment of ALS, but require an approval or a recommendation by a physician. These states include: California (any debilitating illness where the medical use of cannabis has been recommended by a physician), Nevada (other conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other conditions subject to approval), Rhode Island (other conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any “terminal or debilitating condition”).

In Washington D.C., any condition can be approved for medical cannabis as long as a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.

Beneficial Cannabinoids and Terpenoids Useful for Treating ALS

The cannabis plant offers a plethora of therapeutic benefits and contains cannabinoids and terpenoid compounds that are useful for mitigating the debilitating symptoms of the disease. Scientific medical studies in both animal and human models, and surveys of ALS sufferers strongly suggest that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), and Cannabinol (CBN) are effective in combating the onset and development of ALS symptoms. Additionally, the following chart denotes which cannabinoids and terpenoids work synergistically with each other for possible therapeutic benefit. It may be beneficial to seek out strains that contain these cannabinoids and terpenoids.

Americans For Safe Access Condition-based Booklets
These booklets summarize the history of medical cannabis and the recent research used to treat a variety of conditions, including Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Pain, Arthritis, Gastro-Intestinal Disorders, Movement Disorders, HIV/AIDS, and conditions related to Aging. (About Americans For Safe Access)

Movement Disorders

The therapeutic use of cannabis for treating muscle problems and movement disorders has been known to western medicine for nearly two centuries.

Article: "How to Qualify for Medical Cannabis in New Mexico"


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