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What Causes ALS?

Tuesday, February 2nd 2021 11:00am 3 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

ALS, which is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It strikes middle-aged, otherwise healthy individuals seemingly at random. ALS has the worst prognosis of any major neurodegenerative disease. While cognitive abilities remain intact, ALS paralyzes the individual, and most patients die within 3 years of diagnosis, frequently when they can no longer swallow or breathe. In America, approximately 3,000 patients are fighting the disease on any given day. The statistical probability is that each person has a 1 in 400 chance in developing ALS.

ALS is far more common that most people know, and its current incidence rate is closing in on multiple sclerosis. What causes ALS? Here’s a very interesting fact.

50 years ago, researchers found that the rate of ALS in indigenous peoples from the island of Guam was 100 times greater than anywhere else in the world. Instead of 1 in 400, some Guam villages had rates of 1 in 3 adults with ALS.

Scientists first suspected cycad trees since natives of Guam relied upon their powdered seeds heavily in their diets. Plus, there were reports of livestock developing neurological problems after eating the same. In fact, a new neurotoxin was discovered in the seeds called BMAA. Researchers hypothesized that this BMAA ingestion was causing the higher rates of ALS.

However, the amount of BMAA in the seeds was so small that a person would need to eat a thousand kilograms a day to get a toxic dose—that’s about a ton of seeds daily. So, the entire cycad hypothesis failed, and researchers didn’t know where else to turn.

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