ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It is an always fatal disease in which a person’s brain loses connection with the muscles.  People with ALS lose their ability to walk, talk, eat and eventually breathe. (1) There is currently no cure, but treatments can help manage symptoms.  According to ALS News Today, one potential treatment is cannabis sativa. Cannabis, as medical marijuana, is currently being assessed in various forms for the potential to ease ALS symptoms.  Observational studies are currently ongoing at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) evaluating four formulations of cannabis-based products by Ilera Healthcare. (2) states that cannabis is a viable treatment option and has long been known to relieve symptoms of ALS. (4) This is also outlined by the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine by Gregory T. Carter MD and Bill S. Rosen MD.  Their research paper reveals that “Marijuana is a substance with many properties applicable to the management of ALS.” They include analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilation, saliva reduction, appetite stimulation and sleep induction. “In addition, cannabis has now been shown to have strong antioxidant and neuroprotective effects, which may prolong neuronal cell survival. In areas where it is legal to do so, marijuana should be considered in the pharmacological management of ALS.  Further investigation into the usefulness of marijuana in this setting is warranted” (3). Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a qualifying condition for medical marijuana programs in Delaware, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York.

There are also anecdotal reports of astonishing results from ALS sufferers who have managed to slow progression of the disease through regular, controlled doses of cannabis oil.  Bob Strider began experiencing ALS symptoms in 1998.  He started manufacturing his own cannabis oil, dosing himself with a gram a day for 60 days, and after 10 days regained control of his right arm.  He was also able to stop the use of opiates to manage his pain. (4)

Dr. Dale Lange, Chairman of Neurology, Neurologist in Chief and Professor of Neurology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York, has initiated a clinical trial to test the effects of cannabis on ALS.  According to his interview with the Huffington Post in 2015 “I am very interested in looking into the effects of high CBD/low THC in patients with ALS and predominant motor system diseases. ”  A burgeoning body of evidence indicates that cannabis could work as part of comprehensive treatment plan for ALS patients. (5)  

Although the above information is both interesting and hopeful, patients and families of patients with ALS should always confer with their physicians about starting new forms, particularly unproven forms, of therapies.




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