Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a chronic degenerative neurological disease. This is a disease that is fatal in most people. The effects of the disease are such that it will cause degeneration of the brain cells and because the nervous system is not functioning properly, the muscles of the body will also become weak and inefficient. This leads to problems like respiratory failure and even death. The people who are affected by this disease can also suffer from muscle paralysis, muscle spasm or spasticity and even pain because of the contractures and muscle weakness. Currently, there is no treatment available for the disease and it is considered to be incurable.
There was a research article published in the American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine, which made some sweeping comments about the role of marijuana in the treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The study showed that the disease could be controlled by marijuana, even if the medicine is taken in small amounts.
In the journal of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis & Other Motor Neuron Disorders, the research article published in 2004 said that the investigators at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco had identified that THC intake could prevent the progression of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The disease can be curbed and the life of the patient can be saved.
Animal models for study
Most of the studies that were published were based on animal models, but the truth is that these animal models can be replicated in human models quite easily. The studies in rats suffering from the disease showed that there was rarely any progression in the disease process. Instead, there was an immediate reduction in the disease burden.
Other ways in which THC helps treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
– Reduction in side effects: There is reduction in the side effects of the medications usually used for treating Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The usual medications can cause severe side effects, but when marijuana is used, it does not have any side effects, thus helping in only controlling the disease.
– Reduction in muscle spasm: The muscle spasm that occurs when there is nerve damage can also be countered with the use of marijuana. The reduced muscle spasm helps in providing better functionality to the affected person.
– Regeneration of brain cells: The other important way in which the THC present in cannabis helps is by helping in the regeneration of the brain cells. This not only prevents the control of the disease progression, but also helps in making the affected person feel better.
Anxiety and panic attacks are common in many patients, but it is much more common in those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. This is a condition that is initially caused because of exposure to a stressful or traumatic incident. Once the incident has been witnessed by a person, it can cause repeated panic attacks and also severe stress. Anxiety, depression and other such psychiatric problems are common in those who suffer from this post traumatic stress disorder. In fact, a psychologist who has been working for 25 years with those suffering from anxiety and depression feels that these attacks can be prevented and treated effectively with medical marijuana. Dr Romulo Valdez works with the Dartmouth Medical Center and feels that cannabis is more effective in treating these conditions than with the regular medicines that are commonly used by psychiatrists.
According to Dr Romulo Valdez, the marijuana helps in controlling panic and anxiety attacks in several ways as listed here:
1. Reduces blood pressure: Blood pressure can be a sign of anxiety and panic. Usually, there is a sudden rise in the blood pressure in those who suffer from panic attacks. There is a sudden release of adrenaline from the body and this leads to severe panic and flight reactions. When marijuana is used, it helps in not only controlling, but also prevention of such sudden rise in the blood pressure. Other than keeping the blood pressure under control, marijuana also helps in preventing panic attacks and reduces anxiety.
2. Reduces memory of specific events: The memory of specific events usually causes panic attacks. It also causes a person to suffer from repeated remembrance of the events leading up to a panic attack. When medical cannabis is used on a regular basis, the memory of such specific incidents that cause panic attacks will reduce. When the memory of such incidents reduces, it helps in controlling and preventing such attacks. A research done with rats has confirmed that the memory of stress and trauma caused by previous incidents are forgotten with a daily dose of cannabis.
3. Soothes the mind: The other effect that medical marijuana has on the brain is that it soothes the mind. There is decreased firing of the brain neurons and this helps in reducing the severity of panic attacks. Over a period of time, there are no attacks altogether. So, there is a fast response of the mind to the use of medical marijuana. There is a decrease in the anxiety levels and this prevents panic attacks altogether.
Research in human subjects will soon commence and after that is successful, more psychiatrists are likely to use medical marijuana for the treatment of complicated chronic diseases.