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Multiple Sclerosis


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
  • Read & Watch
  • Success Stories
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Overview


Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, treatment and nutrition recommendations

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

  • Hundreds of my patients over the last 25 years, have made dramatic recoveries from autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, connective tissue disease and psoriasis via a Nutritarian diet.  Many have achieved complete recoveries and no longer require any medications.  A vegan, gluten-free diet has shown to be quite helpful for many with autoimmune diseases.1,2  Those with MS who eat more vegetables and other plant foods and fewer animal products tend to have fewer symptoms.3,4
  • 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 added sugars, and animal products. Other foods are less common triggers, such as certain nuts, soy, nightshades, or corn, for example.
  • Vitamins, minerals carotenoids, flavonoids, fiber, and other phytochemicals have anti-inflammatory effects that could help to normalize the immune response and reduce symptoms.5-7 Maximize the intake of immune-system-regulating, anti-inflammatory foods such as green vegetables, mushrooms, onions, squashes, parsnips, turnips and rutabaga, which have low allergic or reaction potential. Eat both raw and cooked cruciferous vegetables every day. 
  • 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, cloves, garlic, and cinnamon should be used in seasoning dishes.8-11  
  • 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 and/or unique dietary modifications may be necessary.  Medication reduction should be monitored by a physician.
  • Meal plan: Autoimmune Reversal

Supplements

  • Dr. Fuhrman’s general supplement protocol for adults (see Vitamin Advisor for details) includes:

  • Additional Supplements:
    • Probiotics: Research has suggested that healthy bacteria in our intestines may be protective and help to keep a normal functioning immune system. MS has been associated with alterations in the gut microbiome.12  Eating a fiber-rich diet helps to build up healthy gut bacteria over time, and supplemental probiotics have reduced inflammatory markers in studies on patients with multiple sclerosis.13-15 Ask your doctor if taking probiotics is right for you.
    • Omega-3 DHA and EPA: Omega-3 supplementation has been linked to improved quality of life, reduced levels of inflammatory markers, and reduced rate of relapse in patients with MS.16 High doses may be necessary to experience a difference in symptoms.17 If considering higher doses of omega-3 supplementation, please discuss this with your doctor first as it is not appropriate for everyone.

Read

Other Considerations

Supervised, periodic water fasting can be used as an adjunct treatment for autoimmune conditions. I have documented remission of autoimmune diseases following supervised fasting in a published series of case reports.18 Additional studies have found that fasting (followed by a vegetarian diet) reduces pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients.19,20 Continuing to follow a Nutritarian diet after completing the fast is essential for sustaining the benefits of the fast. Fasting puts the body into a repair mode, facilitating the elimination of damaged molecules, reducing inflammation, and resetting the immune system.21,22 I generally recommend that patients adopt the dietary protocol for a few months prior to considering adding fasting to their protocol.  Fasting is not compatible with most medications. Fasting should be done under the supervision of a competent health professional. 

Find additional help

ONLINE: All members of DrFuhrman.com can search the Ask the Doctor archives for discussions on this topic. Platinum and Diamond members can connect with Dr. Fuhrman by posting questions in the forum. Not a member? Join now.

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References
  1. Hafstrom I, Ringertz B, Spangberg A, et al. A vegan diet free of gluten improves the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis: the effects on arthritis correlate with a reduction in antibodies to food antigens. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2001, 40:1175-1179.
  2. Alwarith J, Kahleova H, Rembert E, et al. Nutrition Interventions in Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Potential Use of Plant-Based Diets. A Review. Front Nutr 2019, 6:141.
  3. 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 2015, 18:125-136.
  4. Katz Sand I. The Role of Diet in Multiple Sclerosis: Mechanistic Connections and Current Evidence. Curr Nutr Rep 2018, 7:150-160.
  5. Yahfoufi N, Alsadi N, Jambi M, Matar C. The Immunomodulatory and Anti-Inflammatory Role of Polyphenols. Nutrients 2018, 10.
  6. Gioia C, Lucchino B, Tarsitano MG, et al. Dietary Habits and Nutrition in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Can Diet Influence Disease Development and Clinical Manifestations? Nutrients 2020, 12.
  7. McAlindon TE, Gulin J, Chen T, et al. Indole-3-carbinol in women with SLE: effect on estrogen metabolism and disease activity. Lupus 2001, 10:779-783.
  8. Mazidi M, Gao HK, Rezaie P, Ferns GA. The effect of ginger supplementation on serum C-reactive protein, lipid profile and glycaemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Food Nutr Res 2016, 60:32613.
  9. Zhu C, Yan H, Zheng Y, et al. Impact of Cinnamon Supplementation on cardiometabolic Biomarkers of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Complement Ther Med 2020, 53:102517.
  10. Singh S, Aggarwal BB. Activation of transcription factor NF-kappa B is suppressed by curcumin (diferuloylmethane) [corrected]. J Biol Chem 1995, 270:24995-25000.
  11. Aggarwal BB, Yuan W, Li S, Gupta SC. Curcumin-free turmeric exhibits anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities: Identification of novel components of turmeric. Mol Nutr Food Res 2013, 57:1529-1542.
  12. Chen J, Chia N, Kalari KR, et al. Multiple sclerosis patients have a distinct gut microbiota compared to healthy controls. Sci Rep 2016, 6:28484.
  13. Kouchaki E, Tamtaji OR, Salami M, et al. Clinical and metabolic response to probiotic supplementation in patients with multiple sclerosis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Nutr 2017, 36:1245-1249.
  14. Tamtaji OR, Kouchaki E, Salami M, et al. The Effects of Probiotic Supplementation on Gene Expression Related to Inflammation, Insulin, and Lipids in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Am Coll Nutr 2017, 36:660-665.
  15. Tankou SK, Regev K, Healy BC, et al. A probiotic modulates the microbiome and immunity in multiple sclerosis. Ann Neurol 2018, 83:1147-1161.
  16. AlAmmar WA, Albeesh FH, Ibrahim LM, et al. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil supplementation on multiple sclerosis: a systematic review. Nutr Neurosci 2019:1-11.
  17. Proudman SM, James MJ, Spargo LD, et al. Fish oil in recent onset rheumatoid arthritis: a randomised, double-blind controlled trial within algorithm-based drug use. Ann Rheum Dis 2013.
  18. Fuhrman J, Sarter B, Calabro DJ. Brief case reports of medically supervised, water-only fasting associated with remission of autoimmune disease. Altern Ther Health Med 2002, 8:112, 110-111.
  19. Muller H, de Toledo FW, Resch KL. Fasting followed by vegetarian diet in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review. Scand J Rheumatol 2001, 30:1-10.
  20. Smedslund G, Byfuglien MG, Olsen SU, Hagen KB. Effectiveness and safety of dietary interventions for rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Am Diet Assoc 2010, 110:727-735.
  21. Longo VD, Mattson MP. Fasting: molecular mechanisms and clinical applications. Cell Metab 2014, 19:181-192.
  22. Cheng CW, Adams GB, Perin L, et al. Prolonged Fasting Reduces IGF-1/PKA to Promote Hematopoietic-Stem-Cell-Based Regeneration and Reverse Immunosuppression. Cell Stem Cell 2014, 14:810-823.

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.