Nutritional Aspects of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic, progressive neuromuscular illness with symptoms of increasing weakness and other muscular and neurological symptoms. MS affects those in cold climates more often and affects women more often than men. Modern medicine does not believe that nutrition can offer much for multiple sclerosis.


However, at times nutritional intervention may slow progress of the disease and even reverse the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Various nutritional imbalances are seen in connection with multiple sclerosis.


Copper And Zinc Metabolism

It's known that in multiple sclerosis there is a loss of the myelin sheath which covers the nerves. It is also known that this sheath depends upon copper and zinc for its synthesis. Zinc is needed for synthesis of all body proteins and copper is particularly important for connective tissue synthesis. Excessive copper in the body has a negative effect in that it can cause a breakdown of the myelin sheath. Copper deficiency or biounavailable copper can also hinder tissue synthesis.


It stands to reason that imbalances in these two minerals may contribute to multiple sclerosis. Frequently these imbalances are located on tissue mineral analyses of MS patients.


Improving Energy Levels

Adequate biochemical energy production within the body cells is also required for synthesis of the myelin sheath. Energy production occurs in the body in two energy cycles, the glycolysis and citric acid cycles. These cycles require B-complex vitamins, manganese, magnesium, potassium, copper, iron and other nutrients for their functioning. As part of the nutritional approach to MS, it is important to make sure that a person is receiving adequate nutrients for these cycles. Balancing the oxidation rate through scientific nutrition also contributes to cellular energy production.


Toxic Metals

Chronic poisoning with lead and possibly with mercury and cadmium, is associated with neuromuscular diseases including MS. Often the cause of toxicity is not known. Metal toxicity as a rule is not revealed on standard blood tests.


Even with tissue mineral testing, several months to a year may be required for toxic metals to show up on the hair test. This is because the metals are stored within body tissues and may take this long to be eliminated through the hair.


Diet

Several researchers have suggested diets for MS. One is the low-saturated fat diet and another is a diet that is gluten-free - that is, free of all wheat, rye and oat products. Neither of these diets has been found universally successful, but even their limited success speaks of a food-related component that could be contributing to the illness at least in some people.


A good quality diet will always assist in the quality of life and help maintain nutritional adequacy. Junk food, sugar, white flour products, sodas, processed and chemicalized foods should be avoided and a high-quality diet with adequate protein is important. The oxidation rate should also be taken into account when formulating a diet.


Octacosanol And Calcium EAP

Certain studies support the use of octacosanol, a vitamin E fraction, as part of a regimen for MS. Dr. Hans Nieper of the Hanover Hospital in Germany pioneered the use of calcium EAP for multiple sclerosis patients.


The Virus Theory

One theory holds that MS is a late form of infection with the mumps virus, which attacks the myelin sheath. Definite proof of this theory is hard to come by.


Using nutrition, the possibility of a chronic virus can be addressed, for we know that certain nutrients are powerful stimulators of the immune system. These include vitamin A, vitamin C and glandular products designed to enhance the immune system.


Mental/Emotional Aspects

Most MS patients find that stress aggravates their condition. A physical stressor, such as heat, can be particularly debilitating. However, mental and emotional stress are also factors. For this reason, working with attitudes, emotions and thoughts to examine those that create stress for a person, may be a critical factor in healing.


One client with MS found that she was fine as long as she did not overtax herself. The moment she placed too much stress on her body or mind, her symptoms returned. Through meditation and other techniques (including diet and supplements) she is able to maintain herself symptom-free most of the time.


While it may sound odd, often it is wise to ask oneself what are the benefits of having MS? Often we are not aware of our own hidden motives or what are called 'secondary gains' associated with having an illness.


What To Expect

Early stage cases of MS often respond more favorably to nutritional support. Longstanding cases vary depending on many factors, not the least of which is the person's ability to follow the program faithfully. Other holistic therapies and modalities may also be helpful and should be used along with scientific nutrition. While reversal may occur with long-standing cases, the goal is to prevent further decline in health and to assist with symptomatic relief of bothersome symptoms such as muscle spasms and weakness.



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