Medical content reviewed by Dr. Shatha Atiya | Updated on December 16, 2022
Globally there are hundreds of people affected by ALS, and cannabis treatment could benefit many of those patients. Traditional medicines are not always effective against the symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. As a result, people have resorted to alternative treatments to solve this problem. Fortunately, medical cannabis can be an effective alternative medicine for the treatment of ALS. So let’s look into ALS and cannabis treatment in more detail to learn how medical marijuana could help you feel better. If you’re currently using medical cannabis for ALS, you may be interested to find out more about dry herb vaporizers here.
What is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative illness that results from motor neuron damage. There are two types of ALS; sporadic and familial. This disease affects the neurons in your brain and spinal cord. These neurons are responsible for sending messages from your brain and spinal cord to muscles like those in your arms and legs. Consequently, it may hinder your ability to speak, eat, move, and in extreme cases even breathe.
What causes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?
People with ALS often wonder; how do you get Lou Gehrig’s disease and can it be cured? Unfortunately, doctors don’t know the exact reason why some people develop Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and others don’t, but it’s suspected that hereditary reasons play a role. What we do know is that nobody is immune to this disease and there is currently no known cure. Still, patients suffering from the disease can be made more comfortable with the use of medical cannabis.
What are the early symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?
Unfortunately, identifying the early symptoms of ALS is a challenge because of the progressive nature of the disease. But, as the days progress into months and months into years, you may start to notice some changes. For example, you may experience walking, speaking, and writing problems. Also, abnormal fatigue of the arms and legs, plus other muscular complications, may crop up. Since ALS affects the nervous system, the free movement of voluntary muscles becomes a problem. If you experience these symptoms, you should urgently consult with a healthcare professional.
How can medical cannabis help people with ALS?
Research shows that medical marijuana can improve the quality of life for ALS patients. And today, medical marijuana is legal in most states. According to Statista, 78% of adults aged 18 to 34 in the U.S. support the use of cannabis as a medicine. Additionally, many states approve the use of medical cannabis to ease muscle spasticity, a common ALS symptom. Muscle spasticity is a condition that causes muscles to contract and become stiff which results in intense pain for those affected.
Besides easing muscle spasticity, cannabis also works to mitigate other symptoms of ALS, such as chronic pain. Although conventional pain killers may alleviate the sting, they come with the risk of addiction and liver damage. Also, combining cognitive behavioral therapy and cannabis may help ALS patients deal with eating disorders.
There are several ways to take medical marijuana, for instance, smoking, eating edibles, taking pills, and vaping. But, it is up to you to decide which method of consumption works best for you.
States where ALS patients qualify for medical cannabis
If you come from either of the following states, you qualify for medical cannabis therapy:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- West Virginia
Below are the most common ways ALS patients consume medical cannabis:
- Smoking: The most common and frequently used method among younger to mid-aged ALS patients. However, this method poses several risks. For example, smoking could cause lung damage, among other respiratory issues. Moreover, you could be at risk of throat cancer and other harmful diseases.
- Edibles: ALS patients can enjoy their medicine in many forms like gummies, chewable tablets, and marijuana brownies. Unlike smoking, taking edibles leads to more intense and longer-lasting effects of marijuana, albeit taking longer for patients to notice the impact. Find out which method suits you, smoking or marijuana edibles.
- Topical Marijuana: Patients use this form of medical marijuana to treat localized pain and aches. Essentially, topicals work like a pain relief balm. All a patient needs to do is to externally smear the medicine on the affected part of their body, then the cannabis works to relieve pain.
Yes, medical cannabis could help ALS patients regain control of their lives. But, marijuana, like any other drug, should be treated with caution. We recommend booking an appointment with a medical marijuana doctor near you to get your cannabis card for ALS and more information about the treatment.