Chiropractic & Nutrition: Can Enzymes Help Fight Multiple Sclerosis?
What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)? Multiple Sclerosis means "many scars." It is a slowly progressing disease, characterized by disseminated patches of demyelination in the central nervous system. The nerves of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) are covered with an insulation, called myelin. For unknown reasons, in MS, the myelin breaks down, interrupting signals which normally travel between adjacent nerve fibers. This results in multiple and varied neurologic symptoms and signs, usually with exacerbations and remissions (symptoms come and go, similar to rheumatoid arthritis).
This disease is very difficult to accurately diagnose because it mimics many other neuromuscular disorders. Symptoms usually relate to the site of demyelination. Frequent symptoms are clumsiness or weakness of a hand or leg; parasthesia (burning, prickling) in one or more extremities; and visual disturbances, such as diplopia (seeing double), dimness of vision, etc.( 1)
The course of MS may vary considerably. It is either characterized by episodes (with more or less complete remission of the symptoms between episodes), or it can be chronic-progressive (the most severe form which leads to death within a few years). Alternatively, the disease may start in episodes and become chronic-progressive over a period of time.
What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?
As yet, there is no agreement on what causes lost myelin function, increased inflammatory response, and nerve destruction, randomly affecting the function of various organs.
Though no one knows for sure, there are many theories as to the cause of MS, including the "virus" theory, the autoimmune theory, the chemical theory, the genetic predisposition theory, Dr. Swank's theory (of fat mal-utilization), Dr. David Horrobin's theory (of prostaglandin imbalance), and the theory that an emotional shock precedes the onset of many cases of M.S.( 2) As you can see, there are many theories on the origin of M.S. It is possible that some or all of them are correct, to a varying degree.
One interesting note: MS occurs more often in temperate climates (between 40 and 60 degrees north and south latitudes -- similar to wide belts circling the globe). The closer an area to the equator, the fewer the cases of MS.( 3)
Whatever the cause, unfortunately, MS is neither preventable nor curable, at this time. However, treatment can help alleviate some of the symptoms. Two-thirds of MS patients remain functional after 20 years, and 75% may never need a wheelchair.( 3)
Multiple Sclerosis is a devastatingly insidious monster which affects between 250,000 to 500,000 inhabitants of the US. Each year, over 8,000 Americans are struck down.( 3)
Women are twice as susceptible as men, with Caucasians being the predominantly involved race. MS becomes most apparent between 30 and 50 years of age, but seldom strikes those under 15 or over 50.( 3)
According to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, only one drug has been approved by the FDA for use against MS.( 3) This is ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone), which can shorten and modify attacks for some patients.
Though there is no specific therapy, high-doses of cortisone therapy (60 mg prednisone per day for 5 to 7 days) may hasten recovery in acute attacks.( 4) However, long-term corticosteroid therapy rarely is justified, according to Merck's Manual.( 4) Azathioprine(R) is another drug used to treat this disease.( 5) Both these approaches apparently curb excessive autoimmune activity. The disadvantages are obvious. First, they suppress the immune system. Secondly (like using a sledgehammer to crack nuts), they render patients susceptible to infections which severely aggravate the existing symptoms.( 5)
Further, Dr. Christa Neuhofer (Salzburg, Austria), who has treated MS patients for over 20 years, has found that cortisone therapy ceases to be effective afar three to four treatments.( 6)
Azathioprine(R) has also proved disappointing with long-term treatment. Although symptoms may improve over the first two years (in 30% to 40% of the patients), after five years Azathioprine(R)'s effect will diminish and in the long run, no change in the progression of MS has been recorded.( 7) In addition, there might be the threat of side-effects, such as impaired hematopoiesis (blood cell formation and development), cholestasis (suppression of bile flow), and hepatitis (inflammation of the liver). Prolonged therapy increases the risk of neoplasias (abnormal tumor growth).( 7)
But, there may be hope on the horizon. According to independent studies in Greece, Czechoslovakia and the US, the circulating immune complexes (CIC) in serum blood levels of MS victims is consistently greater than that of normal, healthy individuals.( 5)
These findings conclude that MS may depend upon, or be caused by, immune complexes and is probably an autoimmune disease. Could it be possible that factors previously theorized, such as genetic predisposition, fatty acid imbalance, and viruses -- all lead to an immune system malfunction and an uncontrollable reaction to the body itself?
Over 20 years ago, Professor Max Wolf told of frequently-occurring remissions following enzyme therapy in patients with Multiple Sclerosis.( 8) In 1973, Professor Tsiminakis, Institute of Neurology of the University of Athens, and Dr. Sedivi, Hospital of Neurology, USSR, reported similarly good results with certain enzyme mixtures (including pancreatin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, bromelain, papain, amylase, lipase, and the bioflavonoid, rutin) in the treatment of M.S.( 8)
At that time, the working mechanism, or a connection between immune complexes and MS was entirely unknown. Professor Wolf was of the opinion that the antiviral effect of enzymes could be responsible for their success in treating MS.( 8)
We cannot yet say what causes Multiple Sclerosis. However, we do know that immune complexes (of a particular size, type, and concentration) make M.S. worse. The removal of these pathogenic immune complexes provides relief (interrupting the progressive myelin deterioration and even reversing the function loss of individual nerves). Further, research has shown that circulating immune complexes can be reduced through the use of orally-ingested proteolytic enzymes.( 5)
Dr. Neuhofer( 9) has extensive experience in the treatment of MS. Also, she is an MS sufferer who (personally) has limited the progress of this dreaded disease through the use of certain enzyme mixtures.
In 1972, Dr. Neuhofer( 8) began treating MS patients with enzyme mixtures, initially using them on herself (as her first MS patient). Her improvement was dramatic (particularly the symptoms affecting the eyes, bladder, and rectum). (A more complete discussion of enzyme treatment and MS can be found in the book Enzymes and Enzyme Therapy: How to Jump Start Your Way to Lifelong Good Health, New Canaan: CT, Keats Publishing, Inc., 1994.)
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that is very individual in its expression. There is virtually no uniform disease pattern. MS patients differ in their symptom complexes as to manifestation and course of action. Therefore, the whole art of treating MS with enzymes is dependent on a number of considerations relating to the patient's individuality (on taking the right dose levels at exactly the right time). The treatment program is based on whether the disease progresses in a stepwise fashion (with intervals of at least four weeks between acute episodes), whether an initially stepwise progression converts to a chronic status (uniformly developing disorder), which nerves have already stopped functioning, and how rapidly the disease is progressing (how long it has been present).
A question of great importance is how long the condition has existed and the type of prior treatment (what drugs were used, dose and length of time). It is important to know if drugs which suppress the immune system (such as cortisone-containing medications) have been taken. These drugs influence the degree to which the patient's immune system has been weakened.( 5)
In her studies, Dr. Neuhofer has found that patients whose conditions continued to deteriorate after initiation of enzyme therapy had previously been treated with a drug (Azathioprine) which destroys the body's own immune system.( 9)
But, what is the effect of the orally-administered and/or injected enzyme mixtures on progressively deteriorating MS patients? It is known that deterioration is accompanied by an increase in the level of immune complexes. Can the enzyme therapy exert a delaying effect?
Dr. Neuhofer's results were meaningful.( 9) In one study alone, of 43 patients suffering a stepwise progressive deterioration, 35 exhibited appreciable improvement and, in some cases, the abolition of all symptoms of paralysis.( 9)
Since these initial studies, other doctors have adopted Dr. Neuhofer's therapy regime. Many have reported similar positive results. Closer investigation of the disappointing cases revealed that the treatment program required for a certain case had not been accurately followed. For instance, when the MS progresses stepwise, it is essential that enzyme injections be initiated at the first signs of a new exacerbation. If this is neglected for even one or two days, it is impossible to affect the deterioration phase.( 5, 9)
In any case, it is evident that there is a relationship between the concentration of immune complexes and the flare-up phase of Multiple Sclerosis. As we know, there are periods of "waxing" and "waning." During these bouts, more than 80% of the patients exhibited blood serum with CIC-complexes and highly elevated IC-titers.( 6)
Real Hope For MS Sufferers
At present, the therapeutic goals in treating MS should be to: 1) alleviate existing symptoms; 2) stop the episode (if possible); 3) reduce the number of episodes; and, 4) check the progress of the disease.
In addition, the patient should follow a modified "5-Step Jump Start Enzyme Program" with special emphasis controlling his or her environment, both external and internal. The program would include:
Eating a well-balanced "jump start" diet.
Use of enzyme, vitamin, and mineral supplements, to "jump start" your day.
Having a positive mental attitude and reducing stress.
A major portion of the information in this article was taken from Enzymes and Enzyme Theraphy: How to Jump Start Your Way to Lifelong Good Health. This article is copyrighted (C) by Anthony J. Cichoke.
(1.) Berkow, Robert, Ed., The Merck Manual, 16th Ed., Rahway, NJ: Merck & Co., Inc. 1992, p. 1488.
(2.) Cichoke, Anthony J., Enzymes and Enzyme Therapy: How to Jump Start Your Way to Lifelong Good Health, New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, Inc., 1994.
(3.) Personal communication. Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. Letter dated July 28, 1992.
(4.) The Merck Manual, p 1416.
(5.) Wilhelm Glenk and Sven Neu, Enzyme Die Bausteine des Lebens Wie sie Wirken, Helfen und Heilen, Munich, Germany:Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 1990.
(6.) C. Neuhofer, "Multiple Sclerosis: Treatment with Enzyme Preparations," From lecture, First International Conference on Systemic Enzyme Therapy, September 12, 1990.
(7.) Dr. Ulf Baumhackl (St. Polten) presentation at 17th Symposium in Vienna, 7 Dec., 1991 Systemic Enzyme Therapy, Current Position and Recent Advances, p. 6.
(8.) Karl Ransberger and W. van Schaik, "Enzymtherapie bei Multipler Sklerose," Der Kassenarz, 41:41-45, October, 1986.
(9.) C. Neuhofer, "Enzymtherapie bei Multipler Sklerose," Hufeland Journal Biologisch-medizinisches Zentralorgan, 1986.
Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients.
By Anthony J. Cichoke