A family member has been diagnosed with a rare disorder called achalasia. It affects 2 out of 10,000 individuals. However, with the world population passing 6 billion, this disorder can now be found in some 1.2 million people. It strikes young and old, men & women alike. They do not know the cause, and it is not curable. Achalasia causes some of the nerves which control some of the muscles of the esophagus to die. The swallowing mechanism is therefore disrupted or destroyed. Food and liquid become stuck in the esophagus, causing terrible choking and painful spasms. There is a great loss of weight, because the act of eating is so difficult. Choking at night leads to a severe sleep disorder. There is an increased risk of esophageal cancer.

Surgery that cuts into the affected esophageal muscles, and injections of botulism toxin are the current procedures. Additionally, the valve or sphincter at the base of the esophagus is stretched and ripped to widen the opening so that food can pass through to the stomach. These are the standard treatments for achalasia.

After enduring all of this, my relative continues to suffer intensely. The surgeons now would like to remove the lower portion the esophagus completely. This is currently considered the "cure" for achalasia.

The relative that I refer to has recently smoked a modest amount of marijuana (three hits from a pipe). The spasms and inability to swallow immediately subsided. Relief that began in the early evening lasted throughout the night without any additional smoking. Relief is not easy to come by with achalasia, even with the rather invasive methods used by the medical community. With marijuana, the relief was very noticeable.