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Can CBD Oil Help People with ALS?

July 30, 2018

cbd for als

ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and is also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the baseball legend who had his career and life tragically cut short by the condition. The term motor neuron disease (MND) is also a commonly used term, as this refers to the group of disorders to which ALS belongs – ALS being most common of these illnesses.

Recently, the world sadly lost its most famous sufferer of the disease, physicist Stephen Hawking. The disease was further made known to the world at large by 2015’s viral sensation “The Ice Bucket Challenge”, which managed to raise over $115 million for research into ALS.

Research into the cause and a possible cure for ALS is on-going, but currently, we have no answer to either of those questions. Treatments are aimed at helping slow the disease and give patients as high a quality of life as possible.

Lately, there has been a lot of news coverage of people self-medicating using cannabis-based treatments, and some have experienced phenomenal success. In this article, we look at some of the possible benefits that cannabidiol (CBD) – one of marijuana’s two main active ingredients – could have for ALS. If you are curious and want more information, then please read on.

What is ALS?

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting nerve cells in the central nervous system. Motor neurons are found everywhere, from the brain and spinal cord to all the muscles throughout our bodies. They play a vital role in the brain’s ability to control muscle movement.

ALS causes these motor neurons to progressively degenerate, and eventually die – preventing the brain from controlling muscle movement. As voluntary muscle action becomes progressively worsened, those with the disease may lose their ability to eat, move, speak and even breathe.

There are two types of ALS. The most common is Sporadic, which accounts for 90-95% of cases in the US. It can affect anyone at any time and its cause is currently unknown. The other is Familial, which accounts for the remaining 5-10% of US cases, and this is caused by genetic inheritance.

For those with Familial ALS, there is a 50% chance their children will inherit the gene mutation which causes the disorder, and thus possibly develop the disease themselves. ALS usually strikes between the ages of 40 and 70, and an estimated 20,000 Americans have the disease. Military veterans are roughly twice as likely to be diagnosed, but no one knows why.

Most commonly, ALS starts in the limbs, hands, or feet before spreading to other parts of the body. As it advances, more nerve cells are destroyed and more muscles are affected and weakened.

Some of the early symptoms of ALS are:

  • Weakness in the legs, feet or ankles.
  • Difficulty walking or carrying out routine activities.
  • Trouble swallowing or slurred speech.
  • Twitching and cramps in the arms, tongue and shoulders.
  • Hand weakness.
  • Difficulty in holding the head up and with maintaining posture.

The disease doesn’t usually affect your brain’s thinking ability, your senses, or your bladder and bowel control. This means you can keep actively involved with the people around you, although you will most likely become severely disabled.

How is ALS traditionally treated?

There is no current cure that halts or reverses ALS. Treatment is aimed at helping those with ALS have as high a quality of life as possible for as long as possible. Treatment is based around the following two avenues:

  • Medication: There are two drugs used to treat ALS. One is Riluzole, which can slow the progression of ALS in some patients, but not all. Side effects include changes in liver function, dizziness, and gastrointestinal conditions. The other is Edaravone, which can reduce the decline in everyday function caused by ALS. It is a relatively new treatment, only having been approved in 2017. The side effects can include gait disturbances, swelling, shortness of breath, bruising, and hives. It can also cause serious allergic reactions in some people. As well as these, your doctor may recommend drugs to relieve some of the symptoms of ALS, such as spasticity, pain, fatigue, and muscle spasms.
  • Therapies: Often people with ALS undergo a variety of different therapies to help with their condition. Physical therapy helps with mobility issues and pain. Occupational therapy helps maintain independence. Speech therapy can help with communication issues and can help explore alternative forms of communication such as text-to-speech computers. Psychological therapy is often recommended too, as being diagnosed with ALS can have a huge effect on your mental wellbeing and often people will struggle to cope.

How could CBD oil help with ALS?

Along with THC, CBD is one of the main active ingredients in cannabis. Cannabis affects our body by acting upon our endocannabinoid system, an internal body system which has been proven to be linked to a large number of bodily functions including pain, breathing ability, muscle spasm, and muscle relaxation.

Of course, these are all functions which ALS worsens significantly. CBD itself works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, and it has been suggested that the compound could have a positive effect on all of these processes.

As CBD has been shown to help with these functions affected by the disease, it makes sense that CBD could help ALS patients, as these are some of the most commonly experienced symptoms. CBD will not cure ALS, but it could have the potential to help alleviate some of the more frequently experienced symptoms. This means it has the potential to give those with ALS a better quality of life.

You may be put off using CBD as it is derived from the cannabis plant, and you might be worried about possible side effects. However, CBD does not have any of the traditional mind-altering effects of marijuana.

This is because THC, not CBD, is the ingredient in cannabis that gives recreational users the psychoactive ‘high’ effect they are looking for; CBD does not have any psychoactive properties and, in fact, works against THC’s psychoactive effects.

This means that using CBD-based treatment could be suitable for everyday use. It also means CBD is legal on a federal level (as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC), as it cannot be abused recreationally.

Are there studies into CBD’s effectiveness against ALS?

Research into CBD’s effectiveness in treating ALS is still in its infancy, but there have been some positive findings. These findings have led to a growing movement within the scientific community stating that more research should be carried out into the use of CBD and other cannabinoids against ALS. It certainly seems like an area that will be explored more in the coming years.

Here are the details of the few studies that have been carried out to date:

Carter and Rosen published an early overview of the use of marijuana in the management of ALS in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 2001. They conducted a scientific review of the various effects cannabis has been found to have on the body, and concluded that ‘marijuana should be considered in the pharmacological management of ALS.’ They urged more research to be carried out on marijuana’s usefulness in the fight against ALS.

The American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine published further research on the topic in 2004. Amtmann et al. carried out the first anonymous survey of ALS patients regarding their use of cannabis, and those who reported using it found it to be effective in reducing several symptoms associated with the disease. The sample size was small, with only 13 of the 131 respondents reporting using cannabis. Despite the small sample size, the results were positive, inferring that marijuana could be a possible benefit for ALS sufferers. The findings indicate that more research should be carried out.

In 2010, Carter et al. had a huge breakthrough with their findings published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care. They induced a mouse with ALS-specific symptoms and then treated it with cannabis. Amazingly, they found that cannabis “prolonged neuronal cell survival, delayed onset, and slowed progression of the disease.” Their findings led them to also add their voices to the growing calls for clinical trials on cannabinoids effectiveness to be carried out on humans with ALS. The researchers stated that, based on the available data, it was reasonable to assume that cannabis could slow ALS progression, extend patient life expectancy, and make a difference in reducing the burden of the disease.

Final Thoughts on CBD as a Treatment for ALS

More research is certainly required, but what we know so far suggests that CBD could have the potential to be a massive help to sufferers of ALS. It seems to work against many of the main symptoms which present a problem to patients.

What’s more, CBD has very few side effects as it doesn’t get you ‘high’, and it could be taken alongside other medications. This means that, if CBD doesn’t prove effective for you, you haven’t risked anything in the process of ruling out a possible alternative treatment option.

No one is suggesting that CBD will cure ALS, and you shouldn’t expect it to. However, it could help improve the quality of your life, based on everything that is known about ALS and the potential benefits of CBD-based treatments.

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Jonathan Miller
Jonathan Miller, age 53 is an Ex Railyard Engineer who suffers from chronic back pain and anxiety. Jonathan’s goal was to create an unbiased site that would provide anyone who seeks help in CBD oil as a treatment, with accurate and helpful information.
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Getting Started with CBD Oil

If you suffer from anxiety (like me), depression or pain and are looking to get started with CBD oil, you need information on how to buy CBD oil, or you’re simply looking to learn more about CBD products, you’ve arrived at the right place.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a compound found in the cannabis plant that has significant medical benefits. CBD can be extracted from two different species of the Cannabis Sativa L plant, which include Cannabis and Hemp. Unlike its rival THC, CBD does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC.

One of the main advantages of CBD is its non-psychoactive affect making it a great option for people looking for relief from inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, seizures, spasms, and other conditions.
As I mentioned above the primary distinction between Hemp and CBD oil is the part of the plant they are derived from and what parts of the plant are used to create the oil. Hemp oil is typically made from pressing cannabis seeds to extract the fatty oil from within, while some that have mastered the CBD extraction process also use the flowers as they contain high percentages of CBD. CBD oil, on the other hand, is usually made from the flowers of cannabis plant through various extraction methods.

How Does CBD Affect Your Body?

The way marijuana affects your body varies from person to person as it will often depend on genetics, tolerance to the cannabinoids, medical health, DNA, and more. It also depends on the way you consume the CBD, for example, the effects of vaping CBD are far different to smoking it in the form of high-CBD cannabis strains. 

CBD and the way it affects us is still of somewhat a mystery to researchers they still try to figure out how it effects the EndoCannabinoid system. During the previous century, it was discovered that our bodies have receptors within the brain and central nervous system. Specific cannabinoids such as CBD bind to those receptors and activate the EndoCannabinoid System (ECS). This then provides a wide range of psychological and physical benefits helping the body.

Without going into specifics, cannabinoids signal to the body to create endocannabinoids and build more receptors. This helps the body to limit things associated with pain and inflammation, repairs cells and provides a wide range of other health benefits. Unlike other cannabinoids, CBD is thought to be the ultimate anti-inflammatory cannabinoid.

Want to learn more about how CBD works read: How Long Does it Take CBD to Work

Medical Benefits of CBD

There is a misconception as to whether CBD can help treat patients, similar to pharmaceutical medicine, but thanks to the internet and a few different medical studies patients and researchers have been exposing their findings on how CBD oil is helping to cure a wide range of medical conditions.

The most popular story was the one of Charlotte Figi. At the time Charlotte was only 6 years old. As a little girl, she was experiencing over 300 epileptic seizures per week until she was successfully treated by a CBD-rich strain oil, later named Charlotte’s Web.

The high-quality CBD oil, changed her life, helping her to overcome a 6-year battle. Since her story hit the news, CBD and other cannabinoids of the cannabis plant are constantly being researched to understand how they can help to treat different medical conditions. As a matter of fact, CBD has been thought to help treat over 170 medical conditions, among them severe conditions such as Anorexia, Cancer, Arthritis, Depression, Anxiety, Chronic Pain, Insomnia, Glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and PTSD.

Recent studies have even shown that CBD, may cure life-threatening diseases by altering genes. Other studies have proven that it might even be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis and chronic pain.

The way that CBD works is that it interacts with receptors located in different parts of the central nervous system. These receptors are called CB1 and CB2. Both reflect the areas of the brain they interact with such as the limbic system. When taking CBD, this cannabinoid locks in on these receptors and affects the body in different ways. For example, it can help to block the pain caused by specific medical conditions.

While numerous studies have shown promising results, it is important to understand that CBD research is still at premature stages. A 2011 study that researched CBD for fibromyalgia showed extremely promising results. 56 of 112 participants who took CBD in the form of oil saw a great reduction in their symptoms and pain, while those using traditional methods didn’t see hardly any improvement.

Can you Buy CBD if you live in an illegal state?

The process is not cut-&-dry, and but thanks to the Farm Bill of 2014, forms of CBD can now be delivered to your doorstep. Those that live in recreational states can purchase CBD cannabis oil which is high in potency and extremely effective for helping to treat severe medical conditions, while those that live in other states that are not medical or recreational can benefit from CBD hemp oil. CBD Hemp oil is perfect for helping to treat a wide range of conditions including anxiety, depression and acute pain. 

Who is NaturalWellNessCBDOil?

My name is Jonathan, and I’ve created this loving resource that is packed with information about CBD oil. I am growing a community on Facebook and are constantly engaging with different people to help them make more informed decisions. I review products on a daily basis and provide unbiased reviews about some of the top CBD oil manufacturers. All the information on the site is FREE; I only ask that you help to share the information you find on the site with other people that are suffering. 

To your health and happiness.