Does Cannabis Help People with ALS?

Lou Gehrig’s Disease is another name for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. “Amoytrophic” in Greek means ‘no muscle nourishment.’ Without nourishment, muscles slowly and progressively lose their mass.

ALS destroys motor neurons traveling through the spinal cord and brain. Once destroyed, the ability to enjoy the normal movements of everyday life become compromised.

What's Being Done To Fight ALS

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The ice bucket challenge in 2014 raised $115 million dollars for research and development of treatments for ALS. This challenge saw people from around the world dumping ice buckets over the heads of willing participants (who paid for the experience with their donation to ALS) while bringing a greater awareness of ALS to the world.

The amount collected in this one challenge is only surpassed by donations given during times of major disasters.

In 2013, the Penn ALS Center asked some of their patients if they would do an anonymous survey. Twenty-one percent of these people admitted that they use or used cannabis to alleviate some of their ALS symptoms.

Three-fourths of this 21% said the THC in cannabis helped them sleep better, relieved depression and anxiety, relaxed them, and stimulated their appetite. Patients without access to medical cannabis expressed a desire to try cannabis if they could obtain it legally.

The results of their study show that cannabis does alleviate some of the symptoms of ALS, improves the quality of life for patients, and extends their life expectancy.

How Cannabis Helps Patients With ALS

Research has been done on willing patients with ALS. Lab tests confirm that cannabis helps slow the progress of ALS and helps alleviate some of the symptoms in some patients. Government regulations make it hard to gather enough human data to definitively say that cannabis can reverse the effects of ALS, or even cure the disease.

When THC was given to lab animals either before or after the onset of ALS symptoms, it slowed the onset of their motor function impairments and gave them a longer than normal life.

These tests consistently show that THC - a natural and non-toxic drug - might be the best thing patients can take to slow the progression of ALS. Increased appetite plays a major role in improving the health of ALS patients. Less anxiety and depression, and a mild relaxation of the muscles throughout the body also play large roles in improving overall health.

Medical cannabis seems to be the most effective way to treat ALS. Patients should seriously considering adding cannabis to their treatment plans; ALS is listed on the approved list of patients who can legally obtain medical cannabis.

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