Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects the nerves responsible for muscle control. Those affected by this disease are unable to move or talk, and eventually, are unable to breathe. One of the most famous personalities with this disease was Stephen Hawking. He lived through this condition for most of his life and ultimately passed away at 76. There is no cure for this condition as of now. However, there are plenty of medications available that help slows down the death of neuronal cells and improve the patient’s daily functioning.
What is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famous baseball player was forced to retire due to this condition in 1939. People suffering from this condition go through gradual paralysis as the neurons that control the muscle function start to break down. Every human body has millions of nerve cells called motor neurons. These motor neurons help transmit messages from the brain to the muscles and back. As the motor neurons are slowly destroyed in this condition, those affected can no longer walk, talk, eat, or drink. The state ultimately becomes fatal when the motor neurons that control the lungs also stop working.
There are three different kinds of ALS:
- Sporadic ALS: Sporadic ALS can affect anybody, regardless of their gender, age, or ethnicity. However, it is more common amongst men, and people older than 60 years of age, with peak onset around 58-63 years.
- Familial ALS: This form of ALS is an inherited form of the condition. It amounts to about 5-10% of all cases, and the peak age of onset is 7-52 years.
- Bulbar ALS: Bulbar ALS refers to the point in the condition where the motor neurons are just starting to get affected. People with both types of ALS mentioned above can have Bulbar ALS. In this kind of ALS, the motor neurons in the corticobulbar region of the brain get affected first. This causes the muscles in the face, neck, and head to become paralyzed before other areas of the body. This is instead of limb onset ALS that begins in the limbs or respiratory onset ALS that starts in the diaphragm.
What are the symptoms?
- Dropping things
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight loss
- Decreased muscle tone
- Shortness of breath
- Increased or decreased reflexes
- Uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying
- Feeling weak
- Muscle cramping or twitching
- Muscle stiffness or rigidity
- Poor concentration
- Mood changes
What are the causes of ALS?
Although the exact cause for the condition is still unknown, some theories suggest the contributing factors for the disease. These include:
- Environmental factors such as tobacco use and formaldehyde exposure
- Heavy metal exposure
- Genetic predisposition such as superoxide dismutase (SOD1) mutation
The role of CBD:
Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is an extract of hemp plants. It is well-known for its medicinal properties and is highly safe to use.
How does CBD work for ALS?
Although the research around the health benefits is not vast, many studies have concluded that CBD is beneficial for many physical and psychological conditions like inflammation, chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and much more. CBD is also helpful for a range of other neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. These conditions are independently different from each other but contain similar underlying mechanisms. These conditions involve some inflammation and oxidative damage in the brain that can cause the breakdown of nerves directly or serve as long-lasting factors for the disease.
CBD is well-known for causing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, and neuroprotective effects in the human brain and throughout the body. Due to these effects, CBD is ideal for dealing with many neurological disorders, including ALS. Listed below are the benefits that CBD can provide in terms of treating ALS symptoms:
- Pain relief
- Muscle relaxation
- Saliva reduction
- Appetite stimulation
- Sleep induction
- Antioxidant support
- Inhibition of inflammation in the brain
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