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Median Arcuate Ligament

The median arcuate ligament is a fibrous band of tissue that connects the diaphragmatic crura on either side of the aortic hiatus, forming an arch over the aorta and its surrounding structures. In some cases, this ligament can compress the celiac artery or the celiac ganglion, leading to a condition known as Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome (MALS), also referred to as celiac artery compression syndrome. MALS can result in various symptoms, including abdominal pain, nausea, and weight loss. In this article, we will discuss the anatomy and function of the median arcuate ligament, along with the clinical implications and treatment options for MALS.

What is Median Arcuate Ligament?

The median arcuate ligament is an anatomical structure in the upper abdomen formed by a fibrous band that connects the left and right diaphragmatic crura, creating an arch over the aorta and its surrounding structures. In some individuals, this ligament can compress the celiac artery or the celiac ganglion, leading to a condition known as Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome (MALS).


Individuals with MALS may experience various symptoms, including:

  1. Abdominal pain: Often experienced as a postprandial pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen.
  2. Nausea and vomiting: These symptoms may be aggravated after eating.
  3. Unintentional weight loss: Due to reduced food intake from pain or discomfort after eating.
  4. Bloating and early satiety: Feeling full quickly, which may contribute to decreased food intake.


MALS occurs when the median arcuate ligament compresses the celiac artery or the celiac ganglion, resulting in restricted blood flow and nerve irritation. The exact cause of this compression is not fully understood, but it may be due to anatomical variations in the position of the ligament or the angle at which the celiac artery leaves the aorta.


There is no definitive way to prevent MALS, as it is often related to anatomical variations that are present from birth. However, early detection and treatment of the condition can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for affected individuals. If you or a loved one experiences persistent abdominal pain, nausea, or weight loss, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and diagnosis. Prompt intervention with appropriate treatment options, such as surgical release of the ligament or angioplasty, can help alleviate symptoms and prevent complications associated with MALS.

Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome (MALS)

While there is limited research on the use of medical marijuana specifically for MALS, anecdotal evidence and studies on related conditions suggest that it may help alleviate some symptoms associated with the syndrome. Medical marijuana interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating various physiological processes, including pain, inflammation, and appetite.

How does medical marijuana help?

Medical marijuana may help alleviate some MALS-related symptoms through several mechanisms:

  1. Pain relief: Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, have analgesic properties that can help manage abdominal pain associated with MALS.
  2. Nausea reduction: Medical marijuana has been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting, which are common symptoms experienced by individuals with MALS.
  3. Appetite stimulation: Medical marijuana may help stimulate appetite and counteract weight loss associated with MALS by activating specific receptors in the endocannabinoid system.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes for Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome

Several cannabinoids and terpenes may be particularly effective in addressing symptoms associated with MALS:

  1. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): THC is known for its psychoactive effects, but it also possesses analgesic and antiemetic properties that may help manage pain and nausea associated with MALS.
  2. CBD (cannabidiol): CBD has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antiemetic effects without causing psychoactive side effects. It may help reduce pain, inflammation, and nausea for those with MALS.
  3. CBG (cannabigerol): CBG is a lesser-known cannabinoid with potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, which may contribute to its therapeutic benefits in managing MALS symptoms.
  4. Beta-caryophyllene: This terpene has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which may help manage pain associated with MALS.
  5. Limonene: Limonene is a terpene that exhibits anti-inflammatory and gastroprotective effects, potentially providing relief for some symptoms associated with MALS.

It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional experienced in cannabinoid medicine when considering medical marijuana as a treatment for MALS. They can help determine the appropriate strains, ratios of cannabinoids, and dosages tailored to an individual’s specific needs and circumstances. As research on the use of medical marijuana for MALS is limited, further studies are necessary to fully understand its long-term effects and efficacy in managing this condition.

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 practitioners 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.