How Does Medical Marijuana Help With and Treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?

Home » How Does Medical Marijuana Help With and Treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects both the nerves in the brain and the spinal cord. This condition destroys the cells of the nerves, thereby causing disability. ALS usually begins with either slurred speech or muscle twitching and weakness of the limbs before eventually affecting control of the muscles that are needed to speak, eat and breathe. This disease is known to be a fatal one because its cure is yet to be discovered. Some of the early and common symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis include difficulties in walking or doing normal activities, hand weakness/clumsiness, muscle cramps and twitching in the arms, shoulders and tongue, slowed speech and trouble swallowing, as well as tripping and falling etc. The cause of ALS is not yet known even though researchers are suggesting that the possible causes of ALS include gene mutation, chemical imbalance, protein mishandling and a disorganized immune response. More so some environmental factors such as smoking, environmental toxic exposure as well as military service may trigger Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). As the disease progresses, sufferers may start facing problems like eating difficulties, breathing difficulties, speaking problems and dementia.

Even though treatment cannot reverse the damage of ALS, it can slow down the symptoms, thereby preventing complications for patients that could make their lives difficult and dependent. That said, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two medications (Riluzole and Edaravone) for the treatment of ALS, whereas other drugs may be prescribed to provide relief for some symptoms such as fatigue, depression, sleeping disorder, pain, or spasticity. Therapies including breathing, physical, occupational, speech and nutritional support may also be recommended for ALS patients.

Many scientists have been pointing out the fact that medical marijuana could be an effective and safe treatment option of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. A 2004 study that was published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care suggested that medical marijuana was effective in the treatment of symptoms of ALS. According to findings from the study, cannabis was reported to be moderately effective in reducing certain symptoms of ALS like depression, loss of appetite, drooling, spasticity, and pain. Further findings from this same study also indicated that the best relief was for depression.

In 2007, discourses from Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience indicated that medical marijuana could be potentially useful in the treatment of ALS. The scientists asserted that many effects of marijuana could be applicable in the treatment of ALS. According to the scientists, medical marijuana could be effective in analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilation, saliva reduction, appetite stimulation, and sleep induction. Besides, the scientists also suggested through their discourses that the strong antioxidant and neuroprotective effects of medical marijuana could prolong the survival of neuronal cells.

Furthermore, according to data of a review that was published in 2010, cannabis was also reported to have powerful antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects.

A 2015 study has equally provided an animal base evidence that medical marijuana is capable of slowing the progress of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in mice. Also, a survey that was carried out on 131 patients in 2015 equally acted as evidence that medical marijuana was effective in the treatment of ALS symptoms in human beings. According to the results of the survey of 131 patients, those who were able to obtain cannabis acknowledged that they preferred it in managing their symptoms instead of prescription medications.

The 2015 study on 131 patients also detailed some of the therapeutic effects of cannabis for the management of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. First of all, the researchers revealed that cannabinoids, which is found in cannabis has many pharmacological mechanisms of actions that can be immediately made useful in the management of clinical symptoms of ALS. For instance, the researchers pointed to the fact that cannabis had been scientifically proven to have anti-inflammatory effects.

It should be noted that in addition to pain, spasticity is also another major problem that patients with ALS face. The researchers therefore argued that cannabis has an inhibitory effect via augmentation of gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) pathways in the central nervous system which goes a long way to alleviate spasticity.

It has also been revealed that most patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis face problems when it comes to controlling and swallowing the saliva that is normally present in the oral cavity. Hence, the researchers of the 2015 study on patients also revealed that cannabis is a potent anti-salivary compound that is capable of swiftly driving the oral cavity and upper airway, thereby potentially reducing the risk for aspiration pneumonia and increasing patient comfort.


Mayo Clinic
Inhale MD
Project CBD
Marijuana Break

Marijuana strains reported to help with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS):

How To Get Medical Marijuana

If you are a resident of a legal state interested in trying medical marijuana to treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or other medical conditions, you will first need to consult with a certified doctor in order to get a medical marijuana card. To get started, simply fill out the MMJ patient registration form, press submit and a physician or clinic representative will contact you as available.

Patient Registration Form

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