Multiple Sclerosis: The Irrefutable Role Of Diet & Vitamin Therapy
The following is a reproduction of a Millennium Health Centre editorial article which appeared in the Seaway News newspaper in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. The content is shortened to accommodate a newspaper space allotment. As such, it is not academically cited with references. These are available, so please feel free to email your questions.
Dr. Stephen F. Jones B.Comm., N.D.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Doctors using medical treatments other than drugs are often challenged by the wide-spread medical community, and even some patients, with opinions that 'no proof' exists to support the use of the (non-drug) treatment. Such assertions can be dangerous to those making them, however, as the opinions more often than not serve only to illustrate the individual's unfortunate lack of knowledge on the subject. Such is the case with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.).
I am frequently told by M.S. patients that their condition is 'too serious for any natural medicine' and that they require 'real medicine' in the form of drugs. With M.S. that's a shame, as undeniable clinical evidence shows that diet, key vitamin therapy and critical testing (not usually conducted) is, in fact, at forefront of M.S. treatment.
Consider first the role of diet. Perhaps the most recognized doctor in the treatment of M.S., Dr. Roy Swank M.D., reported in the Archives of Neurology back in 1970 that a low fat diet considerably delayed the progression of M.S. His primary recommendations encouraged minimizing inflammatory foods like red meat and eggs and focused upon (amongst other issues) eating fish 3 or more times a week. Despite the extensive research supporting Dr. Swank's research in the treatment of M.S., I rarely find M.S. patients aware of his basic diet principles or his book(s).
Next, consider the research into vitamin therapy and M.S. Giving credit where it is due, I am beginning to see that M.S. patients are starting to be told about the role of vitamin D. First addressed by Dr. Ashton Embry M.D. in his book "The Best Bet Diet", vitamin D is simply a cornerstone in M.S. treatment and prevention. A study conducted by Harvard Medical School examined 18,000 nurses over 20 years. They revealed that those taking a certain dose of vitamin D were 40% less likely to develop M.S. These findings have been supported by other studies showing that vitamin D inhibits inflammation formation and enhances immune function in existing M.S. patients.
Beyond vitamin D, however, I rarely find M.S. patients aware of research into the therapeutic role of other vitamins, such as vitamin B12. Studies published back in 1957 showed that M.S. patients are often profoundly deficient in vitamin B12. These findings have been supported in recent studies (Journal of Neuroimmunology, 1992), so it is simply misinformed to say that the 'evidence' for an investigation into this intervention is not warranted.
Vitamin B12 helps the M.S. patient in numerous ways, including increased energy and a better sense of wellbeing. A pilot study has shown that B12 injections can actually cause a reversal in nerve function in M.S. patients (Intern Med., 1994). The form of vitamin B12 best used in M.S. is called Methylcobalamin (given by injection), so patients need to be well informed when discussing this with their doctor.
The use of vitamin B12 brings up the last point of consideration and that is the use of full diagnostic testing before and during the treatment of M.S. In the case of checking vitamin B12 levels, routine blood work is not as accurate as a urine test for 'methylmalonic acid'. More importantly, however, a Dr. Reynolds of King's College Hospital in London, England has shown that testing the blood for something called 'Homocysteine' is a better way to assess if a patient could benefit from vitamin B12 injections. Testing for this 'Homocysteine' makes a lot of sense because high levels of it in the body can cause 'oxidative damage' (New England Journal of Medicine, 2002) and has been shown to cause destruction of brain cells (Ann Neurol, 2002), both of which can worsen an M.S. patient's long term health.
In all, M.S. is a condition that requires an individualized treatment. The evidence unquestionably supports the role of 'natural' biochemical treatment options. Please do your homework and demand all treatment options. Your worth it.
Please write or call the Seaway News, or email Dr. Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have inquiries about this column or requests for future columns.