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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.

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 combatting 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.

References

Understanding Medical Cannabis. Elemental Wellness Center, 2014 Jul.

Cannabis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: hypothetical and practical applications, and a call for clinical trials.Carter, Gregory, et al.
American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine, 2010 Aug, 27(5): 347-356.

The endocannabinoid system in the inflammatory and neurodegenerative properties of multiple sclerosis and of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.Rossi, Silvia, et al.
Experimental Neurology, 2010 July, 224(1): 92-102.

The endocannabinoid system in targeting inflammatory neurodegenerative diseases.Centonze, Diego, et al.
Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 2007 Apr, 28(4): 180-187.

The CB2 cannabinoid agonist AM-1241 prolongs survival in a transgenic mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis when initiated at symptom onset.Shoemaker, Jennifer, et al.
Journal of Neurochemistry, 2007 Apr, 101(1): 97-98.

AM1241, a cannabinoid CB2 receptor selective compound, delays disease progression in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.Kim, Kathline, et al.
European Journal of Pharmacology, 2006 Aug, 542(1-3): 100-105.

Cannabinol delays symptom onset in SOD1 (G93A) transgenic mice without affecting survival.Weydt, Patrick, et al.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, 2005, 6(3): 182-184.

Survey of cannabis use in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.Amtmann, Dagmar, et al.
American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine, 2004 Mar, 21(2): 95-104.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: delayed disease progression in mice by treatment with a cannabinoid.Raman, Chandrasekran, et al.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, 2004, 5(1): 33-39.

Neuroprotection by delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active compound in marijuana, against oubain-induced in vivo excitotoxicity.van der Stelt, M, et al.
The Journal of Neuroscience, 2001 Sep 1, 21(17): 6475-6479.

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