New research is focusing on the idea of using CBD oil treatment for ALS. But is it a viable product for the degenerative disease?
With no known cure, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a devastating diagnosis. Although the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) concedes “there are treatments available that can help control symptoms,” the condition ends in death.
After a diagnosis, can a CBD oil treatment for ALS improve quality of life over an extended period of time? This is the question researchers are working to find out.
What is ALS?
NINDS defines ALS as “a group of rare neurological diseases that mainly involve the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement.” Every year, the ALS Association estimates 6,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease – an average of 15 every day.
ALS symptoms include involuntary muscle twitches, cramping, weakness, and difficulty eating. There is no known cause of ALS and it is not contageous. Research suggests genetics and environment could be factors in who gets ALS. After an ALS diagnosis, a team of medical professionals can sometimes help patients maintain their quality of life.
Famous ALS patients include baseball hall-of-famer Lou Gehrig and respected astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. With Gehrig, the disease was first noticed by journalists and teammates. Gehrig, who’s name is synonymous with ALS, retired shortly after his diagnosis at 36. He lived less than two years before his untimely death from a complication of ALS.
In Hawking’s case, family members noticed reduced coordination skills and slurred speech before his diagnosis at 21. Despite a life expectancy of only two years, the scientist lived for over 50 years with the disease.
What do studies say about CBD oil treatment for ALS?
Due to previous stigma of cannabinoids in medicine, limited research exists on CBD oil treatment for ALS. Yet, what is available suggests there could be hope for CBD oil users.
The biggest argument for using CBD oil treatment for ALS came in 2010. A paper published by the peer-reviewed American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care suggested cannabinoids may help people with ALS. Researchers from the University of Washington Medical Center discovered CBD contains medicinal properties, including: “analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilation, saliva reduction, appetite stimulation, and sleep induction.” The doctors pushed for more research into CBD oil treatment for ALS.
This lead to a 2017 literature review published in CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets. To determine the effectiveness of CBD. the team reviewed studies of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and ALS where patients were given CBD.
“Pre-clinical evidence largely shows that CBD can produce beneficial effects,” the researchers concluded. “But its employment for these disorders needs further confirmation from well designed clinical studies.”
What other treatment options are available today?
Because of the complexity of ALS, many treatment options exist. Doctors suggest a multi-tiered approach consisting of physicians, nutrition specialists and breathing specialists.
Two medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for ALS treatment are Rilutek (riluzole) and Radicava (edaravone injection). Rilutek is a pill taken twice a day, while Radicava is an hour-long injection given by a doctor. Reported side effects in Rilutek include dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and loss of appetite. Radicava side effects include bruising, problems walking, headache or allergic reactions.
Physical therapy, speech therapy, nutritional and breathing support are also recommended for ALS patients. When combined with medications and other treatments, NINDS suggests those with ALS may have a better quality of life.
Should I start using a CBD oil treatment for ALS?
Peer-reviewed studies of CBD oil treatment for ALS suggests a correlation between cannabinoids and reduced symptoms. While the world needs more research outside of self-reporting and literature reviews, current evidence suggests that CBD oil could be effective.
Although qualified research is available, it’s important to note that the FDA has not approved cannabinoids or CBD oil as a drug to treat ALS. Only Rilutek and Radicava are approved medications from clinical trials. Before starting any CBD oil treatment for ALS, talk to your doctor about potential interactions and side effects you could experience.
How much of a CBD oil treatment for ALS should I start?
While starting a CBD oil treatment for ALS could be beneficial for your health, it’s important to understand how much to take. CBD oil tinctures and CBD oil capsules come with different concentrations of CBD oil, and what may work for one person may not work for someone else.
Like taking any vitamin or nutraceutical, start by considering your body weight and the severity of your symptoms. Smaller people with less severe conditions may need a lower amount of CBD oil, while larger individuals who are experiencing more symptoms may want for a higher dose.
In our opinion, we would start with a serving size between 15mg and 25mg of CBD oil. From there, you can adjust based on your experiences. If you don’t find the right balance immediately, don’t be afraid to experiment with different amounts and oils. The best CBD oils come from plants grown in the United States, with CBD extracted using a hybrid full-spectrum CO2 process.
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