Cannabis for Ataxia
Ataxia is usually a sign of an underlying condition. It affects different movements throughout the body, such as speech difficulties, swallowing, walking, and eye movement.
It’s estimated that around 150,000 individuals in the United States are affected by ataxia. Several conditions may cause ataxia, such as alcohol and substance abuse, tumors, stroke, brain degeneration, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, certain medications, autoimmune diseases, head trauma, and inherited genes. The treatment for ataxia will depend on the cause. Conventional treatments include canes or walkers which may help patients achieve independence; other kinds of treatments include speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and aerobic exercise.
How can cannabis help?
Spinocerebellar ataxia (Autosomal dominant ataxias)
Spinocerebellar ataxia is a hereditary disease and is also the most common hereditary cause of progressive neurodegenerative disease. In some cases, if the condition isn’t treated early on, spinocerebellar ataxia may be fatal. It begins with progressive issues with walking or one’s gait, but after some time will lead to issues with facial or hand coordination. The lack of coordination in the patient’s facial muscles will eventually lead to blurry vision, slurred speech, spasticity, and tremors particularly in the hands. Despite these physical symptoms, patients with spinocerebellar ataxia still maintain mental function which may cause depression, sleep changes, and other psychological problems that may interfere with the quality of life.
There is no known cure for spinocerebellar ataxia; over time the disease progresses and will eventually get worse. Cannabis can help with these symptoms of spinocerebellar ataxia:
Friedreich’s ataxia (Autosomal recessive ataxias)
Friedreich’s ataxia is another form of the disease that is characterized primarily by the degeneration of the spinal cord and peripheral nerves. This form of ataxia is caused by a genetic mutation, and disorder is recessive. Other symptoms of Friedreich’s ataxia include speech problems, gait disturbance, coordination and reflex problems, scoliosis, and fatigue. Complications that may arise from Friedreich’s ataxia include heart failure or heart disease, and diabetes.
The progression of Friedreich’s ataxia varies from person to person. Progression and symptoms generally worsen due to the presence of free radicals in the body, since they can destroy cells and weaken the immune system. For this reason, scientists suggest treatment with antioxidants such as Vitamin E and coenzyme Q10. In some cases, surgery may be required to slow down or help manage the inevitable progression of the disease.
Cannabis can help manage some symptoms of Friedreich’s ataxia:
Have you used cannabis to treat ataxia? Share with us in the comments below.
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