Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, “ALS” for short, is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. When the famous baseball player Lou Gehrig contracted ALS he experienced a rapid deterioration of his nervous system which resulted in severe loss of muscle control. All victims of ALS share in Lou’s unfortunate physical demise, a deterioration of the body that exhibits in loss of muscle control in the face and neck, speech alterations, and “loss of control of [the] tongue”. Even more troubling, ALS is considered an aggressively corrosive disease, usually taking patient’s lives within three to five years of its onset—almost always within 10 years. ALS has no cure and always takes the lives of its victims.
The amount of medicinal applications of marijuana cannot be overstated—every year the medical establishment (whether traditional or holistic) discovers more uses for this marvelous plant. Moreover, cannabis “has been used throughout the world for more than 5,000 years to treat various medical ailments, and is one of the 50 fundamental herbs of Traditional Chinese Medicine”. For those who have experienced fatal, degenerative diseases such as ALS within their personal lives the idea of a non-addictive, relatively harmless natural medicine is long overdue. That being said, while cannabis cannot cure ALS it can greatly improve the quality of life for those whom suffer from this awful sickness. To illustrate, a scholarly work titled “Cannabis Use in Palliative Care” in the Journal of Clinical Nursing reports that medical marijuana can “be moderately effective in reducing appetite loss, depression, pain, muscular spasticity, drooling and weakness…with the longest relief reported for depression.”
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There have never been any official, medically sanctioned tests done on the effectiveness of cannabis treating symptoms of ALS in humans. However, there have been tests on laboratory animals as well as personal testaments as to the validity of cannabis as a medicine in relations to ALS. For starters, numerous ALS patients have testified that “using medical cannabis has enabled them to live from 5 to 15 years after their initial diagnoses” of the disease. The startling number is significantly higher than the 3-5 year life expectancy that is the norm for a majority of ALS victims. To bring it back to laboratory testing, the California Pacific Medical Center reports “that administering THC to mice in with a genetic defect predisposing them to ALS delayed the onset of the disease and prolonged survival.” Interestingly enough, medical authorities feel that the same effects of cannabis on the physiological characteristics of ALS-like predisposed mice can be attributed to human patients. With all things considered, some carefully conducted, government sanctioned studies into the validity of therapeutic cannabis as an ALS relief medication could be a serious boon for the medical community.