Whether you suffer with a chronic illness, psychiatric disorder or psychological condition, the first thing to check is your belly. “All diseases begin in the gut,” says Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, M.D., a leading expert on the subject of autism as well as other learning disabilities and digestive disorders. Continue reading
An eye-opening new study published in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis reveals that conventional hepatitis B vaccine- and hepatitis B immunoglobulin-based treatment for infants of mothers who tested positive for hepatitis B infection is nothing near “95% effective in preventing infection and its chronic consequences” that the World Health Organization (WHO) and a myriad of health organizations around the world claim it to be. [i] To the contrary, Continue reading
You don’t need to hear about more high-salt diets causing weight gain, heart problems, and diabetes. You get it all the time. But there’s something you might not know: it can also make you more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, like multiple sclerosis, by impacting your body’s ability to fight infection. Continue reading
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the myelin sheath on the nerve endings gets inflamed and damaged. This leads to scarring of the neurological tissue in the brain and spinal cord. While the medical model has very little support, many individuals have found ways to beat multiple sclerosis with natural lifestyle strategies.
MS is a condition Continue reading
A buildup of sodium in the brain detected by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be a biomarker for the degeneration of nerve cells that occurs in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.
The study found that patients with early-stage MS showed Continue reading
Today, in my last look at multiple sclerosis (MS), I’ll reveal a wide swath of natural possibilities for treatment and prevention. These 10 potential remedies range from healthy fats to calcium to ginkgo.
1. Essential fats. Some experts believe that fatty acids, such as sunflower seed, evening primrose, and fish oils, Continue reading
We face an epidemic of autoimmune diseases, medical conditions that cause the body to attack itself and destroy its own tissues. Everyone who lives in today’s polluted world — exposed to toxins at home, outside and just about everywhere in the environment — is at risk. But you can take natural steps to regulate your immune system and help it ward off disease, not cause it.
While your body is designed to defend against a host of environmental invaders, it cannot completely withstand the adverse effects of poor diet, chronic stress and toxic buildup. These common factors can contribute to a group of serious health problems of epidemic proportions, including autoimmune (AI) disease, which is on the rise.
AI diseases comprise more than 100 unique types, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Continue reading
saDid you know…there is a simple, non-surgical solution to treat sleep apnea and the many serious risks and health problems that go along with it?
“Apnea” is a Greek word that means “without breath”. Those with sleep apnea literally stop breathing during their sleep, up to 100 times each night, and for as long as 1 minute each time. The most common form of the condition—obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)—is typically caused by a collapse of the soft tissues at the back of the throat.
The most recent data from the National Institutes of Health states that more than 12 million Americans suffer from dangerous sleep apnea. Continue reading
Did You Know…that dozens of everyday “health” foods containing brain-damaging poisons, which seriously threaten your health—and such foods are not regulated by the FDA or other government agencies?
“Your food can be a killer—and I don’t mean just the junk food”, says Dr. David Blyweiss. That’s because processed foods—even so-called healthy foods—contain additives known as “excitotoxins” that cause serious neurodegenerative damage like Parkinson’s disease…Alzheimer’s…dementia…Lou Gehrig’s…multiple sclerosis…lupus…and more.
“The main culprits are the additives monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartate (a component of NutraSweet) that lace our foods to enhance their taste,” says Dr. Blyweiss. Excitotoxins have been used for decades to pump up the flavor of processed foods like soups, snacks, sauces, gravies, and also many low-fat and vegetarian “health” foods. Continue reading
Pineapples have long had a tradition for their healing qualities among the natives of Central and South America. Bromelain is a powerful proteolytic enzyme from the juice and stems of pineapples. It is very helpful for aiding the digestive processes. It has also shown very powerful anti-inflammatory properties that have caught the attention of nutritional researchers.
Bromelain can refer to either of 2 enzymes: Stem Bromelain and Fruit Bromelain. These are referred to as sulfhydryl proteases since a cysteine side-chain of free sulfhydryl group is present in the structure. The stem form is the most common commercial source due to the wide availability after the fruit is harvested. (1-2)
Bromelain has been used Continue reading
Research doubles number of genes associated with the disease
An international team of scientists has identified 29 new genetic variants linked to multiple sclerosis, providing key insights into the biology of an important and very debilitating neurological disease.
Multiple sclerosis (MS), one of the most common neurological conditions among young adults, affects around 2.5 million individuals worldwide. It is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, and can cause severe symptoms such as paralysis or loss of vision.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Center for Human Genetics Research (CHGR) played an important role Continue reading
Researchers at National Jewish Health have discovered a type of cell that may contribute to autoimmune disease. The findings also suggest why diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis strike women more frequently than men.
The cells, a subset of immune-system B cells, make auto antibodies, which bind to and attack the body’s own tissue. The researchers report in the August 4, 2011, issue of the journal Blood, that they found higher levels of these cells in elderly female mice, young and old mice prone to autoimmune disease, and humans with autoimmune diseases. National Jewish Health has applied for a patent for a method to treat autoimmune disease by depleting these cells.
“We believe these cells could be useful in the diagnosis Continue reading
If you think histamines are your nemesis during allergy season, here’s something that might change your perspective. New research published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology shows that histamine could be an important molecule to developing new treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS). In the study, the scientists analyzed the role of histamine in an animal model of multiple sclerosis and found that histamine plays a critical role in preventing MS or lessening its effects.
“We hope that our study will help design new therapies for autoimmune diseases and in particular MS, for which there is still not a definitive cure,” said Rosetta Pedotti, MD, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Neuro immunology and Neuromuscular Disorders Unit at the Neurological Institute Foundation Carlo Besta in Milan, Italy.
Histamine is a neurotransmitter involved in allergic reactions and other physiological and pathological processes. It is best known for the role it plays in hypersensitivity reactions like allergies, and it generally works by dilating blood vessels and making vessel walls permeable so immune cells can move more easily. Scientists studied the direct effects of histamine and two similar molecules that bind specifically on histamine receptors 1 or 2. Using a mouse model of MS, researchers generated MS-causing T lymphocytes and then treated these cells with histamine or the two other molecules. The effects of these treatments were evaluated by T cell functions analysis including proliferation, cytokine production, intracellular signaling pathways activation, and adhesion to brain vessels. Results showed that histamine reduces the proliferation of myelin auto reactive T lymphocytes and the production of interferon-gamma, a crucial cytokine involved in brain inflammation and demyelization. Additionally, histamine reduced the ability of myelin auto reactive T cells to adhere to inflamed brain vessels, a crucial step in the development of MS.
“This research is very exciting for several reasons. First, it points to unexpected connection between pathways involved in autoimmunity and allergy and suggests previously unrecognized connections between these very different types of immune responses. Second, while extending studies in animal models such as these to humans takes substantially more work, these new data point to a potentially novel drug target for MS and possibly other autoimmune or central nervous system diseases,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.
A small study suggests women with multiple sclerosis have lower vitamin D levels during pregnancy and breastfeeding, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the March 2011 print issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. However, these vitamin D levels were not associated with a greater risk of multiple sclerosis relapse after childbirth.
“During the last decade, low level of vitamin D, a potent immunomodulator, has emerged as an important risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS) as well as other autoimmune diseases and certain cancers,” the authors write as background information in the article. “The observation that healthy pregnant and lactating women are at particularly high risk of vitamin D insufficiency, regardless of race, suggests that pregnant and nursing mothers with MS may have a higher risk of relapses. However, it has already been well established that the risk of MS relapse decreases during pregnancy and increases in the postpartum period and that breastfeeding does not increase the risk of relapses.”
Annette Langer-Gould, M.D., Ph.D., then of Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif., and now of Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s Department of Research and Evaluation, Pasadena, and colleagues studied 28 pregnant women with MS from Kaiser Permanente Northern California and the Stanford University outpatient neurology clinics. Participants donated blood and completed questionnaires at the beginning of the study, during their remaining trimesters of pregnancy and regularly during the first year after birth.
Of the 28 women, half (14) breastfed exclusively and 43 percent (12) relapsed within six months after giving birth. During pregnancy, average blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin (25[OH]D, a common measure of vitamin D) were 25.4 nanograms per milliliter, and were associated with the season. After birth, levels remained low among women who were exclusively breastfeeding. By four and six months after childbirth, 25(OH)D levels were an average of 5 nanograms per milliliter lower among women who breastfed exclusively than among women who did not.
However, these low postpartum vitamin D levels were not associated with risk of MS relapse. “If anything, by three to six months after childbirth, 25(OH)D levels were marginally higher among the women who relapsed within the first six months after childbirth compared with women who were relapse-free during the corresponding period,” the authors write. “We do not believe that higher vitamin D levels increase the risk of postpartum relapses, as the rise we observed did not appear to occur prior to the onset of symptoms and the findings were of marginal statistical significance after accounting for season. Instead, we think this apparent inverse association is a reflection of the fact that most of the women who relapsed in the study also did not breastfeed or did so only briefly.”
The findings imply that the recommended dose of vitamin D supplementation for women with MS during pregnancy and breastfeeding should be the same as for women who do not have MS, the authors conclude. “Our results suggest that future studies aimed at identifying and unraveling the relationship between vitamin D, pregnancy/lactation-related hormones and regulation of MS inflammation may reveal novel insights into MS path physiology,” they write.
BEVERLY HILLS -Most health professionals dismiss the idea that multiple sclerosis (MS), a degenerative disease of the nervous system, might be linked to diet. It seems ridiculous to them that so mysterious a disease may be affected by something so simple. Rather than looking to the kitchen for answers, the medical establishment expects a cure for multiple sclerosis to come from high-tech research that will pinpoint some culprit—a virus, perhaps, or a glitch in the immune system.
Nevertheless, when I ask physicians and dietitians for hard evidence proving that diet has nothing to do with the cause or cure of MS, they consistently come up empty-handed. I have yet to see a study that says diet will not help MS victims. In fact, all the existing scientific evidence points to diet as the most helpful approach.
Multiple sclerosis is the most common degenerative inflammatory neurological disease in the U.S., striking people primarily between the ages of 15 and 55. It is characterized by numerous lesions—areas of damage—on the nerve cells of the brain and/or spinal cord. The lesions are replaced by hard scar tissue, causing the nerve cells to stop functioning. The nearly 500,000 Americans with MS suffer recurrent attacks on the nervous system that rob them of various functions and senses. One attack may take a victim’s vision; the next may cause loss of bladder control; a few months later, one arm or leg may no longer have strength. After ten years with the disease, half of all MS victims are severely disabled—bedridden, wheelchair-bound, or worse.
Multiple sclerosis is common in Canada, the U.S., and Northern Europe, but rare in Africa and Asia. When people migrate from a country of low MS incidence (which inevitably changes the way they live and eat), their risk for getting the disease increases. Many studies have investigated the environmental factors that could account for the difference in disease occurrence among various populations. The main factor appears to be the strongest contact we have with our environment: our daily food intake.
Although wealthy countries generally have higher rates of MS and less affluent countries have lower ones, there is one exception: Japan. Even though the Japanese live in a modern, industrialized country with all the stress, pollution, and smoking habits common to other industrialized nations, their rice-based diet is more characteristic of the foods consumed in poorer nations where MS is less common. The Japanese case provides strong evidence that a diet heavy in animal foods, not other “modern” scourges, may lay the foundation for MS.
Of course, all aspects of a diet filled with rich foods can cause problems, but animal fats—especially those from dairy products—have been the most closely linked to the development of MS.1 One theory suggests that feeding cow’s milk to infants lays the foundation for nervous system injury later in life. Cow’s milk has only one-fifth as much linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid) as human breast milk. Linoleic acid makes up the building blocks for nervous tissues. It may be that children raised on a high animal-fat diet deficient in linoleic acid (as most children are in our society) develop a weaker nervous system that is susceptible to problems as they age. Analysis of brain tissues has shown that people with MS have a higher saturated fat content in their brains than people without the disease.2
What precipitates the attacks of MS is unknown, but the suspected culprits include viruses, allergic reactions, and disturbances of the flow of blood to the brain. Most likely, the offender is connected to the circulatory system in the brain or spinal cord, because the lesions and scarring characteristic of MS are centered in nerve cells near blood vessels.
One theory holds that the MS attacks are caused by a decreased supply of blood to the sensitive brain tissues. Dietary fat can have this effect. It enters the bloodstream and coats the blood cells. As a result, the cells stick together, forming clumps that slow the flow of blood to vital tissues. The blood does not form clots (as in the case of strokes), but in many blood vessels the clumping becomes so severe that the flow of blood stops and the overall oxygen content of the blood falls.3,4 Tissues deprived of blood and oxygen for long periods of time will die. Could something this simple be a factor in MS?
As an example, let’s take a look at the health of people on a fat-restricted diet. During World War II, food was scarce and stress was high in occupied Western Europe. People could no longer afford to eat meat, so they turned instead to the grains and vegetables that once nourished their cows, chickens, and pigs. The result was a dramatic reduction in the intake of animal products and of total fat in the diet. Doctors observed that patients with MS had 2 to 2-1/2 times fewer hospitalizations during the war years.5
Swank’s results are unchallenged by other studies. But instead of advocating a low-fat vegetarian diet for MS patients, many doctors either ignore Swank’s work or dismiss it because they think the diet would be too difficult to follow. When I asked Swank why his studies have largely been ignored by the MS research establishment, he told me, “
Three important findings emerged from Swank’s research:
- The earlier an MS patient adopted a low-fat diet, the better the chance of avoiding deterioration and death from the disease.
- Patients who limited their saturated fat intake to less than 20 grams a day no longer showed the expected deterioration from the disease. (Most Americans eat 125 grams or more each day.)
- Among patients whose saturated fat intake was 17 grams or less daily, the death rate over a 35-year-period was 31 percent—close to normal. The death rate was 21 percent for the patients who kept to that low level of fat consumption and who started the diet within three years of diagnosis of the disease. On the other hand, patients consuming more than 25 grams of saturated fat daily had a death rate of 79 percent over the period of the study; nearly half of those deaths were directly due to MS.
The 8-gram difference in daily intake of saturated fat (which triples the death rate for victims of MS) can mean as little as:
- 1 oz. pork sausage (10 grams)
- 1 medium-fat hamburger (14 grams)
- 3 oz. porterhouse steak (14 grams)
- 1 oz. cheddar cheese (9 grams)
- 2 tsp. butter (8 grams)
- 1 cup whole milk (8 grams)
The findings are clear. To arrest MS, the diet must be as low in saturated fat as possible, approximately 6 percent of total calories. That translates into a low-fat vegetarian diet: one of starches, vegetables, and fruits—delicious foods containing only 5 to 10 percent total fat. If you skip eggs, dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut or palm kernel oil, you eat virtually no saturated fat.
Besides arresting MS, a low-fat vegetarian diet promotes weight loss in the obese, relieves constipation, and cuts the food bill by 40 percent. In fact, this type of diet is in line with recommendations made by other health organizations (including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the Surgeon General’s office) that urge Americans to eat less fat, meat, and dairy products, while adding more whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
I treat my MS patients with a whole food vegetarian diet with no added oil, eggs, or dairy products. The foods are familiar—oatmeal, cold cereals, waffles, and pancakes for breakfast; soups and vegetable sandwiches for lunch; and spaghetti, bean burritos, chili, and stir-”fried” vegetables for dinner.
I’ve been very gratified by the results of this dietary treatment, not only because the progress of most of my MS patients’ disease has been halted, but also because their overall health has unquestionably improved. And everyone knows that MS sufferers need every bit of help they can get.