Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a nerve disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness. It usually begins with weakness in the hands or feet, which then spreads to the rest of the body. Affected muscles become spastic (tight and prone to spasm) and ineffective. As the weakness spreads, speaking, breathing, and swallowing become difficult. Most people die within 3 years of being diagnosed. However, for reasons that are unclear, some individuals (such as the physicist Stephen Hawking) live much longer.
The cause of ALS is unknown, and there is no cure for the disorder. Physical therapy can help the muscles maintain strength and flexibility for a time. Drugs, such as baclofen, may reduce muscle spasms and cramping. Eventually, individuals with ALS must be fed through a tube and sustained on a ventilator.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant , capable of fighting dangerous natural substances known as free radicals. It has been hypothesized that free radicals might play a role in ALS, and that, therefore, antioxidants might slow the progression of the disease.
By looking closely at the data, the researchers did manage to find one benefit: According to one measurement of disease severity, vitamin E did appear to delay the progression of mild ALS to its more severe form. Unfortunately, this finding is quite likely a statistical fluke. When researchers look at enough measures of a disease, benefit will tend to be seen in one or two simply as the result of chance.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -