Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Related Terms

ALS; Lou Gehrig Disease

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a problem with the nervous system that gets worse with time. It affects the nerves in the brain and spine that control how muscles move. The nerves slowly die. This can lead to paralysis and not being able to breathe. ALS is deadly.

Standard treatment is aimed at managing symptoms. Some people also turn to natural therapies to manage symptoms.

Natural Therapies

May Be Effective

Therapies that may be effective are:

  • Acetyl-L-carnitine is found in nearly all cells of the body. It may increase survival time when taken as a supplement.A2
  • Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, which is a spice. It may slow the disease.A3
  • Foods high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid may help prevent or delay ALS.B1
  • Foods high in carotenoids may help prevent or delay ALS.B2
  • Meditation may improve quality of life and mental well-being.A5

Unlikely to Be Effective

Creatine is a supplement that is used to increase muscle mass and strength. It is unlikely to increase survival or slow the disease.A1

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about all herbs or supplements you are taking. Some may interact with your treatment plan or health conditions.


Herbs and Supplements

A1. Pastula DM, Moore DH, et al. Creatine for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Dec 12;12:CD005225.

A2. Beghi E, Pupillo E, et al. Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of acetyl-L-carnitine for ALS. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration. 2013;14(5-6):397-405. doi:10.3109/21678421.2013.764568.

A3. Chico L, Ienco EC, et al. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Oxidative Stress: A Double-Blind Therapeutic Trial After Curcumin Supplementation. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2018;17(10):767-779.

A4. Gibbons C, Pagnini F, et al. Treatment of fatigue in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Jan 2;1:CD011005.

A5. Pagnini F, Marconi A, et al. Meditation training for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a randomized clinical trial. Eur J Neurol. 2017 Apr;24(4):578-586.

A6. Ng L, Khan F, Young CA, et al. Symptomatic treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jan 10;1:CD011776.

A7. Michal Freedman D, Kuncl RW, et al. Vitamin E serum levels and controlled supplementation and risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener. 2013 May;14(4):246-251.

A8. Baldinger R, Katzberg HD, et al. Treatment for cramps in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Apr 18;(4):CD004157.

A9. Silva LB, Mourão LF, et al. Effect of nutritional supplementation with milk whey proteins in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients. Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2010 Apr;68(2):263-268.

A10. Orrell RW, Lane RJ, et al. A systematic review of antioxidant treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease. Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2008 Aug;9(4):195-211.

A11. Orrell RW, Lane RJ, et al. Antioxidant treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis / motor neuron disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jan 24;(1):CD002829.

A12. Graf M, Ecker D, et al. High dose vitamin E therapy in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as add-on therapy to riluzole: results of a placebo-controlled double-blind study. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2005 May;112(5):649-60. Epub 2004 Oct 27.

A13. Desnuelle C, Dib M, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial of alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ALS riluzole-tocopherol Study Group. Amyotroph Lateral Scler Other Motor Neuron Disord. 2001 Mar;2(1):9-18.

Dietary Changes

B1. Fitzgerald KC, O'Reilly ÉJ, et al. Dietary ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and risk for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. JAMA Neurol. 2014 Sep;71(9):1102-1110.

B2. Fitzgerald KC, O'Reilly ÉJ, et al. Intakes of vitamin C and carotenoids and risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: pooled results from 5 cohort studies. Ann Neurol. 2013 Feb;73(2):236-245.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC

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