This autoimmune chronic disease affects the nerves of the brain and
the spinal chord, limiting and in severe cases destroying their
ability to transmit messages to and fro to outlying organs and
tissues such as the eyes or the limb muscles.
Our nerves act like electric wires carrying the messages from the
brain to various parts of the body (sensory like eyes and motor like
tongue and feet) and are insulated or sheathed by a substance called
myelin. Myelin sheaths are a type of connective tissue, composed of
fats and proteins. In multiple sclerosis or MS, certain patches of myelin are destroyed
thus breaking the connectivity of these message conductors (nerves).
Depending upon the severity of the damage, the functioning of the
organs or tissues connected through these nerves, either gets slowed
or stops totally.
It has been seen that for some reason, people who grow up in
tropical areas (may be due to adequate exposure to sunlight)
suffer much less from this disease.
MS usually strikes people of the age group of 25-40 years and
gradually destroys the myelin cover. It develops in the form of
attacks and remissions (symptoms disappearing for short or long
durations) over many years although its devastating effects may come
within months in certain cases.
There is no cure for this disease, although certain herbal
treatments and controlled nutritional diet may prevent or alleviate
the symptoms and complications associated with this disease. MS is
not a fatal disease, but it makes people susceptible to diseases
that are themselves life threatening.
The exact cause / causes of multiple sclerosis are a
matter of great debate and nothing substantial has come out of these
debates till now. Yet, the following are broadly considered as the usual suspects:
Genetic – A genetic predisposition to the disease is
commonly associated with MS. Usually, autoimmune
diseases are genetic in nature, but oddly, they tend to
cluster in families by surfacing as different illnesses
in different members. So, if the mother has had lupus,
the daughter might have MS. Also, women are more likely
to have MS than men.
Viral infection – It is understood that the virus enters
the body at an early age but attacks the myelin only
after the age of perhaps 20, 30 or even 40 years.
Defective immune system – A disorder in the immune
system that instead of attacking viruses and bacteria,
turns the central nervous system against the body’s own
myelin. T-cells and other antibodies go against the same
Mercury in dental fillings – Although present in
extremely small quantities, mercury in dental amalgam is
supposed to poison the immune system and may be
implicated in MS.
Sugar-free sweeteners – Although the American MS society
rejects this theory, it is widely believed that the
artificial sweetener aspartame breaks down into methanol
in our body which in turn is supposed to trigger MS.
Immunotherapy is an immune modulating therapy that may help to slow
down the disease or reduce the frequency of relapses. Steroids can
help to reduce the severity of attacks. Antidepressants may be used
to improve behavioral symptoms such as depression and mood swings.
Medications can be prescribed to reduce urinary problems, and to
minimize muscle spasticity.
Complementary treatments may be used together with conventional
medicine or as an alternative. However, home treatment of MS is not
recommended. Should you decide to explore alternatives to
conventional medicine, consult a qualified homeopath that would be
able to monitor your progress and ensure that you are receiving the
Herbal remedies for MS would typically include ingredients that
would address symptoms which are most troublesome for the
Some commonly recommended herbs include Avena sativa (nerve tonic),
Lavendula angustifolia and Melissa officinalis and Passiflora
incarnata (stress and anxiety), St John’s Wort (depression and nerve
tonic), as well as various herbs for bladder problems, constipation
and general inflammation. Biochemic tissue salts can be helpful as a
safe anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic and to relieve cramps,
improve circulation and support nervous system health.
Ferrum phosphoricum (Ferrum phos. D6) is a
homeopathic biochemic tissue salts which supports the
absorption of iron in the body. The protective myelin
sheath which surrounds all nerve tissue needs iron to
supply this vital nutrient to the nerve cells it
encases. Iron in hemoglobin also helps to keep all
body tissue, including the brain, supplied with oxygen.
Regular use of Ferrum phos. can help to prevent
dizziness, headaches and restlessness and is of great
benefit for those who tend to feel irritable, tense and
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) – This climbing
shrub is native to South America but some of its 450 odd
species can be found in colder climate of North and
Central America as well. It grows up to a height of 10 metres clutching with the help of tendrils. This
medicinal variety is some times confused with the
cultivated variety that produces passion fruit.All its
aerial parts; the stamen, three lobed indented leaves
and bright showy flowers have medicinal properties. The
main constituents are maltol, ethyl maltol, indole
alkaloids and various antioxidants. Mainly maltol and
ethyl maltol and to some extent the antioxidants present
impart the sedative property to this herb for which it
is quite famous. In effect it is so effective yet
gentle, that even children are given preparations based
on passionflower for treating insomnia, anxiety and
nervous system originated palpitations and digestive
problems. It is believed that passionflower works by
increasing levels of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric
acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA lowers the activity of
some brain cells, resulting in relaxation.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum; Klamathweed) has
been traditionally used for centuries to balance mood
and safely support routine calm and mental equilibrium.
In recent times, clinical studies have confirmed ancient
wisdom and Hypericum is one of the most widely studied
herbs. Active ingredients include glycosides, flavonoids,
volatile oils, tannins and resins.
Kalium phosphate (Kali. phos. D6) is a homeopathic brain
and nerve tonic par excellence as well as an amazing
nerve nutrient. Used regularly it helps to calm and
uplift the spirit and soothe common nervous tension and
everyday stress. Kali. phos. is the most widely
recommended tissue salt for soothing worry and distress.
Magnesium phosphate (Mag. phos. D6) well-known as a
homeopathic painkiller, Mag. phos. is also of great
benefit to the health of the nerves. It acts as a
natural anti-spasmodic and a nerve and muscle relaxant
and is also frequently recommended for stress headaches.
Although, no significant therapeutic effects have been seen by
following a particular diet, many scientists believe that a balance
diet rich in nutrients and polyunsaturated fats is the key to reduce
a patient’s suffering to tolerable limits. Some of the important
Omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids are helpful in
maintaining and repairing the central nervous system.
Good dietary intake may slow the progress of multiple
sclerosis and alleviate the symptoms to a certain level.
Remissions may also become far fetched as also the
duration of the symptoms. Omega-6 is derived from linoleic acid and found in vegetable oils such as olive
and sunflower as also almonds and walnuts. Evening
primose oil is a worthy substitute as well. Daily
requirement of omega-6 acid is nearly 4g, equivalent to
a handful of almonds or walnuts. Omega-3 is needed in
smaller quantities (usually 2g is enough) and a handful
of walnuts should be sufficient. It is also present in
adequate percentage in rapeseed oil and herring.
Basically, oily fish like herring, mackerel, salmon and
sardines, all are rich in omega-6 and omega-3 acids.
Swank diet – Professor Roy Swank of Portland, Oregon,
USA has suggested a low-fat diet which he claims gives
less frequent relapses, more energy and longer life.
This diet is low in saturated fats and cholesterol –
less than 20g a day, and high in polyunsaturated acids.
One has to keep in mind the catch-22 situation, a person
suffering from MS is in. His muscles need more energy as
the reaction time is limited (chronic fatigue is also a
very strong symptom), but at the same time the total
energy spending is less due to the problems associated
with the disease. This might result in weight gain which
will further deteriorate the condition as the mobility
will get impaired and respiratory and circulatory
systems will come under pressure. Therefore, one has to
take a balance diet rich in nutrients but low in
calorie. A low fat breakfast and other meals rich in
complex carbohydrates such as jacket potatoes and brown
rice should provide low calorie high energy daily diet.
To counteract incontinence – Drink plenty of water (1.5-2
liters) and take fiber rich meals including green leafy
vegetables and fresh fruits to avoid constipation. These
are required as the incontinence caused by MS may
indirectly affect the digestive system and drain these
Fortifying vitamins (mainly vitamins A, C, D and E) and
minerals (thiamine, riboflavin, calcium and potassium
being the most important) are also very important. All
these vitamins and minerals are important for the
strengthening and normal functioning of the nerves, i.e.
their responsiveness and alertness. Their intake should
be judged by the doctor only, based on the condition of
Avoid meat and full-fat dairy products, both of which
contain saturated fats.
Physiotherapy and mild exercises help in keeping the
muscles function as normally as possible.
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Alcohol usually exacerbates certain symptoms of MS like
speech and coordination problems. It also puts on the
brakes on the important essential fatty acids conversion
process as also erodes the content of nutrients in the
body. It is one of the main culprits in increasing the
level of saturated fats in the blood. So, stop consuming
alcohol although moderation is supposed to be good for
the health. Just check out with your doc.
Nicotine is thought to impair limb movements temporarily
and also depletes vitamin C level in the blood, thereby
increasing the chances of infections. Smoking therefore
in general is believed to worsen the MS symptoms. So,
quit smoking too.