Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune neurodegenerative disease characterized by demyelination (destruction of the myelin sheath). The Myelin sheath is a mixture of proteins and phospholipids that form the insulating covering of nerve fibers known as Axons. Myelin is not just for the protection of these fibers but also plays a role in enhancing the electrical impulses that flow through the nerves. When this covering is destroyed, the axons become exposed – this results in poor flow of electrical impulses and eventually nerve cell death. When an extensive amount of myelin becomes damaged in a specific part of the brain, it can be seen as a “lesion” on an MRI.
When demyelination occurs, it can result in neurological symptoms that affect multiple systems in the body. One of the first symptoms that may occur in MS is the development of optic neuritis – a condition characterized by inflammation of the optic nerve.
Symptoms of MS can vary from person to person, however, some general symptoms are:
– Numbness in limbs
– Coordination and balance trouble
– Vision problems including blindness and/or double vision
– Trouble with speech
– Loss of bowel and bladder control
– Tingling and pain in multiple parts of the body
– Muscle stiffness
– Memory loss
Keep in mind that there are various types of MS such as:
– Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS)
– Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS)
– Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS)
– Progressing-Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (PRMS)
Each type of MS has specific characteristics as per symptomology, pathophysiology, as well as treatment options.
Reduce Relapses & Lesions
Achillea Millefolium (Yarrow) is a herb with a long history of medicinal use in multiple traditional medicine systems. Yarrow is generally associated with the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, gastric discomfort as well as infections such as the gingivitis and the common cold. However, Yarrow also possesses undeniable benefits for patients with Multiple Sclerosis. In a clinical trial, Yarrow was given to patients with multiple sclerosis for one year. At the end of the study, there was a reduction in the annual relapse rate as well as a significant reduction in the mean volume of lesions (see study).
Yarrow can have adverse effects if not used correctly. It has the ability to interact with drugs and other herbs. Always use it under the supervision of an Ayurvedic doctor. To speak with me, Click Here.
Improve Cognitive Function
Boswellia Serrata (Shallaki) is an Ayurvedic herb known for its potent anti-inflammatory effects. It has been well studied for its ability to treat various disorders including multiple autoimmune conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn’s Disease as well as degenerative disorders such as Osteoarthritis and even pulmonary disorders such as Asthma. In Europe, Boswellia Serrata is now classified as a phytopharmaceutical due to its ability to effectively treat multiple disorders. In a clinical trial, Boswellia improved visuospatial memory test and California verbal learning test results in patients with RRMS (see study).
In my opinion, these results could have been significantly better if patients had been given Boswellia in the correct form and at the standard Ayurvedic dose. This study involved an extract rather than whole-herb and a much smaller dose than what is used clinically by Ayurvedic doctors such as myself. I have used Boswellia with patients of autoimmune conditions and have seen dramatic improvement when used properly.
Improve Energy Levels & Reduce Fatigue
L-Carnitine is a well-known energy-boosting amino acid that has been researched extensively. It has become quite popular in sports medicine for improving muscular strength, increasing muscle mass and reducing fat. It has also been proven to enhance cognitive function, treat depression, reduce fatigue, and treat multiple neurological conditions such as Autism, ADHD, Hepatic Encephalopathy and Fibromyalgia. In a clinical trial, L-Carnitine was more effective than Amantadine in treating MS-related fatigue (see study).
Our bodies are literally a product of nutrition. When a part of the body degenerates, it is crucial to provide the body with the essential nutrients responsible for forming new tissue. In the case of myelin, there are several essential nutrients, such as:
1. Fat – Neural tissue is predominantly made up of fat. The myelin sheath itself is a fatty structure. In a case study of hypomyelination, the use of a ketogenic diet produced a significant improvement (see study)
2. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine or Benfotiamine) – These nutrients have shown promise in reversing diabetic neuropathy – a condition characterized by nerve damage. Thiamine is also needed to provide energy to oligodendrocytes (the neuroglia responsible for myelination).
3. Vitamin C – Promotes Schwann Cell myelination by supporting the ability to assemble a basal lamina and create collagen.
4. Selenium & Iodine – Supports the conversion of Thyroxine (T4) into Triiodothyronine (T3). T3 is a thyroid hormone that plays a role in signaling oligodendrocytes to differentiate into cells that produce Myelin.
5. Vitamin D – The deficiency of this vitamin has been connected to the increased risk of developing MS. Evidence has linked the supplementation of Vitamin D to a lower incidence of relapses (see study).
6. CoQ10 – Supports mitochondrial function and reduces inflammatory markers in MS (see study).
7. Vitamin B12 – Supports the synthesis of Methionine, an amino acid needed for the formation of myelin. Vitamin B12 deficiencies have also been associated with demyelinating disorders including MS (see study).
Other Important Nutrients:
– Omega 3s
– Oleic Acid
– Vitamin B6
– Trace Minerals
With the exception of fats of Vitamin C, all other necessary nutrients should be supplemented in order to get an adequate amount. Fats can be easily obtained from the diet as they are a macronutrient and found in foods such as fish, eggs, beef, lamb, avocado, nuts, and seeds. Vitamin C can be easily absorbed from Amla fruits – however, if need be, this can be supplemented as well.
Considering the fact that Multiple Sclerosis is a condition in which the progression of the illness is dependent on inflammation, it is best to consume a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as:
– Strawberries, Raspberries, Acai Berries, Goji Berries, Cherries
– Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kale, Brussel Sprouts
– Green Leafy Vegetables (Spinach, Collard Greens, Lettuce, Broccoli Leaves)
– Mushrooms (Reishi, Cordyceps, Maitake and common mushrooms too)
– Cayenne Pepper
– Black Pepper
– Cinnamon (Ceylon)
– Fresh Wheat Grass Juice
– Sweet Potato
– Organic Chicken and Lamb
– Red/Orange Coloured Seafood (Prawns, Crab, etc)
– Salmon (Wild Caught)
– Sardines (Wild Caught)
– Matcha Green Tea
– Fresh Fruit Juices (Especially orange, pineapple, and papaya)
– Pure Yogurt (not the common sweetened type)
– Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Sesame Seeds, and Pumpkin Seeds
– Brazil Nuts
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)