“Marijuana has been classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic since the 1960’s, which means it is deemed by the federal government to have no medicinal value and heavy risk. However, there is an increasing body of research to show that marijuana can be helpful for certain debilitating conditions and 15 states have now legalized it for medicinal usage. One of those conditions research is showing marijuana’s medicinal value is multiple sclerosis (MS) and another is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). They are both diseases involving neurologic deterioration.
Approximately 200 individuals per week are diagnosed with MS, with the usual onset between 20 and 40 years of age. The disease has no known cure and involves a neuro-degeneration in which the brain and spinal cord nerves undergo a gradual destruction of its protective tissue called myelin.
Myelin covers these regions in what’s called a Myelin sheath, and as the sheath degenerates symptoms include painful muscle spasms, numbness, impaired vision, loss of coordination, tremors, weakness, and imbalance (ataxia). The disease is progressive and can become incapacitating and lead to death.
MS patients may find that marijuana relieves symptoms of spasticity, tremors, imbalance, depression, and fatigue. Numerous studies have looked at Sativex, which is an oral cannabis spray developed in the UK. It has been shown to relieve pain, spasticity, depression, fatigue, and incontinence.
THC appears to have some immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory effects. This may be beneficial to MS patients. Long term studies need to be completed to see if this is for real and a disease modifying effect is real.
Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, involves the ongoing loss of the brain’s motor neurons. It is rapidly progressive, and usually fatal. There is no known cause. The usual age of onset is 40 to 60 years, and men are more commonly affected.
The most well known person with ALS is Stephen Hawking, a physicist who has lived for over 40 years after being diagnosed. He is the exception, the unfortunate usual prognosis is grim, with about half of patients dying with 2.5 years of onset.
The cannabinoids in medical marijuana may protect against glutamate toxicity. This may be very helpful because ALS involves excessive glutamate in the brain tissue, spinal fluid, and serum of those suffering.
By lowering the chance of glutamate toxicity, there is a chance that marijuana may have a neuroprotective effect. In addition, patients describe alleviation of pain and spasms, improvement of appetite, and less drooling issues which is a common problem with ALS.”
By David L. Greene