Last updated on 17 August 2021
Cannabis has great potential for treating a variety of diseases. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the non-psychoactive agents of hemp and studies have shown that CBD could positively influence many disease courses, including ALS1.
What Is ALS?
ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a neuromuscular disease that affects movement in the body’s muscles. This happens because it causes motor neurons to degenerate2.
Motor neurons are the nerves that work in coordination with the brain to transmit a commanded movement from the brain to the muscle involved. With this disease, the motor neurons are affected, meaning that these messages will not be transferred to the respective muscle involved. What this means is that the process of moving is highly affected, and patients may find themselves either unable to move as they want, or they may find their body parts making involuntary movements.
According to Kalapa Clinic, people diagnosed have a limited life expectancy, although this will, of course, depend on the medical attention they are given. The symptoms include slurred speech, continuous muscle weakness and degeneration, cramps and involuntary muscle movements, also known as twitches, and muscle cramps.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is caused by a genetic mutation, meaning that the patients at risk of developing ALS are largely those who inherit it from a member of the family, because it is a hereditary disease. Other risk factors also include age, because older people are more likely to develop ALS than younger ones. Also, it has been reported that ALS is more prevalent among men than women3.
Why Can CBD Work For Treating ALS Symptoms?
CBD has several effects in the body that allow it to ease ALS symptoms:
- First of all, it reduces saliva production. Patients are unable to control their muscle movements, and this includes the muscles of the mouth. When this happens, the patient may accumulate too much saliva in the mouth.
- Also, CBD helps in relaxing body muscles. This is the opposite effect of ALS. When a person is suffering from ALS, their body muscles contract often. This leads to symptoms such as twitching. CBD works by producing the opposite effect.
- Sufferers of this condition experience immense pain in their body, as a result of a neuromuscular malfunction. CBD helps by being a pain-relieving substance for these patients.
- CBD could also help with sleep disorders, as described in more detail in this article. ALS patients often have sleep problems due to their symptoms.
- Many illnesses lead to loss of appetite, and ALS is no different. CBD may have the advantage that the patient’s appetite returns, making it easier to eat4.
The Endocannabinoid System & ALS
In treating ALS, the role of CBD in enzyme functioning really comes into play. As stated earlier, ALS occurs when the motor neurons of the body begin to die. This occurs because the waste products produced during motor neuron functioning accumulate in the cells instead of being eliminated by an enzyme known as superoxide dismutase. These waste products, if not removed, can severely damage the motor neuron DNA. CBD helps on enzyme function by acting as an antioxidant and reducing the amount of waste that accumulates in the cells from enzymatic processes5.
How To Use CBD To Treat ALS
Of course, patients should only use CBD in treating ALS after extensive consultation with a doctor. The amount of CBD administered will depend on a number of factors. For example, if the disease is in its early stages, then the amount given will be less than that given to a patient who has lived with this disease for a longer period of time. Also, some patients may experience decreased amounts of pain as compared to others, meaning that they will not need as much CBD for pain relief. If used properly, CBD can be a great option for many people.
Do determine and accurate dosage, you should always take into account the severity of your symptoms, as well as your body chemistry. In gerenal it is always advised to start low and increase the dosage if needed. We recommend the Step-Up approach by Juliana Birnbaumand Leonard Leinow, as described ion their book “CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis”6. For ALS, the authors recommend starting with a macrodose. For more details on what macrodose is and how to correctly dose your CBD, read our article on CBD dosing.
What Studies Show
Research statement has been done on the effects of CBD as a treatment by Kaplan Clinic. One such study was carried out by the Complutense University in Spain where mice with ALS were given CBD oil, and the disease, in fact, progressed less quickly7.
Research also shows that CBD oil helps in regulating the functioning of the nervous system, such as by increasing the speed at which chemical compounds involved in the muscular movement are broken down8.
This is great news for a patient because, at this point, their muscle movement is already compromised and they are in need of an extra boost. Overall, research indicates that CBD goes a long way toward helping ALS patients manage the condition.
In summary, CBD is useful when it comes to easing the symptoms of ALS. Since the disease causes a lot of pain and discomfort, it is very important that this is reduced, to prolong the life expectancy of the patient, and to also allow them to suffer much less. CBD oil has certain properties that ease pain and relax the body muscle, two properties which are vital for a patient. CBD should be used according to the instructions for the best results. Patients could also supplement the use of CBD with other appropriate drugs and therapies.
- Kogan, Natalya M., and Raphael Mechoulam. „Cannabinoids in health and disease.“ Dialogues in clinical neuroscience 9.4 (2007): 413.
- Gastl, R., and A. C. Ludolph. „Amyotrophe Lateralsklerose.“ Der Nervenarzt 78.12 (2007): 1449-1459>
- Gastl, R., and A. C. Ludolph. „Amyotrophe Lateralsklerose.“ Der Nervenarzt 78.12 (2007): 1449-1459
- Carter, Gregory T., et al. „Cannabis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: hypothetical and practical applications, and a call for clinical trials.“ American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine® 27.5 (2010): 347-356.
- Kendall, Debra A., and Guillermo A. Yudowski. „Cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system: their signaling and roles in disease.“ Frontiers in cellular neuroscience 10 (2017): 294.
- Leinow,, L. and Birnbaum, J. (2017). CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis. North Atlantic Books.
- Fernández-Ruiz, Javier, María A. Moro, and José Martínez-Orgado. “Cannabinoids in neurodegenerative disorders and stroke/brain trauma: from preclinical models to clinical applications.” Neurotherapeutics 12.4 (2015): 793-806.
- Kendall, Debra A., and Guillermo A. Yudowski. “Cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system: their signaling and roles in disease.” Frontiers in cellular neuroscience 10 (2017): 294.