The “Ice Bucket Challenge” has lit social media on fire, raising both money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. About 30,000 Americans now have the disease, which attacks nerve cells and ultimately leads to total paralysis, though the mind remains sharp. Life expectancy is typically two to five years from the time of diagnosis.
Recently, the ice bucket challenge for ALS has spread wildly across social media and the Internet. The purpose of the ice bucket challenge is to raise awareness about ALS and to donate for research to finding a cure for this awful disease. One must admit that the idea for doing this was brilliant and has wildly caught on. The movement in general is a very positive one and I think its great for those that want to partake. I truly hope it does help in many ways.
However, I will not be participating in the ice bucket challenge for ALS for a couple of reasons. Before you think I am cruel, cynical or a party pooper, please understand that I am fiercely and lovingly dedicated to helping people heal. In the bottom of this article, I discuss some alternatives to ALS that have existed for thousands of years that can in …
1. What does ALS stand for?
2. What happens symptomatically to people with ALS?
Out of the twenty people who had taken the challenge, not one person had the answer to either question. This is unfortunate. The whole idea is to raise awareness, but what I am finding is that those who are partaking of the challenge don’t know any more about it even after they dumped a bucket of water on themselves.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that leads to weakening and wasting of the muscles. This disease has a very rapid progression and most don’t live beyond 5 years after initial symptoms and diagnosis.
2. Will the money really help to find a cure?
Pharmaceutical companies produce some pretty amazing drugs that do some pretty amazing, life-saving and incredible things, and we need many of the products they have to offer. This world is a better place because of many of these drugs. However, they are also motivated by one very powerful ideal: to make a profit. It is not my intent to get into a debate, but finding a cure for a disease that already has drugs that make them a lot of money would go against the idea of making a profit. Cures are not good for the pharmaceutical industry, treating and managing disease with expensive drugs is. With some diseases, like cancer, we are still using the same drugs (chemotherapy) that we were with little or no better results for the past 60 years. With all our modern advancements, is this really the best that can be done? Raising money may help this cause, but I choose to raise awareness through other more productive means, like this article for starters. I hope you will too and take my challenge below.
3. Are there any alternatives that work or have at least a partial solution? What about the ancient systems of medicine like Chinese medicine and Ayurveda?
I fall more in love with Chinese medicine every day. It is truly remarkable. Many people become experts at what they do in as little as 5-10 years. The Chinese have had thousands of years to perfect their craft and they had responses to every disease known to man both then and now. They have had a response long ago that in my opinion is far beyond where modern medicine is today with this disease. You may find that hard to believe and that’s OK. In Chinese medicine, health problems aren’t diagnosed and treated by disease but by patterns that have relationships to things with the whole of the body. We seek to identify the root patterns. ALS follows a pattern or multiple patterns.
In ALS there is atrophy and weakness of the extremities among other symptoms. The Chinese long ago called this Wei Bi or Wei Syndrome. Wei means withered. The Chinese also identified the causes to such a syndrome many years ago (I believe other factors are at work today as well). In The Practice of Chinese Medicine by Dr. Giovanni Maciocia, six factors are identified (p.1220):
1. Wind-heat from a warm disease (Chinese concept)
2. Dampness (Chinese concept)
3. Poor diet and lifestyle (eating bad food, not exercising, etc…)
4. Excessive sexual activity and overwork
5. Traumas to the head
6. Emotional shock affecting primarily the heart and spleen channels (meridians)
Therefore from a Chinese perspective, one or more of these issues are to fully or partially to blame for atrophy syndromes. I would also like to add that I believe modern chemicals and heavy metals are also a huge part of why this disease develops. Human beings are being subjected to massive amounts of chemicals in personal care products (deodorant, hair spray, gel, shampoo, conditioner, etc…), heavy metals from dental amalgams and many other things. They are all toxic to the body and cause internal damage, especially central nervous system damage. Buy organic, non-toxic personal care products. Additionally, the emotional aspects of this disease are imperative to address as well and follow specific patterns too (more on this below).
In addition to acupuncture and many herbs and herbal formulas, Chinese medicine offers an amazing understanding of how lifestyle changes and food therapy can also make a huge difference. Please understand that one acupuncture treatment, one herbal formula and some small changes won’t do the job. It takes time, dedication, many lifestyle changes and perseverance to head in a new direction. Modern advancements also have come up with many products that chelate or pull out heavy metals and chemicals from the body. We use many of them in the clinic and they work wonders.
There are hundreds more such diseases that lack cures, says Anderson: “How many dollars does it take to move the needle? That is the huge question that looms for all medical research.
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