The research is in: Medical marijuana is a proven treatment for the symptoms related to muscular dystrophy. There’s no cure for this condition, so it’s important for patients to find a course of therapy that treats its multi-faceted nature.
Many types of cannabis are now on the market in dispensaries across the country. Growers and producers of medical marijuana find ways to create strains with the right balance of cannabinoids — the active compounds in cannabis — to pinpoint specific symptoms. Not every strain is the same, and some of them are better choices than others for treating your muscular dystrophy symptoms.
What Is Muscular Dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophy is the term used to describe a group of more than 30 genetic disorders. These conditions vary in how symptoms present themselves and their severity. However, all are degenerative — meaning they get worse over time — and lead to weakness and loss of muscle mass.
The nine most common forms of muscular dystrophy vary in when they present. Some patients develop MD at birth, in early childhood or during adolescence. Others don’t show signs of the disorder until they are middle aged or even elderly. The severity of the symptoms and how fast they progress also varies.
The most common types of muscular dystrophy are:
- Becker muscular dystrophy
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy
- Distal muscular dystrophy
- Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy
- Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy
- Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy
- Myotonia congenital
- Myotonic muscular dystrophy
- Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy
Depending on the type and severity of the case, muscular dystrophy patients may present a variety of different symptoms affecting a patient’s muscular system, their development and other facets of their life.
Muscular complications include:
- Difficulty walking
- Weak or limp muscles
- Loss of muscle mass
- Permanent shortening of muscles
- Spasms and cramping
Because of the nature of the disorder, other symptoms often develop. These include:
- Chronic pain and nerve pain
- Delayed development
- Learning disabilities
- Cardiomyopathy — disease of the heart muscle
- Walking on tip toe
- Problems swallowing
- Shallow breathing
Because of the wasting nature of muscular dystrophy, the disorder often results in a physical disability or deformity. It can also lead to a shortened life span.
Treating Muscular Dystrophy-Related Spasms With Medical Marijuana
Because there’s no cure, patients and their physicians do their best to manage the complications MD produces. Initial research indicates medical marijuana is an effective treatment for the symptoms associated with muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular disorders. There’s even more anecdotal evidence from MD patients who have improved their quality of life while using medical marijuana.
Certain aspects of the disorder respond well to cannabis treatments and have given MD patients a sense of hope and relief. They’ve found the following benefits from medical marijuana:
- Relief from pain
- Relaxation of muscles and reduced cramping
- Reduction of saliva and improved appetite
- Better sleep
- Increased airflow to the lungs
Because MD can complicate the respiratory system, smoking marijuana is not recommended. Other ingestion methods include:
- Tinctures and sprays
Best Strains to Treat MD Symptoms
If you need assistance finding a beneficial strain of cannabis for your muscular dystrophy symptoms, below are some suggestions.
Although most treatments rely on trial and error to find the best cannabis for you, these strains have shown positive results for patients with the following symptoms:
- Pain relief: ACDC, Blackberry Kush, Blue Dream, Harlequin, Cannatonic
- Muscle relaxation: Silver Haze, Orange Kush, Afgoo, Purple Trainwreck
- Improve appetite: Goo, Monster Cookies, Maui Bubble Gift, Sonoma Coma
- Better sleep: Tahoe OG Kush, Granddaddy Purple, Skywalker, Afghan Kush
Keep in mind that availability may vary, so visit a local dispensary and speak to a budtender for product recommendations. You can also make an appointment with a marijuana doctor for assistance and advice.