Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the baseball legend, is a debilitating disease that affects an estimated 30,000 people in the United States at any given time. You may remember the ALS craze last summer when everyone decided to dump ice on their heads to raise awareness and money for ALS research.
ALS is a degenerative neurological disease that causes muscle weakness, wasting and paralysis of the limbs as well as the muscles that control vital functions such as speaking, swallowing and breathing. Often, the deterioration of these important muscles leads to respiratory failure; even with breathing aids or a tracheotomy, there is a risk of respiratory failure.
The diagnosis of ALS is devastating and can mean a death sentence for many. The average life expectancy of a person with ALS is two to five years. However, more than half of all people with ALS live more than three years after diagnosis, and there are definitely outliers like Stephen Hawking, one of the most well-known personalities with ALS. Hawking was diagnosed in 1963, and today, more than 30 years later, he is among the 5% of people diagnosed with ALS who live more than 20 years after diagnosis.
Cannabis has long been known as a viable treatment option for ALS symptom relief, as illustrated in this handy chart from the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, but the most amazing results have been achieved by several ALS patients who have managed to slow the progression of the disease with regular, controlled doses of cannabis oil.
Bob Strider had suffered from the symptoms of ALS since 1998, in particular the loss of function in his right arm and difficulty swallowing. An avid cannabis lover, he had been a heavy cannabis user for decades, which he says slowly but steadily slowed the progression of his disease. In 2012, Strider began making his own cannabis oils, ingesting about a gram a day for 60 days. Within 10 days, he regained control of his right arm and was able to stop taking opiates to treat his pain.
Another notable case comes from Cathy Jordan, who was diagnosed with ALS in 1986 and given less than five years to live. In the winter of 1989, Jordan was on holiday in Florida, preparing for the end of her life, when she made a crucial discovery. Walking on the beach one evening, she smoked a joint of Myakka Gold and felt her symptoms stop, experiencing the neuroprotective effects of cannabis before they were proven. Jordan never intended to be a cannabis activist, preferring to continue treating her illness quietly. When she tried to tell her neurologist in 1989 that cannabis had helped her, he tried to convince her husband to admit her to a psychiatric facility. In 1994, Jordan met a new doctor who was amazed at her progress. When he asked her what she had done to stay alive, she told him about it and he advised her, “Smoke as much cannabis as you can and don’t tell anyone because they won’t believe you.
Unfortunately, Donnie Clark, the grower of Myakka Gold (named after the Myakka region in Florida), was arrested and sent to prison for 12 years until his sentence was commuted by former President Clinton. The variety itself, which Jordan believes stopped the progression of her ALS, has since been eradicated by the DEA.
However, Cathy Jordan eventually became the inspiration for Amendment 2, Florida’s medical marijuana initiative, which was defeated last November. Ironically, on 25 February 2013, the same day that Cathy Jordan’s medical cannabis amendment was announced, Jordan’s home was raided and 23 plants were seized by local authorities. However, the charges were dropped when it emerged that she was using cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Now, years later, there is more and more conclusive research suggesting that self-medicating these patients was useful after all. Preclinical data shows that cannabis has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects and, when used regularly, can slow the progression of the disease and prolong the lives of those affected by ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis qualifies for medical marijuana programmes in the states of Delaware, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York. However, as more and more promising research results emerge, other states’ medical marijuana programmes must follow suit and allow suffering patients the right to treat this terrible disease with cannabis if it can give them even a little relief.
Published by Sakul17/02/2023