Description: the cause of this disease is unknown, but it may fit into the ‘autoimmune’ group of diseases, where the body’s immune system attacks itself. The myelin sheath around the nerves and the brain is slowly destroyed, causing short circuits and malfunction of the nerves. Similar to damage to the plastic coating around an electrical wire. Multiple sclerosis patients tend to relapse with stepwise deteriorations.
What your doctor can do
For acute attacks, high dose steroid drugs (methyl prednisolone) is the treatment most used, it is effective in many cases but rarely modifies the disease progression. In some centres plasma exchange therapy is used. For relapsing attacks. Some doctors try steroids, or immune suppressors (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate) but these usually only give limited benefit when given long term, although they may cause a temporary improvement. Immunomodulatory therapies like teriflunomide , beta interferons and others seem promising, but they do have significant side effects and confirmation of their true value is awaited.
There us a lot of research and newer approaches and drugs are becoming available. It seems that the earlier treatment is started, the better the longer term results. Currently they are looking at immunoimodulatory drugs, and those which suppress the immune system - either contiouously or itnermittently.
What you can do
- A positive mental approach is very important and may in itself reduce relapses.
- Plenty of rest and regular exercise are beneficial. Avoid getting over tired. Do NOT smoke and limit of exclude alcohol.
- The microbiome (bugs in the gut), is very important in many diseases, and I would strongly recommend taking reuularly a good probiotic. Some people suggest bowel cleansing and a low stress diet (no milk products, gluten, chocolate or alcohol, and reduce simple sugars), to see if this reduces the relapses.
- Toxins - some practitioners do hair mineral analysis for heavy metal toxicity, and check the teeth for excess mercury, infected root canals or jaw cavitations.
- If there is anything which precedes a relapse (stress, pollen, changes in temperature, dietary change), try to avoid these.
- Low dose naltrexone - may well help (click here for more details) - and after a discussion with your health provider, should be considered.
- A good multivitamin/multimineral makes sure that brain tissues have all the nutrients and minerals required to function perfectly. The USANA Cellsentials * (see below) contain phytonutrients which help switch on and off many of the intracellular processes which may be working abnormally. We do not know if this has a role in MS, but it can do no harm.
- Omega 3 fish oils, 1–2 grams daily. This is very important for good brain function. Because MS is a disease affecting the nerves, a high omega 3 intake can be very beneficial. It may also reduce the relapse rate and improve symptoms. In a small study of patients with multiple sclerosis, over 2 years the incidence of recurrences fell from 1.39 to 0.06 in those taking omega 3 fish oils, B vitamins and vitamin C.78
- Calcium and magnesium, 800-1,000mg/day. Magnesium has a very calming effect, helps with sleep and enables people to cope better. It can also help with nerve function.
- Grape seed extract (proanthocyanidins) is a powerful antioxidant and anti- inflammatory agent and some people with multiple sclerosis find that taking high doses can help both with the severity and the frequency of the relapses.
- Vitamin C, 1-3 grams/day, is a powerful antioxidant, it is also essential in the repair of fibrous tissue, and may help the repair of the myelin sheaths around the nerves.
- Because the muscles can become weak, exacerbating tiredness, Coenzyme Q10 can be helpful to improve energy - 50 - 300mg daily)
- Vitamin D - we do not fully understand the actions of vitamin D, but it seems to turn on and off genes and the immune system. In areas where Vitamin D levels are low, there is much more multiple Sclerosis. i would suggest all MS patients take 6-10,000iu of vitamin D daily.
- Whenever there is an exacerbation of multiple sclerosis, the Co Q10 and grape seed extract should be greatly increased, by up to 3 or 4 times the usual dose, and may well reduce the effects of the relapse.
I have done a 20 minutes talk on how supplements can help in patients with MS - click here
There are a number of other theories which reputable doctors have suggested but which have not been accepted by the conventional MS specialists - why? Not because they may or may not work, but because no trials have been done with them. The reason for this is that the treatments or drugs are not under patent, so no drug firm will sponsor a trial and they are expensive (costing millions of dollars). So until there is a trial conventional medicine will not recommend these therapies, even though they have very little to offer these patients.
- Infection by chlamydia pneumonia (CP) - there has been some interest in this as a possible cause, but it is very hard to identify this bacteria and even harder to treat it. Even though some studies have shown CP present in the brain tissue or cerebrospinal fluid of some MS patients, others have not. The topic is well described in this short video click here. The drugs recommended (doxycycline 200mg daily, roxithramycin 300mg daily and short courses of metronidazole) and are cheap and relatively free from side effects, but the recommended duration of 1 year to eradicate the disease is a long time. If I or a close relative/friend had MS which was not getting better, would I try these - I think I would. (A review of the evidence and Dr Wheldon's discussion can be found here.
(Note in the video they discuss jugular vein dilatation as a therapy. Firstly it is difficult to see how venous return from one side of the brain could affect lesions in the spinal cord, and the reports of instantaneous recovery of sight after dilation, makes this therapy much less credible. Also in the video, the proponents for this treatment suggest that it may be C Pneumonia which is causing both.)
- You might also like to look at this video from youtube on MS. Dr. Terry Wahls cured her own MS using a hunter gatherer diet. It is a very powerful video, and for people who could do it, it seems a very good approach. I suspect huge doses of quality supplements as above could have a similar effect, but leave you to make up your own minds click here
Body/mind/spirit/energy therapies – most people appreciate that a person with a positive outlook and happy disposition is much more likely to overcome a disease than those who turn their faces to the wall. When we consider that the atoms that make up our bodies are actually spinning energy particles (electrons, quarks, leptons, bosons, neutrinos….), then it is obvious that energy can affect our bodies. Some therapies (acupuncture, Reiki, healing touch…) address these directly, and there are many simple, safe and beneficial ways of improving the energy round out bodies. These include looking positively, forgiving events of the past, loving, hugging, meditation, listening to good uplifting music or TV programmes, Tai chi, hypnosis, massage, aroma therapy. Accept the support and love of others. Studies have shown that positive thoughts, prayers, love and concern can travel around the world and lead to beneficial outcomes. We don’t understand it, but then there are many things we don’t understand. Just accept it as another implement in your recovery – possibly the most powerful tool.
Supplements are frowned upon by the medical profession because they have not been shown in trials to give benefit.
There are a number of reasons for that - few trials have been done and those which have been positive are ignored and also and most importantly, most trials have been done with poor quality supplements which do not provide the nutrients the body requires (in both quality and amount).
- USANA - Cellsenntials *, Biomega, Active Calcium plus, Poly C, Vitamin D, Proflavanol C, Coquinone, -
Other therapiesThere are a number of other therapies which you might like to look at. They have not been specifically included with this disease because some are a form of treatment which is applicable to most diseases and many focus on the mind, body, spirit, and the universe. These include - acupuncture, Ayurvedic medicine, energy healing, homeopathy, naturopathy, prayer, visualisation and some people with this condition might like to look at these topics (I have described them more fully on another page on this website click here .) With my personal experience and reading, I do not think that I can comment of whether one or a number of these might help. They fit well with most conventional and complementary treatments and I suspect some or even all of them can be extremely powerful - if performed by an experienced practitioner. My only caveat is that if in the course of one of these therapies, you are given potions or herbs, do check with your health practitioner that they will not interfere with other treatments or drugs you are receiving.
Nutritional supplementsI believe in today's world that nutritional supplements are so necessary as to be an essential component of any form of both prevention and treatment. Not only is today's food lacking in nutrients because of the way it was grown and processed, but also most of us make the wrong choices in diet. It is virtually impossible to obtain optimal levels of most of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients although many people try to do so, and even then fresh produce is not available all year round. *There are many quality supplements available on the market, including –Thorne, NFS, Douglas Labs, Xtend Life, True Star Health, USANA, and Metagenics. There are others, but do your due diligence before choosing one. USANA Health Sciences has added a new adjunct to its multivitamin and multi mineral called CellSentials. These are a patented blend of phyto-nutrients which they believe affects cell signaling and growth, and increases the production of preventative antioxidants within the cell. These should add to the value of the multi, so these are the multivitamin/mineral preparation I recommend.