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Steven Shackel

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This website has been accessed many thousands of times from around the world including enquiries from:

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That May assist in Treating ALS/MND
Relaxation, Visualisation, Meditation, Breathing & Affirmations

(ALS) Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or (MND) Motor Neurone Disease
are referred to as ALS/MND

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To Better Understand the Relevance of This informaton
Please Read the Page on Stress

A documentary flm is being made about myself and other long term survivors of ALS/MND. This is one of the most inspiring things
to happen in years. Extremely informative and inspiring for
anybody with ALS/MND.

Please see


When a computer becomes overloaded with information or there is a software conflict and it "freezes", the solution is often to simply restart the computer. On some machinery there is a "reset" button that does much the same.

Sometimes you cannot help but be stressed by problems such as illness, financial difficulties, pain or simply frustration at your temporary inability to resolve life's many problems. When it becomes too much to deal with, create a mental "reset button". This may not make the problems go away immediately but it will allow you to return to an emotionally stable and positive base from which to view your life.

Rich or poor, sick or well, the best one can expect from life is to be fundamentally happy. I believe this is a matter of choice rather than circumstance. Rather than looking at what I cannot do I look at what I can do. I concentrate on what I have and not what I lack. By taking this approach to everything in life I can hit my mental Reset Button to become "fundamentally happy" again.

PALS have one of the most frustrating and potentially disempowering illnesses. There is no "off switch" to make it go away as yet but I would suggest that we can all create our own Reset Button that will restart us in a basically happy state of mind, regardless of discomfort, frustration and any other unpleasant side effects of ALS/MND.

On one level, being fundamentally happy is as good as it gets. Decisions made in this state of mind are likely to to be clearer, more stable and certainly more coherent than those made whilst depressed, frustrated or just plain ill. Being ill has nothing whatsoever with being happy. Many wealthy, successful and healthy people are unhappy.

Rather than, "I've had enough, I give in, I don't care", it's possible to take a broader view and think "If everything starts from here and now, what would I change, how would I change myself and how will I deal with those things I cannot change at the moment?"

If being happy is the best it gets then that is the perfect place from which to view your life and make the necessary changes and decisions. My mental Reset Button is immensely helpful and I have used it several times a day in difficult times. Could you use a reset button in your life? Try it and see.


This goes hand in hand with meditation but can be practised and perfected separately and have great therapeutic benefit by helping reduce stress, relieve tense muscles and, as numerous studies have shown, promote healing.

As with meditation there are many techniques that can be employed to relax. Also, like meditation, choose a technique that suits you best.  Your ultimate goal is to "trigger" a state of calm and relaxation at will and at any time, especially when you are stressed. This is achieved through daily repetition until your brain and mind "learn" the difference between tension/stress and relaxation and you develop some degree of control over your state of mind and body.

A basic relaxation technique
Find a comfortable location and a position that you can maintain for 20 minutes or more, sitting, lying down or reclining.  When comfortable, close your eyes and slowly take three deep breaths and gently exhale each one. Tell yourself, with each exhalation, that you are going to relax your body and mind whilst awake and alert and in complete control.

Starting at your toes, visualise both feet and feel a warm, comforting feeling starting to spread through the skin, muscles and joints of each toe. Feel your toes relax and let go of all tension and stress and affirm that you are in complete control of the relaxation process. 

Allow this warm, relaxing feeling to spread through the tops and soles of your feet and visualise the bones, joints and muscles of your feet relaxing and letting go. In complete control, you allow this pleasant relaxing flow to continue upward and include your ankles and tendons, then gradually your shins and calf muscles.  If you can, feel your bones and joints "relax" and let go of all stress and tension.

In your own time, direct this relaxing flow as it progresses upward through all the muscles, joints, organs and systems of your body. Allow your body to grow heavy or light and tell yourself that you are relaxed, awake and in control of your mind and body.

Continue to gently encourage this slow wave of relaxation to progress up through your face and neck, making sure that you relax your jaw and even the tiny muscles of your eyelids and scalp, until you feel totally relaxed from scalp to toes.  Tell yourself to remember this feeling of total relaxation and that you will be able to relax your mind and body in this way whenever you choose.

At this point it is a good idea to imagine that you are sitting, standing or lying down in a favourite place.  Most people choose a woodland setting, a meadow or some other scene from nature, real or imagined, in which they feel totally comfortable, safe and at ease.

Use all your senses and explore this place: look at, listen to, smell, touch and even taste the things around you. Use your imagination to create a small brook or creek.   Listen to and taste the cool, clear water.

Be creative. Dip in your hand or toes - even swim or float in the water if you wish. Make everything pleasant to experience and visualise everything as clearly as possible using all your senses. 

After you have created and explored everything around you, remember this place and tell yourself that that you can return here any time and feel relaxed, secure and in complete control.

Each time you relax and return here you are free to explore further and experience every aspect of it, from the tiniest patch of moss and grain of sand to distant clouds and mountains.  You can walk, you can float, you can drift, you can fly.  You are relaxed, in complete control and free to choose and do as you wish.

When you feel totally relaxed, or at a pre-set time (perhaps at the end of some favourite, soothing music you chose to play in the background whilst relaxing) take a look around to fix the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of this place in your memory.

Take a deep, refreshing breath of the clean air and know that you can return here at any time and feel even more relaxed and at ease with every visit. Whilst remaining completely relaxed and at ease, allow yourself to gradually become aware of your body and surroundings and, when you are ready, slowly open your eyes and stretch. 

Acknowledge that you are relaxed in mind and body and that you will feel more relaxed, refreshed and at ease every time you repeat this exercise.

This exercise should be pleasurable and memorable so that you look forward to including it in your daily routine. With sufficient repetition and practice, you will eventually be able to visualise this pleasant place in your "minds eye" at any time and immediately feel the relaxation and lack of stress you experience there.

When you can relax in this manner you will find it easier to meditate, and indeed do anything you choose, without stress or tension.


This need have nothing to do with religion, mysticism or the occult. If the word meditation is confronting you can substitute the word contemplation if you wish. Many hundreds of studies, articles and books attest to the benefits of the many forms of meditation. 

In its basic form, meditation is simply the act of focusing the mind on one thing and excluding all other thoughts. Techniques vary but essentially seek to attain a similar result. 

One technique is described below but you may seek out and use any meditation technique you are comfortable with to assist in reducing stress, anxiety and physical tension. This has been shown to improve health, wellbeing, metabolic function and a veritable host of other benefits claimed by millions of people around the world. Scientific tests have demonstrated that meditation may assist the healing process in ways too numerous and diverse to detail here.

A basic meditation technique

Find a comfortable location and a physical position that you can maintain for 20 minutes or more, sitting, lying down, reclining or whatever.  Comfort is important.


When you are comfortable and relaxed, close your eyes and visualise a small lemon yellow disc against any contrasting, plain coloured background. Initially, it may help to create a small yellow disc on a plain background on your computer or on paper and stare at it for a while until you can easily visualise it with your eyes closed.

  1. Comfortable, relaxed and with your eyes closed, take three, slow, deep breaths and gently exhale each one.

  2. Visualise the yellow disc as clearly as possible. 

  3. Maintain this image. 

  4. If any stray thoughts intrude do not chase them away or become frustrated, just calmly reintroduce the image of the yellow disc. 

  5. If the disc moves, changes shape, size or alters in any way, gently reintroduce the stable image of the yellow disc you started with. 

  6. If  you find you cannot maintain the image you may need to open your eyes briefly and look at the yellow disc you made to re-establish this image in your mind. (With practice this will eventually become unnecessary).

  7. Ignore background noises.

  8. If you wish, play soft, non rhythmic music at low volume to help mask distracting background noise.  A favourite, soothing, classical piece would be appropriate or there are numerous "new age" recordings made specifically for use whilst meditating.

  9. Attempt to visualise the unchanging yellow disc without distracting thoughts intruding for around twenty minutes at a time (you may repeat this several times each day if you wish). 

Some people find this process difficult at first but, with practice, twenty minutes will pass extremely quickly. Eventually the image will remain stable, few stray thoughts will intrude and you may choose to prolong each meditation session. Be consistent and at very least you should end each session with both your mind and body relaxed, refreshed and more able to cope with the demands of the day.

Some schools of meditation use a sound or chant (either aloud or silent) to meditate on. You may prefer to do this. As long as you achieve your goal of settling emotions, "uncluttering" your mind, relieving stress and achieving a refreshed and tranquil state, the precise method used may be considered largely immaterial.


This is more than just the act of "looking" in order to imagine an object or event.  It is something that should involve and develop all your senses, your creativity and imagination.

A basketball team was once instructed to stop all practice games and instead relax and visualise themselves playing basketball successfully. They "visualised" passing without fumbling, shooting without ever missing and generally outperforming their opponents.

For the entire season they only exercised to maintain fitness levels and only played "mental basketball". The only physical games they played were in competition and that season they improved their position from the bottom to near the top of the league.

Many professional sport teams and individuals routinely incorporate positive visualisation into their training routine.  At the height of his career the golfer Jack Nicklaus always attempted to "see" the successful drive or putt before attempting it.

It has been demonstrated in numerous books, papers and articles that "visualising" something (using all your senses) can provoke a measurable physiological response.

To test this try relaxing for a minute or two and, keeping your eyes closed throughout, enact in your mind the process of picking up a lemon, looking at it's colour and gloss, rolling it in your hands, smelling it, placing it on a chopping board and then slowly cutting the lemon in half.

Hear and feel the knife slicing through the lemon, see and smell the fine spray given off as you do this. 

Imagine picking up one half of the lemon, slowly tilting your head back and raising the lemon to squeeze the juice into your mouth.  Use your imagination to anticipate what this will taste like. 

Watch the drops of pure lemon juice fall in slow motion onto your tongue.

Taste the sour lemon juice as it floods your tongue and mouth ... If you employ all your senses and imagination well you will physically produce saliva in your mouth even though the lemon exists only in your imagination.

The better you can "visualise" with all your senses the more successful you will be with this exercise.

There are many compelling texts describing physiological changes occurring as a direct result of visualising (a term for clearly imagining in every detail) events that you would like to occur.  If you are ill, see, feel and "experience" yourself  healthy and undertaking tasks, hobbies, sports and projects as you would if you were perfectly fit and well.

As with the  imaginary lemon exercise described above, given the appropriate sensory stimulus (real or imagined) your body will attempt to comply by making the physiological changes required for that activity. In the case of chronic illness there is a tendency to habitually visualise a limited and unhealthy circumstance and future for yourself. Your body, not surprisingly, complies with this visualised requirement you repeatedly present to it.

By using the relaxation and meditation techniques described above you can develop your ability to relax, concentrate, imagine and clearly visualise yourself in healthy circumstances and your body (unable to differentiate between "imagined" sensory input and "real" sensory input) will attempt to comply with the things you require of it. 

The efficacy of this type of creative visualisation as a means of healing depends on your ability to focus thoughts without distraction (as in meditating), holding this complete sensory image in a relaxed and controlled manner (as in the above relaxation technique) as clearly and consistently as possible. This should ultimately enable your body to "respond" as if to an actual event.

Tests have recorded hormonal, immunological, cellular, emotional and other changes occurring as a result of controlled visualisation techniques being used. 

Although some aspects of this phenomenon have not been fully scientifically explained it has been observed to occur to a varying extent in all the subjects tested.  This extent, I believe, is directly proportional to the individual's ability to relax, meditate and visualise effectively.  Repeatedly practicing and combining the three techniques increases the ability of mind and body to provoke a desired physiological response, as repeatedly lifting weights increases muscle mass.

SUMMARY: So much literature exists on meditation, relaxation and visualisation techniques that I have not offered specific source references here.  Seminars, books and entire packaged courses (including relaxation and meditation music and literature) are available to assist with developing the above skills.

Much of the so called "New Age" literature on meditation, relaxation and visualisation is questionable - often taking perfectly logical and sensible ideas and techniques and twisting them out of shape in order to comply with authors' own beliefs or conclusions. 

Applying the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) makes a great deal of sense.  The techniques need not be mystical, religious or esoteric to work well.

It is now widely accepted practice for individuals from all walks of life, including sporting and corporate management teams, to employ some or all of the techniques described above (in some form or other).

The techniques are well tested and proven to be of benefit to those who master them - and mastering them is more a matter of being consistent than having a particular aptitude or belief. Many health professionals encourage the use of relaxation, visualisation and meditation techniques to assist healing both mind and body. 

When medicine had little or nothing to offer, near miraculous "cures" have been claimed by thousands who applied these methods.  My view is that the techniques work as well as you allow them to and cannot do any harm if one takes a common sense approach in applying them.


Affirming wellness or an outcome one desires is a method used by motivational teachers, sportsmen and women, salespersons, managers and anybody who feels that the power of the spoken word influences our lives. So many books and articles have been written on the use of affirmations that there are detailed descriptions as to how and why affirmations are thought to work.

There are an equal number of case studies and a vast amount of anecdotal evidence to suggest that affirmations do indeed have an effect on those that affirm regularly. Like meditation, this is a topic that is covered in depth by books and websites and in training courses. I offer a brief description only of the most important elements of the use of affirmations here.

Prayer could be viewed as a type of positive affirmation and if you pray regularly then affirmations may be a way of supplementing your prayers. There should be no conflict, religious or otherwise, once the process is understood.

If you do not have a strong religious belief, the activity of affirming seems to assist in attaining clearly defined goals. Studies have shown that regular prayer and/or affirmation can have a measurable positive affect on those using these techniques.

Points to remember when affirming:

1) An affirmation should be worded as if the result has already occurred. Example: "I am well" is correct because it affirms wellness now and in the future. "I shall one day be well again" merely reaffirms that you are not currently well - and "one day" may be a long time coming.

2) Belief that positive affirmations will help is essential. A prayer without belief is an empty prayer. If you simply "go through the motions" because you were told it is a good idea, affirmations will be far less effective.

3) It is beneficial to repeat an affirmation three times.

4) Some people find that they are comfortable looking at their own reflection in a mirror and affirming, others prefer to affirm with eyes closed while vislualising the desired outcome. Either way should work. The most important thing is that you are not distracted and are comfortable when affirming.

5) It is best if you use several concise affirmations rather than a long affirmation that attempts to include everything in one go.

6) Some sports teams yell their positive affirmations loudly and in unison. In a locker room this is quite appropriate. An entire team loudly affirming, "We are the best team in the competition and we are winners!" suits the circumstance and is likely to have a beneficial affect. An individual would normally affirm at the level of normal speech.

Affirmation suggestions
You may find it useful to schedule affirmations, prayer and other activities at the same time each day. For example, try affirming when showering or bathing each day. There is often a pleasing resonance in the bathroom and you may as well be affirming as singing!

By positively affirming that you are well NOW, you are wiping the slate clean, starting anew and creating a different, better future with every affirmation.

If you have speech difficulties "sub-vocal" affirmations will work for you. Do not attempt to enunciate the words but do attempt to form the words as if you are speaking out loud. This activates the same positive physiological responses if the intent is to speak the words out loud.

Memorise your affirmations so that you do not have to read them. This works better than reading from a list. The affirmations then  "become your own".

There need be no restrictions on how often you affirm throughout the day.

If you are experiencing a particular problem you may create an ad hoc affirmation for that occasion. Example: If you have to deliver a speech "I am relaxed, confident and in complete control. My speech is well received by one and all".

Avoid all references to "Future". Affirmations are now. Affirm as if the statement is a fact, a done deal.

Avoid references to what is wrong. Affirm only the desired result. Example: "My numb leg will one day be strong and healthy" is incorrect. "My legs are strong and healthy" is correct.

Identify "weak", non committal affirmations and reword them. Make strong, irrefutable, positive statements.

Do not be vague. Construct a strong, definite, positive affirmation and say it as if you mean it. Actually mean it!

If necessary, alter the wording of an affirmation to suit your own circumstances. The language of some examples of "New Age" affirmations may not suit you. Substitute words and phrases you can comfortably relate to.

Sample Affirmations

"Every cell, fibre and function of my body is perfectly healthy now."

"I know that I am worthy. It is safe for me to succeed.
Life loves me."

"Every day, in every way, I get better and better."

Any exercise program must be designed specifically for YOUR individual condition. I would suggest  that you NEVER exercise excessively.  What constitutes "excess" in your case may vary from day to day.  The best thing is to always keep a little energy in reserve.  You should avoid feeling exhausted after exercise.

The best exercises seem to be low impact things like cycling, walking, swimming, hydrotherapy, stretching, yoga, tai chi, etc. 

Muscle building exercises are pointless because PALS muscles remain essentially healthy, it is the nerves that that supply the muscles that are damaged and unhealthy.  Over-exercise can hasten the death of healthy motor neurones by overburdening them (rather like "blowing a fuse" in an electrical circuit). It is best to exercise briefly and frequently throughout the day.

A physiotherapist (physical therapist or occupational therapist) may be able to help by demonstrating a series of  "range of movement" exercises.

In short: NEVER exercise excessively. Exercise briefly but frequently throughout the day.  Adjust the amount of exercise you do according to how you feel on any particular day.

Regular physiotherapy has been medically proven to enhance and prolong mobility and quality of life
(see J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2001;70:174-179).


Getting adequate sleep is extremely important to good health. Healing, growth and regrowth take place more efficiently during deep sleep cycles. Detoxification via the liver is also increased during sleep.

Sleep deprivation lowers immune response, lowers blood oxygen levels, stresses the heart, increases blood pressure and can even lead to unhealthy weight gain. Sleep deprived people produce more of the hormone ghrelin and less of the hormone leptin.

Ghrelin increases hunger and leptin tells the brain there is no need for more food. Other metabolic hormones may be similarly affected. [Dr Emmanuel Mignot, Stanford University, CA.]

After falling asleep, a 90 minute sleep cycle ranging from deepest sleep to near consciousness continues throughout the night. If this sleep cycle is frequently interrupted the consequences can range from tiredness and irritation to ill health and even psychosis.

Psychological stress, breathing problems, eating and/or drinking directly before sleep, reflux, pain and even an inappropriate bed or pillows may contribute to sleep problems. It is important to investigate how good "healthy" sleep can be achieved and maintained.

A pre-sleep routine may be helpful to prepare for sleep, including consciously relaxing the mind and body and observing a bedtime "ritual" that includes a "winding down" time. If necessary, write down a list of things to be done tomorrow or at a later date so that you are not troubled by them as you fall asleep or if you wake during the night.

"Let go" of your day - your worries, concerns, conflicts, etc. - as part of your bedtime ritual. Sleep is a time to rest, heal, recover, replenish and regroup before starting another day. Do not underestimate the importance of "getting a good nights sleep".

If you believe you have a sleep disorder (your partner may notice that  you stop breathing while asleep or that you snore excessively) If you suspect you have a sleep disorder it is VERY IMPORTANT that you seek medical assistance from a sleep specialist.


Breathing benefits the whole body, boosts energy, reduces stress and can help reduce pain. It can reinforce personal discipline and promote recovery, healing and wellness. Controlled breathing is the easiest stress reduction technique. When breathing is slow and measured, we tend to become more balanced and relaxed.

A Brief Breathing Exercise
Practice this at bedtime or whenever you wish to relax and reduce stress.

• Sit or lie down comfortably and close your eyes
• Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest
• Imagine a large balloon in your stomach
• Breathe in slowly while using the following technique:

INHALE gently through your nose.
Imagine the balloon completely filling up, as your diaphragm gently pushes downward.
Breathe in slowly for a count of 4, then hold your breath for a count of 4 then...

EXHALE s-l-o-w-l-y
• Allow all the air to flow out of your mouth. Do not force it.
• Exhale whilst mentally counting to 10
• Count to 10 after you have completely exhaled
• Repeat this deep breathing exercise 10 times

With practice you will soon be able to relax after only one or two deep breaths.

Correct breathing can have a very positive healing influence.


Below is an excerpt from Louis Proto's book, "Self Healing". To buy Proto's book: buying info: Self-Healing.

"To accept that we have somehow helped to create our own illness ... even if we cannot (literally, for the life of us) figure out exactly how ... is not at all to wallow in guilt or to beat oneself up further. The time is past for that: we have done enough of that already and in so doing have merely helped to set things up the way they are. It is time now, not for more guilt, but for more awareness, and a lot more love, above all for our suffering selves.

Choosing to accept a share in responsibility for creating sickness in our bodies is in fact to move out of the position of victim, and to take back the power to heal ourselves. For what we can create, we can choose to stop creating."

"A group of London researchers has found a ten year survival rate of 75% among cancer patients who reacted to diagnosis with a fighting spirit rather than with helplessness.

In an article in The Lancet in 1975 Dr. Stephen Greer reported that the women who survive breast cancer, again, are the ones with a fighting spirit or a positive attitude. It is interesting that National Cancer Institute research psychologist Sandra Levy has found that aggressive patients tend to have more killer cells than docile patients.

Patients who are considered by their physicians to be difficult or unco-operative are the ones most likely to get well. It has been said that it is the 'nice' people who tend to get cancer. (I have read in another source, too, that a physician once said that 'nice' people get ALS/MND) Perhaps it is only when confronted with a choice of survival or going under that one can give oneself permission to be more honest and, to please oneself for a change, rather than living one's life as if keeping other people happy (whatever the cost to oneself) was the most important thing in the world."

"As Dr Bernie Siegel puts it, 'When a patient with a physical disease makes a thorough, positive personality change the body's defenses may now eliminate the disease which is not part of the new self.' (from, Love, Medicine and Miracles) "

"The more we respond with a resounding will to live, to meet the challenge, to do whatever needs to be done to restore ourselves to health, rather than the hopelessness and a 'poor me'  (or 'why me?') response, the more likely we are to be able to pick up the pieces of our broken lives and reassemble them into a new gestalt, a new, healthier way of being."

"Time and time again, 'fatally ill' patients go into remission against the expectations of their doctors as a result of being willing to make the necessary changes in the mental patterns that have laid them low. It takes courage, honesty and guts. But, if they have the commitment and perseverance, the experience of many of them has been over and over again, that they have emerged from the crucible somehow stronger and more whole, wiser, more accepting, tolerant and loving. In retrospect, catastrophic illness can be seen to have been a blessing in disguise and a turning point in one's life."

"But sometimes people find the changes that could bring healing too big to make. Perhaps they are too weak, too depressed, to identified with the old ways. At some level, they opt out, more or less consciously. We have seen that what we tell ourselves is supremely important. It can literally be a matter of life or death. And the most lethal programmes, blueprints for the body to take action on, that we can feed into our mind computer are the ones that run 'I can't cope', 'This is more than I can take, I want out'. And, when we feel we've had as much as we can take, we really do opt out."

 "Just like illness, death can be a choice at some level, albeit a subconscious one... We choose to go when we no longer want to be here, when the quality of our life is such that it seems no longer worth living. The 'how' of the exit looks after itself. Loss of the will to live is enough."

See also my Self Healing and Mental Attitude pages.

LAUGHTER increases the secretion of catecholamines and endorphines that increase oxygenation of the blood, relax the arteries, speed up the heart and decrease blood pressure. This has a positive effect on the cardio vascular and respiratory systems and increases the overall immune system response. In short - laugh whenever you can. It's good for you. American Journal of Medicine

This is an excellent form of gentle "range of movement" exercise. Bodyweight is partially supported by the water and possible falls can be controlled by appropriate floatation devices and attentive staff. There has been feedback from MS and ALS/MND Associations that exercising in ordinary swimming pools, rather than warmer hydrotherapy pools, seems to assist by cooling muscles and stimulating their contraction.


ACUPUNCTURE: ALS/MND has apparently been treated with acupuncture with some success. ALS/MND is routinely treated with acupuncture and other traditional remedies in China.

I have received feedback from the USA, UK and Germany stating that acupuncture has slowed the progress of ALS/MND symptoms in some patients. There are two major drawbacks: for best results the treatments should be daily and not all acupuncturists are equally skilled in the techniques required to achieve positive results.

The cost of daily acupuncture outside of China would be prohibitive for many people. Theoretically, any trained and competent acupuncturist should be able to learn the techniques required to achieve positive results.

The insertion of acupuncture needles is not usually painful.  Both shallow and deep needle insertion feel essentially the same. It is not like having a hypodermic injection. 

The needles are usually extremely fine and sharp and the feeling of the needle being inserted is usually more like a pressure being applied to the point rather than the sharp "stabbing" sensation one would expect. 

Sometimes, if an acupuncture point badly needs treating it will be sore to the touch, like a small bruise. In this case there may be some initial discomfort when the needle is inserted or later stimulated.  A good acupuncturist will inform you if needling a point is likely to sting. Taking a deep breath and exhaling rapidly as the needle is inserted usually overrides the discomfort.  Any discomfort normally abates after a few seconds.

Modern acupuncturists use disposable needles and alcohol swabs to eliminate any chance of "needle stick" infection.  Needles are used only once and then safely discarded in the same manner as medical “sharps”. Many of the potential problems of treatments with reused needles have therefore been totally eliminated. 

If an acupuncturist does not use disposable needles it may be advisable to seek an alternative practitioner (although, despite media hype, very few cases of disease directly attributable to treatment by competent acupuncturists have been reported).

I have not tried acupuncture specifically for ALS/MND but it has helped to relieve symptomatic discomfort associated with my illness. I have had extremely good (bordering on unbelievable) results following acupuncture treatments for past ailments and injuries.  Acupuncture is used in nearly all hospitals in China as a matter of routine and is not considered "alternative", indeed it is part of mainstream medical practice in that country.

In China there is no name for the disorder we call ALS/MND.  The Chinese primarily treat severe liver dysfunction initially, which they consider the underlying cause of neurodegenerative disorders. 

Acupuncture treatment of neurodegeneration is normally preceded by, and in conjunction with, herbal remedies.  As with all professions, there are good, bad and average acupuncturists. You may need to seek the opinion of several practitioners before finding one you trust - much as you would do when choosing a doctor.

Acupuncture points that may be of benefit in treating ALS/MND

could include some or all of the following:

The preferred points for treating what we call ALS/MND are scalp points and, traditionally, long needles are inserted horizontally into the scalp at the appropriate point and run several centimeters under the skin. This is not painful.

It has been suggested that several shorter needles may be inserted vertically along the meridian to achieve a similar effect (this would be more comfortable for those who do not like imagining the sensation of "deep", horizontal scalp acupuncture).  As the long, horizontally inserted, needles are normally vigorously stimulated, the shorter vertical needles could possibly be stimulated with a mild electrical pulse.  This would depend on the patient's condition and the skill and professional opinion of the acupuncturist.

Some general points used to treat neurodegeneration

LI (Colon) 4, 11 & 15: TH 3 & 5: GB (Gall Bladder) 30,34 & 36: St (Stomach) 36 & 40: Bl (Bladder) 60, etc.  These general points for neurodegeneration can be inserted as for treating a stroke patient.

Scalp points are more complex to apply but are essentially Gall Bladder (GB) and Governor Vessel (Du) as follows: GB 6, 7, 15 & 17: DU 20.21 & 24:  Bl (Bladder) 3.

The method of insertion & direction for scalp points: A thicker than average needle is threaded down along the meridians for about 1inch/2.5cm, pointing from head to feet.  Acupuncture should ideally be applied daily and is usually considered a support treatment only for primary Chinese herbal treatment.

Feedback on acupuncture used to treat ALS/MND would be most welcome.

ACUPRESSURE Aims to achieve similar results to acupuncture without the use of needles.  Pressure can be applied to the acupuncture points with finger tips or devices that produce mild electrical stimulation.

Generally, acupressure is considered slightly less effective than acupuncture (using needles) but does produce good results if applied or supervised by a competent practitioner. It could be useful in addition to traditional acupuncture treatments or in cases where acupuncture is not available or the patient has a phobia about needles. It also has the advantage of being a treatment one, in some instances, can be taught to do on one's self.

CRAMP BUSTERS This product may assist where cramping or spasticity of hands and/or feet and legs is a problem.
Gently spacing the toes on each foot has been shown to reduce excessive tone or tension in the leg and foot that can cause spasm or "cramping". Previous methods of achieving toe spacing were inconsistent and unstable.

Spacing materials fell out, were sometimes uncomfortable and often did not provide optimum toe separation. These toe separating materials, frequently displaced whilst putting on shoes, subsequently became ineffective and often caused additional discomfort.

Cramp Busters comfortably remain in place on the foot and gently separate the toes, thereby aiding in the short and longer term prevention of foot cramps.

Cramp Busters were designed as a simple, non-invasive therapeutic device to replace medications used to reduce or eliminate spasm, cramping in lower limbs and feet. They provide optimum yet minimal toe spacing whilst avoiding muscle stretching and the use of hard materials or fasteners that could cause pressure, restriction, skin lesions or other foot discomfort. They do not cross the sole of the foot or affect pressure points that would counter the effect of toe spacing.

Cramp Busters are made of soft materials and take the least possible space in the shoe. They can be easily and comfortably worn both day and night. One size fits most adults. (There are Cramp Busters for hands too). Contact me regarding Cramp Busters.

General Information The intensity and duration of foot and leg cramping can vary widely - from once or twice a year to several times every night. Some chronic sufferers never have a full night's sleep. Most sufferers find relief by stretching or flexing the foot or limb. Other sufferers may need to apply cold or hot packs to obtain relief and may limp for days after a severe attack. In extreme cases cramping may result in bruising or even torn tendons.

Most chronic and severe muscle cramping has traditionally been treated with prescribed medication (such as quinine) which is often only partially effective. Many chronic foot and leg cramp sufferers are able to discontinue medication after using Cramp Busters.

Cramping often affects active, fit people of all ages as well as those suffering from cramp-inducing neurological and physiological complaints. Results obtained using Cramp Busters with some severely afflicted patients have been quite remarkable:-

"Our eight year old son Charles had cerebral palsy and mild hemiplegia (left side) that caused terrible muscle spasms and the subsequent twisting distortion of the left arm, hand, leg and foot. He could not walk normally and was unable to use his left hand and arm.

After using Cramp Busters on his foot the improvement was miraculous. Within three weeks he could hop and skip on both legs for the first time in his life. Three years later, he can play soccer and cricket. The only change to his daily regime in that time has been the use of Cramp Busters. Initially, my wife and I were apprehensive that such simple looking devices could be of any possible help - now we can't praise them highly enough.

Charles wears the Cramp Busters day and night on his hand and foot and, although the left side of his body is still affected it is markedly improved. If, for some reason he forgets to put the Cramp Busters on we can soon tell he's not wearing them by the way his walking deteriorates. The positive results of wearing them are that dramatic.

The NSW Spastic Centre is interested in Cramp Busters after noticing the obvious improvement with Charles since he's been wearing them. They say they can't explain exactly why the Cramp Busters work but acknowledged that there is a great improvement in Charles's case since he's been using them".
Robert & Faith Gray

The designer of Cramp Busters is occupational therapist, Pauline Buck.

HYPERBARIC MEDICINE If ALS/MND is caused by a virus, mycoplasma or co-infection, this form of treatment may help slow progress of the illness. This is not proven (or even claimed) but success in treating other problems suggests there may be a place for hyperbaric medicine in treating many chronic, degenerative illnesses.

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