ALS treatment involves slowing down the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and enabling the patient with the independence necessary for daily living. Different treatment options are advised as the disease progresses.
Medications for the treatment of ALS / MND
The medication prescribed for ALS/MND is Rilutek. There are other treatments for ALS which will be required over time as they represent the progressiveness of the disease. When the muscles weaken, Doctors will need to test the breathing of patients with ALS to determine whether a breathing device might be necessary.
Medicinal Cannabis Treatment of ALS / MND
It has been found through clinical research that cannabis slows down the progression of ALS in mice. Scientists at the Complutense University in Madrid observed that the disease progression experienced a slow down in the mice studied by seven days, extending the life expectancy by six days. This was then translated into three years for humans.
Many scientists and doctors believe that the cannabinoid constituents of the cannabis plant have effective anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. It has been shown to slow the onset of ALS as well as in Multiple Sclerosis. ALS treatment is very similar to that of multiple sclerosis therefore, doctors and researchers are taking notice because there is a concrete relationship between medical cannabis and the nervous system.
CBD or cannabidiol is one cannabinoid showing it has many benefits on all the key neurodegenerative diseases that involve the mitochondrial and basal ganglia sections of the brain. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) also shows great promise, however, due to its psychotropic effects, legal regulation is stifling research and availability.
ALS patients experience a condition within their body where motoneurons of their spines and central nervous system die because there is a lack of production of an enzyme called SOD1 (superoxide dismutase ) Superoxide dismutase is an antioxidant of great prowess as it protects the body very efficiently from free radical damage. SOD1 is generated within the mitochondria. When there is no protection from free radical damage, the free radicals soon start to damage the DNA and the proteins present in cells. They are responsible for over 110 genetic mutations which are associated with ALS / MND.
ALS and MND Statistics Australia
- Each day in Australia there are two people who will die from ALS / MND
- Every day in Australia there are two people diagnosed with ALS / MND
- Average life expectancy is 27 months
- An estimated 1,900 people have MND in Australia
- For every person diagnosed with MND it is estimated that a further 14 members of their family and their friends will live with the effect of MND forever
What is ALS?
ALS is a progressive, terminal neurological disease. Striking people between the ages of 40 and 70, ALS is neurogenerative and commonly referred to as MND (Motor Neuron Disease). ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a disease affecting the nerve cells in the brain and in the spinal cord. The word itself describes a muscle that has received no nourishment or has atrophied (wasted away) in response to a lack of nourishment. “Lateral” referring to a location within a person’s spinal cord where in certain portions of the nerve cells it is responsible for signaling and controlling muscle activity. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in this disease is what eventually leads to the further demise of this condition.
In ALS, a person may lose the ability to eat, move and breathe. People with ALS will see if progressively worsen whereby they lose the use of their limbs, the ability to form words and speak, swallow and breathe. Voluntary movements, such as those requiring action from muscles in the arms and legs are also affected by the progression of this disease. Two different types of ALS are called the sporadic and the familial. Most common is the sporadic. ALS is also known as MND which means Motor Neuron Disease. There is no known cure or effective treatment for ALS otherwise known as MND. ALS treatment using cannabinoids is proving highly effective.
Causes of ALS/ MND?
Controversial and mystifying., 9 out of every 10 cases of ALS / MND does not have any known causes. Moreso, it is seemingly not a disease passed on by genetics. Patients lack the genetic history, complete with affected family members. Taking a look into the way ALS patients live their lives, nothing is apparent based on the where a patient has lived, their diet and lifestyle. In 5% of patients there is a clear case of genetic history but not for the 95% that suffer with this degenerative disease. In the early 1990’s studies regarding the genetic 5% of ALS, it was revealed that a single gene defect may account for a portion of these – the familial cases. Mutations in the gene for enzymes (superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) also known as copper zinc superoxide dismutase were discovered in approximately 15-20% of the familial cases of ALS. 1-2% involve the particular gene mutation.
Symptoms of ALS?
Early Onset Symptoms oF ALS
Early onset symptoms of ALS may be overlooked based on the fact that they are so subtle. These may include:
- stiff muscles
- muscle weakness
- nasal speech
- slurred speech
- difficulty swallowing
- difficulty chewing
- feelings of weakness
- awkward feelings when running or walking
- an increased tripping and stumbling
- may be experienced in one limb on one side as opposed to both
Symptoms of Upper Motor Neuron Damage – ALS / MND
Patients will continue to have problems that increase in propensity including the ability to move, swallow, speak or form words. Other symptoms of upper motor neuron involvement in the disease include having stiffened muscles indicative of Spasticity. They may experience exaggerated reflexes which includes having an overactive gag reflex. An abnormal reflex that is known as a”Babinski’s sign” (the large toe extends upward as the sole of the foot is stimulated in a certain way) also will indicate a symptom of upper motor neurone damage.
Symptoms of Lower Motor Neuron Damage – ALS / MND
- muscle weakness
- muscle atrophy
- muscle cramps
- muscle twitches (a fleeting seen under the skin)
To be diagnosed with ALS, patients will have to exhibit signs and symptoms of both upper and lower motor neuron damage. Also these symptoms should not be attributed to other causes for disease. It is suspected that a small percentile of these ALS patients will experience problems in their memory or with decision making. There is also growing evidence that some of these patients may develop a form of dementia.