What Is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
Discovered and named in the 19th century, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS, and popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a degenerative disorder that results in the body’s neuron’s failing. This is also why the disorder is also known as motor neuron disease (MND). These dying neurons contribute to the body’s ability to move voluntarily; the disease causes people to lose the most basic of functions, such as walking, eating, and even breathing.
To best understand ALS, know that the body functions as it does because of the neurons that travel throughout your body. Up and down the spine and muscles, you receive numerous messages telling you to perform specific actions. In other words, the brain sends signals all through your body to make it do things. It’s a relatively basic and understood function of how our bodies work and how we are able to do the things that we do physically.
What ALS unfortunately does is result in infected neurons, which then causes the body to be unable to perform those basic functions. Even the most essential of actions, including those which the body requires (such as eating and breathing), are inoperable without some assistance. Over time, the symptoms of ALS can worsen, and in all cases, the disease leads to death. While some have been able to live for many years with ALS, the typical timeline is less than five.
The cause of ALS remains unknown, though many breakthroughs and further research have helped medical professionals better understand the disease, the symptoms associated, and how best to treat it. As of now, there exists no cure for ALS, but a patient’s life can be prolonged with the help of medicine, some of which has been proven to extend life, and others which, while more recent, have shown tremendous results.
As a disease that causes brain and spinal neurons to die, the most common form of ALS that exists in nearly all patients is what is known as sporadic ALS. This means that the reason for the disease does not come from genetics, conditions, or any other verifiable factors. The other side of this, of course, is ALS that comes from genetics, meaning someone in the patient’s family has or had it. However, this is not nearly as common as you might think; 10% or less of those with ALS have it due to genetics.
Riluzole and Radicava for ALS
When it comes to treating ALS, there are only two FDA-approved prescription drugs available: Riluzole and Radicava. Riluzole is the oldest medication around for treating ALS; it helps the neurons in the body by blocking certain transmissions that cause ALS symptoms. On the newer end, there is Radicava, which is provided via an IV; it rids the body of free radicals, which are known to overpopulate the body when you have ALS. Both of these types of medicine are helpful but do not treat ALS as well as they could, especially when their side-effects are taken into consideration.
Medical Marijuana for ALS
This is where medical marijuana comes in. Through research, tests, and trials, it has been shown that using medical marijuana to treat ALS can improve a patient’s chances substantially. Unlike Riluzole, which is known to improve the lifespan on average by a few months, medical cannabis can lengthen the lifespan of an ALS patient by three to five years. That is a notable increase and a big part of why medical marijuana comes highly recommended to people with ALS.
Of course, if medical marijuana is able to improve a patient’s life expectancy drastically, then there must be more to it. One of the main benefits is how it can treat chronic pain; it can reduce it by stimulating the cannabinoids in your body, which will then help relieve pain. Unlike painkillers, medical marijuana does not feature the same sorts of dangerous side-effects and is much less likely to cause addiction.
Additional Medical Marijuana Benefits
Medical cannabis can also improve the mood of patients, which is a significant benefit since the mental state of a patient is a major factor that needs consideration. Marijuana is known for helping one’s mental state, which can greatly affect how the rest of the treatment serves them. Combining other treatments with something that can produce positive feelings can benefit the patient overall.
One other added benefit that people sometimes forget about is marijuana’s effect on appetite. Cannabis has a reputation for causing its users to get hungry, and this can help patients since the symptoms of ALS can reduce appetite. Not only that, but cannabis is famously known also to be consumed by way of food; if you want medical marijuana while also making sure you eat, edibles could be an excellent way to go.
It’s also essential to understand the various ways medical marijuana can be consumed and taken. While edibles are a well-liked and safe way to get THC and CBD in your system, smoking marijuana is the most well-known and infamous. It’s so well-known that many people think that the only way you can consume marijuana is through smoking it.
While that is an option, it can also be vaporized so that you can get the effects of cannabis through vaping. There are also oils and creams, which are topical treatments that can be applied to parts of the body in need of recovery.
There are many options available for those with ALS, and MDBerry can provide those options to you. We have a range of specialists who can evaluate you and help you understand your symptoms while assisting you in choosing the very best treatment options for you. We know that finding the right treatment is of vital importance, which is why MDBerry has a caring and qualified staff that will make sure you get the relief you deserve.