Antioxidants for ALS Patients

Antioxidants for ALS - Most of you have heard of antioxidants and that they are good for you. Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals produced in our bodies that indiscriminately attack and destroy tissue causing aging, inflammation and disease.

Oxidative stress is a condition that arises when our cells cannot adequately destroy the free radicals we make. Oxidative stress results primarily from environmental toxins such as toxic metals and chemicals, alcohol, smoke, smog, prescription drugs, emotional stress, too much exercise and a poor diet. Since we are exposed to more environmental toxins than ever before, degenerative diseases are appearing earlier, more often, and to a much more severe degree.
   
Free radical damage is associated with many degenerative disorders including ALS. Neurological disorders create a massive production of free radicals over a long period of time and a depletion of the body's antioxidant defenses.

In a study published by Neurochemical Research, ALS patients had significantly higher levels of oxidative stress compared to controls. And virtually every team of scientists investigating ALS world-wide agree that the free radicals play a central role in the destruction of brain neurons.


Protect Yourself with Antioxidants for ALS

Reducing free radical damage in the body is critical for all patients with neurological disorders. Antioxidants combat free radicals by providing protection from oxidative stress. Several studies have shown that increasing antioxidants in the diet slows the course of neuro-degenerative disorders and may prevent these diseases in some cases.

The most important antioxidants include detoxification enzymes such as glutathione, vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin E, and nutritional supplements such as coenzyme Q10.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a fat-soluble natural vitamin-like substance produced by the body, and serves two major functions. CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells against free radical damage, and is also a natural compound that acts inside the mitochondria, the "powerhouse" of the cell, where it's involved in cell energy production.

Researchers have found that people with severly degenerative neurological conditions have low levels of CoQ10 in their bodies. There is some preliminary evidence from neurodegenerative animal studies that CoQ10 may be beneficial for People with ALS:

1. In an ALS mouse model, oral CoQ10 significantly prolonged the lives of mice with mutated SOD1 genes. The CoQ10 was found to penetrate into brain tissue in general and into the mitochondria of brain cells. The researchers concluded that "CoQ10 can exert neuroprotective effects that might be useful in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Huntington's and ALS."

2. In human clinical trials, CoQ10 slowed the progression of Parkinson's disease and generated less functional decline in Huntington's disease. Both Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease are neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, and share similar biological pathways.

According to David Perlmutter, M.D., a Board Certified Neurologist, "Coenzyme Q10 dramatically extends survival in animal models of ALS. So there is no reason to wait for clinical research to prove CoQ10's effectiveness in humans. Time is clearly of the essence in ALS. Including coenzyme Q10 in this protocol is mandatory."

Based on this very preliminary research, you may want to take 100 mgs of an oil-based CoQ10 supplement 1 to 3 times a day. CoQ10 has been found to be safe and relatively well-tolerated, even at relatively high doses.

How to Choose a Good CoQ10 Supplement

Coenzyme-Q10 (or CoQ10) is available from many manufacturers in a number of different forms.

Several manufactureres have worked on developing enhanced bioavailability forms of Coenzyme Q10, meaning that if more of the CoQ10 is absorbed by the body, then a lower dose of the supplement is needed. The gel form of reduced CoQ10 is called ubiquinol, which is far superior to the more common form of CoQ10 called ubiquinone, which has been oxidized.

Until recently the reduced form ubiquinol was difficult to manufacture due to its rapid oxidation in the air. New technology has allowed for the manufacturing of stable coenzyme Q10 in the reduced form. The results from an animal study that compared the absorption of the two different forms, as well as a human study showing significant absorption of ubiquinol, showed that taking ubiquinol orally will offer much improved bioavailablility.


NOTE: Although CoQ10 is safe and relatively well tolerated, roughly two percent of individuals using CoQ10 experience side effects that may include nausea, upset stomach, rash, diarrhea, headache and irritability. Although there is no concrete published data on CoQ10's interactions with other drugs, some information suggests that CoQ10 may interact with certain blood thinners, such as Warfarin (Coumadin).

Glutathione
Glutathione is one of the most crucial and powerful antioxidants naturally present in the body. It has many important funtions, two of them critical for patients with neurological disorders. ALS patients have been found to have strikingly low levels of glutathione in their cerebrospinal fluid, even when other biochemical changes are not yet detectable. This has profound implications - not only may a deficiency of glutathione play a role in the development of ALS, but its supplementation may be a powerful therapeutic intervention.

Glutathione's potential is supported by research from Harvard Medical School. The authors stated that, "Pertubations for free radical homeostasis are proposed to cause ALS. A corollary hypothesis is that antioxidants should slow the course of the disease. One strategy for antioxidant therapy is to manipulate levels of glutathione...". What they are saying is that supplying the body with glutathione may be able to favorably affect the healing process for neurological patients.


Glutathione's Two Critical Functions
1) It is a major player in detoxifying the body of many toxic pollutants, including toxic metals and chemicals. Glutathione deficiency impairs the body's ability to get rid of toxins whether they are environmental or the by-products of cellular metabolism. If we have low glutathione levels we slowly become toxic, storing away poisons in our tissues, organs, muscles and brain. We simply cannot detoxify effectively if our glutathione levels are too low, no matter what form of detoxification we undertake.

For instance, epidemiological studies have shown that ALS is twice as common in individuals who have a history of exposure to agricultural chemicals, and twice as common in Gulf War veterans. However, not all exposed individuals go on to develop ALS. The reason may be that certain people lack the ability to eliminate toxins because of inadequacies in their detoxification systems. Glutathione deficiency is directly linked to the reduced ability to detoxify.

2) Glutathione is a powerful antiviral and antimicrobial agent. A glutathione deficiency compromises our ability to fight off bacteria and keep old viruses dormant. This is why so many of us test positive for Epstein Barr Virus, Cytomegalo Virus, Mycoplasma, Chlamydia Pneumoniae, Poliomyelitis, etc. ALS researchers have long suspected a viral component to ALS, since many neurodegenerative disorders are associated with chronic infections, including mycoplasma and latent virus infections.

According to David Perlumetter, M.D. (a board certified neurologist):
“Intriguing research published in 1999 by Japanese scientists has revealed a striking deficiency of this brain-protecting chemical (glutathione) in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients diagnosed with ALS…Not only may glutathione deficiency play a role in the genesis of ALS, but its repletion offers the potential for a powerful therapeutic intervention”.

How to Supplement with Glutathione

Glutathione is a supplement that is extremely difficult to absorb.  Most oral supplements are worthless, because the digestive tract destroys the nutrient before it can be absorbed. 

Supplements such as NAC can help your body make more glutathione, but the effect is mild. This is why intravenous therapy was once considered to be the only therapy that really works.

However, there is a brand new technology now called liposomal technology, that can create an oral glutathione your body can truly absorb.  It survives the trip through your intestines because the glutathione is contained in microscopic little pouches called liposomes. Thus, the glutathione enters your bloodstream intact. 

According to Dr. Laux, liposomes were recently tested in rigorous scientific studies, and were found to have an amazing 90% absorption rate.  That’s comparable to intravenous glutathione therapy, for a fraction of the cost.  Dr. Laux says:

A cell culture study was conducted on glutathione at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School by Gail Zeevalk, PhD. The study showed the neuro-protective nature of the Liposomal Glutathione from damage due to the known neuro-toxicants maneb (fungicide) and paraquat (herbicide).


Non-Denatured Whey - A Natural Glutathione Precursor
Non-denatured whey protein has been shown to restore intracellular glutathione levels, something that neither glutathione supplementation nor injections have been able to accomplish to any significant degree. It contains exceptionally high levels of non-denatured cysteine and non-denatured glutamine, which is the "safe" form of glutathione.

For more information on the safe and non-safe forms of glutamine, click here for our ALS diet report.

The Difference Between Regular Whey Protein
and Non-Denatured Whey Protein

Traditionally, even the most expensive whey products available (isolates, ion exchange and hydrolyzed) are by-products of cheese manufacture. The milk goes through a heating process at high temperatures (163 degrees F) which damages the whey proteins.

These manufactured whey proteins are also high in MSG (manufactured glutamic acid), which is toxic to neurological patients - click on the above link for a discussion of MSG. In fact, typical whey protein powders may be detrimental to patients with neurological disorders because they contribute to an excess of glutamate in the body.

True non-denatured whey protein, on the other hand, is not a by-product of cheese manufacture; it is a "native" whey protein, which means it is not manufactured at all. It is the optimal natural precursor of glutathione. It contains exceptionally high levels of non-denatured Cysteine and Glutamine, the amino acids required for intracellular glutathione production.

Additionally, they contain the full range and highest levels of the most important protein components: Lactoferrin, Immunogloblins, Active Peptides and Growth Factors. Non-denatured whey protein is acknowledged by the medical establishment as a dietary supplement that supports immune function and detoxification. It is now listed in the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR).

NOTE: It is important to use whey protein from herds that graze on disease-free, pesticide-free, chemical-free, natural grass pastures and the milking of the cows are not subjected to any chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, or injected pathogens.


Precautionary Notes
Glutathione may not be effective when given orally in supplement form, depending on the type and quality, and only mildly effective when given intravenously. Oral nutritional supplements that enhance the body's ability to produce glutathione such as NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) can be a problem when a patient has toxic metal accumulation - experimental evidence from animal studies have shown that supplementation of cysteine at high doses can actually increase the transport of mercury into the brain.

Based on these studies, it is suggested that high doses (ie. 500 mg three times daily) of cysteine or NAC can facilitate the redistribution of mercury from tissues and organs throughout the body into the brain, where it elicits neurotoxic effects. ALS patients have higher levels of mercury and aluminum in their tissues compared to the general population, so supplementation with NAC or cysteine should be done extrememly cautiously (less than 300 mg) or not at all.

Alpha Lipoic Acid

This wonderful and inexpensive antioxidant is both fat and water soluble, unlike most familiar antioxidants. Its fat solubility means that it has the ability to cross the blood/brain barrier and enter the brain.

This makes it a highly important substance for neurodegenerative disorders. There are two forms of alpha-lipoic acid, an S-form and an R-form. Researchers believe that R-Form may be "up to 12 times more effective" than regular alpha lipoic acid which contains a synthetic by-product.


Other Antioxidants
Additional antioxidants for ALS such as vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E are discussed on our "Vitamins and Minerals" page.

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Recommended: One thing we recommend for anyone who has symptoms of ALS is to have a hair mineral analysis test done.

How can a hair analysis help one achieve better health? If we consider that diet is what we consume and nutrition is what we retain, then we can see that discovering what the body needs when it needs it is a valuable tool in creating health. A hair analysis can determine which essential minerals the body is needing more of and which toxic elements it needs to eliminate. It also provides valuable insight into the body's metaoblism and what dietary changes would be most helpful for recovery. Hair Analysis Report

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Visit or Return to our page on Therapies for Neurological Health.

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