AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS (ALS)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and motor neurone disease (MND), is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord by slowly destroying the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord that affect and control movements of the body. Patients diagnosed with ALS gradually lose the ability to walk, speak, and they also suffer respiratory failure. The good news is, there are many treatment options and natural remedies available that ease the symptoms or improve function.
There are three types of ALS: Familial, Sporadic and Guamanian.
Researchers are still uncertain as to what causes sporadic and Guamanian ALS. There are several common conditions that accompany the illness and these are theorized to be related to the of developing the disease.
Some of the common causes of ALS may include: Anti-oxidant deficiency including SOD and glutathione, Depletion of essential fatty acids, Head and neck trauma, Genetic predisposition and factors, Low levels of vitamin D, magnesium, calcium, zinc or selenium, Low levels of vitamin E and vitamin B12, Artificial sweeteners, inability to control stress, Overload of free radicals and deficiency of antioxidants, Unhealthy diet high in sugar, refined products and bad fats such as commercial refined oils and margarine, Exposure to toxins including mercury, lead, fluoride and pesticides.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction is also believed to be one of the causes. Mitochondria are the “powerhouses” of every cell in our body including nerve cells. Unfortunately, in ALS they seem to not function properly, and as a result tend to create large amounts of harmful reactive oxygen or lactate that causes the cells and nerve tissue to degenerate and die.
If this idea is true, then treatments with higher doses of Co-enzyme Q10, Alpha Lipoic Acid that support mitochondrial function and other antioxidants and nutrients such as Methylcobalamin form of vitamin B12, Magnesium might be useful in slowing or even stopping this progressive illness.
Glutamate is normally a very important and beneficial neurotransmitter in the brain and is responsible for about 75% of brain and nerve function. In an ALS patients, however, there is a higher level of Glutamate found in the space between the nerve cells. It is believed that the extra Glutamate may accelerate the motor neurons into functioning beyond their capacity and thus triggering their death.
In some cases of ALS, there is a mutated superoxide dismutase (SOD) gene called SOD1 which might be involved in the development of ALS. SOD is one of the most important antioxidants in our body which converts free radicals into less harmful molecules. Therefore, mutations in SOD gene makes this crucial antioxidant unable to protect brain cells against bad radicals which may the excessive neuron death present in ALS patients. If the SOD mutation theory is true the again administering best antioxidant supplements such as Alpha lipoic acid, NAC, L-cysteine, CoQ10, Acetyl L-carnitine as well as other supplements with proved capabilities of helping to regenerate damaged nerves such as methylcobalamin, Turmeric, magnesium, Vitamin B6, etc. should be recommanded to ALS patients.
There has been numerous associations made to other toxic sources such as heavy metal exposure, pesticides, and other toxic chemical exposure. These toxins can create the environment that increases free radicals, higher glutamate levels, and could be contributing factors to the development of this illness.
Lead is found as an additive in gasoline and paint. When a person is exposed by either breathing in lead vapour or by ingesting it, the lead can interfere with the cell membrane and mitochondrial function. When exposed to lead vapour, systemic lead poisoning can occur causing headaches, joint pain, short-term memory loss, fatigue, etc. A diet poor in calcium, iron and zinc can increase lead absorption.
Mercury, a heavy metal often found amalgam silver fillings, some immunizations and in smaller amounts in tuna, swordfish causes many toxic symptoms when ingested. Impaired peripheral vision, memory loss, slurred speech, muscle weakness, depression, and delirium are just a few of the symptoms. Many ALS cases have occurred in countries that are known to have higher mercury exposure.
Aluminium and Manganese concentrations have also been found to be higher in many cases of ALS cases. It is theorized that the inability of the body to process and eliminate metals like aluminium is based on lower than normal calcium and magnesium levels.
Low Calcium and Magnesium levels have been consistent in ALS patients. Studies have shown that when the environmental levels of Calcium and Magnesium are consistently low, that the absorption of heavy metals is increased.
Pesticides were thought to be a possible cause of ALS as there was a high percentage of Italian soccer players affected by ALS. With pesticides, as well as other toxic sources, there has been a number of cases that seemed to be related to a toxic exposure. However, there has been no concrete research that can confirm this as a definite cause of the disease.
Because as far as symptoms are concerned ALS is similar to Multiple sclerosis (MS) implementing the principles and using remedies included in the article about MS will be very beneficial in may even help to reverse neurological damage associated with ALS >
– Take 2,000 mcg of sublingual Methylcobalamin form of vitamin B12 only after breakfast.
– In order to detoxify your body from mercury take high doses of chlorella!
– You must take Vitamin D3 because almost all people in the UK are deficient in Vitamin D! While using vitamin D3 supplements always remember to take also well absorbed magnesium (such as citrate) as vitamin D supplements lead to magnesium deficiency over time. If you can’t afford higher doses take at least 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day with meal. But since deficiency of this vitamin is so widespread (especially in the UK) it would be better to take 20,000 to 30,000 IU a day with meals with appropriate doses of magnesium. Children need lower doses of D3 of course. Another requirement for proper absorption of vitamin D is 200 mcg of Vitamin K2 MK-7 (Derived from Natural Natto) a day. Read more about vitamin D >
The most important way of obtaining vitamin D is of course through regular sun exposures during summer time between 10am and 2pm. Vitamin D has properties that defend against cell injury caused via free radicals and it affects detoxification pathways which are of importance in disc cell nutritional balance. Vitamin D also affects sensory neurons to modulate pain, influences neuron excitability and acts at the level of substantia gelatinosa and spinal ganglion in the process of sensory perception.
Since vitamin D supplements lead to magnesium deficiency, and because according to recent studies almost every in the UK person is now deficient not only in vitamin D but also magnesium, you must take 400 to 800mg of good quality magnesium every day.
– Magnesium citrate or another well absorbed magnesium: 2 times a day 200-400 mg between meals. The more vitamin D3 is used the more magnesium must be taken as D3 leads to magnesium deficiency.
Evidence is overwhelming that low levels of magnesium contribute to the heavy metal deposition in the brain that precedes different neurological conditions.
– Good quality multivitamin-mineral formula (high in B vitamins): 1 tablet after breakfast. Please do not buy cheap formulas as their potency is very low and they contain only short list of inorganic ingredients. It must be a good quality formula such as Healthy Mega (HealthAid), VM75 (Solgar) or Special Two (NOW Foods) which are an excellent multi-vitamin and mineral formulas fortified with alfalfa powder, rutin, citrus bioflavonoids, bromelain, herbs, digestive enzymes and many other super nutrients. If your diet is very healthy and you stay away from refined foods, sugar and stimulants then take only 1/2 tablet after breakfast.
– Since Vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Folate) play very important role in dealing with ADHD I recommand getting B complex with a good quality multivitamin-mineral formula which is high in B vitamins. One of my favourite ones is Healthy Mega (HealthAid) as it is not only high in B vitamins and at the same time it contains zinc, selenium, herbs, digestive enzymes, micronutrients, and few super grasses. Compared with other popular formulas Healthy mega may contain even up to 60 times more vitamins per tablet!
The first step of any restorative diet is to REMOVE all toxins and processed food from your diet. Remove all sugars (including artificial sweeteners), grains, hydrogenated oils and any preservatives from your diet.
Healing can only happen when you strip away the dietary stresses that work against your own healing process.
Next add in nutrient dense foods that will fight the free radicals which attack the motor neurons and will help slow the decay process. Simply supplementing nutrients does not mean the body can absorb them.
Eating whole nutritious foods is the best way for the body to receive and process nutrition. It is critical to eat foods rich in antioxidants and concentrated nutrients, as the body is made to absorb minerals and vitamins best in whole food form. Some healing foods that help fight ALS conditions are:
High antioxidant fruits: Antioxidants found in these fruits help convert free radicals and super oxygen into less harmful molecules and support your bodies function. (Goji berries, wild blueberries, cranberries, blackberries are all great options).
Vegetables are a wonderful source of accessible nutrition. Foods high in antioxidants and minerals that help detox are artichokes, red beans or kidney beans (higher in antioxidants than even wild blueberries), spinach (high in zinc) and mushrooms.
Quality Protein sources: Organic sources are important! Choose grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, cage-free eggs, lamb, lentils, pecans, cashews, pumpkin/squash seeds.
Healthy Fats: coconut oil, cold-pressed olive oil, cultured butter or ghee, avocado.
Coconut oil specifically is extremely healing to the body and works on several levels to boost your body’s natural defences to disease. To read more on coconut oil check out my article on Coconut Oil Uses and Cures.
Top ALS Supplements
Vitamin E and C – help support immune function, strengthens connective tissue, and generally helps maintain the entire function of your body. Vitamin C also help with Glutamate uptake, so a deficiency in C could be creating the abnormally high Glutamate levels that cause nerve death. And vitamin E has been proven to be beneficial in studies.
B-Complex / Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B in all its forms is an important support to muscles, energy levels, and nerve function. Vitamin B-12 in the form of methylcobalamin has been found to slow muscle loss.
Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D3 – Replenishing calcium and magnesium levels in the body, helps to process the heavy metals and remove toxins. Both minerals works together to activate each other.
Also adding Vitamin D assists in calcium absorption, helps maintain bone mass, and improves mitochondrial function.
Selenium – Selenium is a known beneficial mineral that reduces mercury concentrations and counteracts heavy metal effects in the body.
Co-enzyme Q-10 (CoQ10) – CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant and key component of mitochondrial function.
Zinc and Copper – Zinc and Copper are both present in the SOD1 Superoxide Dismutase gene. In ALS patients, the SOD enzyme leaches the zinc away leaving only copper. The remaining copper in SOD1 is very toxic to motor neurons.
While large doses of zinc can inhibit copper absorption; small amounts of copper with a moderate amount of zinc seems may prevent neuron death. Taking a moderate amount of both minerals can possibly help stabilize ALS symptoms.
Fish Oil – Rich in Omega-3’s, and essential fatty acid, fish oil is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation in the body. It restores brain health and helps boost your immune system.