AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS (ALS) and cannabis studies completed
What is AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS? (ALS)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and Charcot disease, is a specific disorder that involves the death of neurons. The cause is not known in 90% to 95% of cases. There is no cure for ALS.
or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative
disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. "A" means no. "Myo" refers
to muscle, and "Trophic" means nourishment – "No muscle nourishment."
When a muscle has no nourishment, it "atrophies" or wastes away.
"Lateral" identifies the areas in a person's spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening ("sclerosis") in the region.
There are two different types of ALS, sporadic and familial. Sporadic which is the most common form of the disease in the U.S., is 90 – 95 percent of all cases. It may affect anyone, anywhere. Familial ALS (FALS) accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all cases in the U.S. Familial ALS means the disease is inherited. In those families, there is a 50% chance each offspring will inherit the gene mutation and may develop the disease. French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot discovered the disease in 1869.
Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig
played for the New York Yankees in the 1920s and 1930s, setting the
mark for consecutive games played. He was diagnosed with ALS in 1939
and retired from baseball. He died in 1941. source ALS Association
Science & Research
2004 - Study - Cannabis use in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
2004 - News ~ Cannabis Relieves Lou Gehrigs Symptoms - New Study
2007 - Study ~ Cannabinoids and neuroprotection in motor-related disorders.
2008 - Study ~ Role of CB2 receptors in neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids.
2009 - Study ~ Cannabinoids and neurodegenerative diseases.
2009 - News ~ Medical Marijuana and Lou Gehrig's Disease
2012 - News/ Anecdotal ~ Medical Cannabis Helps ALS Patient Outlive her Own Doctors
2013 - News ~ Patient pitches medical marijuana at Fla. Capitol
Cannabinol delays symptom onset
Amyotroph Lateral Scler Other Motor Neuron Disord. 2005 Sep;6(3):182-4.
Cannabinol delays symptom onset in SOD1 (G93A) transgenic mice without affecting survival.
Department of Neurology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. [email protected]
Therapeutic options for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common adult-onset motor neuron disorder, remain limited. Emerging evidence from clinical studies and transgenic mouse models of ALS suggests that cannabinoids, the bioactive ingredients of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) might have some therapeutic benefit in this disease.
However, Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC), the predominant cannabinoid in marijuana, induces mind-altering effects and is partially addictive, compromising its clinical usefulness. We therefore tested whether cannabinol (CBN), a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, influences disease progression and survival in the SOD1 (G93A) mouse model of ALS. CBN was delivered via subcutaneously implanted osmotic mini-pumps (5 mg/kg/day) over a period of up to 12 weeks.
We found that this treatment significantly delays disease onset by more than two weeks while survival was not affected. Further research is necessary to determine whether non-psychotropic cannabinoids might be useful in ameliorating symptoms in ALS.
Marijuana in the management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2001; 18(4):264-70 (ISSN: 1049-9091)
Marijuana has been proposed as treatment for a widening spectrum of medical conditions. Marijuana is a substance with many properties that may be applicable to the management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These include analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilation, saliva reduction, appetite stimulation, and sleep induction. In addition, marijuana has now been shown to have strong antioxidative and neuroprotective effects, which may prolong neuronal cell survival. In areas where it is legal to do so, marijuana should be considered in the pharmacological management of ALS. Further investigation into the usefulness of marijuana in this setting is warranted.
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Cannabis use in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Survey of cannabis use in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2004; 21(2):95-104 (ISSN: 1049-9091)
Amtmann D; Weydt P; Johnson KL; Jensen MP; Carter GT
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA.
Cannabis (marijuana) has been proposed as treatment for a widening spectrum of medical conditions and has many properties that may be applicable to the management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This study is the first, anonymous survey of persons with ALS regarding the use of cannabis. There were 131 respondents, 13 of whom reported using cannabis in the last 12 months.
Although the small number of people with ALS that reported using cannabis limits the interpretation of the survey findings, the results indicate that cannabis may be moderately effective at reducing symptoms of appetite loss, depression, pain, spasticity, and drooling. Cannabis was reported ineffective in reducing difficulties with speech and swallowing, and sexual dysfunction. The longest relief was reported for depression (approximately two to three hours).
- PreMedline Identifier: 15055508
ALS Video Testimony
April, 2008 - Having survived Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for 22 years using cannabis (marijuana) as medicine, Cathy Jordan of Florida explains how it works to keep her alive - as a neuroprotective, cough stimulation, and the "cottonmouth" effect that controls the excess saliva so dangerous to ALS patients. Cathy also cites proven efficacy for Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease, while predicting breakthroughs for Autism and Alzheimer's.
This video was submitted to the Iowa Board of Pharmacy hearing in November of 2009, with 11 other patients from the Cannabis Patient Network. Hear and learn more at:
Cannabis' Potential Exciting Researchers in Treatment of ALS, Parkinson's Disease
Cannabis' Potential Exciting Researchers in Treatment of ALS, Parkinson's Disease -
Last Updated Friday, 15 June 2007
A Legal Mood Lifter: Researchers are investigating a new antidepressant and pain reliever that works like cannabis (marijuana), without the illegal side effects.
A decade ago, when Daniele Piomelli went to scientific conferences, he was often the only researcher studying cannabinoids, the class of chemicals that give marijuana users a high. His work often drew snickers and jokes, but no more. At the annual Society for Neuroscience conference this month, scientists here delivered almost 200 papers on the subject.
Why the attention? Many scientists believe cannabis-like drugs might be able to treat a wide range of diseases, far beyond the nausea and chronic pain typically treated with medical cannabis.
Researchers here presented tantalizing evidence that cannabinoid drugs can help treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's disease and obesity. Other researchers are studying whether the compounds can help victims of stroke and
Although the chemicals work on the same area of the nervous system, the new drugs are much more refined and targeted than cannabis, with few of its side effects. "Cannabinoids have a lot of pharmaceutical potential," said Piomelli, a neuroscientist at the University of California at Irvine. "A lot of people are very excited."
Although the federal government opposes the use of medical marijuana, it generally doesn't restrict cannabinoid research, most of which doesn't involve the cannabis plant itself. Scientists who use Marinol, a legal but tightly regulated marijuana-like drug, do need government permission. Because the cannabinoid system wasn't discovered until the late 1980s, decades after serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters, researchers still know relatively
little about how it works. Like all neurotransmitter networks, the cannabinoid system consists of a series of chemical pathways through the brain and nervous system.
Cannabis produces its effects by activating this pathway, primarily through the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the drug's main active ingredient. Over the past decade, researchers have been following these abundant trails to determine their real purpose. "You don't have them there to get stoned. So, there must be internal reasons," said Andrea Giuffrida, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio.
Researchers have learned that endogenous cannabinoids, internal brain chemicals that activate the system, play a role in tissue protection, immunity and inflammation, among other functions. The cannabinoid system also appears to exert wide influence, modulating the release of dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Giuffrida and others believe
cannabinoids can treat degenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease and ALS. At the conference, Giuffrida announced that a cannabinoid drug wards off Parkinson's-like effects in mice.
The disorder, which afflicts more than 1 million Americans, destroys neurons in a key part of the brain, causing patients to lose control over movement.
Giuffrida, with colleagues David Price and James Roberts, injected mice with a chemical called MPTP, which mimics Parkinson's damage. When some of the animals subsequently received a drug that blocks cannabinoid receptors, their nerve cells suffered far less damage than did the ells of the other mice. This was the first demonstration that a cannabinoid drug can have this effect.
Although he is not sure how the anti-cannabinoid compound works, Giuffrida
suspects it protects neurons by reducing inflammation, a key component in Parkinson's. annabinoids might also slow down ALS, which destroys neurons that control muscles until ictims become paralyzed, unable to breathe on their own.
Neuroscientist Mary Abood first became interested in cannabinoids after hearing about ALS patients who got some relief from smoking cannabis. So she began animal experiments at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. In her study, mice with a variant of ALS were given a combination of THC and cannabidiol, another compound found in cannabis. Both substances are cannabinoid agonists, chemicals that activate the cannabinoid system. Abood measured the course of the ailment by testing how long the mice could stand on a rod that was slowly rotating.
The treatment delayed disease progression by more than seven days and extended survival by six days. In human terms, this would amount to about three years. That's a significant improvement over the only existing ALS drug, riluzole, which extends life by two months. "I was very excited when I got my initial results," Abood said.
Also at the conference, researchers at the Institute of Neurology in London announced results that corroborated her findings. Cannabinoids have also helped some human ALS patients in one small trial, and Abood is trying to get funding.
A Legal Mood Lifter: Researchers are investigating a new antidepressant and
pain reliever that works like cannabis (marijuana), without the illegal side effects.
Currently called URB597 -- it raises levels of endocannabinoids, the brain's own
cannabis-like chemicals that trigger feelings of well-being. The drug balances
mood- and stress-regulating brain chemicals such as serotonin as effectively as
existing antidepressants -- and doesn't cause intoxication.
Found in the July 2006 issue of "Allure" magazine under: "Mood News (Page 114)"