Cannabis for Post Polio Syndrome
Medical Marijuana For Post Polio Syndrome
DanaSmith on Monday Mar 26, 2018
Post polio syndrome is an umbrella term referring to a group of potential disabling conditions that affect an individual decades after the initial polio illness. In some cases, post polio syndrome will manifest itself up to 40 years later.
Since the development of the polio vaccine in 1955, very few people in developed countries are infected with paralytic polio. However, it’s still possible for young people who had polio at young age to still get post polio syndrome.
The most common symptoms of post polio syndrome are extreme fatigue even with minimal exertion, muscle and joint pain, muscle atrophy, a developed intolerance for cold temperatures, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, and swallowing or breathing problems. The symptoms of post polio syndrome usually progress gradually; new symptoms may develop after periods of inactivity.
No one knows the real cause of post polio syndrome. What we know so far is that being infected by polio affects the motor neurons especially in the spinal cord, which are responsible for carrying messages through electrical impulses between the brain and muscles. Polio infections usually destroy these motor neurons, but the remaining neurons grow new fibers to make up for the neuron shortage. As a result, the remaining neurons go through an enlargement. While this helps your muscles recover, it’s a double-edged sword: it also forces the nerve cell body to send nourishment to the new fibers. Over the course of several years, the stress placed on the nerve cells may be too much for it to handle, leading to deterioration of the new fibers and finally, of the neuron itself.
Patients with post polio syndrome typically live with debilitating pain daily. Although the symptoms of post polio syndrome are rarely fatal, severe cases of muscle weakness may result in complications such as falls, malnutrition, pneumonia, dehydration, chronic respiratory failure, and osteoporosis.
How Cannabis Can Help
Cannabis can help patients with post polio syndrome in many ways:
- Analgesic: Cannabis’ analgesic (pain killing) properties are well-known, and have been for centuries now. Pain is one of the most well documented conditions that cannabis can effectively treat without any side effects, particularly in patients who suffer from pain due to nerve damage or neuropathy such as in the case of post polio syndrome.
- Sleep disorders: Different strains of indica cannabis can be used to treat a variety of sleeping disorders including insomnia and sleep apnea. Instead of taking pharmaceutical or chemical sleep aids, cannabis is a natural means of helping post polio syndrome patients get good rest. Certain cannabinoids in cannabis are known for being effective in inducing sleepiness. It can also reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea as well as the breathing problems in post polio patients.
- Muscle wasting / atrophy: Clinical evidence shows that certain cannabinoids, particularly THC, CBD (cannabidiol), and CBN (cannabinol) can help with the symptoms of muscle wasting. Researchers found that THC and CBD in particular were helpful in reducing the twitches while inducing relaxation in the muscles, while CBN improved contraction. Patients of post polio syndrome can benefit from high CBN strains or naturally getting it after proper curing and drying of cannabis.
- Fatigue: Certain cannabis strains are extremely effective in fighting fatigue. Post polio patients can benefit from consuming sativa strains, which help with increasing energy levels. Cannabis contains certain cannabinoids that boost energy by blocking GABA, a neurotransmitter that reduces the production of dopamine in the body. When THC inhibits GABA production, this leads to a significant increase in energy, allowing post polio patients to feel focused, calm, and even increases creativity. The effect of cannabis in improving THC is also associated with better motivation.
Cannabis Is A Safe Alternative For Treatment-Resistant Cases
There was also the case of a 79-year-old patient with post polio syndrome who developed upper abdominal pain and treatment-resistant nausea. The patient was also obese, had muscular weakness, degenerative spinal cord injury – conditions that severely limited the patient’s mobility as well as physical capacity. The patient was given various antiemetic and painkilling drugs but nothing worked. However, once the patient was given medical cannabis, there was significant improvement in pain and nausea.
Even if there is a lack of studies on the use of cannabis for post polio syndrome, cannabis can safely and naturally fight off the symptoms of this condition to help patients restore their quality of life, improving immunity, and increasing longevity.