Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive muscle paralysis and early death.
There is no cure, but a groundbreaking nutritional therapy called the Deanna Protocol shows promise as a natural, alternative way to slow progression and prolong life in ALS patients, Dr. Dominic D'Agostino said in an exclusive interview.
Dr. D'Agostino is an assistant professor at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology. D'Agostino does ongoing research on the use of the low-carb ketogenic diet to manage cancer.
The Deanna Protocol was created by retired orthopedic surgeon Dr. Vincent Tedone whose daughter, Deanna, was diagnosed with ALS in 2008 at the age of 30.
The prognosis for ALS is bleak: On average, patients live around three years after diagnosis, and less than 5% of patients survive past 10 years.
Metabolic Diet Therapy Treats ALS Without Side Effects of Drugs
The current standard of care for ALS is the drug Rilutek (riluzole). Rilutek does not cure ALS, but may delay progression of the disease in some patients.
But even in the best-case scenario, it only extends life by two months and produces a number of side effects, including nausea, headache and drowsiness. Knowing these sobering statistics, Dr. Tedone set out on a mission to find a way to stall the progression of his daughter's disease.
The Deanna Protocol involves using a variety of supplements to enhance the metabolic health and function of the cells damaged in ALS. Dr. Tedone identified four supplements as key components of the Deanna Protocol: arginine alpha ketoglutarate (AAKG), ubiquinol (CoQ10), nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH), gamma amino butyric acid (GABA).
In addition to the supplementation, the protocol includes cardio, weight training, speech-training and respiratory muscle training, along with coconut oil massage.
Feedback from ALS patients using the Deanna Protocol is positive, with little, if any, side effects reported. In a recent study, 80% of the 40 ALS patients who implemented the Deanna Protocol demonstrated slowed or stalled progression of symptoms by objective measurement (ALSFRS-R scores).
The data collected from these patients will be summarized in a book that is scheduled to be published in the near future and will be available on the Winning the Fight Against Neurodegenerative Diseases website.
Deanna Protocol Prolonged Survival In Studies
Dr. D'Agostino’s laboratory is busy evaluating the effects of the Deanna Protocol in the pre-clinical setting with hopes of laying the groundwork for more human clinical trials.
Dr. Csilla Ari, a member of D’Agostino’s team, was the lead author on a study recently published in the scientific journal PLOS One, which demonstrated that the supplementation in the Deanna Protocol improved motor function and extended survival in an experimental mouse model of ALS.
The results of this study support the potential use of the Deanna Protocol as a metabolic therapy to stall the progression of ALS. Previous research indicates the ketogenic diet can also manage ALS, but the results of the Deanna Protocol were superior to that seen with the ketogenic diet, which also produces a beneficial effect in motor function but not survival.
Ongoing studies are being done to determine the precise mechanisms responsible for these effects. It is also possible that the Deanna Protocol may have therapeutic benefits for other neurological diseases, considering that metabolic dysfunction is a hallmark characteristic of most neurodegenerative diseases.
Deanna Tedone-Gage remains stable today six years after diagnosis, thanks to the protocol her father developed. More research needs to be done to determine optimal dosing and composition of the metabolic supplement in the Deanna Protocol.
“Given that no effective therapy currently exists for ALS, neurologists should be informing their ALS patients of this therapeutic option," said Dr. D'Agostino. "Anything that helps patients with ALS is useful."