Multiple Sclerosis



Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, treatment and nutrition recommendations

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, resulting in loss of muscle control, vision, balance, and sensation (such as numbness). MS is caused by the body attacking the myelin sheath, which protects nerve cells and helps conduct signaling.

 
  • Overview
  • Action Plan
  • Ask The Doctor
  • Related Info
  • Success Stories

Overview


It is estimated that MS affects more than 2 million people worldwide and is the most common cause of neurological disability in young adults worldwide, the vast majority of them being women. MS typically affects persons between age 30 and 50, but MS can be seen at any age.

Early MS symptoms may include:

  • weakness/fatigue
  • loss of balance
  • problems with coordination
  • tremors
  • tingling and/or numbness
  • blurred or loss of vision
  • muscle stiffness/cramping
  • thinking problems
  • depression
  • bowels problems
  • facial or eye pain

It is still unclear what exactly causes MS in individuals, but experts believe it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors such as diet, toxin exposures, and intestinal bacteria imbalance. Many investigators also think that having a low vitamin D level may be a risk factor. Also, certain viral illnesses may play a role in MS.

 

Action Plan


Diet

  • Identify specific or general triggers to the disease to reduce or remove (which may be individual to each person). Many with MS will find they experience fewer symptoms by removing gluten, processed foods such as sugar, and animal products. Other foods are less common triggers, such as certain nuts, soy, nightshades, or corn, for example.
  • Maximize the intake of immune system-regulating, anti-inflammatory foods such as high fiber, high micronutrient-dense foods, especially green vegetables.
  • Cruciferous vegetables are recommended to be eaten every day.
  • Those with MS that eat more fruits and vegetables and less animal products tend to have fewer symptoms.1
  • Fruit can be a trigger for some patients; fruit intake may need to be reduced to 2-3 small servings daily.
  • Anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cloves, garlic, and cinnamon should be used to season dishes.
  • Talk to your doctor before and after making changes to your diet and supplement regimen if you have a chronic disease or if you are taking any medication, as medication changes may be necessary.

Vitamin D

It is thought that taking supplemental vitamin D to reach an optimal blood level possibly may lower your risk of developing MS and may reduce MS disease activity.2 Talk to your doctor about testing your vitamin D level.

Probiotics

Research has suggested that healthy bacteria in our intestines may be protective and help to keep a normal functioning immune system. Although eating a fiber-rich diet helps to build up healthy bacteria over time, many with multiple sclerosis find it helpful to take supplemental probiotics. Ask your doctor to discuss if taking probiotics is right for you.

Omega-3 supplementation

Taking supplemental omega-3 fatty acids may provide benefits to persons with MS, due to their anti-inflammatory properties.3 High doses may be necessary for the most benefit. If considering higher doses of omega-3 supplementation, discuss this with your doctor first as it is not appropriate for everyone.

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References
  1. Hadgkiss EJ, Jelinek GA, Weiland TJ, et al. The association of diet with quality of life, disability, and relapse rate in an international sample of people with multiple sclerosis. Nutr Neurosci 2014.
  2. Soilu-Hänninen M, Aivo J, Lindström BM, et al. A randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial with vitamin D3 as an add on treatment to interferon β-1b in patients with multiple sclerosis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2012, 83:565-571.
  3. Jelinek GA, Hadgkiss EJ, Weiland TJ, et al. Association of fish consumption and omega 3 supplementation with quality of life, disability and disease activity in an international cohort of people with multiple sclerosis. Int J Neurosci 2013, 123:792-800.

Ask The Doctor


The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)

Q.

I have recently been given a preliminary diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. My symptoms are relatively mild, mostly numb areas and tight or spasmodic muscles, sometimes a little dizziness. I have been on your basic Eat for Health plan for about 10 weeks now.

I recently read and implemented your autoimmune protocol. Because I have such mild symptoms, I had hoped that I would have seen a halt to new symptoms by now. I know that nerves take a long time to heal so am resigned to living with the old symptoms for a while but thought that new numb spots and/or tight or spasmodic muscles would not be forming by now.

  1. Is there anything specific I should be doing to stop the progression of the disease? How much DHA/EPA should I take? Should I use natural inflammatory herbs?
  2. Do you have any good recipes for blended soups? I am determined to flood my cells with micronutrients.
  3. What should I expect as far as a timeframe to stop the progression of this disease and begin seeing it reverse?
A.

Follow the autoimmune protocol carefully and continue to eliminate gluten and casein indefinitely. Make sure you get your 25 hydroxy-vitamin D level checked and supplement to get your level in the high end of the optimal range (30 -50ng/ml). Vitamin D is a potent immune modulator. A study in JAMA found a dramatically lowered risk of MS in individuals with the higher vitamin D levels. Also, get out into the sun. Recent evidence suggests that UV light is doing something beyond vitamin D to reduce risk. You can take up to 5 grams of EPA/DHA per day, but make sure the purified fish oil has more EPA than DHA. Add curcumin to your diet.

There are many great recipes in the Recipe Guide within the Member Center. Spend time reviewing them.

It is important to give this time. Just stick with it, and try to reduce your stress about it. There is good evidence that the central nervous system can repair itself, so be hopeful.