Multiple sclerosis, or “MS,” seems to be diagnosed more and more frequently, especially as people reach their 40s. Like many chronic conditions, it ranges in severity. Some people with MS hide it so well that you wouldn’t know they had it. For others, it can be so debilitating that they need a wheelchair. The medical field makes it sound like the only answer to MS is to slow the progression of the disease with medication. But is that all there is?
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system is triggered and then causes damage to the central nervous system. The attack is specifically directed against the myelin sheaths that cover the nerve fibers and results in a disruption of nerve signaling. The result is an array of neurological and musculoskeletal symptoms that can be irritating or life-altering. Like most autoimmune conditions, MS has periods of relapses and remission.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis has a wide range in its severity. For some, the symptoms are barely noticeable; for others, they can be disabling. So, the symptoms of MS can vary widely. Here are some of the more common MS symptoms, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society:
- An “MS Hug” (dysesthesia) – a squeezing sensation around the torso
- Difficulty walking (gait issues)
- Numbness or tingling in the face, body, arms, or legs
- Muscle weakness
- Spasticity – spasms and stiffness
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Vision problems
- Digestive problems – either constipation or diarrhea
- Bladder problems – leading to urinary tract infections
- Pain – both neuropathic and musculoskeletal
- Itching sensations
- Decreased cognitive function
- Emotional changes like anxiety, depression, and mood swings
MS is also associated with high blood pressure and the development of cardiovascular disease. (1)
How is Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosed?
According to Mayo Clinic, there aren’t specific tests to diagnose MS. It’s usually diagnosed by ruling out other conditions. These may include similar-looking neurological disorders and Lyme disease and its co-infections. (2)
The Fireman vs. The Carpenter in Healthcare
At The Wellness Way, we describe the main methods of healthcare as the “fireman approach” and the “carpenter approach.” Mainstream medicine is made up of “Fireman doctors” who have two tools: an axe and a hose. The axe represents cutting things out via surgery. The hose represents medications used to extinguish inflammation and symptoms.
The Wellness Way doctors are the “carpenter doctors.” They first assess the damage to the body with appropriate testing. Then they create a personalized plan to rebuild the body with the right tools. These include the proper nutrients from foods and supplements.
Sunshine, rest, and positive relationships are additional natural therapies that help the body heal itself.
Mainstream Medicine’s Approach to Multiple Sclerosis
Mainstream medicine considers the attack on the myelin sheaths to be an abnormal immune response. Accordingly, their treatment plan for multiple sclerosis revolves around what they can do to suppress the immune system and reduce symptoms.
Common Medications & Treatments Used for MS Relapses or Flares
MS treatment strategies with mainstream medicine are determined by disease severity. Mild MS may not even need any intervention. However, with worsening disease, doctors will likely prescribe medications to slow the degeneration.
These are some of the most prescribed medications for multiple sclerosis: (2)
- Corticosteroids: (Oral or intravenous prednisone)
- Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis): Plasma exchange is the machine-removal of antibodies from the blood. The plasma is removed and then mixed with a protein solution before being put back in the body.
Doctors use these treatments for MS flares. Depending on the patient’s condition, they may recommend additional treatments to improve the overall prognosis.
Additional Treatments Used to Slow Progression
Mainstream medicine may also use additional therapies to slow the degeneration. These treatment options may be delivered via injection, infusion, or orally. These include: (2)
- Injectable medications: Interferon beta infections, Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone, Glatopa) injections, and monoclonal antibodies like Ofatumumab (Kesimpta, Arzerra)
- A whole host of oral medications: Teriflunomide (Aubagio), Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera), and many more
- Infusion treatments: Natalizumab (Tysabri), Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus), Alemtuzumab (Campath, Lemtrada)
All these medications have side effects and are meant simply to manage symptoms and slow the destruction. Therefore, many people seek out natural treatments or alternative therapies that don’t involve drugs.
The Swiss Watch and Multiple Sclerosis
Traumas (Physical Stressors)
Traumas are physical stressors that put a strain on the nervous system, setting disease processes into motion. They can be acute (one-time) or chronic (ongoing). Autoimmune diseases are often initiated by a traumatic injury or emotional experience. They can also be triggered or aggravated by chronic stress of any kind. Chronic subluxations in the spine can inhibit nerve and blood flow to the gut, increasing the risk of autoimmunity.
Traumas or physical stressors associated with multiple sclerosis include:
- Concussions: Researchers found an association between concussions in adolescence and the risk of MS as an adult. (3)
- Childhood trauma: Childhood trauma is associated with an increased risk of autoimmune disease, including multiple sclerosis. (4)
Toxins (Biochemical Stressors)
Toxins are biochemical stressors that contribute to dis-ease in the body. They can be from synthetic chemicals, natural toxins from mold or bacteria, and even natural cortisol and oxidative stress. Some biochemical stressors associated with multiple sclerosis include:
- Certain medications – Proton pump inhibitors, for example, can lower the absorption of vitamin B12 (5)
- Exposure to organic solvents – This especially happens as a part of one’s occupation. Floor layers, painters, dry cleaning workers, furniture makers, and even the graphics industry may work with organic solvents. (6)
- Vaccine adjuvants – Scientists have found adjuvants can provoke autoimmune responses. (7)
- Viral infections – Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), Herpes viruses, and Papillomaviruses (8)
- Pseudomonas bacteria (8)
- Dairy – Butyrophilin from dairy can cross-react with the myelin sheaths (9)
- Nutrient deficiencies – Nutrient deficiencies also cause biochemical stress. Low vitamin D can also increase the risk of developing MS and other autoimmune conditions. (10)
- Diet – Cholesterol is an essential component of the myelin sheath. A long-time low-fat/cholesterol diet may contribute to MS (11)
Discovering your food allergies is an integral part of creating a health-promoting diet. Continuing to eat foods you’re allergic to creates inflammation in the gut, aggravating autoimmune disorders, including multiple sclerosis. Emotional stress and negative thoughts can also serve as a toxin to the body.
Thoughts (Emotional Stressors)
Chronic mental or emotional stress is how our thoughts contribute to dis-ease. While passing negative or fearful thoughts aren’t a problem, when they become chronic, they set off a cascade of inflammatory chemicals in the body. Chronic stress leads to toxic thoughts, which may also contribute to brain inflammation and, ultimately, a diagnosis of MS. (12)
Emotional stress may come from:
- Marriage or financial stress
- Watching the news (fear/worry)
- Overwhelm from significant life changes, such as a recent marriage, a new baby, graduation, a divorce, or even moving to a new city.
- Holding a grudge/pent-up anger
- Grief/feelings of loss
The accumulation of these traumas, toxins, and thoughts synergistically increases inflammation and the risk of dis-ease in the body and brain.
The Wellness Way Approach for MS and Other Autoimmune Conditions
At The Wellness Way, we dig deeper to solve the health challenges others can’t. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition, which means we must look at the gut and the immune response. What’s causing inflammation? It can be different for each patient. We don’t guess — we test!
Important Tests for Assessing Your Gut and Immune Health
Here are some commonly recommended tests at The Wellness Way:
- Food Allergy Test: Immuno Food Allergy Test
- Gut Health Test: Genova GI Effects with Parasitology
- Antibody Test: Aurora Life Sciences – Autoimmune 30+
Your Wellness Way practitioner will take down your health history and goals and determine the most important tests for your situation. Removing the foods you’re allergic to, addressing any gut infections, and finding ways to lower antibodies can help alleviate the daily challenges of MS.
Dietary Changes for Multiple Sclerosis
While everyone is different, these are some basic nutritional guidelines for those with MS and for promoting good health in general:
- No sugar or processed foods.
- Overall low carbohydrate, Mediterranean (non-inflammatory) diet of organic whole foods.
- Personalized Nutrition, based on your food allergy test results
- Specific nutrient-dense foods: Liver/organ meats, fermented foods like sauerkraut, and micro greens for added nutrients.
Diet is paramount, but supplements can help the body heal the digestive tract and support the immune system.
Supplementation For Supporting Gut and Immune Health
Every case is different, but some herbs and supplements which may be helpful for those struggling with multiple sclerosis include:
- Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that’s been found to protect the brain in MS and other neurological disorders. (13)
- Active B12-Folate – Multiple sclerosis patients are likely deficient in vitamin B12 and folate, leading to high homocysteine levels. (14)
- D3 & K2 – Vitamin D is essential for getting inflammation and autoimmune disease under control. (15)
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory that can reduce autoimmune responses and help the small intestine heal. (16)
- Turmeric – The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can help ease the symptoms of MS. (17)
- Boswellia – Boswellia (frankincense) is often used with turmeric to lower inflammation throughout the body. (18)
- Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) – This compound from green tea also provides antioxidants to fight inflammation. (19)
- Ginkgo biloba – Ginkgo is an herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for memory and cognition. It may help fatigue in MS patients. (20)
- Ginseng – Asian or Korean (Panax) ginseng may help in several conditions of brain inflammation. (21)
- Valerian – Valerian supplements were reported helpful for sleep in some patients with MS. (22)
- Cranberry supplements – Cranberries have a constituent that may be used to address UTIs common in MS. (22)
- CBD – Cannabis, in its various forms, may also be supportive, as it lowers inflammation and may help with neuropathic pain. (23)
Natural remedies aren’t often considered in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, but they can go a long way in supporting the body’s ability to heal.
Lifestyle & Complementary Therapies to Support MS Patients
While mainstream medicine considers these “alternative treatments,” this bodywork can support the body alongside nutrition therapy.
- Regular chiropractic care – Chiropractic care helps to improve blood flow and nerve flow while decreasing overall physical stress on the body.
- Aerobic exercise – Aerobic exercise, including walking, can improve fatigue, muscle strength, and brain function. (24)
- Tai chi or yoga – These practices can improve balance and muscle strength (25, 26)
- Acupuncture treatments – Acupuncture is considered a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment for MS. It seems to help with fatigue, pain, improving function, reducing spasms, and slowing degeneration. (27)
These therapies can significantly improve the quality of life for those with MS.
Where to Start When You Have Multiple Sclerosis
Don’t guess where your gut and nervous system inflammation is coming from. Get your food allergies tested, find out how your gut is doing, and check your antibody levels. MS isn’t caused by dysfunction in the immune system; it IS coming from the immune system responding to an inflamed environment. If you’re looking to treat MS, you must heal your gut.
Educational Resources for Multiple Sclerosis
Videos & Webinars Related to Multiple Sclerosis
- Leaky Gut | A Different Perspective | Episode 117
- Autoimmune Disease: A Different Perspective | A Different Perspective | Episode 105
- Autoimmunity: The Body Doesn’t Make Mistakes | A Different Perspective | Episode 158
Articles to Support Multiple Sclerosis
- Autoimmune Disease is NOT an Immune Issue
- Normalizing Autoimmune Disease –Is It Really a Lifelong Diagnosis?
- The microbiome in your gut contributes to your brain health – The Wellness Way
- CBD Extract: De-Stress Your Brain and Body – The Wellness Way
CONNECT WITH US!
We invite you to connect with us! Find an event at a clinic near you! Follow us on social media. Tune in to A Different Perspective each Saturday morning LIVE to get cutting-edge training directly from Dr. Patrick Flynn. Set up a no-obligation health consult with one of our doctors today. The best is yet to come! Think differently – and THRIVE. Reach out to a Wellness Way clinic today to get thorough testing and start on your health journey. We are here to help!
- MS Symptoms & Signs of MS | National Multiple Sclerosis Society (nationalmssociety.org)
- Multiple sclerosis – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic
- Concussion in adolescence and the risk of multiple sclerosis: A retrospective cohort study – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Cumulative childhood stress and autoimmune diseases in adults – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Potential immunological consequences of pharmacological suppression of gastric acid production in patients with multiple sclerosis – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Work-related exposure to organic solvents and the risk for multiple sclerosis-a systematic review – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Adjuvants and autoimmunity – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Multiple Sclerosis: A Coordinated Immunological Attack against Myelin in the Central Nervous System – ScienceDirect
- Antibody cross-reactivity between myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein and the milk protein butyrophilin in multiple sclerosis – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Lower serum vitamin D levels are associated with a higher relapse risk in multiple sclerosis – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Cholesterol and neurodegeneration: longitudinal changes in serum cholesterol biomarkers are associated with new lesions and gray matter atrophy in multiple sclerosis over 5 years of follow-up – PubMed (nih.gov)
- The impact of stressful life events on risk of relapse in women with multiple sclerosis: a prospective study – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Ashwagandha in brain disorders: A review of recent developments – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Vitamin B12, folate, and homocysteine levels and multiple sclerosis: A meta-analysis – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Lower serum vitamin D levels are associated with a higher relapse risk in multiple sclerosis – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Curcumin as a therapeutic candidate for multiple sclerosis: Molecular mechanisms and targets – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Genus Boswellia as a new candidate for neurodegenerative disorders – PubMed (nih.gov)
- The Impact of Coconut Oil and Epigallocatechin Gallate on the Levels of IL-6, Anxiety and Disability in Multiple Sclerosis Patients – PubMed (nih.gov)
- The effect of Ginkgo biloba on functional measures in multiple sclerosis: a pilot randomized controlled trial – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Ginseng polysaccharides: A potential neuroprotective agent – PubMed (nih.gov)
- A Review of Herbal Therapy in Multiple Sclerosis – PMC (nih.gov)
- The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of formulated full-spectrum cannabis extract in the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Exercise | National Multiple Sclerosis Society (nationalmssociety.org)
- Tai chi for health benefits in patients with multiple sclerosis: A systematic review – PMC (nih.gov)
- Yoga and Non-Cardio Exercises: Your Allies in Managing MS Symptoms and Improving Overall Health | National Multiple Sclerosis Society (nationalmssociety.org)
- Acupuncture for multiple sclerosis: A literature review – PubMed (nih.gov)