What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a degenerative disease in the bodies of humans that causes deterioration of their motor neuronal’s function. The neurons which are accountable for the movement of muscles are known as motor neurons. If these motor neurons fail to function, this will results in disability in moving and normal functioning of the body that, which will ultimately lead to paralysis.
What are the symptoms of ALS?
ALS can affect the motor system and can deter the normal functioning of the body. This will gradually lead to paralysis. The symptoms start showing up slowly and steadily. These symptoms are as follows:
- The muscles start getting weaker and more fragile progressively.
- Speech problems start developing and it gets slurry in the process.
- The limbs start to feel unusual tiredness and fatigue. They become heavy and the ability to move becomes very difficult.
- Cramps are more frequent and become quite stiff when it comes to moving. Twitches and heavy muscles are a common factor.
- Mood swings are common symptoms. Uncontrollable laughter or crying are seen in some of the traits of ALS.
How does CBD help in the process?
Relaxation of muscles: ALS causes the muscles to tighten up and become stiff, which causes the limbs to get heavy and unmovable. CBD helps the muscles relax and it also helps in managing the spasticity attacks. This causes the movement to become smoother and less painful.
Bronchodilation: ALS disrupts easy breathing and makes it hard for people to take breaths. CBD helps the people suffering from bronchoconstriction to breathe easier by opening up the airways.
Reduction of saliva: As ALS makes it difficult for the people to speak, making their speech slurry, the patients tend to salivate more often. It becomes difficult for them to swallow and this increases the saliva in the mouth. CBD causes the salivary glands to refrain from producing so much spit.
Appetizer: People who have ALS cannot swallow and this makes them not willing to eat anything. They ultimately lose their appetite. CBD comes in and makes them feel hungry. It increases appetite in these people.
Treating insomnia: CBD helps people suffering from insomnia in general. Hence, the people with ALS, too, lose their ability to sleep as they witness pain for all the 24 hours. This makes it difficult for them both during falling asleep or staying asleep. CBD helps to induce sleep and relieve them from the constant pangs of pain and sufferings.
CBD’s Role in Managing Spasticity Symptoms in ALS Patients
Spasticity is a major determinant of disability and decline in quality of life in patients with motor neuron disease. Cannabinoids have been approved for symptomatic treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis. We investigated whether cannabinoids might also reduce spasticity in patients with motor neuron disease.
In 2018, the first randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, phase 2 clinical trial was conducted on a total of 60 patients with neurodegenerative diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Patients were allocated to receive one of two interventions. The first group was administered a standardized oro-mucosal spray (Nabiximol), which contained both cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), whereas the second group took placebo. The results showed that (CBD + THC) had a positive impact on spasticity symptoms in patients with motor affection and had an acceptable safety and tolerability profile. Moreover, CBD and THC had a beneficial effect on pain with no serious adverse effects.
CBD’s Role in Modifying the Genetic Background of ALS
Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, has been demonstrated to have potent anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties against neurological preclinical models. In a study to investigate the modulatory role of CBD on genes associated with ALS, the authors used human gingiva-derived mesenchymal stromal cells as an in vitro model system. Administration of CBD resulted in considerable modifications in the expression of genes associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and in the associated oxidative stress which would potentially prevent the pathogenesis of such disorder. However, these findings are still based on in vitro studies with no clinical data on CBD’s effect on humans with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Usually, people are expected to live for 2 to 5 years after the initial diagnosis. However, CBD might be able to play a significant part in managing ALS. Even if it is unable to obliterate the disease, it might stop the progression and make the person survive longer.
This is still under investigations and the promising effects of CBD in managing ALS patients are not yet seen on humans. However, an individual with ALS can use CBD oil to better manage his spasticity symptoms, which has proven effective in a recent clinical trial.