Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a fairly common and generally progressive, neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system with prevalence in the United States of approximately 350,000 cases annually. One of the most widely accepted theories of MS etiology is that it is an autoimmune condition, a condition in which the body’s own white blood cells attack the myelin sheathing around nerve tissue and the axons or tissues which conduct nerve impulses as if it were a foreign substance. Over time this attack leaves scars called lesions which interfere with the transmission of signals to and from the brain.
This may produce a multiplicity of symptoms, from slurred speech to vision problems to loss of mobility. The idea that MS may be caused by some form of infectious agent is supported by several researched observations. Both conventional and alternative therapies for MS have focused on immune response.
Epidemiologists have long observed a geographical north south gradient in MS occurrence. Moving further from earth’s equator, there are more MS cases per capita. And among populations with similar genetics, those living at very high elevations are statistically less likely to contract MS than those below who live beneath a thicker layer of U.V. diminishing air.
Coastal populations where diets are rich in fish containing D3 are also less likely to have MS than inlanders in those same regions without fish in their diets.
Women are twice as susceptible as men are. More Caucasian women contract the disease than women from other racial groups. MS becomes apparent between 30 and 50 years of age. Two-thirds of MS patients remain functional after 20 years, and 75 percent may never need a wheelchair.
Muscular symptoms include fatigue, weakness, continual feelings of heaviness, leg dragging, dropping things, and clumsiness. Sensory symptoms include tingling, pins-and-needles, numbness, dead feeling, and electrical sensations. Visual symptoms include blurring, fogginess, haziness, eyeball pain, double vision, and blindness.
Genitourinary factors include incontinence, loss of bladder control, sensation, and loss of sexual function. Symptoms include light-headedness, spinning-like feeling, nausea, vomiting, and drunken feeling.
Diet may play a key role in the development of MS. Some of the best dietary advice (which is true with any autoimmune disease) is to eat organically grown foods with no chemical treatments or additives, including eggs, fruit, gluten-free grains, raw nuts and seeds, vegetables, and cold-pressed vegetable oils. An imbalance of the gut bacteria are commonly recognized in-patients suffering from inflammatory diseases of the bowel. This condition is probably exacerbated by any “white” foods; including white dairy products, white sugar, and white flour. Limit the use of any sugar substitutes, especially aspartame.
The SWANK DIET has been proposed for the treatment of MS. This is a low-fat diet with restrictions on margarine, shortening, and high-saturated fats. Poly-saturated fats, however, are encouraged (cod-liver oil and vegetable oils). Avoid allergenic foods and utilize a Candida-free diet to eradicate Candida albicans (internal fungus or yeast overgrowth.)
MS rate has been repeatedly and significantly correlated with the consumption of animal fat. Consequently, a vegetarian diet is recommended for MS patients. Eat plenty of dark greens, which are good sources of vitamin K (unless the patient is taking the anticoagulant drug warfarin). Eat plenty of raw sprouts and alfalfa. “Green drinks” that contain barley, blue-green algae, chlorophyll, spirulina, spinach, and kale are exceptionally healthy.
Recognize the possibility that food allergies exist. The patient should get an allergy test (ELISA) or follow the ELIMINATION DIET, that is, removing foods one at a time and watching for results.
Heavy metal and free-radical damage – Over exposure to environmental toxins, chemicals, and xenoestrogens cause oxidative damage (advancing the aging process) to the vascular structure of the blood-brain barrier is seen in MS. The main heavy metal contaminate is mercury, but palladium and tin are suspect.
The “yeast” connection – Some doctors suggest that MS may be triggered or aggravated by an allergic reaction to Candida albicans, the common yeast germ that lives in our intestinal tract or vagina.
Loss of barrier integrity – While the exact mechanism is unknown, a number of causes of blood-brain barrier (BBB) breakdown include trauma, alcohol, viral infection, heavy metal toxicity, elevated homocysteine, oxidative damage, and nutrient deficiency.
Bacterial disturbances – Cases of MS appear to be linked to ongoing bacterial disturbances with elevated IgM levels. This along with heavy metal toxicity represents an overburden on the immune system that may provoke the disease.
Role of allergies – Since MS is thought to be autoimmune in nature, allergies (food allergies or environmental allergies) can commonly contribute to the immune system’s attacks on its own tissues (in this case the myelin sheath.) Common allergens include dust, molds, tobacco, dairy products, sulfite-containing foods, and wheat gluten. See the ELIMINATION DIET.
Inflammatory Mediators (Prostaglandins) – For many years, the manipulation of dietary fat intake has been a clinical approach to MS. Research confirms that patients with chronic and progressive MS show significantly higher levels of PGE2 than healthy patients. Lipid profiles of MS patients reveal a staggering deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids (flaxseed and fish oil.)
Elevated homocysteine levels are present in MS patients, as well as low folic acid levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is an indicator of cardiovascular health. When elevated, homocysteine levels can be responsible for damaging the arteries and increasing the risk of vascular disease. More than 30% of MS patients have serum levels low in vitamin B12, which may result in neurological disturbances. Free-radical damage has also been associated with MS.
Chemical poisoning of the central nervous system by heavy metal toxicity, chemicals, pesticides, and other “free radicals” most likely play a part in the development of MS. Environmental toxins can cause severe disturbances in the body’s normal metabolic pathways and result in damage to the nerves’ protective myelin sheath. Many experts suspect that mercury poisoning is behind many cases of MS. Mercury has been shown to bind to the DNA of the cell and cell membrane, causing cellular distortion and inhibited cell function.
It is critical to test for heavy metals (especially mercury) using a DMPS provocation test in a lab.
- ESSENTIAL OMEGA-3 and 6 FATTY ACIDS
These fatty acids create the most advantageous environment for the repair and regeneration of myelin. Omega 3 fatty acids are critical to improving MS. Two to three gm/day of fish oil improves neural transmission. One to three gm/day of evening primrose or borage oil helps to decrease inflammation and reduce the immune system’s attack on myelin. Wheat germ oil concentrate (taken one to three times daily) and cod liver oil capsules can be supplemented. One may substitute Krill oil. Dosage: 1,000-4,000 mg daily with meals.
B complex taken in higher doses helps to lower homocysteine levels associated with MS. They also help aid immune system function, promote red blood cell production and maintain healthy nerves. VITAMIN B12 at 1000+ mcg/day (injection encouraged) improves energy, enhances sense of well being, and decreases peroxidation of nerve membranes. Other B-vitamin supplementation includes 800+ mcg/day of FOLIC ACID, 50-150 mg/day of VITAMIN B6, and 10-20 mg/day of VITAMIN B1 (THIAMIN), and additional CHOLINE and INOSITOL.
- ANTIOXIDANT THERAPY
High doses of antioxidant therapy are of great importance for the MS patient. Antioxidants destroy free radicals that tear down one’s immune system. They are important for circulation and act as an immune stimulant and protect the nervous system. There is an increased need for VITAMIN E (800 IU daily); VITAMIN C (1,000-5,000 mg daily); SELENIUM (150-300 mcg daily); VITAMIN D (200-600 IU daily); and VITAMIN A plus CAROTENOIDS (15,000-25,000 IU daily).
- MAGNESIUM and CALCIUM
Magnesium helps all aspects of muscular integrity and may also help to relax the muscles. Magnesium is needed for calcium absorption. Calcium deficiency may create a predisposition for developing MS. Magnesium 400-1,000 mg/day; Calcium 1,500-3,000 mg daily.
Researchers have noted that MS patients have high levels of nitrogen-centered free radicals in their cerebrospinal fluid. Acetyl-L-Carnitine supplementation decreases these levels and is also found to improve the extreme fatigue that accompanies MS. In another controlled study, patients with MS who were given 1 gram twice a day of Acetyl-L-Carnitine was more effective and better tolerated for MS-related fatigue than the prescription drug amantadine. Dosage: 500- 2,000 mg daily.
Researchers have long suspected a link between immune diseases and infection with the yeast Candida albicans. There is compelling evidence that using probiotic therapy to eliminate candidiasis may reduce the fatigue and dysbiosis associated with MS. Dosage: 1-2 capsules between meals for 3 weeks, then 1-2 daily as maintenance therapy.
- METHYLSULFONYLMETHANE (MSM)
This sulfur-based compound helps keep cell walls permeable, allowing water and nutrients to freely flow into cells and allow waste and toxins to properly flow out. Together with vitamin C, MSM can help the body to build healthy new cells. Dosage: 500-3,000 mg daily.
- ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID (ALA)
Alpha lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant and is helpful in reducing oxidative damage and is one of the most powerful brain antioxidants available. ALA supplementation may reduce relapse frequency and symptom intensity. Alpha-lipoic acid is an ideal heavy metal chelator (heavy metal contamination is thought to be associated with MS) that increases the excretion of heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and arsenic. ALA also suppresses relapses of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), and thus data warrants investigation as a therapy for MS. Dosage: 300- 1,200 mg daily.
- VITAMIN D3
Vitamin D3 (Vitamin 1,25 OH2 D3) is a naturally occurring bodily substance that many believe to exert a protective effect in multiple sclerosis – both in the development of the disease and in limiting its progression. It is naturally produced in the skin in response to sunlight but is also present in certain foodstuffs (particularly oily fish.) It is also available as a dietary supplement from health food stores. Coastal populations where diets are rich in fish containing D3 are also less likely to have MS than inlanders in those same regions without fish in their diets. Dosage: 400-1,600 IU daily or as directed by a qualified health practitioner.
- PANCREATIC ENZYMES
These enzymes stimulate macrophages to break up and clear out the foreign immune complexes. In MS the body produces antibodies against the myelin sheath, causing damage and creating scarring. Enzymes (pancreatin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, bromelain, papain, amylase, lipase, and the bioflavonoid rutin) are used to reduce circulating immune complexes, decrease inflammation, speed digestion, improve circulation, remove wastes, and stimulate immunity.
- N-ACETYL CYSTEINE (NAC)
NAC enhances the production of glutathione, helps to protect the liver from toxins and is one of the most important brain antioxidants. NAC is a key in MS therapy as well as other neurological conditions. Dosage: 300 mg up to 3 times a day.
- COENZYME Q10
Coenzyme Q10 is a potent antioxidant that plays a critical role in facilitating cellular energy production. CoQ10 is needed for improved circulation and tissue oxygenation. As a potent anti-oxidant, CoQ10 also strengthens the immune system. Dosage: 60-200 mg a day.
Bioflavonoids, including GRAPE SEED, PYCNOGENOL, and BILBERRY, can reduce capillary fragility and act as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Dosage: see label.
Betaine may be supplemented in doses of 40-70 grains per day if the patient is hypochlorhydric (suffering from low stomach acid). Taken with ACIDOPHILUS can help to detoxify harmful substances, enhance the absorption of nutrients, and aid digestion. Dosage: 1-2 capsules 3 times a day before eating.
- PADMA (ADAPTRIN)
Padma is a Himalayan herb helpful in decreasing MS symptoms. Dosage: 2 tablets 3 times a day.
- COX-2 HERBAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY AGENTS
Cox-2 inhibiting herbs include BOSWELLA, BROMELAIN, GINGER, QUERCETIN, and CURCUMIN, potent herbs used to relieve pain and inflammation. Dosage: As directed on package.
DHEA has been used in rare cases for autoimmunity. DHEA slows overall body deterioration and enhances fat loss and lean muscle mass development. Hormone (saliva) samples should be taken before instituting DHEA therapy. Dosage: see a qualified practitioner, since DHEA is converted into sex hormones in the body.
- GINKGO BILOBA
Ginkgo biloba is a useful herb in virtually all neurodegenerative conditions due to its ability to decrease free radicals. Dosage: 60-180 mg daily.
This nutrient derived from meat may help the patient develop new muscle and strengthen existing muscles. Use this product in combination with a balanced diet and plenty of water. Dosage: See instructions on container and do not exceed recommended dosage.
Some integrative protocols list the benefits of PS supplementation for effective medical management of MS symptoms. Dosage: 200-500 daily.
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