According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) about 250,000 to 350,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or MS. This disease is diagnosed when the body attacks myelin, which is the sheath that sorrounds and protects the nerves. The destruction of myelin occurs after the establishment of inflammatory patches called plaques, these plaques can occur in random areas of the central nervous system. Eventually, the nerves deteriorate or become permanently damaged which leads to a broad range of symptoms such as inability to walk or even total paralysis. No cures exist for demyelinating diseases and their progression, and symptoms are different for everyone.
There are two basic types of MS: Relapsing-Remitting, which affects 85% of patients and is treated with DMTs (Disease Modifying Therapies) that slow the progress of the condition. The second type of MS is progressive disease, which nowadays has no effective treatment. After several years, most cases of relapsing-remitting MS convert to a gradually progressive form of the disease. This leaves patients in a bad position as their prognosis is hardly ever modified by their treatment. Only 32% of patients report minimal disease interference with daily function after 10 years1. In other words, after 10 years 70% of them can’t live a normal life. This proportion is far bigger than in other autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Ankylosing Spondylitis. In our opinion, we’re far away from a decent pharmacological treatment for RR MS, not even to mention the progressive form of the disease. Although the drugs used in the treatment of MS aren’t as effective as we would like them to be, most doctors still refuse to combine drugs with natural treatments that have been proven effective. The following list shows the alternatives that should be considered by every MS patient.
Image source: Webmd
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D obtained from sun exposure, food, and supplements is biologically inert and must undergo two hydroxylations in the body for activation. The first occurs in the liver and converts vitamin D to 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], also known as calcidiol. The second occurs primarily in the kidney and forms the physiologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], also known as calcitriol. There’s more than enough evidence to consider Vitamin D as a key factor in the development and progression of MS.
Vitamin D intake from supplements is inversely associated with the risk of MS2. Increasing disability is strongly associated with lower levels of vitamin d3 and relapse rate can be decreased through supplementation with vitamin D4. The progressive form of the disease shows even lower levels of vitamin D5. Lots of studies have confirmed these results with supplements, food and sun7,8,9,10.
Graph showing that incidence of MS increases in areas further from the equator (less sunlight) and in western world (modern diet, less exercise and less time outside)
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Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) is a safe, inexpensive, yet underused drug that is extremely beneficial for people with conditions marked by immune system dysfunction.
Naltrexone has been used in 50 mg doses for decades to help patients recover from addiction to alcohol, heroin and other opiate drugs. However, more than 20 years ago it was discovered that very small doses of this drug—3 to 4.5 mg—have profound effects on the immune system.
LDN works by boosting levels of endorphins (peptides produced in the brain and adrenal glands) that are best known for relieving pain and enhancing your sense of well-being. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” brought on by strenuous exercise. These natural peptides are also powerful modulators of the immune system. When you take LDN at bedtime, it attaches to opioid receptors in the brain and in all types of immune cells, which temporarily blocks endorphins from attaching to them. This signals your body to increase endorphin production. The increased endorphin production helps orchestrate the activity of stem cells, macrophages, natural killer cells, T and B cells and other immune cells. LDN significantly improved mental health quality of life indices11, and is very safe12 during prolonged treatment. There’s lack of proper research data but there’re hundreds of case reports13 of MS improving after administration of LDN.
Marijuana has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana. When THC enters the body it stimulates receptors in the brain and can reduce pain and increase appetite. Medical marijuana is mainly used to treat chronic pain, nausea, and muscle spasms, but it has many other uses.
There’s increasing evidence for using medical Cannabis in the treatment of MS symptoms. Cannabis reduces central13 and neuropathic17 pain, spasticity14 and is safe during prolonged treatment16. The disadvantage is that medical Cannabis isn’t easily accesible in most countries.
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There’s not much research around diet and MS out there although internet is full of anecdotal evidence pointing in the direction of healthier diets. 33 out of 43 patients treated by Jean Seignalet experienced significant improvement with his “ancestral” diet. Terry Wahls brought her MS into remission by switching to a paleo diet, with special attention to vegetables. Many patients improve with an allergen-free diet such as paleo or low carb. Ketogenic diets and fasting improve quality of life in MS patients18 and the same diet improved MS in a murine model19.
In our opinion, with the current evidence, an allergen-free ketogenic diet that pays special attention to omega-3 fatty acids and intermittent fasting is the best dietetic option for MS patients.
Terry Wahls put her MS into remission by following the diet she explains in this book. Buy her book by clicking the image.
Both animal and clinical studies have shown that the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with the intestinal microbiota. In our opinion FMT has huge potential in the treatment of this disease. Borody showed that MS can go into remission after a fecal transplant20 and there are also other nice case reports21 that support the same theory.
Our Multiple Sclerosis treatment:
- Ketogenic diet emphasizing on large quantities of vegetables
- Probiotic consumption: Fermented vegetables and kefir
- Intermittent fasting
- LDN, medical Cannabis, Curcumin and Boswellia gum resin for symptom management.
- Supplementation with large doses of Vitamin D
- FMT is under research but current data says it’s worth trying
- Sunbathing and outdoor exercise
20Borody TJ, Leis SM, Campbell J, Torres M, Nowak A. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) in multiple sclerosis (MS) [abstract] Am J Gastroenterol. 2011;106:S352.