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What is ALS?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS, is a neurodegenerative disease where damage to the neurons of the motor-system leads to progressive weakening and waste of muscle tissue. The condition is considered terminal. The average life expectancy after a diagnosis of ALS is 3-5 years. There are medications out there aimed to treat several of the symptoms of ALS, such as muscle spasms, but success of these treatments are not consistent. Lack of success treating ALS and it’s symptoms have led many researchers to conclude that compounds within cannabis that are known to be either neuroprotectors, antioxidants, or anti-inflammatory are potentially viable treatments for the symptoms of ALS. As a result, the government actually has a patent on cannabinoids and ALS has been added as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in Florida.
Medical Marijuana Treatment for ALS
Cannabinoids are able to interact with and control the endocannabinoid system. This same system is actually involved in the development of ALS within the system. The endocannabinoid system has the potential ability to limit certain traits and symptoms of ALS. One study conducted on mice diagnosed with ALS showed that the daily administration of a CB2 agonist actually delayed the motor impairment and increased survival by 56% within these mice. The reason for this increase in survival is believed to be due to a reduction in cell damage, both excitotoxic and oxidative. Please note, this study was in mice, which does not always translate into human effect.
Side Effects of Cannabis for ALS
Side effects of marijuana use can include changes in:
- Reaction Time
Symptoms of ALS
ALS is a destructive, devastating, and ultimately deadly disease. Initially, the motor neurons will be impacted and the first symptoms will begin to display: twitches, weakness, muscle stiffness. As the symptoms develop, patients will experience: stiff extremities or digits, weakness and loss of coordination in lower limbs, slurred speech, trouble swallowing, cramped muscles, and uncontrollable twitching.