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Multiple Sclerosis

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

What causes multiple Sclerosis?

Who gets Multiple Sclerosis
?

How is the diagnosis made?

Signs & Symptoms


What medical help is available?


Drug Therapies


RAMS Therapy Centre & Multiple Sclerosis


Diet & Nutrition

Why is nutrition so important?

A healthy diet

Dietary Supplements & their Importance

Complementry & Alternative Therapies

Aromatherapy & Massage

Acupuncture

Homeopathy

Herbal remedies

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Multiple Sclerosis

                                                                                            

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) was first identified in the 1860's by a French neurologist named Jean Martin Charcot, but for virtually a century following his discovery there was little research into this disabling condition.  MS is now considered to be the most common disease of the central nervous system, affecting somewhere in the region of 85, 000 people in the UK.

 

MS is caused by damage to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).  The central nervous system is the body's nerve control centre.  It consists of the brain, the spinal cord running down the length of the backbone, and the optic nerves.  Messages are passed along the central nervous system to muscles and sensory organs throughout the body which affect movement, thought processes, vision and various bodily functions.  Information is also sent back to the central nervous system from the muscles and sensory organs.  Therefore, each time you pick up a cup, play a musical instrument or drive a car, you are dependent on the smooth functioning of the central nervous system to be able to carry out such complex and skilled operations.

The messages transmitted via the central nervous system from the brain to the body, or from the body to the brain, affect various nerves.  These are sensory nerves (to do with feeling); motor nerves (to do with movement); and optic nerves (to do with seeing).  These messages are transmitted at very high speeds and so normally you experience the transmission of the messages instantaneously.  However, in MS, the myelin sheath (the coating around a nerve, similar to the insulation sheath around an electric wire) is thinned or lost completely (demyelination).  This causes a delay or a complete block in the passage of nerve messages.  The body's own defence mechanisms then attempt to repair the damage, which leaves a scar of hard tissue (sclerosis).  This scar (also referred to as plaque or lesion) can further block or delay nerve signals.  Demyelination and scar formation happen randomly, in different places and at different times (multiple), but their cause is not known. The symptoms and severity of MS depend on where exactly the demyelination and scars occur.   Lesions  are most  common  in  the  optic nerve giving rise to pain and blurred vision; in the brainstem or cerebellum, causing vertigo and double vision; and in the spinal cord, causing limb weakness and impaired urinary control.  However, although  specific  lesions  (plaques or scars)  can be identified,  the course of the disease remains very unpredictable.  Symptoms vary  enormously, not only from one person to another but also in the same person from one time of day to another.  MS symptoms can last simply for minutes or days, or linger for weeks, months and even years.

                                                                                                     

What causes MS?

 

Researchers have looked at a number of possible causes- autoimmune disturbances; viral infections; diet; genetic makeup; and environmental factors. Much of this research is still ongoing.  Some evidence suggests that MS is the result of an autoimmune attack by the body on its own myelin; the effect of a viral infection; or is a combination of the two.  More recently, scientific studies have found a relationship between low Vitamin D levels during childhood and the development of MS in later life.

 

Incidence- who gets MS?

Approximately 85, 000 people in the UK and 2.5 million people world-wide have multiple sclerosis and it is thought that between 3500 and 4000 people in Northern Ireland have been diagnosed with this condition.  The highest known prevalence has been recorded in Scotland, notably Shetland and Orkney.  Temperature latitudes of between 40 and 60 degrees are high risk zones for the disease.  In the northern hemisphere this includes the British Isles, northern and central Europe, Iceland, Canada and the northern states of the USA.  In the southern hemisphere, New Zealand, Tasmania and the southern tracts of Australia are included.  MS is definitely more common in white races than in other racial groups.  It is unknown among pure bred Bantus and Eskimos and among native American Indians.  MS is also uncommon among the Chinese and Japanese.  

MS is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40.  More women develop MS than men, in a ratio of approximately 2:1, and they tend to develop the condition at an earlier age. In rare cases some children may develop the disease.

MS is NOT infectious or contagious.  You cannot catch it from someone else.  Nor is it inherited in the usual sense of the word, however there is evidence to suggest a genetic component to MS that increases susceptibility to developing the condition. 

 

How is the diagnosis made?

Unlike many other diseases, there is no straightforward ‘positive or negative’ test for MS and no one test is 100 percent conclusive on its own. This means that a doctor will diagnose MS using a combination of tests. This is called making a ‘clinical diagnosis’.

Your GP will ask about your symptoms and medical history and will perform a neurological examination, testing your vision, coordination and reflexes.  Many of the symptoms of MS are also found in other conditions so these may need to be excluded first. If you have symptoms which get better or go away, your GP is likely to wait and see if you have another relapse before referring you to a neurologist (a doctor specialising in conditions that affect the nervous system). Waiting may cause you some anxiety but this way a more definitive diagnosis can be made - a single episode may not be enough to make a firm diagnosis.

Your GP or neurologist may recommend that you have some, or all, of the following tests:-

  • Lumbar Puncture (Spinal Tap)- this involves taking a sample of cerebrospinal fluid from the spinal cord. This sample is analysed for evidence of inflammation and for its protein level and leucocyte count. Approximately 80% of people with MS have an elevated IgG index or oligoclonal immunoglobulin bands present in the spinal fluid but not in the serum. However, detection of these bands is not specific to the condition of MS and so further tests are usually necessary. Your GP will explain if this test is necessary for you and discuss the procedure involved.

  • MRI Scan- these take detailed pictures of the brain and spinal cord that can detect areas of scarring. This is considered the best test for diagnosing MS, as abnormal lesions appear on MRIs in over 95% of people with MS. However, 5% of people with MS do not have abnormalities that can be detected on an MRI and some age-related damage can appear like MS lesions.

  •  Evoked Potential Tests- these are relatively simple, non-invasive tests that are carried out on vision, hearing and sensation. Brainwaves are recorded in response to various stimuli. The doctor is looking for both the size of the response and the speed in which the brain receives the signal. Weaker or slow signals may indicate that demyelination has occurred and that MS is a possibility. However, this test is not specific to MS and abnormalities could indicate other problems.
     
     
                 
           



     

 

 

 

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of MS depend largely on where the lesions are situated in the brain and spinal cord and which nerves are affected.  Different nerves control different parts of the body and different body functions.  Not everyone with MS will have lesions located in exactly the same places, therefore, not everybody with MS will have exactly the same symptoms.

Some of the symptoms that people with MS can experience include fatigue; muscle weakness; difficulties with balance, walking and coordination; unusual sensations such as numbness, burning, tingling, pain or pins and needles; muscle spasms and tremors; bladder and bowel problems; visual abnormalities; speech problems; altered mood; and difficulties with memory and concentration.

People with MS may have any combination of these symptoms and each to a varying extent or intensity.  MS symptoms can last for minutes or days, or linger for weeks, months and even years. Symptoms can become more pronounced when the MS is active or in relapse, and may lessen or disappear again when the MS is in remission. 

In some people, MS symptoms can intensify when the person is tired, upset or anxious. This does not necessarily mean that the MS is getting worse; only that the person with MS can have good days and bad days, just like everyone else.  Most people with MS experience the condition  in a mild form with minimal neurological symptoms and suffer limited and usually transitory or temporary disability.  Many medical authorities suggest that people with MS have a "normal" life expectancy. Only around 20% of people with MS may eventually be dependent on a wheelchair.  People with MS can have good quality and experience of life, including love, marriage, children, work and happiness.

There are several different types of MS which are classified according to the severity and frequency of symptoms:-   

 

  • Relapsing/Remitting- In about 2/3 of people with MS, the condition takes the form of a series of relapses (exacerbations or attacks), interspersed with periods of remission (recovery).  A relapse may last for only one day or may persist for weeks or several months. During this time new symptoms may appear or existing symptoms become more severe. On average, a relapse occurs approximately once or twice every 2 years. Whilst in a period of remission, symptoms that may have been disabling during relapse can virtually disappear. Remission can last for months or even decades. In  some cases after relapse, a complete recovery is made but in most cases there is some residual damage.
     

  • Secondary Progressive- Many people who are initially diagnosed with relapsing/remitting MS find that over time the frequency of relapses decreases but disability increases. This is known as secondary progressive MS. As with relapsing/remitting MS, people's experience of secondary progressive MS can vary widely. Some people find that the increase or progression of disability is very gradual, whilst for others it can occur more quickly. It is estimated that around 75% of people whose disease pattern begins with relapsing and remitting symptoms later develop the secondary progressive form.

  • Primary Progressive- About 10% of people with MS are diagnosed with a form in which disability increases from the outset. This is known as primary progressive MS (or less commonly, chronic progressive MS). Again,  experience of primary progressive MS varies from person to person. Some people can have a persistent increase in disability whilst others may experience plateaux or a more gentle worsening of symptoms.

  • Benign- Approximately 10% of people experience only a few relapses with little or no residual disability.  If this pattern continues over a period of 15 years they are thought to have the benign form of the disease.

 

What medical help is available?

No cure for MS has been found as yet. The emphasis is therefore on managing the disease, controlling the symptoms and preventing them from worsening. 

Treatments are currently available to help slow down the progression of the disease, reduce the frequency and severity of attacks, treat exacerbations (also called attacks, relapses or flare-ups), relieve symptoms and improve body function. These treatment strategies include drug therapies; physiotherapy, flowtron therapy and rehabilitation; hyperbaric oxygen; electromagnetic stimulation; vibrotherapy; complementary therapies; and cognitive remediation.

Many new possible therapies are also under investigation. For example, stem cells are showing more and more potential in the treatment of MS and clinical trials are currently being carried out to study their effectiveness in repairing or replacing myelin in larger numbers of people with the disease.  It is thought that stem-cell transplants may one day control and even reverse multiple sclerosis if carried out early enough.


                                                                                

Drug Therapies                 

          

Steroids

These are the most common and widely used drugs in the treatment of combined MS symptoms. Most people with MS will have steroids, (often methylprednisolone), prescribed for them at some stage during their illness.  They can be helpful during a relapse, speeding up recovery and inducing remission but they may not be appropriate for everyone.  It is not clear exactly how steroids work but they are known to possess anti-inflammatory properties which can suppress the immune system and reduce the accumulation of fluid around the sites of nerve damage.  They can be given in many forms including tablets, injection into the muscle and injection into the vein.  However, it has been reported that steroids given regularly will make no difference to the long term progression of MS.  A very small number of people respond to long term steroids but for the vast majority this approach should be avoided.  Steroids have a number of undesirable side effects in the long term. Your GP or neurologist will offer you advice on the appropriateness and safe use of steroids for your condition.

Disease modifying drugs                                 

These may slow down the progression of MS and help to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. There are currently six disease modifying drugs approved for use in relapsing-remitting forms of MS and secondary progressive disease, where patients are still experiencing relapses. Unfortunately, none of these currently available disease-modifying drugs are approved for treating primary progressive MS.  Disease-modifying medications:

  • Reduce the frequency and severity of relapses (also called attacks or exacerbations).
     

  • Reduce the accumulation of lesions (damaged or active disease areas) within the brain and spinal cord as seen on MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging).
     

  • Appear to slow down the accumulation of disability. Most of these drugs are taken on a long-term basis, and they are the best defence currently available to slow down the natural course of MS.

Rebif®, Copaxone®, Betaseron®, and Avonex® are self-injectable drugs for long-term use. They modulate the immune system, meaning they adjust or modify how the immune system functions. Tysabri®, which is also an immune-modulating drug, is delivered by intravenous infusion (into the vein) at a medical facility. Novantrone® is a powerful immune system suppressor, also delivered by intravenous infusion in a medical setting. You should talk to your neurologist about disease modifying drugs and discuss any questions or concerns that you may have about their use.

                                                                                                                         

Medications to control and manage symptoms

There are numerous drugs available on the market to help control individual symptoms of MS, such as pain, incontinence, constipation, spasms and fatigue.

                                                                                                              

Cannabis

Some people with MS say that smoking cannabis (also called marijuana) helps with muscle stiffness, spasms, pain and sleep problems. Some research has suggested that cannabis could have benefits for people with MS but further research is required to ensure its safety.  Unfortunately, cannabis is known to have a number of side effects including increased drowsiness, unsteadiness, problems with concentration and sleep and occasionally more serious complications such as confusion and hallucinations.  Therefore, it is still illegal to possess most kinds of cannabis in the UK and there is no official exception to the law even for people who use cannabis for medical purposes.  A cannabis spray is available in Canada under the brand name Sativex. It aims to help with muscle spasms without the 'high' of smoking cannabis but it may not help everyone and the benefits may be small. This spray isn't currently available as a standard treatment for MS in the UK, but doctors can prescribe it for individual patients, based on their own clinical judgement. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in this treatment.

                                                                  

Low Dose Naltrexone

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is a treatment method for MS that has been in use in the USA since 1985 but is relatively new in the United Kingdom. Despite its claimed successful use in America, until fully proved here, it must be considered as experimental.  Naltrexone is a drug called an opiate antagonist. It is used to treat opiate drug addiction, by blocking the response to opiate drugs, such as heroin or morphine. The idea of using LDN for MS was devised by Dr. Bernard Bihari, a practising neuro-physician in New York, USA. In MS, LDN works by briefly obstructing the effects of brain endorphins (the brain's natural painkillers). This has an effect of stimulating the increased production of these same endorphins, which in turn stimulate the immune system, thus reducing the activity of the MS. Naltrexone is thought to help neuromuscular spasm and fatigue. Also patients who are in the middle of an acute relapse when they start LDN have generally shown rapid resolution of the attack. For further information on Low Dose Naltrexone you should speak to your GP or neurologist.

                                                   

New therapies under investigation                    

Scientists continue their extensive efforts to create new and better therapies for MS. There are a number of treatments currently under investigation that may curtail attacks or improve function. Some of these treatments involve the combination of drugs that are already in use for multiple sclerosis, such as the joint administration of mitoxantrone and glatiramer acetate (Copaxone). However most treatments in clinical trials involve drugs that are used in other diseases. These are the cases of alemtuzumab (Campath), daclizumab (Zenapax), inosine, or BG00012. Other drugs in clinical trials have been designed specifically for MS, such as fingolimod, laquinimod, or Neurovax. Finally, there are also many early-stage investigations that in the future may emerge as new treatments.  Examples of these are the studies trying to understand the influence of Chlamydophila pneumoniae or vitamin D in the origin of the disease or preliminary investigations on the use of helminthic therapy.

A great deal has also been learnt about the immune system during recent years.  Scientists are now beginning to manipulate the immune system and by so doing may be able to reduce or even reverse the damage inflicted on nerve cells.  Many of these drugs are at very early stages of development and their exact effects and, more particularly, their side effects are yet to be determined.  However, the next few years are an exciting time and offer real possibilities for slowing down disease progression.

 

 

RAMS Therapy Centre and Multiple Sclerosis

 

RAMS Therapy Centre provides a range of therapies, designed specifically for Multiple Sclerosis. Follow the links below for further information on these treatments. Therapies will be provided individually as stand-alone treatments or offered in combination. Each person will be assessed and advised on a suitable treatment programme.

Note: permission from your doctor or consultant is required before treatment begins. 

 

                                               Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

           Physiotherapy

        Flowtron Therapy

            Electromagnetic Stimulation Therapy

             Vibrotherapy

Diet and Nutrition

 

Why is Nutrition important in MS?

There is a great deal of scientific evidence suggesting that diet has a significant role in MS.  Studies looking at the areas of the world where MS occurs most found that it was closely linked to the consumption of saturated fat.  It is interesting to note that fat consumption in the Scottish diet is one of the highest in the world and that Scotland has the highest incidence of MS.  Biochemical research shows that levels of saturated fats are higher and levels of polyunsaturated or essential fats are lower than average in some people with MS.  In particular, it has been discovered that people with MS have lower levels of linoleic acid in their red blood cells and nervous tissues than is considered normal.  These polyunsaturated and linoleic acids are extremely important for the construction of membranes and immune system function.  They are found in sunflower and other seed products, as well as oily fish.  Studies have showed that supplementing the diet with a linoleic acid-rich product has a beneficial effect on relapses in early MS.  Therefore the importance of a diet low in saturated fats and rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids in MS has been highly stressed.  

There is no doubt that poor nutrition can cause illnesses such as rickets, anaemia and scurvy amongst others, and that when a person has an illness such as a heart disorder, colitis or MS, for example, poor nutrition can make the illness even worse.  It stands to reason that if a healthy person needs a good diet to maintain health, a sick person needs a good diet to improve health and heal or control the illness that already exists.  A healthy diet is of benefit to everyone.  In MS in particular, it can help fight fatigue and infection and help to heal scarred tissue.

Very often MS patients experience constipation due to a change in their lifestyle, such as drastic reduction in physical activity, due mainly to the fatigue and limb disability that accompany MS.  Constipation may also be the result of certain medications.  It can, however, be greatly alleviated by diet.  By increasing the amount of bran in the diet, this removes the need for laxatives which can deplete the body of much needed vitamins and minerals and cause dehydration which can in turn aggravate a number of other symptoms.

Some MS patients have found that certain other symptoms can be controlled by eliminating various foods from their diets.  Shortness of breath, breathing difficulties and catarrh sometimes respond to the removal of milk from the diet.  Difficulty in adjusting to temperature changes, and the frequent running of above-normal body temperatures, can sometimes be alleviated by cutting out cane and beet sugar.  

Fatigue that so often comes with MS can often be tackled by eating little and often, for example five small meals a day instead of three large ones.  Worsening of symptoms and muscle weakness can be helped by the avoidance of alcohol.

It has been noted that a wide range of illnesses may have a gluten sensitivity as part of the condition, including ME, MS, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis and autism.  What is not clear is whether sensitivity to gluten is a contributing factor in the onset of these diseases, or whether it develops later, as the body loses more of its ability to respond to stress.  Either way, many people are finding that giving up gluten improves their health.

In general, consuming a diet that is high in nutrients and essential fatty acids, low in saturated fats and avoiding foods that are highly processed is advocated for people with MS.

You will find dietary advice available from a wide variety of sources, however you should always seek dietary advice from a trained nutritionist or health practitioner who can assess your individual status and requirements.

 

A Healthy Diet for MS- some general rules

 

1.    Use polyunsaturated spreads and oils.

2.    Eat at least 3 helpings of fish each week.

3.    Eat 1/2 lb liver each week.

4.    Eat a large helping of dark green vegaetables daily.

5.    Eat some raw vegetables daily, as part of a salad, with a french dressing.

6.    Eat some linseeds daily.

7.    Eat some fresh fruit daily.

8.    Try to eat as much fresh food as possible.

9.    Choose lean cuts of meat and trim all fat.

10.   Avoid hard animal fats like butter, lard, cream and hard cheeses etc.

11.   Try to eat wholegrain cereals and wholegrain bread.

12.   Try to cut down on sugar and foods containing sugar.

 

Dietary Supplements- the importance of vitamins, minerals and oils

 

Dietary supplements can help you to:-

  • absorb nutrients from food

  • heal a leaky gut

  • strengthen the immune system

  • reduce inflammation

  • strengthen the blood brain barrier

  • improve nerve signals

  • reduce fatigue and give you more energy

A trained nutritionist or health practitioner will be able to assess your nutritional needs and advise you about supplements that may be helpful and how to take these safely.

You should always consult a medical practitioner or pharmacist about taking supplements, particularly if you are taking prescription medications, are pregnant, have underlying medical conditions or if you are taking part in any clinical trials or research studies.

In general, supplements that can benefit people with MS fall under the categories of oils, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, antioxidants, amino acids, probiotics, neurotransmitters and energy releasers.

  • Oils

OIL OF EVENING PRIMROSE, either with or without fish oil, is perhaps the most common and essential dietary supplement for those with MS.  Evening primrose is a little plant with bright yellow flowers.  The North American Indians first used this plant for medicinal purposes.  They found the extract of this plant has great healing powers for skin conditions and is beneficial to the healing of infections.  Recently, it has been noted that people using an extract from this plant heal more quickly after an operation than people who do not use it.  The use of evening primrose oil has been noted for its benefits in MS, arthritis, skin and menopausal problems.

People with MS have a low concentration of essential fatty acids, plasma, red blood cells and platelets in the nervous system.  This can be rectified or reversed with evening primrose oil.  Evening primrose contains a high content of gammalinolenic acid or GLA.  This is converted into Prostaglandin 1 . Prostaglandin 1 ensures that there are enough T-lymphocytes to fight infection, helps regulate blood pressure and cholesterol and the size and mobility of red blood cells.  It helps prevent thrombosis and inflammation.

FISH OILS high in Omega 3 essential fatty acids are necessary for normal function of the nervous system and production of myelin (the protective coating found around nerves). The occurrence of MS is lowest in countries where fish is eaten regularly. Oil of Evening Primrose containing fish oil is therefore highly recommended. Along with natural bioflavonoids, fish oils can also help prevent inadequate or insufficient blood circulation. 

FLAX SEED OIL contains a good balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils which are important components of the nervous system and necessary for the production of myelin. It is a good alternative to fish oils for people who are vegetarian.

 

  • Vitamins

Vitamin A increases the number of circulating lymphocytes (white blood cells) which help protect cells from damage and infection. Vitamin A can also help rebuild a leaky gut.  

B VITAMINS are important for energy, healthy skin, nerve function and tissue repair and maintenance. The most important B vitamins for MS are B12, B6, B1, B2, B3, B5 and Folic Acid. B12 is needed for a healthy myelin sheath, nervous system and bone marrow. VITAMIN B12 can also help reduce fatigue and increase energy by converting carbohydrates into glucose which the body then bums to produce energy. Lack of B12 can impair the immune system. People with MS can be deficient in B12 due to malabsorption in the gut or due to a disorder in binding and/or transporting the vitamin.

VITAMIN C is needed for a healthy immune system, repair of tissue and production of collagen.

VITAMIN D deficiency during childhood is thought to be linked to the development of MS in later life. It is believed that Vitamin D can help to reduce relapses and slow progression in MS, especially in northern latitudes where there is less sunlight.

VITAMIN E enhances immune response, slows down the degenerative process and regulates platelet aggregation.

 

  • Minerals & Trace Elements

ZINC is one of the most important minerals for someone with MS.  This mineral has a significant effect on the body's immune response and has the exceptional property of boosting the person's morale when depression occurs.  Diets high in refined foods and junk foods are low in zinc. Certain foods, such as cows milk, cheese, coffee and bran can inhibit absorption. Also viral infections like glandular fever can cause a loss of zinc.

MAGNESIUM is essential for almost all metabolic function. It helps to produce cellular energy, needed for nerve impulse transmission. It also helps metabolise the B vitamins and essential fatty acids. A magnesium deficiency is a common finding in MS. Spasticity can often be traced to low levels of magnesium. This deficiency may be caused by a diet high in refined and processed foods and saturated fat, by bran added to the diet or diuretics. Magnesium is known to have a calming effect on tense muscles and plays a vital role therefore in controlling spasms and tremors. Research has highlighted that diets low in magnesium can also lead to fatigue and lethargy. 

COPPER assists in the formation of haemoglobin and red blood cells by helping with iron absorption. It is used with zinc, iron and B vitamins in the synthesis of phospholipids (long chain fatty acids) which are important in myelin formation.

SELENIUM is needed to make the important enzyme Glutathione Peroxidase, which helps fight against free radicals and damage from lipid peroxidation. The prevalence of MS is inversely related to selenium levels in the soil. MS is high in a district of Finland called Ostrobothia where the selenium levels are low. The prevalence of MS is low in nearby Lapland, where the selenium levels are high.

SULPHUR is essential to life. It helps repair the damaged tissue membranes, is anti-inflammatory, helps reduce pain, is anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and reduces scar tissue. Sulphur regulates the sodium potassium pump in the cells. This process removes toxins from cells, reduces inflammation, and promotes healing. It helps strengthen gut lining, helps in myelin repair and relieves muscle cramps and constipation.

 

  • Antioxidants

GRAPE SEED EXTRACT contains proanthrocyanidins (OPCs or PCOs) which are up to 50 times more powerful than Vitamin E. They help to deal with free radicals and strengthen the blood brain barrier. Bilberry extract is also very effective (possibly the most effective in strengthening the blood brain barrier).

GINKA BILOBA helps maintain healthy peripheral circulation, including blood to the brain. It helps memory and cognitive functions, keeps blood vessels dilated, so allowing blood to flow more freely to the extremities, including the brain. It also works as an antioxidant and has positive effects on platelet function.

GLUTATHIONE PEROXIDASE is an antioxidant enzyme which helps protect all cells from free radical damage. It seems that people with MS have reduced activity of this enzyme.

 

  • Probioitics

DIGESTIVE ENZYMES are needed to digest food properly and for a multitude of metabolic functions. They turn the wheels of our body chemistry and make nutrients easier to absorb in the gut. If any digestive enzymes are lacking or not working effectively your body cannot use nutrients from food. Absorption of poorly digested food can lead to gut inflammation, leaky gut and food allergies. Food ferments in the gut causing gas, burning and bloating. Incompletely digested foods produce toxins, irritate the intestines, and enter the bloodstream. Over time this can lead to degenerative and/or autoimmune diseases. It is common for people with MS to have digestive problems. Poor digestion keeps the immune cells tied up in our gut, leaving us defenceless against virus, fungus, yeast, candida, and bacteria  so infections are more likely.

 

  • Neurotransmitters & Energy Releasers

LECITHIN helps in fat metabolism. It is a a precursor of Acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitters needed for transmission of messages between brain cells.

PHOSPHATIDYL SERINE speeds up neurotransmitters.

CO-ENZYME QIO is an energy booster.  It is a vitamin like substance found in the mitochondria of every cell, the mitochondria being responsible for the energy generation of cells. 

ENADA also helps increase energy.

 

  • Amino Acids

Amino Acids are the building blocks of all proteins including all cell membranes, tissues, blood, lymph, enzymes and hormones, so are essential for good health. They come from good quality proteins such as fish and lean meat. Eight amino acids are essential because you cannot make them in your body but have to get them from foods. A lack of these essential aminos may be due to faulty digestion/absorption, which then disrupts metabolic processes creating general symptoms of weakness, fatigue and lethargy. At the Tahoma Clinic in Seattle it was found that in nearly 100% of MS cases the amino acid blood levels were abnormally low. Amino acid supplements can reduce weakness and fatigue. By improving metabolism they contribute to greater energy and well-being.

L-GLUTAMINE is the most abundant amino acid in our bodies. Immune cells need glucose, but will only grow if they have glutamine too. L-Glutamine helps protect against a leaky gut, which is common in MS. Glutamine is the most important nutrient and fuel for the mucosal lining of the small intestine and the colon. The cells of the intestine or gut are the fasting growing cells in our bodies. They form a thin (one cell thick) barrier between the digestive tract and the rest of the body and have to be replenished constantly - gaps can open between these cells, resulting in a leaky gut. Glutamine also:-

  • reduces fatigue. It is important brain fuel

  • helps reduce cravings for sweets, chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs etc

  • help reduce hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).

  • helps in the production of glutathione peroxidase, a key antioxidant enzyme.

  • delivers nitrogen when it is needed to help build muscle tissue and removes nitrogen when there is acid build-up, helping detoxification. It also helps the liver rid the body of toxic substances.
     

  • prevents muscle breakdown. When you are under stress, for instance through illness, surgery or an accident, glutamine is ‘robbed’ from lean muscle tissue to fuel the tissues of the intestines, liver and immune system. Muscle tissue is also used to make more glutamine; this causes muscle wasting.

 

 

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

 

 

Complementary medicine complements mainstream medicine. There are a wide variety of complementary treatments available, the most popular being: acupuncture, aromatherapy, homeopathy, herbal medicine and the manipulative therapies-chiropractice, osteopathy and massage.  

It is important to emphasise that complementary therapies do not provide a cure for MS or slow down progression of the disease but can offer benefit in terms of symptomatic relief. You should seek complementary treatments from highly trained, professional practitioners who are aware of the benefits and adverse effects.  

 

 

 

 

Aromatherapy and Massage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aromatherapists believe that essential oils, extracted from plants, can be absorbed through the skin.  Once the oils have penetrated the skin, they are thought to travel to organs, glands and tissues and to seep into the bloodstream and lymph fluid of the body, the result of which aids in healing.  Also, the natural antibacterial and antiviral properties of essential oils appear to increase resistance to infection.  Each essential oil has its own distinctive properties, which have an effect on both body and mind and also influence emotions.  By far, the best and most effective way of using essential oils is with massage.  The reaction of rubbing is thought to activate nerve endings and stimulate the circulation of blood at the surface of the skin.  Massage is relaxing and promotes a sense of well-being.  

 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture works on the principle of that there are a series of points in the body, approximately 800, each linked to an organ.  If an organ fails to function during an illness or spell of ill health, the point registers the dysfunction.  The points are understood to be linked together in an imaginary line known as the meridian, which works as a sort of energy pathway.  If the points remain in balance along their meridian, you enjoy a state of health.  If there is a lack of energy, or an excess of it, the meridian becomes sensitive and registers a state of imbalance or illness.  The work of the acupuncturist is to make sure the meridians have an even flow of energy passing through them.  This is achieved by using needles, the pricks of which stimulate specific nerves.  The electrical impulses generated register in the brain, the spinal cord and the affected area.  It is reported that acupuncture may alleviate some MS symptoms such as pain, cramps, pins and needles, tingling sensations and coldness in the limbs.  

 
Homeopathy

Homeopathy was developed around 200 years ago by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann.  It is based on the principle of 'like is cured by like' (similia similibus curentur) and uses highly dilute remedies.  A homeopath will hold a consultation and will prescribe an appropriate homeopathic remedy according to symptoms and personal characteristics.  There are case reports of improvements in symptoms in people with MS who have received homeopathic treatment.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal medicines are obtained solely from plants and contain no added chemicals.  The herb and herbal preparation most commonly associated with use in MS are cannabis and oil of evening primrose respectively.  The benefits of both have been outlined previously.  Another herb, Hypericum perforatum (St.  John's wort), has been shown to be effective in mild to moderate depression and depression has been noted to occur in around 1/4 of people with MS.  Studies have highlighted that Hypericum may have an advantage over conventional antidepressants in terms of adverse reactions.

 

Reflexology 

More than just another form of massage, reflexology can be beneficial to people with MS.  It is based on the principle of the body being divided into zones, each linked to a key point on one of the feet.  By massaging the appropriate area of the foot, it is possible to treat problems in the related body zone or organ.  Simple and harmless when practiced professionally, it often produces surprising results.

 

Yoga 

 

It has been established in recent years that in many forms of illness there is some relationship between the manifestation of symptoms and the lifestyle and outlook of the person displaying those symptoms.  The yoga approach in MS is not a cure or treatment, but can be considered therapy.  It seems to provide an antidote to the tensions of MS- both the tensions that arise as a consequence of the disease itself and those that are a reaction to living with it.  Yoga invites you to accept life as it comes and teaches the skills to work in a systematic but relaxed way within the restrictions of a disease or problem area.  Enthusiasts claim that yoga has much to offer that is of significant benefit to those with MS because it can maximise energy, give new tone to the neuromuscular system, have a positive effect on the immune system, improve the function of the glands, build up resistance to illness and keep the body supple.  

Hydrotherapy  

Water is a natural and thorough cleansing agent, internally as well as externally.  It is much valued by natural therapists.  In continental Europe it is still common for people with MS to be treated with hydrotherapy at clinics in spa towns.  The blood circulation is stimulated by showering with cold and warm water alternately.  Spasms, tremors, stiff joints and pain can be alleviated by bathing in essences of pine and lavender which are excellent for the nervous system.  Hydrotherapy, in short, can promote energy and well-being.

 

Hippotherapy

 

Hippotherapy is horse riding as a treatment.  It is particularly encouraged as a treatment for MS in Switzerland and Scandanavia because it provides gentle exercise for the muscles and improves coordination and concentration.

 

 

Counselling

 

In all areas of life, the experience of stress, frustration or illness may result in feelings of failure to cope and may in extreme situations lead to feelings of despair.  And, as in all other areas of human activity, the ability to cope is a very individual characteristic.  The type of crisis that many find sad but tolerable, may leave others distraught.  Often, a trained counsellor will have not only the methods, but perhaps more importantly, the time to assist those in a distressed state to cope for themselves. The term ,counselling itself is a highly misused term.  It may be used to refer to anything from a sympathetic listening ear, to medically oriented advice on a condition, probing hidden fears and concerns and providing the individual with the means to confront and deal with them, or a full programme of psychotherapy.

Counselling gives those with MS an opportunity to explore in a safe, understanding professional relationship what it means for them to live with the condition.  It is, at times, difficult to live with the way MS interferes in your life.  If you have the condition, you may find its existence and symptoms so intrusive and frightening that the need to express what it is like is the only bit of relief you can get.  If you don't have MS yourself, but are close to someone who does, you too deserve space to express your own reactions and needs.  It should not always be assumed that problems and fears lie only with those who have MS.  Children and parents may have deep rooted anxieties and feelings of guilt, partners may feel unable to cope and employers may find it difficult to understand the problems associated with MS.  In all instances, talking things through in confidence with a trained counsellor will allow you to face the experience of MS, and discover the resources within you and the support available from others.  The need for counselling is perhaps most apparent at or soon after diagnosis, although there are of course other times when adjustments to changed situations are more easily made with expert help.  When a diagnosis is first made, whilst there can be a very real sense of relief that at last these symptoms have a name, there are usually unspoken medical and non-medical anxieties which a trained counsellor may be able to resolve.

As each person's needs are different, the expert counsellor uses his skills to focus on you and create the right environment for you to discover for yourself in your own way and time what contributes to or blocks your coping well with MS.  It is to do with unlocking your own inner strengths and resources.

 

 

Financial Help     
                                                                                  

Having a disability can involve extra costs- for heating, equipment, transport, accommodation, medication, assistance with care and other everyday needs. Costs can increase as levels of disability increase and can result from a combination of factors including a need to stop paid employment or a need to have aids and adaptations that are not provided by the state. You may be entitled to some form of financial assistance because of difficulties caused by MS. 

There is a wide range of disability-related financial support available, including benefits, tax credits, payments, grants and concessions. For full, up-to-date information on Disability Living Allowances and benefits that you may be entitled to, you should visit www.nidirect.gov.uk.