Multiple Sclerosis - multiple sclerosis and natural therapies
multiple sclerosis and natural therapies
Article by Dr. Zoltan p. Rona MD MSc
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects different parts of the nervous system through the destruction of the myelin sheaths, the structures that cover the nerves. The inflammatory response produces any number of symptoms including blurred vision, staggering gait, numbness, dizziness, tremors, slurred speech, bowel and bladder problems, sexual impotence in men and paralysis.
MS usually occurs in persons between the ages of twenty-five and forty. The disease may disappear for long periods of time, then return with acute symptom flare-ups. It progresses slowly and may last several decades in many cases. On the other hand, in a minority, it can develop rapidly and progress unremittingly to death. There is no universally accepted treatment for MS. ACTH (hormone) injections are often used in acute exacerbations as are immunosuppressive drugs. These, of course, have severe side effects. When asked about the role of nutrition in M.S., most conventional medical doctors still claim there is no benefit to any diet changes. I disagree.
Although the definitive cause of MS is unknown, a growing number of scientific studies suggest that nutrition may be a very important factor. Nutrition oriented health care practitioners have noticed that early MS can be helped by optimizing nutritional status with respect to essential fatty acids, amino acids, minerals such as zinc, selenium and magnesium and B vitamins, especially vitamin B12 and folic acid.
In my practice, I have noted tremendous subjective improvements in many M.S. patients after a series of vitamin B 12 and folic acid injections. Not only did all these patients have greater energy after vitamin B 12 and folic acid treatments, but, objectively, there were improvements in nerve conduction studies done by neurologists. Spontaneous remission Not likely because both vitamins have been demonstrated to improve nerve cell function. It is indeed possible that some cases of M.S. are really B vitamin deficiencies in disguise.
Most cases of MS (over 80% according to one 25 year study) improve on a low saturated fat diet (Swank diet for MS). Researchers have also reported that symptoms improve when food intolerances (allergies) are eliminated. In my experience, the commonest hidden food allergies appear to be wheat, milk, eggs, yeast and corn. Testing and treatment of these allergies may unlock the door to recovery for many M.S. sufferers.
Supplements which are very effective in both prevention and treatment of M.S. include fish oil (omega-3-EpA) and evening primrose oil capsules. Dosages depend on the severity of the illness and the patient's tolerance for these supplements. Alternatives include flaxseed oil, edible linseed oil, oil of borage and black currant oil. Vitamin E and other antioxidants (vitamin A, beta carotene, B complex vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, selenium, pycnogenol and others) are also beneficial.
Hypersensitivity to toxic heavy metals such as mercury can produce all the symptoms of MS. So can Lyme Disease. Testing for these two possibilities is certainly worth while. Some dentists have advocated the replacement of all mercury dental fillings with non-metal fillings as a therapy for MS. Although the testimonials that support the replacement of the common mercury filling in MS patients are legion, it is still a highly controversial topic. In my practice, I have had at least a dozen M.S. victims improve drastically after replacement of mercury dental fillings. Unfortunately, an equal number have had no change in their health status as a result of this sort of treatment. Hair mineral analysis and urine tests can screen for excess body burdens of mercury as well as other toxic heavy metals that may interfere with the immune system. High levels can usually be offset by supplementation with vitamin C, selenium, garlic, cysteine, methionine and other high sulfur containing compounds. If you are one of these people with a mouthful of dental hardware, get yourself a copy of "Eliminating poison in Your Mouth" by Klaus Kaufmann and find a dentist familiar with the mercury problem.
There is a recently published book on DHEA by Dr. Neecie Moore (Bountiful Health, Boundless Energy, Brilliant Youth: The Facts about DHEA) which is well documented and easy to read. One can also get a great deal of information on DHEA from the Life Extension Foundation (see below).
DHEA has been used successfully in the treatment of many autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis, Lupus and fibromyalgia. DHEA regulates the immune system and maintains the metabolic and structural integrity of the nervous system. DHEA has been shown to be antiviral and has benefited conditions as serious as HIV infection and AIDS.
One 1990 study by Roberts indicated that M.S. victims had low DHEA levels which were improved by DHEA administration. It was also noted that the majority of these patients had discernible improvement in their daily quality of life including increased energy levels, better dexterity, greater limb strength, decreased sensations of numbness, more power in the lower limbs and even an increase in libido. Another 1990 study by Calabrese concluded that DHEA helped to improve the fatigue so often associated with M.S. In Canada and the U.S., DHEA is available only on a doctor's prescription. Natural precursors to DHEA can be found in wild yam but studies do not indicate that this is equivalent to the pure hormone.
Some authors also believe that MS can be benefited by anti-candida treatment. This too is controversial. In situations where all else has failed and the patient is in the early stages of the disease, trial therapy with a yeast-free diet and natural antifungal remedies may be warranted. For more information on treatment of food allergies, yeast-free diets and candida therapy, see my book, "The Joy of Health."
Finally, European and South American doctors have reported successful results with the use of ozone therapy. So, as you can see, there are plenty of reasons to adopt a more positive, hopeful attitude in dealing with this serious disease.
- Calabrese, V.p. et al. DHEA in multiple sclerosis: positive effects on the fatigue syndrome in a non-randomized study. In The Biologic Role of DHEA by Kalimi, M. and Regelson, W., Editors. New York: Walter De Gruyter, 1990, pp. 95-100.
- Jonez, Hinton D. Management of Multiple Sclerosis, postgraduate Medicine, May 1952;2:415-422.
- Kaufmann, Klaus. Eliminating poison in Your Mouth. Burnaby:Alive Books, 1991.
- Mai, Jesper et al. High dose antioxidant supplementation to M.S. patients: effects on glutathione peroxidase, clinical safety and absorption of selenium. Biological Trace Element Research, 1990;24:109-117.
- Moore, Neecie. Bountiful Health, Boundless Energy, Brilliant Youth: The Facts about DHEA. Dallas:Charis publishing Co., Inc. 1994.
- Ransohoff, Richard M., Vitamin B 12 deficiency and multiple sclerosis. The Lancet, May 26, 1990;1285-1286.
- Reynolds, E.H., et al. Multiple Sclerosis associated with vitamin B 12 deficiency. Archives of Neurology. August, 1991;48:808-811.
- Rona, Zoltan p. The Joy of Health. Toronto:Hounslow, 1991.
- Roberts, E. and Fauble, T.J. Oral DHEA in multiple sclerosis: results of a phase one, open study. In The Biologic Role of DHEA by Kalimi, M. and Regelson, W., Editors. New York: Walter De Gruyter, 1990, pp. 81-93.
- Sunnen, Gerard U. Ozone in medicine: overview and future directions. Journal of Advancement in Medicine, Vol. 1, No. , Fall 1988 (pp 159-173).
- Swank, Roy. The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1987.
- Swank, Roy et al. Effect of low saturated fat diet in early and late cases of multiple sclerosis. The Lancet, July 7, 1990;336:37-39.