- Patricia Pearce, ND
The Autoimmune Disease Series: Five Naturopathic Strategies for Multiple Sclerosis
Overview: Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that involves de-myelination and axonal destruction by T-cells and production of auto-antibodies against myelin.
Goals of Naturopathic Strategies:
Calm the immune system through immunomodulation
Reduce intestinal permeability as a contributor to systemic inflammation
Encourage neuronal plasticity and brain function by improving mitochondrial health of neurons, despite existence of disease-induced plaques
1. Find and remove triggers of autoimmunity & inflammation
An inflammatory, processed diet high in saturated animal fat, gluten, dairy, refined grains and sugar, lack of exercise, regular exposure to harmful and toxic substances like mold and harsh cleaners, excessive daily stress, chronic infections, presence of genetic SNPs affecting proper metabolism of nutrients and toxin clearance, sleep deprivation, poor sleep quality, hormone imbalances, lack of proper hydration, and more.
2. Heal the gut & improve nutritional status with the "Wahl’s Diet"
Eat the anti-inflammatory, paleo-style diet as discussed in the Wahl’s protocol. The basics of the Wahl’s diet include:
-Complete elimination of gluten and dairy
-Limited or zero consumption of other, non-gluten grains and refined sugars
-Eat 9 total cups of vegetables per day ("3 dinner plates heaped high") including:
-3 cups of dark, leafy greens (spinach, arugula, kale, chard, etc)
-3 cups of sulfur-rich veggies (like mushrooms, onions, garlic)
-3 cups of anti-oxidant rich, brightly colored fruits & veggies (like berries)
Refers to influencing immune cells to mature into anti-inflammatory T-regulatory cells, rather than pro-inflammatory Th17 cells (1.)
-Omega 3 fatty acids EPA/DHA (2) (3)
-Vitamin D (4)
4. "Mind your mitochondria"
Give your neuronal mitochondria the fuel they need to thrive. Mitochondria, by the nature of their metabolic processes which give the cell energy, produce a large amount of free-radicals. Over-burdening with free radicals can cause mitochondria to become less effective.
-ALA, or "alpha lipoic acid," has a potent anti-oxidative effect (5) (6)
-CoQ-10 is a co-enzyme essential for mitochondrial function. A recent clinical trial showed that CoQ-10 is extremely beneficial for MS patients to reduce fatigue and depression. (7)
5. Enhance neuronal plasticity
Play brain games! Brain puzzles like sudoku, cross-words, and others help encourage neuronal plasticity, or the process by which neurons "reach out" and communicate with each other. Other options include memory puzzles, balance, and light exercise like yoga. (8) (9)
Wondering about doses? When it comes to supplementation in autoimmunity, frequency, duration, and amount is highly dependent upon the individual and their condition severity. For example, very sensitive individuals often have to start with a very low dose, however, RDA of certain vitamins and minerals can be considered "the bare minimum," as in the case of the RDA of vitamin D, 400 IU. Please consult with your doctor regarding a safe dose for you!
Want to learn more about what Naturopathic medicine can offer for multiple sclerosis?
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