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Local Acupuncturist Shares 3 Palliative But Effective Ways to Support ALS

Have You Ever Heard About ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)?

Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, this is a rare neurological disorder that effects the nerves. The condition when broken down, means lack of nourishment (trophic) to the muscles (myo).

ALS affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Because the nerve cells lose its function, this eventually leads to muscle weakness. Other common symptoms of ALS are loss of motor function, paralysis and breathing problems.

As ALS advances, patients have a difficult time with most if not all voluntary movements. In addition, difficulty with breathing normally often occurs. 

With new emerging data, ALS can be supported with palliative care. In this blog we will investigate three effective but proven ways to support ALS.

 

What is Palliative-Care?

According to NIA (National Institute of Aging), “Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of their illness.”

Here is the first common form of palliative-care for ALS…

Stretching & Range of Motion Exercises

A variety of exercises are an integral part of ALS management. In one study, Moderate-intensity, endurance-type exercises for the trunk and limbs performed 15 minutes twice daily was shown to significantly reduce spasticity as measured by the Ashworth scale.”

Specifically, stretching and range of motion exercises. Stretching helps decrease the frequency or intensity of muscle cramps. Secondarily, incorporating range of motion (ROM) techniques to prevent pain and stiffness that comes with ALS.

However, strengthening exercises are not recommended in some cases due to fear of muscle damage. From a study, Because ALS patients at study entry vary tremendously in phenotype, exercise regimens have to be individualized, and it is likely that, if exercise is effective, very weak muscles may behave differently than strong muscles. (1).”

Eastern Herbal Medicine 

In a twelve year follow-up case report, Studies in vivo and vitro showed that Chinese herbal medicines (CHMs) have a great potential for treatment of ALS, with neuroprotective function against excitatory amino acid toxicity, oxidative stress, calcium cytotoxicity, and neuroinflammation (2).”

The specific herbal preparation used in the 12 year report was a formula called, Dihuang YinZi. As the report explains, DHYZ is a classical preparation for neurological disorders unified syndrome that centered on the symptoms of the speech and language disorders such as aphasis and logopathy (yin syndrome) and disorders of motility such as motor paralysis and difficulty in walking (few syndrome), was first recorded in this book with the name Dihuang Yin (2).”

Acupuncture & ALS

Acupuncture has been efficacious for similar presentations as ALS. These similar condition profiles include motor deficits due to stroke, multiple sclerosis and paralysis (3). Based off proven study outcomes for similar ailments, much of the use of needle therapy has been applied in similar methods. Most acu-points selected for treatments stem from body and scalp zones.

In a case finding they found, Although the motor dysfunctions are the main symptoms of ALS, spasticity and associated pain are common, and acupuncture has been shown in studies to be the most useful for alleviating these symptoms (4).”

Lastly, from a study focusing on clinical ALS outcome, “Of the 46 patients, 6 appeared to have clinical remission; for 11 the treatment was markedly effective; for 24 it was fairly effective, and for 5 it was ineffective (the patients died within a few months time (5).” 

In Conclusion

Because there is no known cure for ALS, palliative options are increasingly being used by patients. For supporting ALS, it’s important to speak to a qualified health practitioner. At SOPHIA Natural Health Center, we focus on treating a patient’s root problem in conjunction with using evidence-based-medicine. If you have a health concern, please call our office at (203) 303-9830 for a complimentary consultation to see how we may be of help.

Chris Maslowski, L.Ac
Associate Acupuncturist
SOPHIA  Natural Health Center

Resources

  1. Ben Thornton, BS, BA, Bruce Cohen, MD, FAAN,  Mitochondrial Disease: Clinical Aspects, Molecular Mechanisms, Translational Science, and Clinical Frontiers. September, 2014.
  2. Quick Hui, Li Huang JI, Dihuang YinZi, a Classical Chinese Herbal Prescription, for als: A 12-year follow-up case report. April, 2016.
  3. Kong Yaqui, REN xingsheng, and Lu Shaokang, Acupuncture Treatment for Paralysis, 196 Science Press, Beiijing.
  4. Sudhokaran Poovadan.Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: An Acupuncture Approach. Oct 2017. PMC5653341
  5. Cheng Yongde, Clinical observations on 46 cases of Asl in consideration of the treatment principle breaking through the Dumai (Gv), Zhejiang Journal of Integrating Traditional Chinese Medicine and western Medicine 1999; 9(1); 16-17.

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