How Does Medical Marijuana Help With and Treat Ataxia?

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Ataxia is a movement disorder that affects different parts of the body. People with ataxia usually have difficulties moving most parts of their body the way they can and they may face difficulties in walking, talking, swallowing and even eye movements. It should be noted that ataxia is not a disorder or disease on its own, but it’s rather a sign of other underlying conditions or diseases.

Ataxia can be caused by several conditions, some of which include tumors, stroke, brain degeneration, multiple sclerosis, substance abuse, cerebral palsy, head trauma, autoimmune diseases, certain medications as well as inherited genes. The treatment method of ataxia largely depends on the cause even though the conventional treatments include canes or walkers that help patients achieve their independence. In some cases, aerobic exercises, speech, occupational and physical therapies may be recommended for the treatment of ataxia.

Over the years, many people have associated the use of medical marijuana as an alternative treatment of ataxia. Even though more research needs to be done on this subject, the extent to which medical marijuana can be used to treat ataxia depends on the type of ataxia.

Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Spinocerebellar ataxia is the most common type of ataxia, which affects the cerebellum, a part of the brain in charge of balance and coordination. This form of ataxia is hereditary and equally the most common cause of progressive neurodegenerative disease. Spinocerebellar ataxia may be fatal if not treated early enough. This condition often begins with progressive issues with walking, but could also lead to problems with facial and hand coordination.

As this condition becomes chronic, lack of coordination in the patient’s facial muscles could in turn lead to spasticity, blurred vision, slurred speech as well as tremors, especially in the hands. Spinocerebellar ataxia does not affect mental functions directly, but the symptoms are likely to cause sleeping disorders, depression as well as other psychological problems that could affect the quality of life adversely.

Even though there is no cure yet for spinocerebellar ataxia, medical marijuana could be used to alleviate some of the symptoms. For instance, medical marijuana can be used to treat spasticity, which is a common symptom of spinocerebellar ataxia. According to a study that was conducted as far back as 1982, almost half of the participants with muscle spasticity caused by either spinal cord injuries or multiple sclerosis admitted that medical cannabis helped reduce their spasticity. Similarly, in another study that was conducted in 1997, almost all the participants reported to have experienced a decrease in both pain and muscle spasticity after using medical cannabis.

Neurological damage and disease is also associated with spinocerebellar ataxia and could be difficult to cure completely. However, medical cannabis has been proven to have neuroprotective properties that reduce inflammation and help regenerate brain cells, which could affect ataxia patients, thereby slowing down the disease.

Furthermore, medical marijuana has also been scientifically proven to be effective in the treatment of pain caused by different factors. Therefore, most spinocerebellar ataxia patients dealing with pain could use medical cannabis to alleviate their pain since it is safer and has milder side effects when compared to conventional pain treatments such as opioids

Medical marijuana can also be used to treat depression, caused by spinocerebellar ataxia. Thus, instead of using prescription antidepressants which have harsh side effects, patients can use medical cannabis to feel relax and regain a sense of optimism and happiness. Several studies have insinuated that medical cannabis is an effective treatment of depression. According to findings from a 2016 study that was published by a Neuropharmacology, CBD, which is a major compound found in cannabis prompts antidepressant-like effects with instantaneous results.

Above all, medical cannabis can also treat insomnia caused by spinocerebellar ataxia. There exist scientific evidences that THC and CBD which are both substances found in cannabis can help increase the overall duration of sleep in insomniacs. Thus, with the use of medical marijuana, patients with spinocerebellar ataxia could benefit from deep and sound sleep that they wouldn’t ordinarily get because of their condition.

Friedreich’s Ataxia

Friedreich’s ataxia is a form of ataxia that is primarily characterized by the degeneration of both the spinal cord as well as the periphery nerves. Friedreich’s ataxia is caused by a genetic mutation and its progression varies from person to person. Some of the common symptoms of friedreich’s ataxia include coordination and reflex problems, speech problems, scoliosis, gait disturbance as well as fatigue.

Generally, the progression and symptoms can worsen as a result of free radicals in the body. This assertion can be explained by the fact that free radicals destroy cells, thereby weakening the immune system and this explains why scientists often recommend the use of antioxidants such as Vitamin E and coenzyme Q10 for the treatment of the condition. Nevertheless, a surgery may be required in some cases to slow down or help manage the inevitable progression of the disease.

As the medicinal values of cannabis continuously become popular, many people have resolved to it as an alternative treatment to manage some of the symptoms of friedreich’s ataxia. First of all, medical marijuana has great antioxidant properties and when taken alongside other vitamins, it could effectively slow down the progression of friedreich’s ataxia. According to a 2000 study that was published in Pub Med, cannabis contains valuable neuroprotective antioxidants.

Medical marijuana can also improve on the cardiovascular health of people suffering from friedreich’s ataxia. Some strains of marijuana, notably microdosing cannabis, have been proven to be effective when it comes to preventing heart diseases.

The use of medical marijuana can also improve muscle spasms. Therefore, patients with friedreich’s ataxia may use medical cannabis to treat localized pains as well as loosen up tight muscles, especially those in the spine. Of course, it is no longer news that medical cannabis helps in managing several muscle-related ailments.

Sources:

Web MD
Medical News Today

Marijuana strains reported to help with Ataxia:

How To Get Medical Marijuana

If you are a resident of a legal state interested in trying medical marijuana to treat Ataxia 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.

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