Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ALS , also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, affects the motor neurons of the spinal cord, which causes progressive weakness and atrophy of muscles. ALS & Some evidence suggests CBD can slow the progression of ALS through its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective benefits. Although life expectancy for people with ALS is around 2-5 years, several studies have shown that CBD relieves symptoms of ALS.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
ALS , also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, affects the motor neurons of the spinal cord, which causes progressive weakness and atrophy of muscles.
ALS & Cannabinoids
Cannabis Patient with ALS Outlives Her Doctors
Cathy Jordan she was diagnosed with ALS in 1986. Decades later she is still alive thanks to cannabis.
Science abstracts on CBD and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Cannabis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Self-medication with cannabidiol oil in a patient with primary lateral sclerosis
- Neurological aspects of medical use of CBD
These links are from third-party sites and are provided as a courtesy to the reader.
CBD for ALS Patients: Effectiveness, Dosage, & How to Use
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and CBD — how it works, how to get started, how to dose effectively, and what the current research says.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting the nerves responsible for muscle control.
Consequently, those affected are left unable to move, talk, and, eventually, breathe.
Stephen Hawking had the condition for most of his life but ultimately passed away at the age of 76.
No cure exists for this condition.
There are medications available that may slow neuronal cell death and improve daily functioning. But the majority of treatment is purely supportive — addressing significant symptoms and providing increased levels of support as those affected lose their ability to walk, talk, and take care of themselves.
Rapidly emerging evidence is suggesting cannabinoids such as CBD and THC may reduce neurological and oxidative damage associated with ALS.
Here, we’ll explore the potential use of CBD in ALS and offer some insight into how you can get the most out of your CBD supplementation.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
Updated on January 12, 2022
Table of Contents
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Summary: Using CBD for ALS
CBD may be useful for a range of other neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease , Parkinson’s disease , and multiple sclerosis . Current CBD research related to these conditions is limited, but promising enough to be looked into further.
These conditions are independent of each other but have similar underlying mechanisms.
They all involve some degree of inflammation and oxidative damage in the brain that either causes the breakdown of nerves directly or serves as sustaining factors for the condition.
CBD produces well-known anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, neuroprotective, and antioxidant effects within the body. It’s through these effects that CBD is, therefore, thought to be useful for a spectrum of neurological disorders — including ALS.
However, aside from a clinical report on spasticity , there are unfortunately no clinical trials involving the use of CBD for ALS to confirm these effects conclusively. Therefore, all we have to go off at the moment are case studies, animal studies, in vitro research, and correlation studies.
A review of CBD and ALS was recently published  calling for more research in this area.
The study highlighted a list of hypothetical benefits CBD is believed to offer ALS patients, including:
Tips to Getting the Most Out of Your CBD
- Look for full-spectrum CBD extracts. This is because other cannabinoids in the plant have also shown benefit toward neuroinflammation and side-effects of the condition.
- Always choose high-quality CBD products. This is because any contaminants in poor-quality CBD products can cause new problems or possibly make ALS progress even faster.
- Use the CBD consistently. This is because any benefits from CBD regarding ALS will likely take several weeks to develop. Be patient and persistent with CBD supplementation.
- Use CBD alongside other treatments, not all by itself. This is because ALS is a complex disorder involving many different factors. Therefore, it’s wise to use multiple forms of treatment to get the best results possible.
- Speak with your doctor before using CBD alongside other ALS medications. This is because some medications may interact negatively with CBD or the other cannabinoids in the bottle. Your doctor should continue monitoring your liver enzymes due to the standard ALS treatments.
What is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease because of the famous baseball player who was forced to retire from the sport in 1939 after being diagnosed with the condition.
The disease involves gradual muscle paralysis as the neurons controlling the muscles break down. We each have millions of specialized nerve cells — called motor neurons — tasked with transmitting messages from the brain to the muscles and back again.
Eventually, as these motor neurons are destroyed, those affected are no longer able to walk, talk, eat, or drink. The disease ultimately becomes fatal when the motor neurons controlling the lungs fail.
Symptoms of ALS
- Dropping things
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight loss
- Decreased muscle tone
- Shortness of breath
- Increased or decreased reflexes
- Uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying
- Feeling weak
- Muscle cramping or twitching
- Muscle stiffness or rigidity
- Poor concentration
- Mood changes
There Are Two Different Types of ALS
1. Sporadic ALS
This form of ALS can affect anybody — regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or age. However, it is more common in men, caucasian people, and persons older than 60 years, with peak onset around 58 to 63 years.
2. Familial ALS
Familial ALS is an inherited form of the disease. It accounts for 5% to 10% of cases. Peak age at onset is 47 to 52 years.
Another Manifestation of ALS: Bulbar ALS
Bulbar ALS refers to the starting point for the neurons affected. People with both familial or sporadic ALS can have the bulbar form of ALS. With this type, the motor neurons in the corticobulbar region of the brainstem are affected first. Therefore, the muscles in the face, neck, and head to become paralyzed before other areas of the body. This is as opposed to limb onset ALS or respiratory onset ALS that begin in the limbs or diaphragm, respectively.
What Causes ALS?
The exact cause is unknown, but there are a few theories for contributing factors for the disease, including:
- Environmental factors, such as tobacco use and formaldehyde exposure
- Heavy metal exposure
- Genetic predisposition, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD1) mutation
Common Medications for ALS
There is no cure for ALS but there are a few treatments available, such as FDA-approved riluzole and edaravone. Riluzole, a glutamatergic neurotransmission inhibitor, does not provide relief from the symptoms of ALS, but it can extend life expectancy by two to three months.
Edaravone, an antioxidant drug, can slow the decline of daily functions and halt the progression of ALS. CBD interacts with some medications, so always check with your doctor before using it.
Other treatments for ALS include:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Anti-depressants (fluoxetine, sertraline, citalopram)
- Anxiolytics (alprazolam, diazepam, lorazepam)
- Pain relievers (acetaminophen, asprin, ibuprofen)
Guide to Using CBD for ALS
It’s clear that more research is needed to investigate the effects of CBD on ALS in human subjects. However, the research we do have is very promising.
CBD and many of the other cannabinoids, including delta 9 THC and CBG, have been shown to offer significant benefits toward many of the uncomfortable symptoms involved with the condition. Therefore, they have been implicated as a potentially effective adjunct treatment for a series of other, related neurodegenerative disorders.
Both CBD and THC could offer support for the condition. Most of the case studies showing improvements in lifespan and symptoms were using marijuana containing both THC and CBD.
Therefore, we recommend opting for a full-spectrum CBD oil rather than a purified CBD extract with all other cannabinoids and terpenes removed. But depending on where you live, you may or may not have access to CBD products that contain THC in concentrations higher than about 0.3%.
In some places, patients with ALS can apply through a medical marijuana program to receive oils, tinctures, concentrates, or raw cannabis buds that contain high levels of both CBD and THC. The current research to date suggests this is the best option for ALS sufferers.
However, if you’re unable to get any hemp or marijuana products that contain THC, that’s okay. CBD is still likely to be effective for this condition and is generally better for relieving muscle tremors, insomnia, and anxiety than products containing THC.
However, as with any neurodegenerative disorder, it’s wise to speak with your physician before trying CBD or marijuana products for ALS symptoms because, in rare cases, CBD oils may have a negative interaction with other medication you might be taking, and you may also require liver enzyme monitoring . Therefore, it’s better to ask your doctor before assuming it’s 100% safe.
What the Research Says
Unfortunately, there are no clinical studies investigating the effects of CBD for ALS sufferers, despite years of case studies and promising research on related neurological disorders. However, there are a lot of case studies showing positive anecdotal impacts with both legal and illegal cannabis and CBD use .
Additionally, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that THC is also beneficial for ALS.
An animal study published in 2004 investigated the role of THC — the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant — on mice with ALS to measure any changes . The results of this study reported that the mice who were given THC had significantly less severity with their symptoms than mice not given the THC treatments.
Other studies have found that THC protects the motor neurons in the spinal cord , which are critically involved with the development of ALS.
THC has also been shown to be “extremely effective” at reducing oxidative damage induced by a known neurotoxic oxidative compound known as tert-butyl hydroperoxide .
What’s the Recommended Dose of CBD?
Because there are no good clinical trials involving CBD for ALS, there are no specific dosages identified nor characteristic results to be expected. However, studies involving CBD and other neurodegenerative disorders often report that high dosages are needed to receive benefits. Therefore, it’s likely to assume that the dose for ALS is also higher than average.
We recommend starting with a low dose and building up gradually by adding 2 mg to 5 mg of CBD each day.
Once symptoms are alleviated, you’ve found the right dose. According to case reports, CBD can relieve symptoms such as insomnia, pain, and muscle tremors almost immediately, while the longevity-enhancing effects of the compound would take much longer and won’t be as noticeable. Further research would be needed to confirm these kinds of effects.
Therefore, for best results, it’s recommended that you aim for the high-strength dose of CBD, and take this dose consistently over the long term.
However, always consult with your doctor before taking CBD for ALS and always take your routine prescriptions as directed, never stop on your own.
CBD relieves the symptoms of ALS
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS or motor neurone disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that causes the depletion of the motor neurons in the body, i.e the neurons that are responsible for muscle movement. Although the average life expectancy is around 2-5 years after the initial diagnosis, (this is not the case for everyone look at Steven Hawkins for example!), several studies have shown that CBD can help to relieve some symptoms of ALS.
Many people around the world were unaware of what ALS was until 2015. A Facebook campaign called the ‘ice bucket challenge’ was recently launched to raise awareness of the disease. People all over the world including celebrities were having buckets of ice cold water thrown over them, to symbolise the feeling of the dying nerve endings that ALS sufferers have to endure on a daily basis. The campaign quickly became viral and has been one of the most successful in Facebook history, raising more than 100 million dollars and leading to the discovery of some ground breaking research.
Symptoms of ALS
Despite this breakthrough there are still millions of people around the world that are suffering from this disease. The main symptoms of ALS include:
- Progressive muscle weakness
- Slurred speech
- Abnormal fatigue of the arms and legs
- Muscle cramps and twitches
- Uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying
CBD or cannabidiol has been known to ease severe pains and can bring some relief to the symptoms of ALS:
- Analgesic properties: ALS is a painful disease, so CBD is used to ease the pain.
- Muscle relaxation: ALS causes the muscles to seize up, CBD helps to relax the body and relieve some of the tension.
- Bronchodilation: CBD opens up the airways making it easier for the sufferer to breathe.
- Saliva reduction: As the disease develops it becomes more and more difficult for the sufferer to swallow, causing an increase of saliva developing in the mouth, CBD consumption causes the saliva glands to stop producing so much saliva.
- Appetite stimulation: Similar to THC CBD can cause the user to feel hungry after consumption.
- Inducing sleep: CBD can make the user feel sleepy, which is good for people who are in pain and find it difficult to both fall asleep and stay asleep.
A study undertaken at the Complutense University in Madrid showed the effects of CBD in mice with ALS. The mice were administered small doses of CBD and the effects were monitored for a short period of time. They found that due to the CBD the progression of the disease in fact slowed down, extending the life expectancy of the mice by 6 days on average. This time frame was translated into three years for humans.
Did you like the post? Give us some feedback! This post has been done based on existent research to the date of publication of the article. Due to the increase in studies based on medical cannabis, the information provided can vary over time and we’ll keep informing in further writings.
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Información creada y revisada por expertos en Cannabis Medicinal. Todas las publicaciones se basan en investigaciones médicas y con referencias clínicas.