ALS Awareness Month: What Medical Marijuana Can Do for You!
At Ohio Marijuana Card, we focus on shining a light on those who have been diagnosed with medical conditions that are often overlooked. Today we are focusing on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This disease is tough but our patients are tougher.
The month of May is ALS Awareness Month so in today’s article we will be bringing you some ALS education and sharing how we can all be better allies. ALS is a very complex disease so we will be going into detail about what ALS is, what the symptoms are, and who it affects.
Medical marijuana is a treatment that can help not only manage the symptoms that come with ALS but also help those diagnosed live better quality and more fulfilling lives. There is recent research on how THC and CBD can help potentially help slow the progression of ALS. There are also specific medical marijuana strains that will help a patient treat each specific symptom that they are struggling with. Bet you can’t name a traditional medication that can do that!
Continue reading for more information on how medical marijuana can help ALS! You can also read more on our blog and stay connected with the Ohio medical marijuana community as a whole by following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The Basics of ALS:
ALS is a disease that a patient will battle until the very end because, unfortunately, there is no cure. But medical marijuana can be there to assist you every step of the way!
What is ALS?
According to the ALS Association, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a “progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.”
The origin of the word “amyotrophic” is actually Greek. “A” means no, “myo” means muscle and “trophic” means nourishment. So the meaning of the word altogether means no muscle nourishment which actually is a good description of the disease. Because the muscles in the body do not get proper nourishment, they waste away.
The L in ALS stands for “lateral” which points to the spinal cord where the nerve cells that send out signals to control the body’s muscles are located. This is impaired in ALS. Lastly, “sclerosis” indicates that this area will degenerate.
With ALS, motor neurons eventually die off. Motor neurons have a huge responsibility within the body as they send signals from the brain to our muscles in order for them to move. When these neurons die, the brain can’t initiate these movements and muscle control is lost. This can cause the patient to lose the ability to speak, eat, move and even breath.
Two Types of ALS:
There are two different types of ALS. The first is sporadic which is the most commonly known form of ALS in the U.S. and accounts for over 90% of the cases. Sporadic means it can affect anyone, anywhere and is totally random.
The second type of ALS is Familial also known as FALS which accounts for about 10% or less of all cases and is inherited. Unfortunately in these families there is a 50% chance that each offspring will inherit the gene mutation and can develop ALS.
What are the Symptoms?
ALS is similar to a lot of other medical conditions in the fact that the onset is gradual overtime. This means that a lot of people experience different symptoms at the beginning that slowly increase. Some have trouble holding a pen or grabbing a cup of tea, others may have trouble with speech or experience changes in their vocal chords.
Although the progression of ALS can vary, there are constants. The average lifespan after diagnosis is 3-5 years but there are some that can live 5-10 years and even beyond. Most of the time symptoms start in the muscles that control speech and swallowing or are in the limbs. Muscle weakness over time universally leads to paralysis. When breathing muscles are impaired, ALS patients need ventilatory support.
For ALS patients, the five senses are not affected and generally people have control over their eye muscles and bladder.
Below are some of the most common early symptoms of ALS that you can keep an eye out for:
General muscle weakness
Tripping or falling
Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Abnormal fatigue in limbs
Muscle cramps or twitching
Uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying
ALS Stats and Facts:
Below are some stats and facts that we can all get educated on ALS:
Every 90 minutes someone is diagnosed with ALS and someone passes away from ALS.
Most people develop ALS between the ages of 40-70.
The average age of diagnosis is 55.
Sometimes people get diagnosed in their 20’s and 30’s.
ALS is 20% more common in men than women.
Military veterans are 2x more likely to be diagnosed with ALS, the reason for this is unknown.
ALS is also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease” which comes from a famous baseball player who played for the Yankees in the 1930s and was diagnosed with ALS.
ALS was discovered in 1869 by a French neurologist named Jean-Martin Charcot and we have been searching for a cure ever since.
One of the most well known people, other than Lou Gehrig, who had ALS was Stephen Hawking. His story is incredible as he was diagnosed at 21 and lived more than 50 years while also making huge contributions to the scientific community.
How Can Medical Marijuana Help ALS?
Here at Ohio Marijuana Card, we believe that people diagnosed with ALS should be able to live a quality life! Getting your medical marijuana card can do that for you.
The great thing about medical marijuana is that it can help specific symptoms that come with ALS. Marijuana can help with muscle spasticity, chronic pain, lack of appetite and anxiety and depression.
Muscle spasticity is also known as muscle stiffness and is a symptom of ALS. Spasticity interferes with daily life as it makes it very difficult to walk and move. This is something medical marijuana can help with as it also is used to help those with multiple sclerosis who also manage spasticity.
A lot of people with ALS battle chronic pain as well. Chronic pain is actually the number one use for medical marijuana treatment! Many people swear by medical marijuana for chronic pain since it enhances the body's natural cannabinoids which in turn relieves pain.
Another symptom of ALS can be loss of appetite. Marijuana’s stereotype of giving you the “munchies” can actually help with this! Certain strains of marijuana can help give ALS patients the desire to eat just like it has for HIV/AIDS and cachexia patients.
Finally, mental health issues are symptoms of ALS that are often overlooked. Many of those with ALS also struggle with depression and anxiety due to the heaviness of their diagnosis. Medical marijuana has been found to help depression and anxiety which can give ALS patients a better quality of life!
THC & CBD’s Effects on ALS Progression:
THC is the most well known chemical compound in marijuana. THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors in your brain and is what makes you feel that euphoric or “high” feeling typically associated with marijuana.
While this is in the very early stages of research, there have been some studies that showed THC can potentially slow down the progression of ALS. This finding is very exciting as it could make medical marijuana a more viable option for those battling ASL and could potentially lengthen their life expectancy.
This same study also looked at how CBD plays a role in ALS progression. While CBD was not linked to slowing the disease down, it does in fact have its own super powers. CBD is an anti-inflammatory and a natural pain reliever so it aids ALS patients by helping their symptoms.
Specific Strains for Specific Symptoms:
Medical marijuana comes in many different strains. The effect that marijuana has on the body is dependent on the strain, the terpene profile and the amount of THC, CBD or both that is in said strain. Below is a list of symptoms related to ALS and also a list of specific strains that can help combat them! You can head to your local dispensary to pick some of these up.
Muscle issue including spasticity and pain:
Super Sour OG
Depression and anxiety:
Girl Scout Cookies
Remember that this is not an exhaustive list! There are a plethora of strains that can help with these issues. The best thing to do is to chat up your local budtender or pharmacist at your dispensary and ask them to point you in the right direction.
Another thing to keep in mind is that dispensaries have a variety of products so if you’re looking for something specific such as the strains on the list, it is best to look at their menu first or give them a call. This will save you a trip!
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
Here at Ohio Marijuana Card, our goal is to help everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (866) 457-5559, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Ohio Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Ohio.