Actually we do know quite a bit about ALS

Rest in Peace, and condolences for families and friends of patients who died due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

This post was a follow up to: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and CBD Receptors.

The Life Extension Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on research into preventative health strategies. The company does sell supplements, books, and a few other products but it also helps fund research in preventative health care. The foundation publishes an academic type journal and an article from the journal is available on their website which provides a review of the current theories and research available regarding Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). [1]

The article ends with a quote or two about the limited effectiveness and negative side effects associated with the medication that is currently prescribed for ALS patients. The sad point is that at least then the doctor can feel like they provided a service by writing a prescription but if it doesn’t really help slow progress of the disease and adds negative side effects then is that prescribing doctor really “Doing no harm.“?

The article doesn’t provide vitamin or supplement recommendations or provide other preventative guidance. It is a review of current research which did provide enough information to suggest to me several strategies that might help me reduce my risk of developing ALS. I’m motivated because I fall into one of the ‘you may be at more risk for ALS if you also have this condition’ categories.

Studies suggest that ALS is more associated with some autoimmune and chronic infectious diseases and with some nutrient deficiencies or imbalances and with exposure to some environmental toxins.

A few points gleaned from the article that might help me reduce my risk of developing ALS:

  1. Avoid mercury, lead, aluminum, manganese and other heavy metal toxins.
  2. Be careful if working with herbicides and pesticides to reduce exposure.
  3. Have adequate intake of calcium and magnesium – in balance. Excess calcium and too little magnesium may increase degenerative calcification of the central nervous system.
  4. Avoid excess intake of free glutamates. There are many sources of free glutamates in the diet as they are used as flavoring agents. MSG is one better known example. *The article doesn’t recommend avoiding glutamates, it mentions that ALS is associated with glutamate toxicity. One study found plasma levels of glutamate to be significantly elevated in ALS patients compared to controls (Plaitakis et al, 1993). One theory suggests that there may be a glutamate transport problem that allows the elevated levels to accumulate. [1] *Having adequate zinc and magnesium levels helps the cells control intracellular glutamate levels. [3], magnesium also helps control transmembrane movement of the other electrolytes: calcium, sodium and potassium. [4]
    ALS is highly linked with glutamate. One proposed mechanism is a defective glutamate transport system that permits neurotoxic levels to build up (Onion 1998). A study showed significant elevations (by about 70%) of plasma levels of glutamate in ALS patients as compared to controls (Plaitakis et al. 1993). – See more at:
    ALS is highly linked with glutamate. One proposed mechanism is a defective glutamate transport system that permits neurotoxic levels to build up (Onion 1998). A study showed significant elevations (by about 70%) of plasma levels of glutamate in ALS patients as compared to controls (Plaitakis et al. 1993). – See more at:
  5. Have adequate but not excessive intake of selenium as it helps the body remove mercury. Two Brazil nuts per day provide about 200 micrograms of selenium which is the recommended daily goal. Excess selenium can cause toxicity symptoms so be careful not to take supplemental one-a-day or other mixtures that contain selenium in addition to taking selenium as an individual supplement or in addition to eating Brazil nuts regularly. Toxicity wouldn’t occur in a few days but might develop if multiple sources were eaten over a longer time period.
  6. Growth factor deficiency may be involved in development of ALS. Touch is important for stimulating human growth factor. Therapy pets and massage may also help stimulate internal production of human growth factor. *The article doesn’t mention the therapeutic benefits of touch. It only mentions that reduced growth factors are an underlying problem associated with ALS and pharmaceutical sources have been found helpful for slowing progress of the disease in some (but not all) studies. However touch can also help stimulate innate production of growth factors without needing a pharmaceutical company. [2]
  7. Spinal compression may increase risks of a similar nerve degeneration problem that can resemble ALS so /speculative/ regular exercise such as swimming might help or regular use of an inversion board at a gentle 10 degree slope might help relieve spinal pressure. /Disclosure, I do use an inversion board and find it helpful for headache and back problems but they can be dangerous so please seek individual guidance regarding their use./
  8. Some infections with long term chronic phases are associated with ALS type symptoms including Lyme’s disease, poliomyelitis, HIV/AIDs, and tertiary syphilis.
  9. Some endocrine and autoimmune diseases such as the hyperthyroid condition Grave’s disease and  Diabetic Amyotrophy are associated with ALS risk. Maintaining lower thyroid levels and avoiding thyrotoxicosis may help reduce risk of developing ALS.
  10. Some other conditions associated with ALS like problems include the neurological diseases: Pick’s Disease and Kennedy’s Syndrome; and the genetic enzyme disorders: Superoxide Dismutase, Hexosaminidase A, and Alpha-Glucosidase.
  11. If you missed the previous post – adequate cannabinoids/phospholipids are an important factor in protecting against ALS. A list of legal food sources of cannabinoids or phospholipids is included, see: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and CBD Receptors.
  1. Lyme disease and poliomyelitis
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic Lateral Scleros

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see an health professional for individual health care purposes./

Magnesium might help protect against beta amyloid placques

Working on experimental medications for a prenatal population places the infants at risk in addition to the female patients. In my professional experience instructing clients about raw pumpkin seeds and the DASH diet frequently helped prevent preeclampsia or high blood pressure problems from reoccurring for patients with a history of having had the problem during a previous pregnancy. Pumpkin seed kernels are similar to sunflower seeds, both are good sources of magnesium and many other nutrients. The DASH diet promotes eating a serving of nuts, seeds or beans daily as a source of magnesium. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. [1]

Additional note: *Raw pumpkin seeds were my recommendation because the toasted salted ones can be very salty which would dilute the amount of magnesium naturally available in the seed compared to the large amount of sodium available from the added salt. Excess sodium can cause increased urinary losses of magnesium in the average person and may increase risk of high blood pressure in people who are salt sensitive. [5]

In a recent study conducted in 19 hypertensive patients after 2 months of adherence to a low (50 mmol/d) and high (200 mmol/d) sodium intake, the investigators observed an increase in intracellular (erythrocyte) calcium and sodium concentrations and a reduction in magnesium concentration during salt loading, primarily in salt-sensitive subjects.82 [5]

Nutritional strategies recommended to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease include increasing intake of magnesium. Research has found that low levels of magnesium promoted build up of  beta amyloid protein while high levels of magnesium promoted breakdown of the misshapen proteins.

“Lab studies show that magnesium modulates enzymes involved in amyloid beta production; at low levels, magnesium favors amyloid beta buildup, while at higher levels it favors amyloid beta breakdown.101,102″ [2]

That article also contains good news for coffee drinkers; drinking 3 to 5 cups of caffeinated coffee per day is associated with reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The article suggests that the caffeine content itself seems to provide the protective effects. [2] Coffee is also a good source of magnesium, perhaps that is a coincidence. However three to five cups of coffee is more than is recommended during pregnancy; one cup per day is likely safe while six cups of coffee per day may be harmful for pregnancy. The article also recommends blueberries and curcumin (found in turmeric which is commonly used in mustard and in curry powder) which would be safe during pregnancy.

The misshapen proteins have a protective effect against bacteria and the yeast Candida albicans so a chronic lowgrade infection may be an underlying cause of the accumulation of beta amyloid placques. [3] [4]

/Disclaimer: This information is for educational or entertainment purposes, see a health professional for individual medical guidance./