ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gherig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to neuron death and ultimately loss of muscle control. The progressive nature of the disease means that symptoms, like weakness, difficulty with voice projection and problems swallowing, worsen with time and patients may lose the ability to speak, eat, move and even breathe. The most common form of ALS hits during adulthood, between the ages of 40-70, with an average survival time of 3-5 years.
ALS and Medical Marijuana Research
Although there is still much research to do when it comes to using medical cannabis when battling ALS, preclinical data shows great benefit. Medical marijuana has powerful anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects and with regular application, has shown to slow the progress and reduce the consuming burden of the disease. Other preclinical evidence has come to the same conclusion, as well. In a study conducted on mouse models, it was found that the endocannabinoid system (specifically CB2 receptors) plays a role in the development of ALS, and that cannabinoid compounds found in medical marijuana may be the basis for developing new drugs for the treatment of ALS. As of today, no large-scale clinical trials have been conducted, although that is the logical next step.
In addition to the potential to slow progress of ALS, medical marijuana has been successful in managing the physical and mental side effects that many live with when battling the disease. Due to the loss of muscle control, many patients have difficulty, or even lose the ability, controlling and swallowing their saliva. Medical marijuana acts as a potent anti-salivary compound that dries the oral cavity and upper airway, thus reducing the risk for aspiration pneumonia and simultaneously increasing patient comfort.
The information provided should not be used as a substitution for physician knowledge. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment with medicinal marijuana.