by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
A week ago Monday, tragedy had shown its face to my family as my brother Mark passed at the age of 59. Mark was diagnosed with ALS about 18 or 20 months ago and it has been quite a journey with him during this time. As I know Mark, he would not want a fuss made over his passing and I am sure that he would want others to be aware of this tragic diagnosis of ALS and more importantly, some of the underlying challenges that we were able to uncover for him personally. This way, his tragedy can actually be a gift for somebody else.
Mark, this article is written in your honor.
I know Mark was very excited about the Ice Bucket Challenge
to bring awareness to ALS in the hope of finding a cure for this tragic diagnosis. While I support bringing an awareness to this deadly and debilitating disease, I want to be very focused on the fact that I believe that this can be prevented when we look at the underlying factors. I personally wish my brother would have looked at all the underlying challenges earlier in his life because I truly believe that he would not only be alive today, but he would have never developed this disease in the first place.
You may ask how I can say this with such conviction.
So here's the story of my brother in the hope that this is a gift for one of the Depke Wellness followers or one of your friends or loved ones.
When my brother was first diagnosed, conventional medicine was trying to understand why he was have some difficulties with his speech. He was referred to a speech therapist and was provided a pharmaceutical drug that was suppose to help with his speech. Ironically I later found that one of the symptoms of this drug was neurological dysfunction. I want to be clear that I do not feel that the drug itself was the cause of Mark's challenges but it likely did not help. Once he was officially diagnosed we made it a point to get him into our clinic ASAP to take a look at the underlying factors that he was dealing with. Understand that here at Depke Wellness, we do not look at the disease or the diagnosis as the problem, we see the underlying causes as the real issue. Based on conventional medicine ALS is a somewhat diverse and decidedly mystifying disease. In more than
nine out of every 10 cases diagnosed, no clear identifying cause of the
disease is apparent, that is, patients lack an obvious genetic history,
complete with affected family members.
So what would we look at then as a cause?
Let's first recognize that ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig's
Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve
cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the
brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The key here is neurodegeneration!
This is where we found many challenges for my brother and I would estimate that you would find similar challenges for others diagnosed with ALS. Let me be very clear though, you want to understand these keys before
you are living with the symptoms or diagnosis of ALS.
Once my brother started working with Depke Wellness, we went through a battery of test to understand his function and underlying causes. These are the tests that we ran for Mark.
- Comprehensive adrenal saliva testing
- Gluten sensitivity testing
- Cross reactive sensitivity testing
- Urine porphyrin testing for heavy metals
- Brain autoimmunity testing
- Muscle testing for infection
- Chiropractic assessment
The results of this testing showed some conclusive evidence of why Mark was living this this neurodegenerative disease. Upon initial review of his adrenal function, this revealed stage III adrenal insufficiency which directly impacts neural connectivity, muscle integrity and immune function as well as many other functions of the body. He had shown to be sensitive to gluten, dairy and corn, all of which he ate for most of his life on a consistent basis. Understanding that these sensitivities lead to gut/brain connection disorders, chronic inflammation, immune dysregulation and neural degeneration. We also found that he was loading with mercury toxicity, which is a known neurotoxin. When we received the results of his autoimmune testing, which tested five different levels at which that immune system can be attacking the brain, Mark was dealing with autoimmunity on all five levels. Upon muscle testing, it was discovered that he was also dealing with chronic infection throughout his body and the chiropractic assessments had shown definite neurological challenges based on subluxation in his vertebrae.
If it sounds as if Mark was a mess at this point, you could not be more correct and based on these findings it would be expected to also be living with some type of neurological degenerative disease state, which he was.
At that time, we of course initiated our focus on Mark's care. He removed the foods from his diet that he was sensitive to, we worked on balancing his adrenal function, supported his immune system with the intention of fighting infection, used proper chiropractic intervention to assist in aligning his spine, assisted on eliminating the mercury toxicity from his body and focused on the chronic inflammation which most often leads to autoimmune conditions. Throughout this time Mark often felt as if he was improving but it was a couple steps forward and some steps backward.
In the end, we caught this all too late and his body was beyond the ability to recover from the depth of this neurodegeneration.
The gift of this entire situation with my brother is in knowing that this can all be understood long before you would ever have to live with the news of a diagnosis of ALS or any other neurodegenerative disease and I personally look at all these areas for myself with consistency. After all, I not only witnessed my brother progress through this but also watched my mother and grandmother both pass with severe dementia, which is another neurodegenerative disease.
A certain level of peace that I have found through this entire process with my brother is that he told his conventional doctor with conviction that he was not going to progress through the typical stages of neuromuscular degeneration that is typical of ALS, and he did not. Up until just days before the very end, he was still walking and even working from home which is very unusual for those with ALS. One thing that I always loved about my brother is that he did it his way, both in life and in death. I will always love my brother and am grateful for the gift that he will provide for someone else in preventing neurodegeneration.
In the end, we can use this tragedy as a gift and recognize that neurodegenerative disease can be addressed at the core, but don't wait until you have a significant diagnosis such as ALS, dementia or Alzheimer's. Catch this early and prevent!
If anyone cares to donate in memory of my brother Mark, please donate to either the San Fransico SPCA
or the ALS Association
. When my brother lived in San Francisco he would regular donate his time and money to the SPCA due to his love for animals and cats specifically and I know that he was very supportive for ALS awareness.
If you have any comments or questions, please leave these below and we will address them personally.