Holistic Approaches to Multiple Sclerosis

One day you wake up with a tremor in your thigh. Then, it’s an annoying twitch in your eye. You notice it’s harder to pick up grocery bags. You begin to feel weak, even clumsy. Your doctor passes it off as stress or fatigue due to your challenging work schedule. You’re not convinced and you push for further testing. After ruling out other possibilities, you learn you are among the estimated 2.3 million people who have Multiple Sclerosis.

A disease of the nervous system, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) develops when an inflammatory process in the body attacks the delicate myelin sheaths that insulate nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. This results in scarring (sclerosis) of the nerve tissue, ultimately, damaging and blocking nerve impulses that control muscle strength, sensation, coordination, and vision.
While the exact cause of MS is not known, experts agree that it’s characterized by an altered immune response. Environmental triggers, infections, and heredity may play a role. MS can affect young children and the elderly, but is most common in people between the ages of 20 and 40; it’s two-times more likely in women.

Symptoms vary widely but often include:

  • Tremors
  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Weakness and loss of coordination
  • Numbness or weakness in the extremities
  • Electric-shock like sensation with certain head motions
  • Significant changes in vision or complete loss of vision

Other symptoms can include slurred speech, muscle spasticity, paralysis, and problems such as loss of bladder control.

Working with a Holistic Physician to Treat M.S.
Managing MS is an ongoing and often lifelong process. Whether treated conventionally or holistically, it involves changes to lifestyle and health habits. The goal with holistic treatment is to go beyond addressing symptoms and strive to identify the underlying cause in order to restore optimal well-being for each patient.

A holistic doctor’s approach includes a physical exam, lab tests and a thorough medical history, including any significant infections or illness. It also addresses nutrient imbalances, food allergies/ sensitivities, and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, weight management, stress, and exposure to toxins. Treatment may also include:

A Diet Rich in Antioxidants. Dietary intake of foods rich in the antioxidant Vitamins A, C and E helps the body reduce oxidative stress, which is damaging to cells. These vitamins help slow the damage done to the nervous system.

Supporting Energy Levels with B-vitamins. People with MS tend to be deficient in B-vitamins, which support nerve structure and function. Vitamin B-12 is critical for shielding the nerves from the worst damage caused by free radicals, as well as for energy production.

Creating a Healthy Lifestyle. Includes eliminating smoking, reducing use of alcohol, managing stress, and creating opportunities to experience joy and renewal from life’s daily hustle.

Strengthening the Neuromuscular System. People with MS can, and should, exercise. Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Gong are excellent ways to strengthen the body and the neuromuscular pathways for movement, balance, and coordination. At any level of MS, exercise can be performed, whether with assistive devices, in a chair, or with the aid of a trainer or physical therapist.

Water Therapy for Pain and Stress. For swimmers and non-swimmers alike, getting in the water is great for MS. It reduces stress on the joints, muscle pain, mental stress, and fatigue. Epsom salt baths may also provide comfort. Another “water” therapy that may be considered is constitutional hydrotherapy. In general, hot baths, saunas, and whirlpools should be avoided unless otherwise recommended by your doctor

Homeopathic Remedies. Intricately individualized, homeopathic remedies are selected based on symptoms, severity of disease, lifestyle factors, a patient’s level of vitality, environmental toxin exposure, and a patient’s ability to comply with a treatment plan.

Detox. Because exposure to toxins in the environment can play a role in triggering MS, it’s important to follow a physician-guided detox plan. This can include modifying the home/work environment and limiting exposure to known toxins.

In partnership with a holistic physician, with commitment to a treatment plan and attentive, personalized attention to symptoms and underlying causes, people who have MS can live highly functional lives and even heal from MS.

Resources

NationalMSSociety.org. “What is Multiple Sclerosis?” Accessed 15 Jan 2019: 

Pithadia, A., Jain, S., & Navale, A. “Pathogenesis and treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).” Internet Jl of Neurology(2008) 10:2 (print).

MayoClinic.com “Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis and Treatment.” 

Castro-Sánchez, A.M. et al. “Hydrotherapy for the treatment of pain in people with multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled trial” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2012 (2011): 473963.

Healthline.com “Open Swim: Water Therapy for MS.” Accessed 16 Jan 2019: 

PureHomeopathy.com “The Homeopathic Treatment of MS.” Abridged from André Saine: Homeopathic Treatment of the Multiple Sclerosis Patient presented to the Second Annual Session of the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians, Portland, Oregon, April 25-26, 1987.