Multiple sclerosis is at epidemic proportions in North America. In one study researchers found that the incidence of multiple sclerosis increased sixfold in Switzerland between the 1920s in the 1980s. They also found that this rise was paralleled in other industrialized nations. Today there may be as many as 2 million people who suffer from MS worldwide.
Multiple sclerosis will cause weakness, tremors and visual impairments in sufferers. This will appear as slurred speech, feet dragging, stumbling and frequently dropping objects. Some individuals find that symptoms remain mild or come and go while others find that the situation becomes crippling and completely debilitating. The prognosis of the disease is not well understood and varies from individual to individual.
Treatment options include medication, physical and occupational therapy and supportive counseling. Other sufferers have also found relief in making additions or subtractions from their daily diet. Researchers have found that risk factors for multiple sclerosis include living in a temperate climate, age, gender and genetics. It is generally agreed that nutritional guidelines for every one are to achieve two objectives. These are to supply the body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and prevent excessive weight gain which is a hazard for those who are less mobile than they used to be.
Interestingly, one of the supplements which appears to be protective and useful in the treatment of multiple sclerosis is omega-3 essential fatty acids, commonly known as fish oils. Statistics show that in Japan and along the Norwegian coast, where people eat a lot of fish, the rate of multiple sclerosis is lower than would be expected.
Another factor and risk may be vitamin B deficiency. Several physicians have reported having a higher incidence of patients who have a B12 deficiency without standard signs of this deficiency such as megaloblastic or pernicious anemia. However treatment with B12 has not yielded good results in the treatment nor slowed the progression of this disease.
In other case studies physicians found that patients who took in too much sugar and were low on folate acid were able to reverse their disease process and essentially enjoy a remission. The diet however is not temporary and to continue to enjoy the benefits long term adherence is essential.
There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest that the onset and progression of multiple sclerosis can be found with fish oil and a low fat diet. Several diets which range from slightly stringent to very stringent have become popularized in a community of patients with multiple sclerosis because the individuals find relief from their symptoms after using these diets for long term period.
Unfortunately there is no strong research evidence that either confirm nor denies the evidence presented through case study. This is because research studies require funding and financial support. Often times this financial support is garnered from the pharmaceutical industry. And, because the essential treatment being researched will be only dietary changes, the pharmaceutical industry is uninterested in funding this type of research.
Other dietary changes which have been tried, and have received some positive case study results, include bowel cleanse, liver cleanse, bees venom therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and a low gluten diets. Many physicians will be supportive of an individual’s attempt to change their dietary habits as long as these changes do not significantly and negatively impact the overall health of the individual. So, for instance, as long as the patient is focused on receiving all of their anti-oxidant and nutritional needs then a healthcare practitioner will not stand in the way of their personal research.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Nutrition and Diet
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: Treating Multiple Sclerosis with Diet
Nutrition: Multiple Sclerosis: fat-oil relationship
Cochrane Database Systemic Reviews: Dietary Interventions for Multiple Sclerosis
Natural News: Reversing Multiple sclerosis by Eating the Paleo Diet