Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, was first identified in 1874 by a French physician named J.M. Charot. ALS symptoms are related to the progressive degenerative disease that attacks the upper motor neuron cells in the brain and the spinal cord, which control the voluntary muscles. When the motor neurons no longer can send impulses to the muscles, the muscles begin to waste away, causing increased muscle weakness and ALS symptoms.
Over a period of months or years, ALS and its symptoms cause increased muscle weakness and inability to control movement, and are associated with problems affecting speech, swallowing, and breathing. However, ALS and its symptoms do not affect patients' senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, or smell), bowel control, sexual function, or thinking ability.
Each year, 1 or 2 out of every 100,000 people develop ALS symptoms, men being affected slightly more often than women.
- 50% of all affected live at least three or more years after diagnosis
- 20% live 5 years or more
- 10% will survive more than 10 years
What Is the Cause of ALS?
The cause of ALS is not completely understood. Researchers and physicians suspect viruses, neurotoxins, heavy metals, DNA defects, immune system abnormalities, and enzyme abnormalities. The only known cause of ALS is a mutation of a specific gene: the SOD1 gene. This mutation is believed to make a defective protein that is toxic to motor nerve cells. However, the SOD1 mutation accounts for only 1 to 2 percent of ALS cases, or 20 percent of the familial cases.
ALS and Heavy Metal Toxicity
Mercury accumulates preferentially in the primary motor neurons and the motor function-related areas of the brainstem, cerebellum, and dorsal ganglia. There is a considerable indication that this may be a factor in the development of ALS symptoms. Amalgam (silver) fillings may play a major role. Mercury exposure causes high levels of oxidative stress, which has been shown to be a major factor in the development of neurological diseases.
Mercury is probably one of the core toxicities that can cause chronic illnesses—with or without names. Toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, and lead have been documented to cause nervous, immune, and reproductive toxicity. (See Mercury Poisoning.)
Lead can damage upper and lower motor neurons. In some ALS circumstances, it may be worth testing for it.
Prolonged contact with agricultural chemicals, such as pesticides, may trigger ALS symptoms.
Copper is an important helper to many cellular enzymes, including superoxide dismutase (SOD), which absorbs dangerous "free radicals" that accumulate inside cells. Defects in SOD have been linked to some inherited forms of ALS.
Scientists have deciphered the three-dimensional structure of a yeast copper "chaperone" protein, a molecule that transports copper to the SOD enzyme. If copper is in the wrong cellular locale it can damage other molecules, and in some cases even can cause disease. The copper chaperone protein protects copper from unwanted cellular interactions and safely delivers it to its destination.
A hair tissue mineral analysis can help determine heavy metal toxicities and mineral imbalances.
Understanding "Free Radicals" and ALS
Oxidation in the human body is associated with little molecules known as free radicals. When atoms come together, they form molecules. Those molecules form through the joining of the atom electrons. Electrons like to be in pairs. If something comes along (like oxygen) and strips an electron off this molecule, that molecule then has a free, unpaired electron. This makes for a very unhappy little electron because it is missing its partner. It now behaves very radical—behavior that gives it the name free radical.
When this happens in the body, that free radical will look to find an electron anywhere it can. If it finds one on a good cell, it will snatch an electron from that cell, damaging it in the process and thereby creating another free radical. This process is repeated continually until the free radical meets up with a molecule with an extra electron that it can donate to the equation to stop the reaction.
We all have some oxidative damage, because free radicals are produced by normal processes in the body, such as the production of energy and immune function. Free radicals also come from environmental sources including heavy metals, household chemicals, ultraviolet radiation, tobacco smoke, food additives, foods that have been fried in oil that's been used over and over again, and other pollutants.
Once free radicals are released, they will multiply excessively in chain reactions unless they are stopped by antioxidants or other chemical compounds (such as a product containing Ca-EDTA). These “stop” agents will give up an electron to stop the production of free radicals. ALS patients are known to have toxic levels of free radicals.
See Ca-EDTA Chelation for more information about how to remove these free radicals.
Nutritional Protocols and Detoxification Program
A hair tissue mineral analysis for an ALS patient can help determine metal toxicities and specific mineral imbalances. The results of the hair tissue mineral analysis will assist in determining a specific nutritional protocol and detoxification program to help improve the person's overall health. This is the key!
The following also can be useful in combating ALS and its symptoms:
For a report of an incredible turnabout in the progression of this disease, see Eric Edney's story. He took steps to avoid all toxins, reverse the toxic overload in his body, and added proper targeted supplements to help regenerate his nervous system.
If you have any further questions about a hair tissue mineral analysis, nutritional protocol, or detoxification program for ALS, please contact Dr. Akin.