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Overview of Lou Gehrig's Disease

Lou Gehrig's disease, also referred to as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It's a rare collection of neurological diseases primarily involving neurons (nerve cells) that control your voluntary muscle movement.

You have two main types of motor neurons:

  • Brain nerve cells

  • Spinal cord nerve cells

Your voluntary muscles generate movements, such as walking, talking, chewing and breathing. These voluntary muscles help with tasks like chewing and swallowing your food, picking up your smartphone and even breathing. Since ALS is progressive, your symptoms get worse with time.

Currently, there is no cure for Lou Gehrig's disease and there is no treatment available to reverse the disease’s effects on the body. According to the ALS Association, the mean survival rate for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the US is three to five years. There is only one FDA approved drug for Lou Gehrig's disease called riluzole, which can extend life by about 2 months on average. However, research shows that medical marijuana can be an effective way to alleviate some Lou Gehrig's disease symptoms, slow the progress of the fatal disease and extend the lives of Lou Gehrig's disease patients.


History of Lou Gehrig’s Disease

ALS was named after a famed baseball player, Lou Gehrig, who played during the 1920s and 1930s. He later received a diagnosis of the disease. Jean-Martin Charcot, a French doctor, first discovered the disease in 1869.

It was Gehrig’s college baseball accomplishments that drew attention to him, leading to his recruitment in 1923 to playing for the New York Yankees.

It wasn't until 1938 that Gehrig started to have trouble tying his shoelaces. He could no longer maintain his winning streak in baseball. He visited the Mayo Clinic the following year in Rochester, MN, which is where Gehrig received his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis. That year, he decided to retire from the Yankees.

On June 2, 1941, Lou Gehrig, 37 at the time, died in his sleep in his New York home. Lou Gehrig is still an inspiration to millions of people both on and off the field. His legend continues to represent humility, fortitude and courage to all the Americans who are suffering from the disease that bears his name.

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Lou Gehrig's Disease

Marijuana for Lou Gehrig’s disease has gained a lot of interest. Medical cannabis has a history of possibility in multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease as well as epilepsy and other neurological disorders. It's now being targeted to treat ALS.

Researchers studied marijuana and Lou Gehrig’s disease mouse models. During this study, researchers found cannabis showed antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits and even delayed the condition in the mice.

What Symptoms of Lou Gehrig's Disease Can Marijuana Treat?

In a survey of Cannabis and Lou Gehrig’s disease, researchers tested the plant's ability to ease certain symptoms of the illness. The survey showed cannabis was moderately effective as a treatment for some symptoms including:

  • Reducing pain

  • Decreasing drooling

  • Stimulating appetite

  • Reducing spasticity

  • Alleviating depression

The American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine reports medical marijuana can help with inducing sleep and expansion of the bronchial air passages in the respiratory tract. This same journal also suggeststhat, considering the current scientific data, it’s likely that marijuana can significantly slow down the progression of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Pot could potentially extend the life of sufferers and reduce the burden of the illness. 

Cannabis medicine may be useful and safe therapy for patients with ALS who are finding it difficult to manage their symptoms with standard therapy.

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