Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) an Integrative Approach

Stephanie Grutz, ARNP, FNP-C

What is ALS?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or classical motor neuron disease, is a progressive disorder that disrupts signals to all voluntary muscles.  Many providers use the terms motor neuron disease and ALS interchangeably. Symptoms are usually noticed first in the arms and hands, legs, or swallowing muscles.  Approximately 75 percent of people with classic ALS will develop weakness and wasting of the bulbar muscles (muscles that control speech, swallowing, and chewing)”.

It is said that ALS is a progressive and fatal disease. There are people that have delayed disease progression and have lived healthy, active lifestyles with this disease by using an integrative medicine approach. Trying to get to the root cause of this debilitating disease is number one priority.

What are possible causes of ALS?

What we know is that exposure to some of the most common occupational chemicals has been shown to be associated with a 90% higher risk of developing ALS. Heavy metal exposures, like lead have been shown in research journals to be higher in ALS patient’s. Other chemicals such as pesticides, tobacco smoke, jet fuel, pain, anti-freeze, de-icers, propylene glycol (which is a coolant and also used in medications like MiraLAX, food preparations and some skin care products) are also found to be higher levels in ALS. It is well documented that the toxins mentioned above, damage nerves, leading to toxicity and permanent damage.

Unfortunately, as with most disĀ­eases, western medicine uses symptom management with drugs and surgical procedures vs looking for the reason behind the ‘unknown cause’ to a disease like ALS.

The good news is that there are many ways to test and treat anyone going through ALS so they can ultimately have a higher quality of life.

Integrative Testing

After I do a full history and physical with my patients, I obtain the following lab results depending on what was prominent in the exam.

1. Blood work (check for autoimmune triggers, viruses, and more based on individual assessment)

2. Check Gut function and for parasites, yeast and other dysbiosis markers

3. Check hormones (thyroid panel, adrenal function, sex hormones)

4. Check Heavy metals and chemicals. I do this via urinary route and do two tests, a pre-test and then administer a chelator and do a post-test. This helps to tell me what someone is actively exposed to and what the total body burden of heavy metals are.

5. Check Food allergies. For anyone with gut problems this can be key to changing their gut health. A lot of people

6. Check Genes especially SOD/GST/NAT SNP’s that show if the person is able to detoxify. Most people with any chronic disease diagnosis have difficulties detoxifying.

7. Check Nutrition status. I like to check B-vitamins, Minerals and antioxidants to see where people need extra support.

Treatment

When I assess the patient and obtain labs, I then treat patients in ‘layers’. Whatever is most prominent in the presenting signs/symptoms is what I treat. For all ALS and autoimmune patients, the following is always important to stick with.

  1. Diet: Clean eating, organic foods are important (look at the “EWG Clean 15, Dirty Dozen”). High fiber vegetables, organic protein. Ketogenic diets can be very beneficial. Eliminating dairy and gluten can help heal body by decreasing inflammation.
  2. Detox:
    1. Bowels – Make sure they are moving at least once a day.
    2. Sweat – Infrared saunas are a great way to detox the body, by heating up the core and allowing toxins to be removed via sweat.
      • The hottest and most compact sauna on the market is the Relax Sauna.
      • I recommend doing this 3-5x/week
    3. Bathing – Detox Baths can also help detoxify the body.
      • 2 cups epsom salts + 1/4 cup baking soda. If you prefer foot soaks, use 1/2 the amount.
      • I recommend doing this 3-5x/week
    4. Drinking – Make sure adequate water is consumed to help keep kidney function adequate.

ALS is termed as a non-treatable disease and without known cause. There is however a potentially causal relationships with the items I listed above. The most important thing to know is the sooner you seek treatment and start healing your body, the less damage will be done and the longevity and quality of life can correlate with treatment.

In Health,

Stephanie Grutz, ARNP, FNP-C

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334292/

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Motor-Neuron-Diseases-Fact-Sheet%20%20

https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/833.cfm