A1 Marijuana Doctors Logo


Arnold-Chiari malformation is a rare neurological condition where the brain tissue extends into the spinal canal due to structural abnormalities at the base of the skull. This displacement can result in various symptoms, including headaches, neck pain, dizziness, and difficulty swallowing. The condition is classified into four types, ranging from mild to severe, with symptoms varying depending on the severity and location of the malformation. Causes of Arnold-Chiari malformation may include genetic factors, congenital anomalies, or trauma. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, which may involve surgery, medication, or physical therapy, are essential for managing symptoms and improving the quality of life for affected individuals.

What is Arnold-Chiari Malformation

Arnold-Chiari malformation is a rare neurological disorder characterised by structural abnormalities at the base of the skull and brain, where the cerebellum extends into the spinal canal. This displacement can result in various symptoms and complications. The condition is classified into four types (Chiari I, II, III, and IV), with each type exhibiting different degrees of severity.


Symptoms of Arnold-Chiari malformation can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some common symptoms include:

  • Headaches, often aggravated by coughing, sneezing, or straining
  • Neck pain
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Muscle weakness or poor coordination
  • Balance problems
  • Vision disturbances
  • Sleep apnea or other breathing difficulties


The exact cause of Arnold-Chiari malformation is not fully understood, but several factors are believed to contribute to the development of the condition:

  1. Genetic factors: Some cases of Arnold-Chiari malformation may have a genetic component, with a higher prevalence observed among family members.
  2. Congenital anomalies: Abnormalities in the development of the skull and brain during foetal growth can lead to Chiari malformations. Factors that can increase the risk of congenital anomalies include maternal infections, exposure to harmful substances, or insufficient nutrients during pregnancy.
  3. Trauma: In some cases, head or neck injuries may result in acquired Chiari malformations, although this is less common than congenital forms.


Preventing Arnold-Chiari malformation can be challenging due to the complex nature of its causes. However, there are some measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of congenital anomalies:

  1. Prenatal care: Regular prenatal check-ups and screenings can help identify potential complications and allow for early intervention.
  2. Healthy lifestyle during pregnancy: Pregnant women should maintain a balanced diet, avoid exposure to harmful substances (such as alcohol, tobacco, and certain medications), and manage chronic conditions to reduce the risk of foetal abnormalities.
  3. Genetic counselling: If there is a family history of Arnold-Chiari malformation or other genetic disorders, genetic counselling can provide information on potential risks and guidance for family planning.

While it may not be possible to completely prevent Arnold-Chiari malformation, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for affected individuals.

Medical Marijuana as a Treatment 

Medical marijuana, or medical cannabis, refers to the use of the Cannabis plant and its components (cannabinoids) to treat various medical conditions, including neurological disorders like Arnold-Chiari malformation. The two main cannabinoids used for medicinal purposes are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

How does medical marijuana help?

While research on medical marijuana’s effects specifically on Arnold-Chiari malformation is limited, it has been shown to help alleviate some symptoms commonly associated with the condition:

  1. Pain relief: Medical marijuana, particularly CBD, has been shown to have analgesic properties that may help manage chronic pain, such as headaches and neck pain, often experienced by those with Arnold-Chiari malformation.
  2. Muscle relaxation: THC and CBD have demonstrated muscle-relaxant effects, which could help alleviate muscle stiffness, spasms, or weakness related to the condition.
  3. Anti-inflammatory: Medical cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, potentially providing relief for individuals with Arnold-Chiari malformation.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes for Arnold-Chiari Malformation

In addition to the major cannabinoids like THC and CBD, there are other minor cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis plants that may have potential benefits for managing symptoms associated with Arnold-Chiari malformation.

Which cannabinoids and terpenes are most effective?

  1. Cannabichromene (CBC): This non-psychoactive cannabinoid has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which may be beneficial for managing pain and inflammation related to the condition.
  2. Beta-caryophyllene: This terpene has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, potentially providing relief from pain and inflammation associated with Arnold-Chiari malformation.
  3. Myrcene: Myrcene is a terpene found in various cannabis strains and has been associated with sedative and muscle-relaxant effects. These properties may help alleviate some physical symptoms related to the condition, such as muscle tension and restlessness.

It’s important to note that research on specific cannabinoids and terpenes for Arnold-Chiari malformation is limited, and more studies are needed to determine their safety and efficacy. If you are considering using medical marijuana for Arnold-Chiari malformation symptoms, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about medical cannabis. They can help you determine the most appropriate treatment plan and monitor your progress to ensure the safe and effective use of medical marijuana for your specific needs.

Dosage and Consumption Methods

Recommended dosage:

Figuring out the right dose of medical marijuana can be hard because people’s reactions to cannabinoids and terpenes can be very different. Factors such as the specific condition being treated, the patient’s weight, metabolism, and prior experience with cannabis all play a role in determining the right dosage.
Most of the time, it is best to start with a low dose and slowly increase it until you get the effects you want while minimising any possible side effects. For patients who are new to medical marijuana, starting with 2.5–5 mg of THC or CBD and slowly titrating upwards is often advised.

However, consulting a healthcare professional experienced in medical marijuana is essential to developing a personalised dosing plan tailored to the patient’s needs.

Consumption methods:

There are several methods of consuming medical marijuana, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some common consumption methods include:

  1. Inhalation (smoking or vaping): Inhalation provides rapid onset of effects, usually within minutes, making it suitable for patients requiring immediate relief. However, smoking may pose respiratory risks, while vaping has been associated with lung injuries in some cases.
  2. Oral ingestion (edibles, capsules, tinctures): Ingesting medical marijuana provides longer-lasting effects compared to inhalation but has a slower onset, typically taking 30 minutes to 2 hours for effects to be felt. This method is suitable for patients requiring sustained relief but may require careful dosing to avoid overconsumption.
  3. Topical application (creams, balms, patches): Topicals can provide localised relief for conditions such as arthritis or skin disorders without producing psychoactive effects. The onset of action and duration of effects can vary depending on the product formulation and individual absorption rates.
  4. Sublingual administration (tinctures, dissolvable strips): Sublingual products are absorbed through the mucous membranes under the tongue, providing rapid onset of effects without the need for inhalation or ingestion. This method offers discreet consumption and precise dosing.

Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card

Why get a medical marijuana card?

Getting a medical marijuana card is helpful for patients who are looking for other ways to treat their conditions.

  1. Legal protection: A medical marijuana card allows patients to possess, use, and in some cases, cultivate cannabis for medical purposes, within their state’s legal limits.
  2. Access to quality products: Medical marijuana dispensaries offer a wide range of tested and regulated cannabis products, ensuring patients receive safe and effective medication.
  3. Tax savings: In some states, medical marijuana patients are exempt from certain taxes applied to recreational cannabis sales.
  4. Professional guidance: Medical marijuana cardholders have access to healthcare professionals who can provide personalised recommendations, dosing advice, and ongoing support.

How to apply:

The process of obtaining a medical marijuana card varies by state but generally involves the following steps:

  1. Consult with medical marijuana consultants to determine if medical marijuana is appropriate for your condition and obtain a written recommendation.
  2. Complete an application with the required documentation, including proof of residency, identification, and the healthcare professional’s recommendation.
  3. Submit the application to the appropriate state agency, along with any required fees.
  4. Await approval and issuance of the medical marijuana card.

Risks and Side Effects

Potential risks:

While medical marijuana can offer relief and improve the quality of life for many patients, it also carries certain risks and side effects. Some potential risks associated with medical marijuana use include:

  1. Dependency and addiction: Although the risk of addiction is considered lower than that of opioids or alcohol, some individuals may develop a dependency on cannabis.
  2. Impaired cognitive function: THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, can impair memory, attention, and reaction times, particularly with prolonged or heavy use.
  3. Respiratory issues: Smoking cannabis can cause respiratory problems, including bronchitis and lung irritation. Vaping has also been linked to lung injuries in some cases.
  4. Mental health concerns: High doses of THC or predisposition to mental health disorders can lead to increased anxiety, paranoia, or exacerbate existing mental health conditions.
  5. Drug interactions: Medical marijuana may interact with other medications, either enhancing or diminishing their effects. It is essential to discuss potential drug interactions with a healthcare professional before starting medical marijuana therapy.


Medical marijuana might not be right for every patient, especially those who already have certain health problems or risk factors. Contraindications to medical marijuana use may include:

  1. Personal or family history of substance abuse or addiction
  2. Severe liver or kidney disease
  3. Severe cardiovascular disease
  4. Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  5. History of psychosis or other severe mental health disorders
  6. Allergies or hypersensitivity to cannabis or its components

Legal Status

Where is it legal?

In the United States, the laws about medical marijuana are always changing. Currently, over 30 states and the District of Columbia allow its use under certain conditions. Each state has its own rules and a list of medical conditions that are allowed to use medical marijuana.

Even though some states have made medical marijuana legal, it is still illegal at the federal level because it is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

This difference between state and federal laws can make it harder for medical marijuana patients to get jobs, find housing, or travel across state lines, among other things. Patients should research their state’s guidelines and remain aware of potential legal risks.


Medical marijuana could help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for many people with long-term or debilitating illnesses.

When thinking about this treatment option, it’s important to know the right dose, how to use it, how to get a medical marijuana card, possible risks, side effects, and legal status.

Work closely with a doctor or nurse who knows a lot about medical marijuana to find out if it is a good and safe choice for your needs.

As the legal landscape surrounding medical marijuana continues to evolve, staying informed about changing regulations and guidelines is essential to ensuring responsible and compliant use.

As the field of medical marijuana continues to evolve, it’s crucial for patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers to stay informed about the latest research and developments. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the current landscape, but it’s always important to consult with healthcare providers for personalized advice.

Note: This article’s content is provided for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional legal or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or queries regarding laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult a lawyer, physician, or other licensed practitioner.