- Aug 31, 2016
- Frostbite Falls, MN
Prof. Stephen Hawking
Ayahuasca and ALS
Male, 65, UK, diagnosed with ALS (not Prof. Hawking)
What can you tell us in general about your medical condition, and to what degree has it affected you? (Prior to treatment using ayahuasca)
My prognosis as of March 2013 was that of a one-year life expectancy, I did get a specific MND diagnosis confirmed by a consultant neurologist, on the back of which an insurance company paid up on my critical illness cover, there being a clear understanding that I would probably not last the year. I was very weak and trembly, had lost over 20 pounds in muscle mass, my knees were prone to swelling and I was racked by cramps and muscle twitching. I could barely manage stairs, and couldn't get out of the bath unassisted. I remember being a little challenged by a four inch step across the end of the room, choosing my best leg to step down.
Describe a typical experience with ayahuasca. What is it like during the immediate time the medicine is active in the body? What has been experienced afterwards?
Initially a fair amount of retching, although I didn't actually vomit much. Then some spastic activity, after which a warmth spread throughout my chest cavity, and sensations from the connection between muscle tissue and skeletal bone. It left me exhausted, but it mellowed out? after a while into a contemplation state of mind where the concept of fear had a major part. Stressful emotions such as fear and anxiety seems to be a major vexation (in relation to neurological diseases), and the ayahuasca seemed to soothe that too. I didn't feel that much different immediately afterwards, I suppose I felt a little more relaxed, but the following weeks (after sessions) my massage therapist said the muscle twitching was much improved, and I continued to recover steadily.
Has this treatment relieved or improved your condition in any way so far?
I have made essentially a full recovery, slow but persistent, and NHS consultants involved are mystified. Ayahuasca seems to me to have been instrumental in my recovery, which is fully documented. I am now fully healthy, I cycle to work. Now, after today doing a nine mile coastal walk for the pleasure it, I feel pretty much up to snuff, for a man of my age. A year after my diagnosis I held a party to express my gratitude to all the people who had helped me through, including T.H., the consultant neurologist (he didn't actually come). I was by that time much better, not up to full strength, but could party on and play the saxophone. I told my doctors about ayahuasca in August of 2013 I think, it was for a six monthly reassessment of my condition. T.H was frankly astonished, and when challenged said that the diagnosis was absolutely sound adding that the nerve conductivity tests were particularly unequivocal. It was then that I told him about the ayahuasca, and rather sheepishly, and mistakenly, he asked me if I had had a good trip? I replied that it had been unpleasant and that it was not a therapy for the faint-hearted. Since then T.H. has presented my case to some regional peer group, and a professor K.T. Their response was that perhaps 'I had a mimi', which seems to be exactly the same as the disease except for the outcome; or that the condition 'might have been brought upon me by the cocktail of therapies' I was taking at the time. I have yet to make a measured response to this, but it was not until I had serious symptoms that were initially interpreted as Lyme disease or an atypical sero-negative rheumatoid arthritic condition, that I embarked on any kind of medical therapy at all. The history presents a persuasive argument. My family, friends and some of my patients are aware of my ayahuasca treatment and are generally supportive. My wife plays tennis with a number of retired GPs, and their general opinion is that whatever I did cant be too bad. Hell, I am still walking about and they were initially supporting my wife and family on the clear expectation of my imminent demise.
Will you continue this treatment? If so, will you make any changes to your current regimen?
I don't see any necessity to carry on being treated. I might do the ayahuasca again but that would really be just out of curiosity.
Have you been following any particular diet prior to, or during your treatment?
Lots of organic fruit and vegetables, and I have a small holding so we have organic lamb and chicken too. I haven't eaten dairy for the past two years, and I seldom drink alcohol though I had a glass of cider the other day.
What made you try this alternative treatment?
It was an inspired patient who in doing an art degree in Plymouth came across the (ayahuasca) visionary art, and drew my attention to its source. Curiously some members of the church group with whom I sit proved an unexpected source of interest and loaned me various books on the topic, including those of the late Alexander Shulgin.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive, degenerative neuromuscular disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. These motor neurons carry messages from the brain to the spinal cord and, ultimately, to the muscles that are necessary for voluntary and involuntary movement and function.
In people living with ALS, motor neurons progressively die and the brain can no longer communicate with the muscles through the spinal cord. As muscles are used less and less frequently, they can atrophy, causing people with ALS to lose the ability to perform everyday activities, such as walking, speaking, and eating. ALS also affects the diaphragm, an essential muscle responsible for breathing, so people with ALS eventually lose their ability to breathe on their own. The average life expectancy for ALS patients is three to five years after diagnosis and death is generally caused by respiratory failure. There is no known cause or cure for ALS.
Cytokinetics is driven to improve the lives of people fighting ALS by applying our understanding of the mechanics of muscle function and contractility to the discovery and development of novel potential treatments that may directly improve muscle function, potentially delaying disease progression and preserving independence.