Every nerve cell in the human body is surrounded by a myelin sheath, which insulates it and conducts electrical messages between cells. Degeneration of this myelin sheath in the CNS causes poor electrical conduction and scrambled messages, and can eventually result in nerve cell degeneration. Areas of de-myelination are called lesions, and appear as hardened or sclerotic, hence the name Multiple Sclerosis. Symptoms are varied and depend on where in the CNS lesions have occurred, meaning no two cases of MS are exactly alike. The most common resulting symptoms of MS include: muscle weakness in the limbs; numbness and tingling in the limbs; unsteady gate; poor balance; fatigue; vertigo; dizziness and blurring of vision.
Factors that contribute to the expression of MS include:
Genetics, as there is higher incidence of MS in patients with family history of the disease.
Environmental factors, including exposure to contaminated water, heavy metals and pesticides
History of Epstein bar virus (glandular fever)
Nutrient deficiency, including Vitamin D
Food allergies are also thought to play a part, as they are highly inflammatory
High consumption of animal and saturated fats, sugars and artificial sweeteners.
High stress and inflammation in the body
A diagnosis relies on conventional medicine and neurological examination, cerebral spinal fluid examination and MRI performed by specialist doctors.
It is common in MS for flare ups to occur, followed by a period of remission (no symptoms present). Flare ups commonly occur every 2 years.
How can naturopathy help the MS patient?
Naturopathic medicine plays a multifaceted role in MS. It has a supportive role to the patient, helping them in understanding their disease. It can also be used to identify any contributing factors to excessive inflammation; modulate any autoimmune response; help to delay disease progression and address any specific patient requirements (for example fatigue and poor concentration).
Auto-immunity and inflammation are thought to be responsible for the occurrence of MS signs and symptoms, and these areas are a focal point for naturopathic treatment of MS. Detoxification, diet and lifestyle and relaxation techniques also form part of treatment for MS. This is as well any individual areas of concern a patient expresses.