What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis literally translates as ‘many scars’. It’s a disease of the central nervous system, triggered by damage to your spinal cord and to the myelin sheath that surrounds the nerves in your brain. The myelin sheath is similar to the plastic cover that surrounds the wires that run from most electrical appliances to the plugs in the wall. It protects the delicate nerve threads that send electric signals and messages from one point in your body to another.
An overload of internal inflammation can become a tipping point, weakening your immune system, distorting the nerve signals travelling via your muscles to your brain and allowing MS to set in. Inflammation damages the myelin sheath initially, but then, to protect it, the body forms a hard tissue to cover over those damaged areas, warping their signals and causing them to travel in a different direction, with the brain sending them to the ‘wrong’ areas of muscle.
Muscles stop working, sometimes completely. Your brain, brain stem, eyes and spinal cord are usually the areas most affected. The blood brain barrier stops defending you against invasive toxins, and the immune system, your first line of defence, falters. Speech slows, sight blurs, balance, co-ordination and sensation get distorted and disappear.
Your doctor will prescribe treatment for your particular symptoms, often involving drugs, chemotherapy and a range of other ‘disease modifying therapies’. There is currently no medical ‘cure’ for MS, but whatever the severity of your prognosis, anything you can do to boost your immune system and calm internal inflammation can only help to slow the progression of the disease. Some people have problems with their motor function, others with their sensory perception. Alongside treating these symptoms and boosting your immune system, it makes sense to search out what may have weakened your immunity in the first place and sort any issues.
Become your own health detective and work out what may be stressing your body. Everyone is different, and the reason or reasons they got ill will be different, so any solutions to help you recover must be tailored accordingly, individually. One size rarely fits all.
Change your diet, put back the vitamins and minerals you may be missing; seek out stem cell therapy; use intravenous drips and do everything you can to strengthen your body and get it back to normal functioning. There are myriad natural remedies that can help and many people have slowed or reversed their symptoms using them.
11 possibilities to consider
I have written articles about many of the topics below, in this blog and also in my book, ‘Reboot Your Health’. Consider whether any might be affecting you and click on the links to read further. The more issues you recognise, the greater the stress build up that your body has probably been having to cope with. Relieve and reduce that stress, and free your body to get to work, as only it can, on repairing any damage to its systems.
Mercury from amalgam fillings: We know now that mercury is toxic and causes mental health and physical problems. The World Health Organisation considers mercury one of the top 10 most dangerous chemicals for human health. It clearly states that even the smallest amount of mercury exposure can cause serious problems, affecting almost all our body systems: immunity, digestion, nervous system, kidneys, eyes, skin and lungs.
I would suggest that the location of the teeth, directly under the soft palate of the roof of your mouth, could mean that mercury from your fillings or aluminium from any implants could be affecting your brain. Visit a nutritionist or a naturopathic doctor who will carry out a toxic metal panel for you to see if metal poisoning might be a problem. Research has shown that fluid levels of mercury in MS patients can be 7 times higher than normal.
Candida: We all have a certain degree of candida in our bodies - it’s a perfectly normal inhabitant of our microbiome, that vast colony of yeasts, bacteria and viruses that perennially occupy your gut (read more on this in my introduction to gut health series). It’s supposed to be there. And we all have antibodies to candida in our blood, which implies that the immune system fends off any low level attack much of the time.
Any problem arises only when your immune system gets weak, allowing the candida to break free, spreading like lightning through the tissues of your organs and triggering various problems along the way. Low points are linked to the aftermath of an illness or after a hefty dose of antibiotics which flatten the majority of the ‘good’ gut bacteria that keep the others in balance. Stress can do it too; so can overdosing on sugar in your diet. And for your brain, under certain circumstances, candida can be lethal. Candida produces toxins that can interfere with brain function, in particular the powerful neurotoxin arabitol, an alcohol that is produced from a reaction between sugars in your food and the yeast in your gut. Depression, confusion, mood swings, anxiety? Think candida. And remember that sugar is not just hiding in those delicious puddings and chocolate. Alcohol, pasta, cakes and potatoes all turn to sugar in your stomach.
Food Allergies: Gluten and dairy are the top two culprits for MS and should be cut entirely from your diet. Take an allergy test for tannin, caffeine, citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes: it may also flag other foods you may never have even thought of. Google the YouTube videos of the inspirational Dr Terry Wahls who was given a diagnosis of MS and was rapidly wheelchair bound. She researched the specifics of what to eat and what not to eat, devised a very specific diet and was out of the wheelchair within months. She now travels the world lecturing and giving hope that a diagnosis of MS need not necessarily be a one way journey.
Pesticides and toxic chemical overload? Is your body particularly sensitive to chemicals? Do you live in the countryside, where farmers regularly spray their crops with toxic pesticides? Or the city, where the air grows more toxic every year? Chemical overload is another possible trigger for immune system collapse. Any reduction in the amount of toxins your body has to deal with will revitalise your immune system, so bin any household cleaners with incomprehensible labels and replace them with organic options. Swap commercial shampoos and body lotions for natural ones and definitely – no wiggle room here - stop using Roundup and other chemical nasties in your garden. Talk to a nutritionist about supplements to reduce your toxic load and if you can track down a far infra-red sauna. A daily session is one of the quickest ways to detox.
Mould: Check the mould levels in your home and workplace because the symptoms of mould toxicity are remarkably similar to those of MS. Purzycki et al, in 2010, proposed that MS is primarily a mould toxin disease. Their theory is that the mycotoxin gliotoxin, produced by Aspergillis and Candida, is highly neurotoxic and may, in combination with vitamin D deficiency, be a trigger for MS. Incidence of MS increases the further you get from the equator, along with higher mould toxicity issues.
Nutritional deficiencies: MS patients are often low in magnesium, B12, B6, folic acid, zinc, selenium and Vit C. Low levels of Vitamin D are also linked to MS. Replenish your supplies and consult a nutritionist for optimum dosage. Magnesium is particularly important for strengthening and rebuilding the myelin sheath. Add omega 3 and Vitamin E to speed that process. Consult a herbalist for protocols that support immunity. The Tibetan herbal medicine, Padma 28, a collection of 28 different herbs, has been shown (Korwin-Piotrowska et al Phytotherapy Research June 1992) to reduce the severity of MS symptoms, improving vision, muscle-strength and sphincter control. (2 tablets 3 times a day for a year).
Viruses: Have you had a bout of shingles, herpes or chickenpox? The MS Society quotes evidence that some viruses and bacteria can trigger MS. Epstein Barr which belongs to the herpes viral family, and is one of the most common of all the viruses affecting 90% of us in our lifetimes, is the cause of mononucleosis, the ‘kissing disease’ that is transferred in saliva and then activates the catchily named HERV-W/MSRV which is linked to MS.
Who knows which way the disease is triggered - which is chicken and which is egg? - but apparently there is a scientifically proven clear connection. Get yourself checked for Epstein Barr, and if you have it, find a therapist who specialises in clearing the problem. If you have been diagnosed with the more sensory affecting type of MS, usually virally triggered, then intravenous B12 of around 15,000 mcg per week is said to be effective.
Homeopathy is another option for people whose MS is virally triggered. A protocol of Buthus australis (10DH, 26 drops midday on alternate, even numbered days) and Thallium metallicum (10DH on odd numbered days) alongside Argentum metallicum (10DH 13 drops morning and evening daily) is anecdotally said to improve symptoms.
Whiplash: Researchers have identified a clear correlation between whiplash and the onset of MS. It may be worth a trip to an upper cervical chiropractor to resolve the problem and re-align the damaged area, hopefully relieving symptoms in the process.
Electromagnetic or geopathic stress: Dr Hans Nieper, a German specialist, estimated that approximately 75% of his MS patients were geopathically stressed. Geopathic stress is the study of the energies of the earth and their effects on human health. Some energies are good for human beings and strengthen their immunity. Others weaken it. Underground water, fault lines, mineral fields and building excavation, for instance, all give off specific magnetic fields that can create health problems if you live on or near them. These fields can be measured scientifically, and they can affect your ability to fight off disease, particularly if you are spending long periods of time in them - sleeping in your bed at night, or working in an office in the day in an area that is geopathically stressed. Get your home checked by a geopathic stress expert. Solving the problem can be as simple as moving your bed or desk a few inches.
Lyme disease: MS and Lyme disease have similar symptoms. A substantial percentage of MS sufferers also have Lyme, so make sure you have been correctly diagnosed in the first place and get tested separately for Lyme disease. Clear up the Lyme disease and you unload one more problem that your immune system no longer has to cope with. There are inexpensive testing kits available on the Internet.
Stress and emotional trauma: There is often a connection between a traumatic event and the arrival of physical illness some time later; a sudden shock can trigger physical trauma in the body and emotional baggage left undealt with could trigger physical issues. Psycho-neuroimmunology research clearly indicates that the emotions and thoughts you repeatedly have every day turn into chemicals that flood your body and can negatively – or positively – affect your biochemistry. Sorting your mental health is key to getting you on that path to recovery.
Step by step, lighten your body’s load.
Written by health advocate Sara Davenport, founder of one of the UK's leading breast cancer charities, Breast Cancer Haven. With over twenty years' experience in holistic health, Sara's digital dose of wellness teaches you to listen to your body, tweak your lifestyle and improve your health.
Sign up to our free newsletter for fortnightly holistic health tips and a regular dose of get-well advice. SUBSCRIBE NOW!