CBD Oil for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a degenerative disorder. Researchers named this disorder after the famous baseball legend Lou Gehrig, who was the first to be formally diagnosed with the condition. Characteristics of this disorder include gradually worsening muscle control and strength, which can eventually involve the inability to speak or swallow.
Most modern treatments for ALS focus on palliative care rather than curative solutions. Medical experts help patients to deal with chronic pain and discomfort, while also striving to extend life expectancy.
However, new research concerning ALS is underway. In recent years, there has been a focus on using cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, to address ALS’s symptoms. This article addresses burgeoning research regarding possible uses of CBD in managing ALS symptoms. Various ways in which ALS can affect patients will also be discussed and examined.
What Is ALS?
ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a degenerative disease that causes the muscles in the body to weaken and atrophy. This makes it challenging to move the limbs, but it also adversely affects many functions within the body, including respiration and swallowing. With no known cure, ALS eventually leads to death by respiratory failure, as the body becomes incapable of even breathing properly without aid.
Common ALS Treatment Options
Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of scientists everywhere, there are currently no useful medical treatments that work to prevent or treat ALS. Instead, most medical professionals attempt to delay the onset of worsening symptoms.
Doctors often recommend ALS support group plans that work to improve the mental health of sufferers. It is also beneficial for patients as they can connect to others with the same diagnosis.
Since its approval in 1995, Riluzole, under the brand name Rilutek, has been the primary ALS treatment option. The drug works to slow the progression of ALS, all while prolonging the sufferer’s life expectancy after diagnosis.
The main problem is that these drugs are prohibitively expensive, at least in the USA, and they also tend to create extremely unpleasant side effects.
For example, patients commonly report excessive nausea, stomach pain, and general flu-like symptoms after regularly taking Riluzole, forcing them to choose between long-term health and short term pain.
However, CBD may address the side effects of drugs such as Riluzole, allowing patients to have less stress and discomfort. CBD may assist in making patients’ lives easier, allowing doctors and specialists to concentrate on long-range options and care.
What Is CBD & What Can It Do?
CBD is a chemical compound that works with the body to produce a variety of beneficial effects, many of which can mitigate symptoms.
It works because the body already has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), a health system designed to work with cannabinoids naturally. It is responsible for many different responses within the body, such as the release of helpful neurochemicals and even the body’s inflammatory response.
Most conditions that CBD may mitigate are related to these bodily responses – a reduction in anxiety as a result of interaction with the serotonin receptor, or controlling the pain of arthritis by helping diminish the inflammation. These are just two widespread uses of CBD.
What Do the Studies Say?
Over the years, more and more researchers have conducted studies to show CBD’s efficacy as a way to help those with ALS.
One example is a report by Sabrina Giacoppo and Emanuela Mazzon for the Journal of Neural Regenerative Research. It investigated the effects of various cannabinoid compounds on ALS progression and mortality.
The researchers found that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN), Sativex (a 1:1 mixture of THC and CBD), and other compounds had positive effects. They included reducing oxidative stress, protecting the nervous system, and slowing disease progression.
Most of these findings were based on animal studies, meaning further research is warranted. However, the authors concluded: “…there is a valid rationale to propose the use of cannabinoid compounds in the pharmacological management of ALS patients. Cannabinoids indeed are able to delay ALS progression and prolong survival.”
Despite the lack of human clinical trials, a case report by Gerhard Nahler discussed the effects of co-medication with cannabidiol on ALS symptoms.
Co-medication works by pairing CBD with another conventionally used drug, as certain medications seem to work together and produce an increased efficacy rate. Experts observe this in those who have epilepsy, where they note a reduction in seizures when patients take a mixture of CBD and the conventional epilepsy drug, Clobazam.
The report demonstrated that CBD and Riluzole delayed the progression of the disease in a patient recently diagnosed with ALS. It improved symptoms such as muscle weakness and difficulties with speech and swallowing for approximately 12 months.
Finally, a 2019 study investigated the effects of CBD with THC on spasticity in 32 ALS patients. It found that there was a high level of satisfaction with the treatment, especially among those with moderate to severe symptoms. The researchers state that “THC:CBD may serve as a valuable addition in the spectrum of symptomatic therapy in ALS.” However, they also suggest that further research is necessary.
So Is CBD Oil Only Useful as a Co-Medication?
All this might lead some to believe that the only use CBD oil has is in conjunction with conventional drugs used to treat ALS.
However, while CBD oil can be useful when combined with other drugs, the fact remains that those taking CBD oil still enjoy the various potential benefits that this unique oil would provide. For example, CBD users have stated that this substance reduces stress, increases relaxation, and eases pain, and it is known to have pain-relieving and anti-anxiety properties.
Another potential benefit of CBD for ALS patients is its ability to regulate the immune system and quell inflammation. Experts have suggested that immune dysfunction may contribute to the development of ALS and research has shown that people with the condition often have excessive levels of inflammation.
Although there is currently no evidence that CBD can reduce inflammation in ALS, specifically, it may well have positive effects. While CBD seems to be a worthwhile option, some might be wondering why patients use CBD oil rather than whole-plant, medical marijuana. , In fact, there are a few reasons why some experts don’t recommend regular cannabis for treating ALS.
Why Not Just Smoke Regular Marijuana?
While there are many people who smoke cannabis regularly to manage many of the underlying symptoms of ALS, there are a few significant drawbacks that make taking CBD oil a preferable option.
For starters, THC’s psychogenic effects can potentially be a problem for those with ALS. While some people may find the high pleasant, others may not enjoy the sensation. Furthermore, THC can cause various side effects, including dizziness, confusion, or increased anxiety levels.
Furthermore, marijuana sales are not currently allowed in a variety of jurisdictions in the USA, making it all the more difficult for doctors to recommend it as a useful option to assist with ALS symptoms.
There is also a more practical issue with smoking cannabis – the ability to smoke it at all. As ALS develops, the ability to breathe independently can be impaired, making it challenging to attempt to smoke marijuana. This is often one of the main reasons why CBD oil is preferable, as it is far easier to take for someone with reduced motility.
Final Verdict About CBD Oil for ALS
ALS patients may now use CBD oil to mitigate or reduce their symptoms as it is readily available in many places. Studies show that there is great promise in how people can benefit from CBD.
Although there is still plenty of research to be done, CBD oil seems to be a compelling choice for those looking to lessen the effects of many ALS symptoms.
CBD for ALS Patients: Effectiveness, Dosage, & How to Use
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and CBD — how it works, how to get started, how to dose effectively, and what the current research says.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting the nerves responsible for muscle control.
Consequently, those affected are left unable to move, talk, and, eventually, breathe.
Stephen Hawking had the condition for most of his life but ultimately passed away at the age of 76.
No cure exists for this condition.
There are medications available that may slow neuronal cell death and improve daily functioning. But the majority of treatment is purely supportive — addressing significant symptoms and providing increased levels of support as those affected lose their ability to walk, talk, and take care of themselves.
Rapidly emerging evidence is suggesting cannabinoids such as CBD and THC may reduce neurological and oxidative damage associated with ALS.
Here, we’ll explore the potential use of CBD in ALS and offer some insight into how you can get the most out of your CBD supplementation.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
Updated on January 12, 2022
Table of Contents
$49 – $229
Royal CBD Oil 30 mL
5 / 5
|Total CBD:||500 – 2500 mg|
|Potency:||16.6 – 83.3 mg/mL|
|Cost per mg CBD:||$0.12 – $0.18|
Summary: Using CBD for ALS
CBD may be useful for a range of other neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease , Parkinson’s disease , and multiple sclerosis . Current CBD research related to these conditions is limited, but promising enough to be looked into further.
These conditions are independent of each other but have similar underlying mechanisms.
They all involve some degree of inflammation and oxidative damage in the brain that either causes the breakdown of nerves directly or serves as sustaining factors for the condition.
CBD produces well-known anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, neuroprotective, and antioxidant effects within the body. It’s through these effects that CBD is, therefore, thought to be useful for a spectrum of neurological disorders — including ALS.
However, aside from a clinical report on spasticity , there are unfortunately no clinical trials involving the use of CBD for ALS to confirm these effects conclusively. Therefore, all we have to go off at the moment are case studies, animal studies, in vitro research, and correlation studies.
A review of CBD and ALS was recently published  calling for more research in this area.
The study highlighted a list of hypothetical benefits CBD is believed to offer ALS patients, including:
Tips to Getting the Most Out of Your CBD
- Look for full-spectrum CBD extracts. This is because other cannabinoids in the plant have also shown benefit toward neuroinflammation and side-effects of the condition.
- Always choose high-quality CBD products. This is because any contaminants in poor-quality CBD products can cause new problems or possibly make ALS progress even faster.
- Use the CBD consistently. This is because any benefits from CBD regarding ALS will likely take several weeks to develop. Be patient and persistent with CBD supplementation.
- Use CBD alongside other treatments, not all by itself. This is because ALS is a complex disorder involving many different factors. Therefore, it’s wise to use multiple forms of treatment to get the best results possible.
- Speak with your doctor before using CBD alongside other ALS medications. This is because some medications may interact negatively with CBD or the other cannabinoids in the bottle. Your doctor should continue monitoring your liver enzymes due to the standard ALS treatments.
What is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease because of the famous baseball player who was forced to retire from the sport in 1939 after being diagnosed with the condition.
The disease involves gradual muscle paralysis as the neurons controlling the muscles break down. We each have millions of specialized nerve cells — called motor neurons — tasked with transmitting messages from the brain to the muscles and back again.
Eventually, as these motor neurons are destroyed, those affected are no longer able to walk, talk, eat, or drink. The disease ultimately becomes fatal when the motor neurons controlling the lungs fail.
Symptoms of ALS
- Dropping things
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight loss
- Decreased muscle tone
- Shortness of breath
- Increased or decreased reflexes
- Uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying
- Feeling weak
- Muscle cramping or twitching
- Muscle stiffness or rigidity
- Poor concentration
- Mood changes
There Are Two Different Types of ALS
1. Sporadic ALS
This form of ALS can affect anybody — regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or age. However, it is more common in men, caucasian people, and persons older than 60 years, with peak onset around 58 to 63 years.
2. Familial ALS
Familial ALS is an inherited form of the disease. It accounts for 5% to 10% of cases. Peak age at onset is 47 to 52 years.
Another Manifestation of ALS: Bulbar ALS
Bulbar ALS refers to the starting point for the neurons affected. People with both familial or sporadic ALS can have the bulbar form of ALS. With this type, the motor neurons in the corticobulbar region of the brainstem are affected first. Therefore, the muscles in the face, neck, and head to become paralyzed before other areas of the body. This is as opposed to limb onset ALS or respiratory onset ALS that begin in the limbs or diaphragm, respectively.
What Causes ALS?
The exact cause is unknown, but there are a few theories for contributing factors for the disease, including:
- Environmental factors, such as tobacco use and formaldehyde exposure
- Heavy metal exposure
- Genetic predisposition, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD1) mutation
Common Medications for ALS
There is no cure for ALS but there are a few treatments available, such as FDA-approved riluzole and edaravone. Riluzole, a glutamatergic neurotransmission inhibitor, does not provide relief from the symptoms of ALS, but it can extend life expectancy by two to three months.
Edaravone, an antioxidant drug, can slow the decline of daily functions and halt the progression of ALS. CBD interacts with some medications, so always check with your doctor before using it.
Other treatments for ALS include:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Anti-depressants (fluoxetine, sertraline, citalopram)
- Anxiolytics (alprazolam, diazepam, lorazepam)
- Pain relievers (acetaminophen, asprin, ibuprofen)
Guide to Using CBD for ALS
It’s clear that more research is needed to investigate the effects of CBD on ALS in human subjects. However, the research we do have is very promising.
CBD and many of the other cannabinoids, including delta 9 THC and CBG, have been shown to offer significant benefits toward many of the uncomfortable symptoms involved with the condition. Therefore, they have been implicated as a potentially effective adjunct treatment for a series of other, related neurodegenerative disorders.
Both CBD and THC could offer support for the condition. Most of the case studies showing improvements in lifespan and symptoms were using marijuana containing both THC and CBD.
Therefore, we recommend opting for a full-spectrum CBD oil rather than a purified CBD extract with all other cannabinoids and terpenes removed. But depending on where you live, you may or may not have access to CBD products that contain THC in concentrations higher than about 0.3%.
In some places, patients with ALS can apply through a medical marijuana program to receive oils, tinctures, concentrates, or raw cannabis buds that contain high levels of both CBD and THC. The current research to date suggests this is the best option for ALS sufferers.
However, if you’re unable to get any hemp or marijuana products that contain THC, that’s okay. CBD is still likely to be effective for this condition and is generally better for relieving muscle tremors, insomnia, and anxiety than products containing THC.
However, as with any neurodegenerative disorder, it’s wise to speak with your physician before trying CBD or marijuana products for ALS symptoms because, in rare cases, CBD oils may have a negative interaction with other medication you might be taking, and you may also require liver enzyme monitoring . Therefore, it’s better to ask your doctor before assuming it’s 100% safe.
What the Research Says
Unfortunately, there are no clinical studies investigating the effects of CBD for ALS sufferers, despite years of case studies and promising research on related neurological disorders. However, there are a lot of case studies showing positive anecdotal impacts with both legal and illegal cannabis and CBD use .
Additionally, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that THC is also beneficial for ALS.
An animal study published in 2004 investigated the role of THC — the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant — on mice with ALS to measure any changes . The results of this study reported that the mice who were given THC had significantly less severity with their symptoms than mice not given the THC treatments.
Other studies have found that THC protects the motor neurons in the spinal cord , which are critically involved with the development of ALS.
THC has also been shown to be “extremely effective” at reducing oxidative damage induced by a known neurotoxic oxidative compound known as tert-butyl hydroperoxide .
What’s the Recommended Dose of CBD?
Because there are no good clinical trials involving CBD for ALS, there are no specific dosages identified nor characteristic results to be expected. However, studies involving CBD and other neurodegenerative disorders often report that high dosages are needed to receive benefits. Therefore, it’s likely to assume that the dose for ALS is also higher than average.
We recommend starting with a low dose and building up gradually by adding 2 mg to 5 mg of CBD each day.
Once symptoms are alleviated, you’ve found the right dose. According to case reports, CBD can relieve symptoms such as insomnia, pain, and muscle tremors almost immediately, while the longevity-enhancing effects of the compound would take much longer and won’t be as noticeable. Further research would be needed to confirm these kinds of effects.
Therefore, for best results, it’s recommended that you aim for the high-strength dose of CBD, and take this dose consistently over the long term.
However, always consult with your doctor before taking CBD for ALS and always take your routine prescriptions as directed, never stop on your own.