ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a rare progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Around 2014, ALS began gaining a lot of attention. As of today there is no known cure for ALS disease. Most people turn to conventional treatments but there are also natural ALS treatments available that reduce severity of symptoms.
In this article, I will share information regarding what we currently know about the potential causes of ALS disease, the signs and symptoms to be aware of, as well as the best foods and supplements for helping to improve quality of life. Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people. Most people with ALS will live for about three to five years after their symptoms are first noticed.
This degeneration of nerve cells eventually leads to cell death, so the brain can not initiate and control muscle movements. Progression of the disease results in total paralysis. It is belived that the cause of nerve degeneration are the muscles not receiving enough nourishment.
The degeneration of muscles leads to hardening of the spinal cord, that further disables the nerve cells to signal and control the muscles. Other factors also contribute to ALS are environmental toxins, including aluminum, mercury, and lead.
Common symptoms of ALS include:
- Weakness of the muscles, especially in the arms and legs.
- Atrophy, or muscle loss.
- Loss of volunatary muscular function.
- Muscle twitches, spasms, stiffness and pain.
- Inability to use the limbs for activities like walking, writing, eating, etc.
- Poor posture.
- Trouble chewing and swallowing.
- Slurred speech and other problems speaking.
- Lack of coordination, decreased balance, falling and tripping.
- Shortness of breath, and, in the advanced stages, eventually respiratory failure due to dysfunction of the diaphragm muscle.
- A common reason that ALS leads to death is due to respiratory failure.
In most cases ALS doesn’t affect the mind: cognitive function, memory and the ability to think and reason, ability to see, hear, smell, and touch also remain in tact. Yale School of Medicine reports that “Patients older than 65 years at onset have a 50 percent mortality after 3 years, 20 percent live more than 5 years, 10 percent live more than 10 years, and few may live up to 20 years.” For example Stephen Hawking,a physicist , professor at University of Cambridge, had ALS but lived past the age of 70.
Risk Factors and Causes (according to Recent research) of ALS include:
- Exposure to toxins including pesticides
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Problems with the immune system
- Gene mutations
- Mitochondrial dysfunction
- Head and neck trauma
- Genetic predisposition
- Low levels of magnesium and calcium
- Antioxidant deficiency including SOD and glutathione
- Depletion of essential fatty acids
- Trouble digesting protein properly
- Low levels of vitamin E and vitamin B12
- Serving in the military; it’s unclear why
1. Mitochondrial Dysfunction – mitochondria work to create cellular energy but with ALS it is disturbed. So it is beneficial to support mitochondrial function with Co-enzyme Q10 and other nutrients that support mitochondrial function.
2. Glutamate Toxicity- The extra glutamate level in ALS, present in the space between the cells may be responsible for acceleration of the motor neurons into functioning beyond their capacity, which could be the source of their die-off.
3. Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD)- in 20 percent of the familial cases of ALS, there is a mutated gene called SOD1(superoxide dismutase).The mutations SOD may be related to fast neuron death in ALS patients.
4. Oxidative Stress (or Free Radical Damage)is present in high degree in ALS patients. Increasing antioxidants like C, E and selenium could slow the muscle degrading and motor neuron death rate.
5. Toxin Exposure & Other Possible Causes- there has been fond relation between development of ALS disease and heavy metal exposure, pesticides and other chemicals that increase free radicals, promote higher glutamate levels that cause disease development.
- Lead — if exposed by breathing in lead vapor or by ingesting it, the lead can interfere with the cell membrane and mitochondrial function.
- Mercury – High number of ALS cases have occurred in countries that are known to have higher mercury exposure. Mercury, found in amalgam silver fillings, some immunizations and in smaller amounts in tuna and swordfish, causes many toxic symptoms when ingested.
- Aluminum and Manganese — have also been found to be higher in many of ALS cases. To eliminate aluminum and other heavy metals we need high level of calcium and magnesium.
- Pesticides – These chemicals are one ofcontributors to ALS.
Conventional Treatments for ALS Disease
ALS is considered to be a fatal and progressive disease, however many treatments are recommended to ease the symptoms and improve functionality:
- physical therapy, breathing therapies, nutrition and emotional support for both the patient and their family and caregivers.
- exercise, stretching, occupational therapy to improve use of the limbs, and speech therapies, and also medication, feeding tubes and breathing devices if they are deemed necessary.
- Radicava™ (Edaravone) used since 2017, and riluzole, was first approved in 1995.
Natural Ways to Help Manage ALS Symptoms
1. Healthy Diet
(1)- REMOVE all toxins and processed food from your diet.
(2)- Remove all sugars (including artificial sweeteners), processed foods made with refined grains, hydrogenated oils, preservatives and other chemicals.
(3)- use variety of nutrient rich foods that will fight free radicals.
(4)- unprocessed, nutritious foods rich in antioxidants is the best way for your body to receive and process nutrition- minerals and vitamins.
Foods that help fight ALS conditions
- High antioxidant fruits – include goji berries, wild blueberries, acai berries, cranberries, blackberries and other berries.
- Vegetables — leafy greens, artichokes, red beans or kidney beans, spinach, carrots, red peppers and mushrooms.
- Quality Protein sources – Use organic sources of protein to avoid excess hormones and other chemicals:Choose lentils, pecans, cashews and pumpkin/squash seeds, if you are not vegeterian you may look for grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, cage-free eggs, lamb.
- Healthy Fats — the best is coconut oil, cold-pressed olive oil, cultured butter or ghee and avocado. Coconut Oil Uses and Cures.
2. Exercise & Physical Therapy – improve mobility, strengthen muscles, facilitate with balance and coordination, decrease risk for falling and reduce muscle stiffness. preventing rigidity and shortening of muscles, tendons and other tissue.
Massachusetts General Hospital recommends moderate exercise, both aerobic and light strengthening-exercise with discretion and stop before reaching the point of exhaustion. Suitable exercise include low-impact types like swimming, pool exercises, light resistance training and cycling. Rest for 30–60 minutes to recover. Exercise including breaks throughout the day to prevent over-exertion, pain and fatigue.
3. Occupational Therapy has limited to moderate evidence of improvement in ALS But it can be very helpful for making activities of daily living easier for people living , such as bathing, chewing and swallowing, dressing, getting around, etc. The main goals of OT is to help make everyday activities easier.
- Vitamin E and C – strengthen connective tissue, and help maintain the entire function of your body.
- B-Complex / Vitamin B12 – an important support for muscles, energy levels, and nerve function.
- Calcium, Magnesium – helpful for removing heavy metals and toxins from the body and also support muscle and bone health.
- Vitamin D3:- assists in calcium absorption, maintain bone mass, and improve mitochondrial function.
- Selenium – is a beneficial mineral that reduces mercury concentrations and counteract heavy metal effects in the body.
- Co-enzyme Q-10 (CoQ10) – is a powerful antioxidant and main component of mitochondrial function.
- Zinc and copper – small amounts of copper with a moderate amount of zinc may help prevent neuron death.
- Fish Oil – Rich in omega-3s and essential fatty acids, reduce inflammation in the body, restores brain health and helps boost your immune system.
5. Emotional Support- There are many difficult decisions to make when coping with the disease,so it is recommended to have somebody who can help and understand the nature of problems. Also joining a support group is another way to make situation more bearable.
6. Sleep & Rest support:
- Being active during the day
- Aromatherapy with relaxing essential oils like chamomile.
- Eating foods that increase serotonin and melatonin, unrefined carbohydrates – whole grain oats, brown rice, corn or quinoa.
- Taking magnesium before bed
- Follow circadian rhythm functions
- Drink relaxing tea
- Take a warm bath
- Take calming herbs such as valerian root and St. John’s wort
To reduce pain you may use :
- Lavender and peppermint essential oil, mixed with a carrier oil
- Massage therapy and acupuncture
- Epsom salt baths – provide magnesium
ALS is rapidly progressing disease, so it’s best to visit a doctor right away if you experience any signs or symptoms.
Note this Key Points of ALS Disease
- It is considered to be incurable disease, scientist do not have clear understanding of the disease or curing process, but we still have opportunity to make our own choices and use natural ways to reduce of even eliminate disease.
- Some natural ways to manage ALS symptoms include physical therapy, occupational therapy, exercise, a healthy diet, stress reduction, CBT therapy and supplements.
- There are constructive steps that a person can take in order to treat this disease naturally, without further increasing their acidity and toxicity with drugs containing high negative side effects.
- I would recommend to start with whole body detox (especially heavy metals) and introduce nourishing healthy diet. As it is case for many neuro – degenerative diseases people with ALS have too much acid in their system, so introducing alkaline diet is an important step. It is beneficial to increase consumption of non processed raw food consisting of organic fruits, vegetables and juices. All processed foods, junk foods, and fast foods including meats, dairy products, refined grains, starches, and unhealthy oils should be eliminated from diet.
- Beneficial Supplements:
- B-Complex Vitamins and Vitamin E: important for muscle and nerve functions.
- Vitamin C: strengthens the immune system, strengthens deteriorating connective tissue and detoxify the body.
- Calcium and magnesium: stabilize aluminum and mercury, excessive amounts of which have been found in people with ALS. Take it at a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3.
- Beneficial Herbs are: Cayenne, Turmeric, Ginger, Cinnamon, Periwinkle, Butcher’s Broom, Manjistha, Chaparral, Goldenseal Root, and Comfrey Root.
- Herbs for nerve repair are: Lady’s Slipper, Kava Kava, Valerian Root, Cinnamon, Chamomile, Blue Vervain, and Passionflower.
- Creatine: increasing strength reduced by neuromuscular disorders
- Herbs for detoxing liver: milk thistle, turmeric root, and dandelion root.
- Repair damaged cells, nerves, and muscle tissue: Spirulina and chlorella.
- Acupuncture and Colloidal Gold was also found effective, positive effects.
- Ayurveda herbs and supplements are Brahmi Capsules, Ashwagandha Capsules, Vrihat Vatchintamani Ras, Musli Strength, Atirasadi Churna