Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a fatal disease that degrades neurons in the human body that control movement. ALS causes the rapid progression of weakness to paralysis. Patients often do not live longer than 3-5 years after digression begins. In most cases, brain function remains intact. ALS pathogenesis is poorly understood, with pharmaceutical treatment options available but incapable of preventing disease progression and death.
Challenges in Trials due to legal status
Human clinical studies on cannabis-derived treatments are limited by available sample size and regulations for clinical use that make it difficult to recruit ALS patients for study. However, two successful human studies have been completed. One, a pilot study, studied the effectiveness of THC in benefitting appetite, insomnia, and spasticity in ALS patients (Gelinas/ABood 2002).
The second study took the form of an anonymous survey. The responses of 131 surveys of ALS patients in 80 countries, with an average participant age of 54, were collated. The majority of respondents claimed that cannabis relieved excessive saliva production, improved speech and made it easier to swallow. It was also reported that THC improved appetite and reduced weakness, shortness of breath, spasticity, depression and pain (Amtmann D 2004).
Animals with ALS experienced delayed motor impairment and longer lives when THC was administered before or after onset. THC also decreased oxidative and excite-toxic damage in spinal cord cultures in vitro (Raman et al. 2004).
Anecdotal evidence is clear in it’s distinction of THC as an effective treatment for multiple ALS symptoms. These studies show that THC could possibly be the sole natural, non-toxic, anti-oxidant found in nature capable of delaying progression of the disease while increasing lifespan. AgriMed is committed to exploring how THC can benefit patients with ALS and other diseases.
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Raman C, McAllister SD, Rizvi G, Patel SG, Moore DH, Abood ME. 2004. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: delayed disease progression in mice by treatment with a cannabinoid. Amyotroph Lateral Scler Other Motor Neuron Disord 5:33-9.
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