“There is every reason for people now diagnosed with MS to optimistic about the future.”
It was during my advanced medical surgical clinical rotation that I came across my first patient with multiple sclerosis. He was in his mid-forties and his body was where it had been for many years—bed rest and on a submissive decline. Feeding tubes and IVs were flooding his body with the metabolic necessities of life and myself as well as the nursing staff provided his physical requirements.
I had a vague idea about what MS was at the time—a terrible freakin’ disease that we have no control over with a decline that is utterly inevitable. Confirmed by much of the staff and my instructors, this drilled nonsense led me to believe that some people are just doomed. Doomed to die, and doomed to suffer along the way.
I was not the least bit skeptical at the time because the modern medical view of disease was the same that I was being lectured on. Although this incredibly reckless ‘knowledge’ has been slapped-clean from my interior mush, George’s book is both intriguing and ridiculously informative about our heinous attempts to ‘treat’ diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
“Lifestyle change is the most important issue as it is with most chronic diseases. Diet, sunlight, exercise, meditation, preventing depression, resolution of difficult emotional issues. These are the keys.”
Picking through and disregarding the nonsense can be extremely difficult…
- New England Journal of Medicine—2007 Study
- 94% of physicians report financial links with drug companies.
…but it can be done. As with every factor of life, multiple sclerosis is both real and profitable. Whether it’s a wavering commitment or a jump because everyone’s jumping mentality, someone’s making money and someone’s health is not improving. Money will not protect you from crossing the thin and highly permeable line that separates the diseased and those who have capitalized. Seeping back is an accepted and much expected impossibility within the modern medical view. Seeping back utilizing what many have ironically slurred the ‘alternative’ approach is more than feasible…it has been feased.
“It is important to realize right at the outset that recovery from MS requires a sustained commitment over many decades, really the rest of your life.”
WHAT IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
Sclerosis defined with a few finger taps:
- “abnormal hardening of body tissue.”
- “excessive resistance to change.”
Multiple: I think you get the picture and I will refrain from belittling your skull mush by defining ‘mulitple.’ But then again, maybe I will.
- “having or involving several parts, elements, or members.”
Sclerosis times multiple yields multiples of abnormally hardened body tissue and a rising resistance against change. In essence, multiple sclerosis involves the demyelination of the myelin sheath that surrounds the nerves. Our nerve branches function similarly to telephone wires and “talk to each other”, but when inflammation causes demyelination and demyelination causes lesions, white blood cells gain access to the myelin sheath—this is usually prevented by the blood brain barrier. Dwindled down to its deadly simplicity, phones calls are dropped between nerves and the dial tone of hope is only crushed by your doctor’s diagnosis and unsound perspective.
Immune Attack: See myelin as foreign → autoimmune reaction.
- Molecular Mimicry: “part of some foreign molecule looks just like part of myelin” → immune response → another immune response later, on the actual myelin.
- Dairy protein and gut bacteria have been suggested to cause such mimicry.
Degeneration like Parkinson’s
Diet, Especially Fats
- CNS (brain and spinal cord) is predominantly fat—”The type of fat that is incorporated into the cells that make up the CNS depends on what we eat.”
- “It takes some months…”—different fats spark different changes in a membrane’s composition.
Cow’s Milk Protein
Lack of Sunlight
- Organic Solvents
- Painters have 2x the risk of other workers.
- “MS is triggered by multiple environmental agents in genetically susceptible people.”
- “…modifiable environmental factors hold the key to preventing some 80 percent of cases of MS.”
Venous Blood Flow Disruption
- Lesions tend to occur around the venous vasculature of the brain.
- Noted to be abnormal in patients with MS, but not in others.
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning dietary fats that George provides:
- The immune system is in balance between exciting the immune response (Th1 response) and dampening it down (Th2 response).
- MS is an inflammatory disease characterised by an over-active Th1 response towards components of the body’s own brain and spinal cord.
- Fatty acids are the basic building blocks for the chemicals the immune system uses in these responses.
- Saturated (animal) fats and omega 6 (vegetable) fatty acids tip the balance towards the Th1 response.
- Omega 3 fatty acids (fish and flaxseed oils) tip the balance towards the Th2 response.
- Monounsaturated fats (olive oil) are immune neutral.
- MS is not just about auto-immunity; degeneration plays a significant role.
- Unsaturated fatty acids (omega 3, omega 6 and monounsaturated) combat degeneration.
- Eating fewer calories also protects against degeneration—”Animal work has shown that acute starvation caused a shift to a Th2 cytokine pattern in animals with EAE delayed onset of the disease, and resulted in milder clinical symptoms in the animals.”
- Epidemiological studies have consistently shown that MS is more common where saturated fat consumption is high, and less common where fish consumption is high.
- Many epidemiological studies have now confirmed the close association of cow’s milk consumption and the incidence of MS.
- Laboratory data strongly support this link of cow’s milk consumption to MS.
- Case control studies have revealed a protective role for vegetarian diets and an increased risk of MS with high calorie intake and animal-based diets.
- There is good evidence from clinical studies that diet plays a major role in the initiation and progression of MS.
- The key aggravating factor appears to be high saturated-fat consumption.
- Intervention studies where people with MS have maintained very low saturated-fat diets have consistently shown significant reductions in relapse rates and slowing of disease progression.
- The major work is that of Roy Swank, Professor of Neurology in Oregon, who followed 144 patients for 34 years; those who stuck to the low saturated-fat diet had dramatically better outcomes.
- Basic science research in the laboratory has confirmed that people with MS have more saturated fat in their cell membranes and less polyunsaturated fat.
- RCTs have shown that essential fatty acid supplements can also slow the progression of the disease.
“There is growing evidence now that remyelinization occurs throughout the disease and is considerably more prominent than we realized to date.” He writes that symptoms wax and wane and he does so to uncover the apparent, but sadly hidden by time facts about life. Fat is something beyond the nutritional facts your eyes gaze before even considering an evening of or momentary indulgence. Every cell in your body—cells are your body and are what constitutes your ears, eyes, lungs, liver, etc…,etc…,etc…—has a membrane and every cell in your body is affected by what materials you choose to deposit.
Unsaturated fats—those found in naturally occurring foods and sadly pills too—allow the cellular membrane to adopt a fluid-like and pliable construction plan whereas a diet deluged with saturated fats makes the membrane rigid, inflexible, and prone to degenerative changes. To get a countertop and or refrigerator perspective on this very intriguing dietary factor, let’s check out the melting points of these fats.
- Saturated Fats—High melting points and solid or near solid at room temperature.
- Found heavily in animals—coconut & palm oils too, but they don’t seem to share these same characteristics.
- “…shown to aggravate the effects of brain trauma.”
- Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (Omega-9s)—Lower melting point; Liquid at room temperature; Solid/Cloudy in the fridge.
- Found in olive oil.
- Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids—Lowest melting point and liquid at room temperature and while in the fridge.
- Omega-3s—fish oil, nuts, seeds…
- Omega-6s—cooking oils
It is these melting point characteristics that contribute to the stickiness and flexibility, when incorporated, of the cell membrane. Our bodies are that road construction that never seems to be finished and in fact it never will be. Just as wear and tear affects the streets we walk, drive, and often get overly stressed upon, our cells are constantly remodeling too. It is the stickiness factor of saturated fatty acids that leads to clots, strokes, and heart attacks.
- Omega-6s (Linoleic)—promote inflammatory response
- Promote tumor growth.
- Western World—overbalanced towards omega-6s
- Omega-3s (Linolenic)—suppress inflammation
- Slow/suppress tumor growth.
“…balance is key…”
- Omega-6s vs. Omega-3s Study—”…marked decrease in the chemicals which promote inflammation after only four weeks’ supplementation with fish oils.”
- “…even more pronounced after three and then six months.”
- Fish Oil Study—”The authors noted that to get a similar level of suppression of the immune system as they had achieved with fish oil, one would have to use standard agents used in chemotherapy, such as steroids and cyclosporine.”
- Developing Countries with Infections by Intestinal Worms—have a greater Th2 response → “…seem to be protected against the autoimmune diseases MS, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.”
- “So while I believe there is probably little difference between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in terms of membrane pliability and function, the suppression of immune system activation achieved by omega-3 fatty acids make them the supplements to concentrate on in replacing saturated fats.”
- He notes that the Mediterranean Diet dampens inflammation.
- Plant sources of omega-3s are converted to fish oil form in the body—some sources claim that only a small percent (10%) is converted, but George found little information to support this.
- Conversion can be blocked by saturated fats and missing vitamins.
THE U.S. NURSES HEALTH STUDY
“This study failed to confirm the results of the studies I have presented previously”…
- “Nurses consuming the lowest amount of saturated fat in the study essentially developed MS at the same rate as those consuming the most saturated fat.”
…and this is where we must consider the work of Swank and avoid the temptation to avoid recognizing the flaw in discrediting previous work because a small amount of this unhealthy fat brought the same amount of risk as the larger caloric intake.
PROFESSOR SWANK’S LOW SATURATED-FAT STUDY
George urges the reader to not categorize the small from above with all the items belonging to the can-fit-in-a-thistle group. Small in the sense of this study is likely a misrepresentation to the effect that no difference could be noted. We know smoking is an unhealthy habit and although some may deem a few now and then as ‘okay’ and cancer-free, most, by now, understand their true gravitational pull towards cancer and a box in the ground.
George taps the plate with some intriguing facts…
- USA Fat Intake by Year:
- Calorie % Jump—of fat in diet—40%
…before winding up for Professor Swank’s grandslam of a study. Using “meticulous examination and recording of dietary fat consumption,” he followed 150 MS patients for 34 years. The criteria of his study matched that of his time, but has been noted to be lacking in our own.
- No control group, but comparison with other studies with patients who did not stick to the diet.
- 72/144 stuck to the diet—<20g per day of saturated fat.
- Swank Scale—range from 0-6
- 0—normal performance & normal neuro findings.
- 1—normal performance physically & mentally, neuro signs present.
- 2—mildly impaired physical performance but ambulant, neuro signs present, able to work part time or full time, occasional variable memory impairment.
- 3—severely impaired performance but ambulant, able to work (usually part time), neuro impairment usually widespread, variable memory impairment frequently present.
- 4—wheelchair needed, memory often impaired.
- 5—confined to bed & chair.
‘Good Dieters’—”Regardless of level of disability at entry to the trial, good dieters did not deteriorate significantly”
- Level 1 at entry—1.9 average
- Level 2 at entry— 3.6 average
- Level 3 or worse at entry—4.0 average
- All three groups “shown to markedly slow progression.”
Those with minimal disability at entry—95 alive after 34 years.
- Minimal disability at entry—5.3 average
- Moderate disability at entry—5.3 average
- Severe disability at entry—5.6 average
- Only 7% remained active.
- Death rate—58/72 (45 from MS related causes)
‘Those Who Did Not Adhere’
- 78-91% dead, depending on entry level.
- “There is real hope of stabilizing the illness no matter how advanced it is.”
- “…those who could not stick to the diet and deteriorated actually reduced their saturated fat consumption very significantly (to 29-33g/day: this is a huge change compared with the average American intake of around 150g/day), but this was not enough. It is clear that close enough is not enough; the diet is really an all or nothing change.”
- George writes that we preferentially take up slash incorporate saturated fatty acids into our cells and that an aim of “almost zero” is the only way around this.
15 years after…—Swank attempted to contact…
- Found 15 of them—ages 72-84
- 13—”essentially normal and walking without difficulty.”
- 2—”required assistance” with walking
Continued following into 2003…
- ‘Good’ dieters—16g of saturated fat per day—47 survivors at 50 years
- ‘Bad’ dieters—38 g of saturated fat per day—16 survivors at 50 years
So, why no changes with the medical approach?
“…potentially could have won Swank a Nobel Prize had it been published at the time he started it.”
- Dr. George Minot won the 1934 Nobel prize with a chopped liver diet that eventually made the participants sick again very quickly—”cured” pernicious anemia.
I will list a few more of George’s observations on Swanks apparent failure to allure, but I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of this book. There is so much information—quality information—that I cannot and will not include it all…I would need to photocopy his book into an article.
- ‘Good’ vs. ‘Bad’ P Values—p<0.0001 to <.0005—he explains this very well…
- Swank was a “…highly respected, leading academic neurologist.”—170 papers, 6 books, harvard teacher…as if this stuff really matters when you see his results. I provide these for the inherently blind who only find comfort when confiding with the best ‘wine-tasters’ of the day.
- Interferon vs Swank Diet Relapse Rates—1/3 vs Reduced by 3x to “nearly zero.”
- 2005 RCT debated how great his results were—’Good’ has a 69% reduction while the ‘Control’ has a 59% reduction in relapses.
- One year study—Swank noted maximal relief not seen until at least the three year mark.
- Not focused on saturated fats and both groups lowered fat intake—defeats the purpose when comparing to the average man, woman, or child within the real population.
- British Journal of Nutrition (2007)—”…concluded that epidemiological, biochemical, animal model and clinical trial data strongly suggest that polyunsaturated fatty acids have a role in the development and treatment of MS.”
- UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence—”…people with MS should be advised that linolenic acid 17-23g/day may reduce progression of disability.”
COW’S MILK & THE CASEIN PROTEIN
“A number of cow’s milk proteins have now been shown to be targeted by the immune cells of people with MS.” For those splashing some white magic upon their sparkly one-hundred calorie or less cereal each morning, injecting casein into animals should not seem that distasteful, even if your are a fur-hating activist. Maybe these proteins’ ability to mimic the myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein and create CNS lesions—thought to initiate autoimmune reaction—will sour your taste for any milk other than that of the woman who birthed you.
DIABETES & DAIRY
In a University of Helsinki Randomized Control Study—RCT for short, and for now on—242 newborn infants with a first degree relative with type 1 diabetes were studied. Having a genetic predisposition to diabetes, avoiding cow’s milk enabled them with “significant protection from developing the autoimmunity associated with diabetes.” George mentions a study that is in progress that was ignited with the results of the study I have just typed—this larger study consists of 78 clinical centers in 15 countries and 2000+ children.
PARKINSON’S & DAIRY
One-hundred and thirty-five thousand lads and ladies within the U.S. were studied and their risk of developing Parkinson’s increased by 2-3x with consumption of dairy products.
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning dietary supplements that George provides:
- Antioxidants have been recommended for many inflammatory conditions including MS, although there has been little evidence to support any beneficial effect.
- Major meta-analyses of all RCTs on the health benefits of antioxidants and vitamin supplements compared to placebo have now been undertaken.
- Beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E supplements have been consistently shown to cause an increase in overall death rate in these studies, from about a 4 percent increase for vitamin E alone to about 29 per cent for a combination.
- Regular multivitamins have been associated with a one- third increase in risk of advanced prostate cancer, and nearly a doubling of risk of death from the disease.
- The B group vitamins are extremely important for normal brain function; they have not been shown to have the same risks.
- Vitamin B12 is non-toxic and is frequently low in people with MS and those on a vegan diet.
MY SUPPLEMENTAL SPIEL
“A whole industry has grown up around extracting or synthesizing these nutrients, and convincing us through clever maketing that taking these ‘magic ingredients’ in a tablet or capsule on a regular basis will keep us well or help us recover from disease.”
Any infomercial touting a new-and-improved pill stimulates our souls—AKA our hands—to reach into our leather for some money and for the phone. It amazes me how these ‘magical’ components compound at such a ridiculous rate. As of recent, it is the anti-oxidant craze—for heaven’s sake, you can now get your antioxidants in your makeup, ‘natural’ drinking water, and almost anything they will market.
“While oxygen is necessary to keep us alive, it also causes oxidation of our bodily cells.” Free radicals result, for which there is accumulating evidence suggesting that their instability—they look for electrons to stabilize themselves—is more than a minor player in the aging process. In reference to grapes, grape seeds, and wine—”…as with other antioxidants, they work best in their natural form, in combination with the other chemicals in their original state.” The middleman enshrines itself as a global kickin’-disease-to-the-curb savior, but the evidence…
- National Cancer Institute—Multivitamin Use & 5 Year Risk of Prostate Cancer—295,000 Men
- 32% increased risk of advanced prostate cancer
- 98% increased risk for those taking multivitamins seven times a week
- Excessive Iron—”Th1 pro-inflammatory cytokines were more toxic to nerve cells if they were loaded with iron.”
- Vitamin B12—“People with low levels of acid in the stomach are susceptible to deficiency.”
- George falls victim to his own contradictoriness by making a claim that supplementation of vitamin B12 is okay because it is “completely non-toxic.” As of yet, studies may suggest that it is safe, but too much of anything on the intake scale can kill you—you can drink yourself to death with the purest water on earth…
SUNLIGHT & VITAMIN D
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning sunlight and vitamin D that George provides:
- Adequate exposure to sunlight is essential for optimal human health.
- The health benefits of sunlight are mediated through at least vitamin D, formed in the skin from the action of ultraviolet B light.
- Sun avoidance due to fears of skin cancer is causing an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in Western countries.
- Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in osteoporosis, depression, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune diseases like MS, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes as well as certain cancers.
- Lack of sun exposure and subsequent vitamin D deficiency are implicated in causing MS; this is supported by epidemiological, laboratory, animal and human research.
- Lack of winter sun in childhood raises the risk of developing MS in later life.
- Low dose (>400IU per day) vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of developing MS by 40 per cent; blood levels of vitamin D above 100nmol/L are associated with a two-thirds reduction in risk of developing MS.
- There is seasonal variation in the activity of the disease process in MS, related to changing vitamin D levels.
- Currently recommended vitamin D supplementation doses are too low, and ‘normal’ blood levels are set too low; a blood level considerably higher than currently accepted normal levels may be optimal in MS.
- If vitamin D levels are adequate, there is no need for calcium supplementation.
MY SUNNY-D SPIEL
With a few exceptions—populations where fish consumption is high—the incidence of MS rises in direct proportion to how far away from the equator you go—”virtually” no MS at the equator. “…journals have been full of scientific papers suggesting that we have overdone sun avoidance in Western Society, and that sun avoidance may be even more harmful than overexposure.” With deficiency—”recent high quality epidemiological data”—comes…
- Muscle weakness
- Cardiovascular disease
- Autoimmune disease
George writes that it is the band of UVB that acts on the byproducts of cholesterol metabolism in the skin. Chemicals are formed and eventually vitamin D results. The implications and importance of vitamin D are too strong to avoid. Vitamin D receptors have been found on white blood cells too, suggesting a vital role in the regulation of immunity. It is also key to calcium utilization—”As the main effect of vitamin D in the body is to extract calcium from the food we eat and incorporate it into bone…”
So, if you are not one to venture out into the sun often—UVB blocked by glass windows—your calcium levels will likely become depleted. George recommends vitamin D supplementation, especially during the winter, but I feel we should attack the root problem. Not everyone feels this way and the food industry could not be ever more obvious in their opposition. Encouraging dairy consumption to up the calcium that has been depleted is like increasing the volume of water running through a hose with a leak in it—more problems will arise.
Although skin cancer is a very real thing, so is a lack of sunlight. Finding a balance…
- “Somewhere, there is a balance between too much sun and melanoma risk or too little sun and autoimmune disease.”
- Fifteen minutes of allover sun exposure 3-5x/week is what George recommends.
- UV light inhibits melatonin release → pigment cells increase pigment → tan
- Melatonin shown to promote inflammation.
Studies & Etc…
- Annals of Neurology (2009)—Higher vitamin D levels correlated to less lesions.
- Brain (2009)—”…vitamin D levels were significantly lower in people with MS than a control population without the illness.”
- US Nurses Health Study—Very low vitamin D supplementation → Risk reduced by 40%
- Radiation Epidemiology Branch of the National Cancer Institute of Maryland—24 States
- Greater sunlight exposure during work = less likely to die from MS
- Additional exposure out of work = even less likely…
- US Genetic Study—79 pairs of twins
- 43-75% reduction in risk—”…concluded that the benefit of sun exposure were independent of genetic susceptibility to the disease.”
- British Medical Journal (2008)—1471 Menopausal Women
- 732 with calcium supplement—45 heart attacks
- 739 without…—19 heart attacks
- Calcium Channel Blockers—”…intuitively it seems problematic to be giving them the very mineral whose effects we are trying to block in the body.”
- Vegetarian & Vegan Populations—lower rates of osteoporosis and fractures.
- Phosphate is low in vegan diets—calcium supplements tend to raise it.
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning exercise that George provides:
- Exercise improves fitness and function in MS.
- Exercise improves mood, wellbeing and quality of life in people with MS.
- Laboratory research shows that exercise releases certain proteins that protect brain cells.
MY EXERCISE SPIEL
Information & Tips:
- Brain proteins—BDNF & NGF—increase with exercise
- Shown to have protective effects for neurons in MS.
- 2008 Review of Literature Tips:
- Endurance training at low to moderate intensity.
- Resistance training at moderate intensity.
- Aerobic exercise—if maintained—counteracts depression & fatigue.
- “…although heat makes the nerves conduct more slowly and the symptoms worse, it is not actually damaging to the nerves.”
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning stress that George provides:
- Stressful life events are associated with an increased risk of relapse in MS.
MY STRESS SPIEL
- University of Pittsburg Study—50 women with MS
- “…nearly half of all major life events were followed within six weeks by a relapse.”—greater stress = greater relapse risk.
- US MRI Study—36 with MS
- After major life stresses—1.6x increase in risk.
- Coping mechanisms helped reduce it.
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning depression that George provides:
- Depression is very common in people with MS; at least 50 percent of people with MS experience it at some time.
- The presence or absence of depression may be the most important factor in determining quality of life for people with MS.
- Getting depressed can make the disease worse through shifting the immune system towards a Th1 response.
MY DEPRESSION SPIEL
- Over 50% with MS diagnosed during the disease process.
- Evidence for omega-3s and exercise reducing stress.
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning smoking that George provides:
- Smoking (active and passive) increases the risk of developing MS, and of it becoming progressive.
MY SMOKING SPIEL
- Nurses’ Health Study
- Smokers—1.6x increase in risk
- Past smokers—1.2x increase in risk
- French Case Control Study—Smoking Parents
- Kids 2x greater risk of getting MS—longer exposure = more likely
- Harvard School of Public Health Case Control
- Those with MS who have smoked, past or present—3-4x more likely to develop secondary progressive MS.
- In General—studies show that people with MS smoke more than the general population.
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning gluten that George provides:
- There is no real evidence of an association between gluten and MS.
MY GLUTEN SPIEL
George does mention that legumes and gluten are thought to be recent additions to our diet, but he has failed to find any MS studies with statistical significance—Major population study in Sweden (2007). He did however mention a 2006 Harvard study—people who took antihistamines regularly for three years prior to diagnosis reduced their risk by 80%. Maybe the studies surrounding MS and gluten do not exist yet, and for this, I urge you to see the connections in other diseases and disorders.
I find that antihistamine study extremely intriguing, not because I want you to go to your local pharmacy and buy some now—I don’t—but because of what it may mean. It opens the door to another possible dietary connection, one with links everywhere.
DENTAL AMALGAMS & HEPATITIS B VACCINATIONS
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning dental amalgams and hepatitis B vaccinations that George provides:
- There is no proven link between dental amalgam and MS; the risk of developing MS for people with amalgam fillings is not significantly higher than for those without.
- There is conjecture about the role of hepatitis B vaccination in MS; some studies suggest a link.
MY DENTAL AMALGAM & HEPATITIS B VACCINATION SPIEL
- 2007 Review of Dental Amalgam—Slight increase in incidence, but not significant (George’s Opinion).
- Higher mercury levels in the body.
- Large US Case Control Study—Hepatitis B Vaccination
- “…found an alarming increase in the risk for several major autoimmune diseases, including MS.”
- Vs. the Control—5.2x more likely to get MS.
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning the mind-body connection that George provides:
- There is little evidence about the role of the mind and emotions in healing, yet most of us intuitively understand the clear association.
- Survivors of serious illness share similar characteristics; they see the illness as a challenge, actively seek solutions, and engage wholeheartedly in the healing process.
- Repressed emotions and unresolved grief and conflict can trigger or worsen serious illness.
- Faith and hope are important companions in the healing process; it is important to replace fear with faith.
- An RCT has shown that writing down difficult feelings produced a 30 per cent improvement in people with chronic inflammatory diseases.
- Meditation has numerous health benefits and has been shown to be of value in auto-immune conditions.
MY MIND-BODY CONNECTION SPIEL
- Journal of the American Medical Association (2009)—112 patient RCT
- Patients had an autoimmune disease—asthma or rheumatoid arthritis
- “Were the authors to have provided similar outcome evidence about a new drug, it is likely that it would be in widespread use within a short time. Why? We would think we understood the mechanism (whether we did or not) and there would be a mediating industry to promote its use.”
- Experimental Group—wrote, on one occasion, of the most stressful event of their lives.
- Control Group—wrote, on one occasion, about a neutral event.
- The experimental group got better…—RA severity by 28% and Asthma by 19%—…the control group did not.
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning steroids, interferons, and glatiramer that George provides:
- A short course of steroids clearly improves the rate and extent of recovery of MS relapses.
- There appears to be no difference between routes of administration; oral is as good as intravenous, and much less unpleasant.
- Side effects are generally mild if the course is short.
- There is no need to taper the dosage if the course is short.
- Long-term therapy with steroids in MS is not beneficial and has many side effects.
- Preliminary evidence suggests that intermittent, pulsed doses of steroids may be helpful in slowing disease progression.
- Interferons are only modestly effective (30%) in reducing relapse rate in MS.
- The evidence of benefit in reducing rate of progression to disability is less convincing.
- It is unclear how long the interferons remain effective with continued use; it may be as short as twelve months.
- Neutralizing antibodies which reduce the drug’s effectiveness may be formed.
- There are many problems with the clinical trials, including drug company sponsorship, issues with unblinding and failure to account for drop-outs from the studies, weakening the findings.
- Side effects of the interferons, some of them serious, are often a problem.
- Glatiramer is modestly effective (30%) in reducing relapse rate in MS.
- Glatiramer appears to work by shifting the immune balance to a Th2 response.
- It also has neuro-protective effects.
- Clinical trials suggest a similar benefit to the interferons, but the studies were more robust as they were truly blinded.
- Side effects are relatively minor.
MY MEDICATION SPIEL
- NICE Guidelines—for any given episode, steroids should not be used more than three times per year or more than three weeks at a time.
- “…intended to modify cause of disease rather than make a difference to current symptoms.”
- “…secreted by cells exposed to viruses and interfered with replication of the virus.”
- Two Types
- Type 1-Alpha—Tends to suppress the immune system
- Type 2-Gamma—Tends to promote inflammation
- Besides Swank’s work in comparison to interferons, NABS—Neutralizing Antibodies—are what caught my eye. Decreased levels of interferons have been found in those with MS and in one study, 38-44% had NABs. These neutralizers tend to decrease the effectiveness of the interferon.
- Rampant side effects including infertility, depression, hair loss, liver disease, thyroid dysfunction, and “Flu-like illness, however, is very, very common. So is headache.”
- Evidence not strong enough “to draw any conclusions about the benefits of interferons beyond the first year.”
- Swank vs. Interferons—Relapse Rates
- Swank—Less than 1 relapse every 10 years
- Interferons—0.8 relapses every year
- “In humans it appears to induce an anti-inflammatory state in the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and reduce free radical formation in the blood.”
IS IT A VIRUS?
The use of interferons as a proposed treatment regiment—although it is often proposed for everything nowadays—led me to wonder if George would make a possible viral connection. He did. It has been shown that when children move from one country to another, they adopt the level of risk of their new dwelling. I thought sunshine…then George fills the gap in with some evidence showing that adults maintain the original level of risk.
Here, in verbatim, is the summarized evidence concerning viruses that George provides:
- A number of viruses have been linked to causing or triggering MS.
- Human herpes virus 6, Epstein-Barr virus (glandular fever virus), and varicella-zoster virus are the most likely candidates; it is likely that any of these may trigger the disease in susceptible people.
- Varicella-zoster virus may be a trigger for relapses in MS.
- Anti-viral agents have been inadequately studied despite promising preliminary work.
George explains how oils labeled ‘natural,’ when in fact they contain trans fatty acids, cyclic compounds, dimers, and polymers—things not found in nature—come to be. Originally-natural nuts and seeds are crushed and have their oils heated at high temperatures—up 95 degrees Celsius—for roughly two hours. After exiting the sauna, these oils are treated with acids, alkalis, deodorizers, and bleach. The process is then wrapped up at your local grocery store where the oil is sold as ‘natural’ pure vegetable oil.
FOODS THAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED
“The crux of the eating change is to cutout animal fat, dairy products, and ‘hidden’ saturated fats in apparently vegetarian products like cakes, pastries, potato chips, etc.”
- All meat
- Eggs (except egg whites)—George’s advice
- Biscuits, pastries, etc…
- All commercial baked goods
- Snacks like chips
- Coconut/Palm oil
- Fried/Fast foods
- Altered fats/oils
“I am reassured by the evidence we saw in the case-control studies that there seems to be no particular risk for people with MS drinking alcohol, apart from the usual general risks, unless they drink too much.” He goes onto compare alcohol to sunlight in the respect that maybe we have shunned it all to quickly by tagging it as dangerous at all levels. On a personal note, I have come to know way too much to even consider this a possibility. If I were a writer looking to shape and craft my article towards my knowledge, I would be shutting the door on skepticism.
Skepticism is what fuels true and reliable societal contributions, but dangerous skepticism, with regards to what has been shown, that is something completely different. Unlike sunlight, alcohol is of our creation. Unlike sunlight, alcohol can be avoided completely without any malnourishment effects down the road. For these reasons, I label it an addiction.
“There is growing evidence that lifestyle change is in many cases more effective than drug therapy, particularly in Western degenerative diseases, of which MS is one.”
- “For instance, research published in Diabetes Care in 2006 showed that a low-fat vegan diet was not only better than the currently recommended diabetic diet, but also more effective than standard diabetes drugs.”
- British Medical Journal—2007 Review—People with glucose intolerance on the verge of developing diabetes…
- Lifestyle changes—diet and exercise—50% less likely to develop diabetes
- Drugs—30% less likely…
- Journal of the American Medical Association (2007)—Study of children over the age of one at an increased risk of developing diabetes.
- Infants with higher omega-3s—55% less likely to develop autoimmunity to pancreatic cells.
- Children with 2/3 of the antibodies (highest risk)—77% drop in risk.
FIBROMYALGIA & RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS
- Low-saturated fat & vegan diet shown to be effective in one study.
- Mediterranean diet with RA
- Disease activity reduced and quality of life improved.
- Higher omega-3s to omega-6s shown to be more beneficial.
Healthy Heart Trial—low-fat vegetarian diet, exercise, and medication led to a reversal of CAD.
- Cholesterol dropped by 24%
- Stroke volume per beat increased by 30%
To wrap up this beast of an accomplishment by George, he jots a very serious and misleading gap between MS, and in his example, cancer. If you are a sufferer of cancer or a ‘cured’ cancer patient, you have something an MS patient cannot—will not in the current medical establishment, unless it is a miracle of course…cue the chuckles.
Cancer patients wait for those 5-10 years where they are relapse free and become un-diagnosed by their doctors. In an instant they are ‘cured’ and it is only confirmed by their doctors. The terms may not slip so easily off the doc’s tongue, but he or she knows and or believes, thus why they relay such a positive perspective. Sometimes you stick to your regiment and sometimes you resort back, but eventually, that damn cancer springs forth again, ripping through that barren and enduring winter of a cure.
Fictitious at best and vicious when we really take a seat with it. You were not cured. Cancer likely exists in all of us, right now. They eliminated what they could see, test, and diagnose, but they cannot remove the possibility of one cell becoming malignant and cancerous. That is an impossibility. It is the checks and balances of a healthy lifestyle that can keep it at bay. A balance needs to be found, not a cure.
“It is clear that close enough is not enough; the diet is really an all or nothing change.” The simplicity of his message translates into something too many find terribly impossible and absolutely impractical, yet we hope and donate fortunes to find cures for all these ailments! A wise man once said, a cure for *insert disease name* can and will be found. We have come so far with our technological ingenuity, we will find a cure. Years later, still bereft of a cure, we can only hope that the wise will be wiser—or at least wise.
Do you have MS?
What have you found to be helpful?