Coping With Multiple Sclerosis Naturally


Coping with Multiple Sclerosis Naturally

Multiple Sclerosis (MS), according to medical science, has no known cause. Natural therapy, however, posits several possible causes and offers some chance of relief. No two cases of MS are alike. Part of any successful treatment approach involves ample detective work into what might be the problem(s).

MS is a modern disease that affects the central nervous system's ability to communicate with the body. Nerve fibres are surrounded by fatty sheaths called myelin which help conduct electrical impulses along nerve fibres. In MS, these myelin deteriorate and are replaced by scar tissue. When the nerve impulse hits the scar tissue, it encounters a "road block." This disruption leads to tingling and feelings of pins and needles in the hands and feet, vertigo, numbness, muscle uncoordination, blurred vision and difficulty walking. In the advanced stages of the disease, there is fatigue and severe difficulty in general mobility, speaking and performing simple physical tasks. The disease is known for its "stop-start" pattern: people may go into remission for varying lengths of time, only to have the sclerosis suddenly return. Each subsequent attack tends to be more severe than the last.

Causes are Hard to Digest

Gluten intolerance has been cited as a major cause of MS. A tough, elastic protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats and sweet rice (mochi), gluten is difficult for many people to digest. This is especially true as modern cultures have gotten away from soaking and fermenting their grains, a process that "predigests" the proteins. Soaking and/or fermentation of grains also effectively breaks up nutrient-blocking phytic acid, found in the bran and hull of whole grains, legumes and nuts.

"A diet high in unfermented grains like wheat puts an enormous strain on the whole digestive mechanism," explains nutrition writer Sally Fallon. "When this mechanism breaks down with age or overuse, the results take the form of allergies, celiac disease, mental illness, chronic indigestion and candida albicans growth." Recent research links gluten intolerance with multiple sclerosis. Fallon advises soaking high gluten grains, such as wheat and rye before cooking and avoiding modern baked goods (even if whole grain) as they are invariably made from non-soaked grains.

How to soak? Simply place your chosen grain in a pot and add some water, enough to cover. Let the grain soak for about seven hours at room temperature You can add either a tablespoon of live yogurt or whey to help the fermentation process along.

Celiac and Crohn's disease, both involving food sensitivities, are found in many people with MS (and schizophrenia). Avoiding glutinous grains would be in order if you're experiencing any difficulties. Though gluten appears to be a major food factor for many with MS, other foods such as pasteurized milk, refined sugar and corn are also implicated. Any person with MS should get professional food allergy testing.

Nutrients You Need

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are typically lacking in those with MS. They are found in high amounts in cold water fish, free range eggs and flax oil and in lower amounts in dark green, leafy vegetables and whole grains. These polyunsaturated fatty acids help reduce inflammation and maintain the myelin sheaths, as well as modulate the immune system.

Fish oils are high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DHA), two omega-3 fatty acids heavily involved in brain and nervous function. Borage oil is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid usually deficient in MS patients. Bodily utilization of EFAs is greatly inhibited by trans-fatty acids. Avoiding all phony fats such as margarine, refined vegetable oils, and vegetable shortening is paramount.

Other nutrients often lacking when MS is present are zinc, magnesium, selenium, manganese and vitamins B( 1), B(6), and B(12). B(12), especially, is involved in the maintenance and production of the myelin sheath; it's a standard supplement for MS.

Nutritional deficiencies are often exacerbated by poor digestion, which leads to poor nutrient absorption from the intestines and contributes to food sensitivities and hyper-immune responses. Digestive enzymes are a must for people diagnosed with MS.

Trouble With Candida

An overgrowth of the yeast fungus candida albicans in the intestinal tract can lead to problems including increased food sensitivities and a weakened digestive system. Since candida toxins can affect the nervous system, causing mood swings, depression and tingling, an overgrowth can only exacerbate MS, or possibly initiate it.

Candida overgrowth is caused by several things: excessive sugar consumption (even natural sugars), antibiotic use (which kills candida), corticosteroid use and alcoholism (alcohol is a fermented sugar). Addressing a possible yeast imbalance through dietary restriction of sugar and an antifugal supplement regimen (including colloidal silver, probiotics and garlic) often improves MS symptoms.

Since MS patients have been found to have high mercury levels in their cerebrospinal fluid, and since mercury is a known poison that affects the nervous system, dental fillings are suspect. If an MS patient (or a person interested in prevention) decides to replace their mercury amalgams, he or she must be careful of the replacing substance to be sure it also has no heavy metals in it. It's best, here, to seek out the help of a professional trained in biological dentistry. Typically, mercury removal is followed by a detoxification program in which excessive mercury is flushed out of the body.

As stated before, each MS case is different, therefore each treatment will be different. Seeking out the help of a professional experienced in nutritional medicine and/or natural treatment MS is strongly urged. Despite the uniqueness of treatment approaches, some general guidelines can be given.

Diet therapy is important. In addition to food sensitivity testing, as well as proper food preparation and a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, avoidance of all trans and processed fats is imperative. Some MS researchers have found considerable success by reducing the amount of saturated fat in their patient's diets. Removing all refined sugars, food colorings and preservatives from the diet is imperative as well. Another substance to avoid is aspartame, a neurotoxin.

Lifestyle changes, including stress reduction and cessation of smoking or drinking, are necessary. The role of stress in promoting chronic disease is often overlooked.

Clinical experience shows that the faster one begins appropriate treatment for MS, the better are one's chances of overcoming it. Unfortunately, most people go undiagnosed until the disease is fairly advanced, making treatment more difficult. Listen to your body and practice prevention by avoiding phony foods and fats and eating a diet nutrient-dense living foods. It's your best defense against this perplexing modern disease.

1. Murray & Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Prima Publishing, 1991.

2. Airola, Paavo. How to Get Well. Health Plus, 1973.

3. Fallon, S. Nourishing Traditions. proMotion Publishing, 1995.

4. Lieberman & Bruning. The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book, 2nd ed. Avery Pub, 1997.

Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd.


By Stephen Byrnes

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