According to Johns Hopkins Medical School, Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time.
Today, most people turn to conventional treatments that are far less effective than natural ALS treatments. In this article, I will share the cause of ALS, the symptoms and the best foods and supplements for a natural ALS treatment.
What is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a rapidly degenerative neuromuscular disease. It affects the nervous system by slowly destroying the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord that affect and control the movement of the body.
ALS patients gradually lose the ability to walk, talk, speak, and even suffer respiratory failure. For a person diagnosed with ALS, it can feel overwhelming. However, there are many treatment options available that ease the symptoms or improve function.
Conventional ALS treatments include physical, occupational, and speech therapies along with more aggressive and invasive approaches that can include medication, feeding tubes and breathing devices.
Fortunately, there are many natural treatment options available that I will cover including an ALS diet, ALS supplements and the best ALS home remedies.
What causes ALS?
There are three types of ALS: familial, sporadic and Guamanian. Familial is inherited genetically and is the least common form, occurring in only about 5-10% of cases.
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 most common causes of ALS may include:
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Head and neck trauma
- Genetic predisposition
- Low levels of magnesium and calcium
- Anti-oxidant deficiency including SOD and glutathione
- Depletion of essential fatty acids
- Low levels of vitamin E and vitamin B12
- Exposure to toxins including pesticides
Mitochondria are the power generating parts of all cells and brain tissue. When functioning properly they work to create cellular energy.
However in ALS, they stop functioning properly, and these little “powerhouses” can create large amounts of reactive oxygen or lactate production which causes your cells and nerve tissue to degenerate and die.
When the cells die all the surrounding cells have to fight to maintain control and function, which generates more lactate production and increases the cell death rate.
If this holds true, then treatments with Co-enzyme Q10 and other nutrients that support mitochondrial function might be useful in slowing or even stopping this progressive illness.
Glutamate is a critical neurotransmitter in the brain and is responsible for about 75% of brain and nerve function. In an ALS patient however, there is a higher level of Glutamate present in the space between the cells.
The extra Glutamate could likely accelerate the motor neurons into functioning beyond their capacity and could be the source of their die-off.
Super Oxide Dismutase
In 20% of the familial cases of ALS, there is a mutated gene called SOD1 that is known as superoxide dismutase (SOD).
SOD is an enzyme that works to convert free radicals into less harmful molecules.
Mutations in this gene seem to be present and potential related to the excessive neuron death present in ALS patients.
Related possibly to the SOD enzyme malfunction, oxidative stress is present in both the central nervous system as well as other systems in ALS patients.
Increasing the antioxidants in the body, and supplementing with vitamins C, E and Selenium fights the excessive free radicals and could slow the muscle degrading and motor neuron death rate.
Other Possible Causes of ALS
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 vapor or by ingesting it, the lead can interfere with the cell membrane and mitochondrial function. When exposed to lead vapor, 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.
•Aluminum 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 aluminum 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.
The ALS Diet
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 defenses 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.
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.
Getting diagnosed with ALS can be overwhelming but the good news is there are natural ALS treatments that can help slow degeneration and improve symptoms.