- Olivia Castro
ALS Awareness Month: How Medical Marijuana Can Help You!
At Louisiana Marijuana Card, we do our best to 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 a tough one but our patients are tougher!
In Louisiana, any debilitating medical condition can qualify you for medical marijuana treatment. ALS is one of the most common conditions that use medical marijuana treatment simply because it works!
May is ALS Awareness Month so in this article we will be bringing you some ALS education which will help us all be better allies to those in the ALS community. ALS is a very complicated condition so we will be going into detail about what ALS actually is, what the symptoms are, and who it affects.
Medical marijuana is a treatment that can help manage the symptoms that come with ALS and also help those diagnosed live better quality and more fulfilling lives. There is recent research showing that THC and CBD can potentially help slow the progression of ALS! There are also specific medical marijuana strains that help treat specific symptoms of ALS. 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 Louisiana medical marijuana community as a whole by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The Basics of ALS:
ALS is a disease that a patient will fight until the very end because, unfortunately, it is a terminal disease and there is no cure. But there is no reason why people with ALS can’t live quality lives! Medical marijuana treatment 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 words come from Greek and really does explain what this condition is. “A” means no, “myo” means muscle and “trophic” means nourishment. So the meaning of the word “amyotrophic” altogether means no muscle nourishment which is just what the disease is. Because the muscles in the body do not get proper nourishment, they, unfortunately, waste away.
The L in ALS stands for “lateral” which directs us to the spinal cord where the nerve cells are located that send out signals in order to control the body’s muscles. This is impaired in ALS. Lastly, “sclerosis” indicates that this area will degenerate.
With ALS, these motor neurons eventually die. Motor neurons are responsible for providing signals from the brain to our muscles in order for them to move. When these neurons die, the brain cannot initiate these movements therefore 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 common form of ALS in the U.S. and accounts for over 90% of the cases. Sporadic ALS is exactly that. It is sporadic meaning it is random who it affects.
The second type of ALS is Familial also known as FALS which accounts for about 10% or less of all cases. FALS is inherited. Unfortunately, in these families, there is a 50% chance that each child you bear will inherit the gene mutation and therefore can develop ALS.
What are the Symptoms?
The onset of ALS is gradual overtime just like a lot of other medical conditions. This means that a lot of people experience different symptoms at the beginning that slowly increase with time. Some can first have trouble holding a pen or holding a cup of tea, others can have trouble with speech or experience changes in their vocal chords. In the beginning, people can experience ALS very differently so it can be hard to initially diagnose.
Although ALS can look different in the beginning, there are constants that develop. The average lifespan after diagnosis is 3-5 years but there are some that have lived 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, those with ALS will need ventilatory support.
For people with ALS, 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:
Here are some important stats and facts so we can all get educated on ALS:
Every 90 minutes someone is diagnosed and someone passes away from ALS.
Most people develop ALS between the ages of 40-70.
The average age of diagnosis is 55.
It is rare but 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.” Lou Gehrig was 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. SInce then the science community has been searching for a cure ever.
One of the most well known people with ALS, other than Lou Gehrig, 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 Louisiana Marijuana Card, we believe that people diagnosed with ALS should be able to live a quality life! Getting your medical marijuana card with us can be your first step to that.
The great thing about medical marijuana is that there are specific strains that aid specific symptoms that come with ALS. Medical marijuana can help with muscle spasticity, chronic pain, lack of appetite as well 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.
Chronic pain is also something that is common for those with ALS. Chronic pain is actually the number one use for medical marijuana treatment! Many people battling chronic pain swear by medical marijuana treatment since it enhances the body's natural cannabinoids which in turn relieves pain.
Those with ALS can often experience appetite loss. We all know marijuana can give you the “munchies” which can actually help ALS patients! Certain strains of marijuana can help give you the desire to eat just like it has for HIV/AIDS and cachexia patients.
Mental health issues as a result of ALS that are often overlooked. Many of those with ALS also struggle with depression and anxiety because ALS is a tough diagnosis to hear. 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 and CBD are the two most well known chemical compounds in marijuana. THC and CBD are compounds that bind to the cannabinoid receptors in your brain. THC is what makes you feel that euphoric or “high” feeling typically associated with marijuana.
There have been some new studies that showed THC can potentially slow down the progression of ALS! Although this finding is in its early stages, it 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 CBD’s role in ALS progression. While CBD was not linked to slowing the disease down, it does still help! 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 levels of THC, CBD or both that are in it. 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 tons strains that can help with these issues. The best thing to do is to chat up your local 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!
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Louisiana Marijuana Card, our mission is helping 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.
Call us at (833) 253-2943, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Louisiana 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 Louisiana!