We all remember the Ice Bucket Challenge craze of the summer of 2014, right? It all started with Pete Frates, a former baseball player who had been diagnosed with it a year before...except it really started before that...which doesn't really matter...but it really snowballed with Pete Frates.
In any case, regular people started dumping buckets of ice water over their heads as a way of inspiring others to not only donate to the ALS Foundation but to take up the challenge and keep the "ball rolling" so to speak. And roll it did. During July and August of 2014, our FB feeds were completely taken over by the Ice Bucket Challenge as each person taking it filmed a video of him or herself enduring the freezing cold water in the name of charity. Then, all of a sudden some very famous people were also doing it; here's the video of 27 of them. Oops. It says No Hotlinking which I had to look up, so apparently, I'm not allowed to share that. But, you can look it up, yourselves.
It was quite a phenomenon on several levels. Many people had never heard of ALS before 2014 despite the fact that it is also referred to as "Lou Gehrig's disease." He's the famous baseball player of the 1930s who died of the disease in 1941. It actually stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis which is a horrible neurodegenerative disease which is thought to be a death sentence; life expectancy is 3 to 5 years. Except for Stephen Hawkings who has had it for 50 years but his case is different. However, Cathy Jordan who uses cannabis oil, has had it for 28 years and is still with us and Bob Strider has also survived for 17 years and he thinks he can reverse the symptoms with highly concentrated cannabis extract.
Tim Shaw, announcing he has ALS
But, back to the Ice Bucket Challenge. It turned out that people who were doing the challenge had no idea what ALS was, never bothered to find out anything about it, weren't donating any money to the ALS Foundation but were pouring buckets of cold water over their heads, anyway. I think we describe that as the "lemming mentality." In any case, when the craze was all over, the ALS Foundation had received over $100 million dollars in donations. The previous year's contributions had been in the $30K range.
If you want to know more about ALS from those nice folks at the Mayo Clinic, click here. Some of the symptoms include:
Difficulty walking, tripping or difficulty doing your normal daily activities
Weakness in your leg, feet or ankles
Hand weakness or clumsiness
Slurring of speech or trouble swallowing
Muscle cramps and twitching in your arms, shoulders and tongue
Difficulty holding your head up or keeping a good posture
The disease frequently begins in your hands, feet or limbs, and then spreads to other parts of your body. As the disease advances, your muscles become progressively weaker. This weakness eventually affects chewing, swallowing, speaking and breathing.
Very little is known about the disease, there is no cure and it is a rare disease with about 30,000 Americans having the disease at any given time, so not a lot of money has been allocated for research.
And then there is Cathy Jordan. She was diagnosed with ALS in 1986 and she credits Myakka Gold, a strain of marijuana that she smoked when she was in Florida in 1989, for saving her life. The man who grew it and gave it to her went to prison for 12 years. Here is his story. Despite being given 3-5 years to live, she is still with us 29 years later. Cannabis has slowed the progression of her disease dramatically and alleviates several of her symptoms. She never set out to be an activist and quietly used cannabis to control her disease and keep herself alive. She is convinced it also cured her of cancer.
But, then everything changed when she was told that due to her illegal drug use, she wouldn't qualify for treatment if a cure was found. She came out of the shadows and started the Florida Cannabis Action Network to disseminate information about the power of cannabis for those with ALS and to change the laws in Florida so that those who need cannabis have access to it. Despite being wheel-chair bound, she travels all over the country with her husband, Bob, speaking about cannabis.
And then there is Bob Strider. Diagnosed with ALS in 1998, he smoked marijuana for years, which he attributes to slowing the progression of the disease. But, things took a turn for the worse in 2012 and he decided he needed a more potent cannabis, so he started growing his own plants with which he made cannabis oil extract. Within 10 days, his symptoms reversed dramatically; so much so that he went off all his pain killers. And it even lowered his blood pressure as well as curing some of his lesser health problems such as asthma and eczema.
Bob had spent 2 decades living in Prague, but decided to return to his home state of Massachusetts to share with others what he had discovered about cannabis oil, extracts and raw cannabis which has even higher amounts of cannabinoids. He thinks that with an intense treatment of large amounts of decarboxylated and raw, acidic cannabinoids, he can completely reverse the disease. That is a long way from "no known cure."
To learn more about this disease, you can download the PDF below: