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Cannabis Treats Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)

Cannabis Treats Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS)

Health

Cannabis Treats Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)

We explore how Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) is traditionally treated, and the promising facts about cannabis treatment for Lou Gehrig’s (ALS) patients.

Cannabis Treatment For Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)

Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is a disorder that results in the death of neurons responsible for control of voluntary muscles. According to the ALS Association, the disease affects about 30 thousand Americans. We’ll explore ALS, how it’s typically treated, and the promising facts about cannabis’s interaction with ALS patients.

What is Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)?

The disease causes the cells in the brain responsible for voluntary muscle control to slowly but steadily die off; tragically, patients typically die within three to four years of being diagnosed as a result. In the vast majority of cases, what causes ALS is unknown. In the other 5%, the disease is inherited from the affected’s parents.

Sufferers of ALS grapple with muscle stiffness, twitching, and weakness as a result of muscles shrinking over time. As the disease progresses, speaking, swallowing, and eventually breathing become difficult. With these symptoms comes pain and depression.

There is currently no cure for ALS, so treatment is focused on managing symptoms of the disease, and slowing or its progression.

Traditional Treatment For Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)

One medication called Riluzole is effective in extending the life expectancy of patients with ALS by several months, and as such is approved by the FDA to treat sufferers. The medication does not restore function to already damaged neurons, however, and also causes liver damage in some patients who take it. Other drugs such as diazepam may be used to manage symptoms of the disease.

As the disease affects the muscles that breathe, various strategies to assist in breathing may be used. These utilize devices that artificially inflate the lungs. Additionally, physical therapy has been shown to promote numerous benefits in patients such as increased strength and limited pain. Regardless, no treatment exists to outright halt or reverse the progression of the disease.

Cannabis Treatment For Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)

In a survey of marijuana use in ALS patients, researchers sought what symptoms, if any, were treated by the plant. They found that marijuana was moderately effective at treating multiple symptoms: it stimulated appetite, reduced pain, reduced spasticity, and reduce drooling. Also, marijuana uses alleviated depression in users for approximately two to three hours.

A study looked at cannabis’s therapeutic value for a variety of ailments. Among those examined was ALS. They noted that based on research done for multiple sclerosis, a similar disease, cannabis could be of benefit in treating both symptoms of ALS, and the disease itself.

In a similar 2010 study, these ideas were corroborated. Marijuana was found to deal with a broad range of ALS symptoms, and even impede the progression of the disease itself. The study notes that cannabis has antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective qualities and that all of these characteristics translate to a highly effective treatment for ALS. The researchers also state that marijuana alleviates many symptoms of the disease by reducing pain, relaxing muscles, increasing appetite, reducing saliva production, and inducing sleep. Given how promising cannabis looks like a treatment for ALS, the researchers urge more clinical trials be done as the “next logical step.”

Moving Forward

As the experts have suggested, it seems evident that more studies and analyses should be done on cannabis and its interaction with ALS sufferers. Based on what has been discovered thus far, cannabis-based medications show exceptional progress. The plant treats most symptoms of the disease and hints at treating many aspects of the illness itself; with more research, cannabis may become the standard in treating ALS.

Casey Riley

Casey is a Green Rush Daily staff writer from the Inland Empire in southern California. He’s been a long-time advocate for the legalization of the cannabis plant. Casey graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a Bachelor’s in philosophy and a minor in religious studies.

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