Why I’m not dumping an ice bucket on my head for ALS #icebucketalternative

Stephen Hawking has ALS, and is an unusual case because he has lived much longer than expected.

Stephen Hawking has ALS, and is an unusual case because he has lived much longer than expected.

Last weekend a friend nominated me on Facebook for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It was bad timing, because I had an important commitment on Sunday. It’s also been really cold in Upstate New York, and the thought of taking off my sweater to dump ice water on my head doesn’t make me feel charitable.

In addition, I’m bothered by the way that the ALS Association turned a fun dare among pro athletes and celebrities into a guilt-trip fundraiser for more research by Big-Pharma, which continues to ignore possibility of environmental or food-based causes for diseases and fails to address alternative treatments. I cannot bring myself to donate the little extra money I have to a charity that does not align with my values.

That being said, I saw the effects of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, first-hand when it affected a yoga student. The vibrant, active woman I knew deteriorated quickly and passed away earlier this year. I didn’t get to see her after she was unable to keep up her yoga practice, but I got updates from her friends. After I learned about ALS, I believe her death was a blessing. (Here is a touching opinion piece by a sufferer which made me feel better about my reaction to the news of her passing.)

My heart and mind were conflicted, and I was reminded that I had been challenged each time I opened Facebook. I mulled it over last night during my Reiki self-practice. This morning I held the camera while my son dumped ice water on my daughter’s head so she could meet her challenge. (It was 46F outside.) I realized I needed to find a way to honor those who are afflicted with ALS, but I had to do it in a way that felt good to me.

I decided to reach out to my circle of alternative and integrative practitioners, yoga teachers, energy healers and health coaches with our own challenge. It’s easy, and all of the steps are optional. You can put that ice bucket down.

  1. Learn about ALS and its symptoms. (Anyone who is willing to dump an ice bucket on his head should at least do that.)
  2. Do something productive for those who are suffering with ALS. Keep it simple. Dedicate the energy of a yoga practice or meditation. Volunteer to teach yoga or meditation, or offer energy healing, at a local hospital. Look into alternative or nutritional therapies for ALS and share what you find to help get information to those who need it. I am creating a crystal grid to send Reiki to anyone afflicted or caring for someone with ALS who would like to receive it. I’ll post a picture of the grid as soon as it is done. You are welcome to add your energy to it.
  3. Make a donation, even a very small one, to a charity that feels right to you. I spent a few hours today researching and decided to support Voice for HOPE (Healers of Planet Earth), a group advocating to make complementary, alternative and integrative health initiatives an explicit part of our national health policy. (You can join for free – donations are optional.) Here are some of the others I considered:
  4. Spread the word. If you use social media to share what you’ve learned or done, please tag your post #icebucketalternative.

5 replies
  1. Nancy Buck
    Nancy Buck says:

    ALS has been around for a very long time with almost no progress for help or a cure made during this time. The ice bucket challenge has given ALS the attention and $$$ it needs for progress. The ice bucket is not the point. But the ice bucket got the attention that ALS needs.
    Most people know almost nothing about ALS unless someone close to them is afflicted, then dies. Now more people do because of the ice bucket challenge.
    Don’t like their tactics? Then suggest another that will get them the attention and help they need.
    Feeling guilty? That feeling is coming from inside of you, not from an organization trying to do good work, not for the benefit to big Pharma (they hardly touch this research because there is not enough potential profit for them), but for the patients and families.

    • Debbie Philp
      Debbie Philp says:

      Thank you for sharing. I’m glad the ALSA has gotten a big boost from the Ice Bucket Challenge, and hope they put the funds to good use. I agree there needed to be more awareness of the disease (see step one above – a step a few of the people I spoke to who dumped water on their heads didn’t bother with, unfortunately). My issue is with “traditional” medical research, which tends to ignore possible underlying causes for any of our industrial age diseases, such as nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins, and “alternative” (it bothers me to use these words because many of these so-called “alternatives” have been around for thousands of years) treatments which might bring a better quality of life to patients and their caregivers. I chose to support organizations who are trying to change the paradigm, to offer that option to others who feel like I do, and perhaps in some small way help those suffering not just from ALS but other diseases as well. I am truly grateful you took the time to read and respond.

  2. Nancy Buck, PhD, RN
    Nancy Buck, PhD, RN says:

    Having done a fair bit of research about this disease once I began working for ALS -Rhode Island chapter I can tell you that there has been more research looking at this disease from a non-traditional (and as you say, ideas that have been around for a very long time) than the traditional. The rate of this disease has remained pretty consistent over the years. One bit of interesting data is that more military people are afflicted than the general population, and more people from the airforce of all of the military divisions.

    The ice bucket challenge has shifted the paradigm — perhaps not in finding the causes and cures, but at least in increasing the number of people who are aware that this disease exists and are donating to the cause.

    Just as an aside, I was amazed to discover that there were no nursing courses or continuing education classes I could take to help me learn more about nursing care of people and families with ALS! And of course, nurses have always approached diseases and illnesses from a holistic perspective.

    Thanks for letting me participate in your conversation about this issue. I for one am delighted to know of the success, attention and $$$ that is resulting from this campaign. It is much more “front and center” with spotlight and “buzzz” than their usual “walk for the cure” which has now become more common place.

    PS. I am all about the non-traditional, paradigm shift. Please visit Mental Health & Happiness, http://www.mentalhealthandhappiness.com or Peaceful Parenting Inc, http://www.peacefulparenting.com to check out my work and efforts.

  3. Derek J. Healey
    Derek J. Healey says:

    Reblogged this on Complete Health Circle and commented:
    I don’t reblog very often, but I have also been mulling over this whole ALS Water-boarding Challenge that seems to be morphing from something very meaningful to a popularity contest. The act of dumping the water is to mimic the effects of the central nervous system of someone with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Here, Debbie offers an alternative. Namaste~


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