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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Medical Marijuana Card NY

Cannabis for ALS and Medical Marijuana Card in New York

Updated on July 28, 2021. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Fred Ashford, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

ALS or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, popularly called Lou Gehrig’s disease. “Amyotrophic” is derived from a Greek word meaning “no muscle nourishment.” The term “Lateral” refers to the parts of the spinal cord that are affected by ALS. Similarly, “sclerosis” refers to spinal cord scarring.

Around 6,000 people in America get affected by ALS each year. The disease targets and damages the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Although there is no known cure for this disease, medical cannabis has been seen to have helped slow the progression of ALS in patients. Read on to learn more about ALS and how medical cannabis can be effective in treating its symptoms. Also, you will learn about medical marijuana cards in New York and how to get one for yourself.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

As previously mentioned, ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that kills the nerve cells of the brain and the spinal cord. Lou Gehrig's disease disrupts the brain’s control over muscles thus severely affecting all types of movement, including breathing, speech, and swallowing. The disease affects both the upper and lower motor neurons in the body leading to the loss of voluntary muscle movement and hindrance in coordination. Eventually, muscle weakness and spasticity develop and the patients are rendered incapable of performing simple routine activities. The next stage is the development of paralysis which interferes with basic yet essential activities like breathing, talking, eating, etc. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is an extremely fatal disease with 100 percent of the cases resulting in death. Usually, death from ALS occurs within three to five years from diagnosis.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Symptoms

Despite being such a debilitating disease, physicians are yet to find out why ALS occurs. Even though the cause is unknown, the symptoms of the disease are caused by the degeneration of the brain and nerve cells. The major symptoms of ALS are difficulties in speech, breathing, and swallowing. Apart from these, the most common symptoms of ALS include, feeling unsteady, weakness, difficulty in doing daily chores, emotional outbursts, stooped posture, problems with saliva and mucus, fatigue, and chronic pain. It must be noted that the same ALS symptoms are not experienced by every patient. The progression of symptoms varies from one ALS patient to another. But muscle weakness and paralysis affect all ALS patients.

ALS Treatment

There is no known cure for ALS, and there is no medicine that can undo the effects of the disease.

The ALS Association says that patients dealing with the disease survive for three to five years.

Riluzole is the most widely used drug for ALS which can extend a patient's lifespan by about two months. In 2017 a new drug, Radicava, was introduced in the treatment of ALS. Although these medicines are useful, they still have negative side effects for ALS patients. The drug Riluzole can cause nausea, weakness, appetite loss, and also has a strong sedative effect. Radicava on the other hand can cause rashes, excessive bruising, headaches, and problems in functioning.

But despite these side effects, medicines along with therapy are seen to help with managing the symptoms of ALS. Natural ways used to treat the disease include physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, breathing therapy, and nutritional support.

Medical Cannabis for ALS

A natural and efficient way of helping with ALS symptoms is through medical cannabis. The effectiveness of medical marijuana for ALS is backed by research facts. Medical cannabis is found to slow down the progress of ALS and extend a patient's lifespan. Studies have been conducted to learn more about the effects of cannabis on ALS and the results have been positive.

The "American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care" published a review that had research results on the effects of medical marijuana on ALS symptoms.

For the study, tests were conducted on lab mice and the results suggest that cannabis is effective in reducing inflammation, protecting the brain, and acting as an antioxidant. The study results also show the possibility of cannabis helping patients manage other symptoms, like appetite loss and sleep problems.

When compared to prescription drugs, medical marijuana was seen to have a similar effect in improving cell function and brain transmissions which serve to protect the spinal cord. Like medicines, cannabis can similarly help the patient without causing harmful side effects. The California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco conducted research that showed how cannabinoids like THC can impede the progression of the disease and help increase the lifespan of a patient by three years or more. It was also found that medical marijuana helps relieve other symptoms such as muscle spasms.

During this study, it was discovered that another cannabidiol (CBD) when combined with THC can increase the efficacy of the latter. This combination can be effective in delaying the progression of ALS.

Such research on the connection between marijuana and ALS is really promising. With medical marijuana increasingly being legalized by many states, it is most likely that research in this field will increase in the future.

Benefits of Medical Marijuana on ALS

By using medical marijuana patients can experience an improvement in their quality of life. Patients with ALS most often suffer from muscle stiffness or spasticity and this can be a big hindrance to daily life activities. For such patients, even basic activities like walking or sitting can become extremely difficult. Studies show that medical marijuana can help make life easier for such people.

Another symptom associated with this disease is chronic pain which is a serious issue faced by many ALS patients. Patients can find relief by using painkillers, but they can be damaging for the liver and cause addiction. The cannabinoids in the body, that help in relieving pain, are enhanced by the use of medical marijuana.

A major symptom of ALS is the loss of appetite. For such patients, cannabis can improve their desire to eat. If combined with cognitive behavior therapy, medical marijuana can be extremely beneficial for patients with eating disorders.

Finally, a symptom of ALS that is often overlooked is the emotional impact of the disease. ALS can have a severe impact on the mental well-being of a patient leading to emotional outbursts, anxiety, and depression. Medical marijuana can provide relief in such cases and lead to a better mental state for patients.

Cannabis Strains for ALS

Medical cannabis comes in a whole range of varieties known as strains. Each strain has unique properties which benefit every patient differently. There are three types of medical cannabis strains namely Indica, Sativa, and hybrid. Of these, Indica strains usually have a relaxing effect which makes them perfect for use before bed. Sativa strains on the other hand are energizing and can be preferable for daytime use. As the hybrid strains are crossbred, they can have qualities of both Indica and Sativa strains. Asking your budtender for suggestions is advisable as it is their area of expertise and they can help you choose the right strain.

Methods of using medical marijuana for ALS

Medical marijuana can be used in different ways depending on the patient's symptoms, requirements, and personal preferences. Cannabis can be inhaled either through smoking or vaping. This can be effective for many patients but people with respiratory problems should take extreme care while using these methods. The other popular way of using medical

marijuana is through oral consumption. Even though the effect of marijuana in case of oral consumption is delayed, it is a safer way of using cannabis. Medical marijuana can also be used topically in case of aches and pains in certain body parts. Topical medical marijuana can come in the form of cream, lotions, balms, and patches. Deciding what works best for you is completely upon you and your doctor.

Medical marijuana card in New York

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) which was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in March 2021 led to the legalization of marijuana in NYC. If you are an ALS patient or know someone suffering from the disease, you can reap the benefits of this act and try medical marijuana for treatment. To get medical marijuana easily and from reliable sources, you need to have a medical marijuana card. It is a state-authorized id card that allows one to access and possess medical cannabis in the state of New York.

If you want to use marijuana for treatment then register with us for your medical marijuana card. We prioritize each patient and ensure that they get the best service. Our team of experienced physicians will make sure that you can start your journey with medical marijuana smoothly. Get the best recommendations and certification from our experts and start your medical marijuana treatment today. Don't wait, get yourself the medical marijuana card for ALS New York today!

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