One Father's Extraordinary Journal of Living Longer with ALS
An Unfortunate Case of Myopia

When a motor neuron specialist determines that you have ALS, he or she will typically try to soften the blow by telling you something like “everyone is different … some live ten years or more… research is going on all the time to find effective treatment or a cure… don’t lose hope.” No matter how they try to sugarcoat it, the message of their underlying belief is always inescapable, “You gonna die!” The power and the impact of this message lie in how the patient chooses to hear it. Initially, the impact on me was devastating.

As I learned more about alternative medicine, I came to realize that the physicians who had diagnosed me were speaking from within the limits of a paradigm that shaped their beliefs. Eventually, I came to realize that when a conventional medical practitioner said to me, in whatever way the words were disguised, “You gonna die”, what he or she was really saying is “Within my knowledge base, I have no idea how to fix this.” Choosing to hear the message in this way opened up the possibility that another paradigm might be able to lead me to a solution.

My first exposure to alternative medicine was at the Kessler Clinic in Victorbur, Germany. It was there, under the care of Dr. Wolf-Dieter Kessler, that I first learned about functional medicine. This practice treats each person as an individual, seeks to determine the root cause of ailments rather than treat symptoms, and attempts to unleash the body’s natural ability to heal by removing obstructions and imbalances. The tools of functional medicine may include homeopathic remedies, vitamins, herbs, reflexology, medical equipment that uses frequencies to diagnose and treat pathogens and allergies and other conditions, kinesiology, and much more. If you would like to learn more about the tools and practice of functional medicine, visit Dr. Kessler’s website.

Dr. Kessler never promised me a cure, but he did express confidence that he could slow the progression, and I believe he did. In addition, the knowledge base I developed during the three-and-a-half years under his care helped me to become a better consumer of alternative health care. I am convinced that without that knowledge I would not be sitting here writing this blog. During my six visits to the clinic I met many people with various “terminal” illnesses who had given up on traditional medicine to find unexpected cure or improved health and extended life expectancy through he treatment they received there. My experiences there made me a believer in functional medicine and alternative practices as a whole.

Over the past twenty years there has been a significant increase of interest in holistic and alternative medicine. See Complementary and Alternative Medicine Facts. As a result, many traditionally trained doctors have formed complimentary practices in which they combine the use of conventional and alternative methodology. Still there are many other doctors who refuse to look into alternative therapies even when traditional approaches have little to offer. They claim they don’t have the time, or they assume that all alternative practices are quackery without even bothering to learn something about them. When they do look into an alternative approach they tend to evaluate on an all-or-nothing basis, meaning that if the technique doesn’t cure a disease all by itself, they conclude that it is worthless.

I am not opposed to conventional medicine. If I had a broken leg, I would not hesitate to seek out the services of a good orthopedist. But traditional medicine relies far too much on surgery and drugs, even when it makes matters worse, and when a more holistic approach could serve the patient much better. For a good example, see Mark Hyman, MD: Is There a Cure for Autoimmune Disease? .

Far too many motor neuron specialists are content to help their ALS patients be as comfortable as possible while they waste away. They offer them Riluzole in the hope that it might extend life a few weeks or months, if it doesn’t damage the liver first. They support research to find drugs that will do more than Riluzole, but I have not found a single study examining the common therapies (conventional or alternative) that might provide some insight as to what is keeping the few hundred of us alive who have been living with ALS for more than ten years. This unfortunate case of myopia is costing people quality of life, longevity, and possibly life itself. It’s time to wake up and start using some of the research money where it may do some immediate good. It’s time to try some new approaches, and challenge conventional wisdom. People’s lives are at stake!

What do you think?

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When I was just beginning to explore alternative treatment for ALS, a practitioner recommended that I have my amalgam fillings replaced with a compound that did not contain mercury. His reasoning was that there was a well established link between mercury poisoning and neurological disease, and amalgam fillings are a key contributor to mercury poisoning. I took his advice.

The motor neuron specialist I was seeing at the time was less than encouraging about my decision. Since removal of mercury from the body had not cured or visibly slowed the progression of ALS in the studies he had read, he saw no value in replacing the fillings. His response is typical of the myopic view taken by many motor neuron specialists – if it isn’t a drug or surgery, it’s not worthy of their attention.

From a holistic perspective, my decision was a no brainer. It doesn’t take a medical degree or a genius to figure out that someone with a neurological illness should be diligent about avoiding and removing mercury. Telling someone with ALS to ignore their mercury levels is like telling a person with lung cancer not to stop smoking, because the degree to which the smoking is contributing can’t be determined. Yet, the doctors continue to ignore it. I even attended one neurology clinic where they served tuna sandwiches to their ALS patients for lunch! For those of you who may not get the irony, tuna has one of the highest mercury contents of any fish on the planet.

Following my first heavy metals urine analysis test, I was shocked to discover how much mercury, lead, cadmium, and other heavy metals I had been carrying around. It took about two years and three different approaches to get it all out. I used intravenous EDTA, oral DMSA, and sound therapy. Of the three, I found the sound therapy to be the quickest and most effective. Unfortunately, it is hard to find a good practitioner, it is expensive, and insurance won’t cover it. Was it worth it? I can’t prove it, but I doubt I would still be here, living with ALS for more than 10 years, had I not removed these toxins from my body. If you still need convincing about the ill effects of mercury and other heavy metals, check out this link: “Neurological Effects of Mercury Exposure“. The article cites numerous studies linking heavy metals to ALS, Parkinson’s, MS, autism, and other neurological illnesses.

Please share your thoughts and experiences on this topic, and if you happen to know a good motor neuron specialist who is open to alternative and holistic practice in or near the central New Jersey area, please let me know.

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