Multiple Sclerosis -- Do Natural
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last updated November 9, 2017, originally published September 13, 2012

By Louise Carr,  Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our
Editorial Board.]

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, disabling disease that attacks
the central nervous system and it currently has no cure.
Around 400,000 people in the United States have multiple
sclerosis, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis
Society, and this tragic disease strikes across communities,
ages and social statuses. An extra 200 people are
diagnosed every week and even celebrities like Jack
Osbourne, Mitt Romney's wife Ann Romney,  Montel
Williams and Clay Walker have spoken about their own
battle against the condition. What causes multiple sclerosis
and is there anything you can do to ease the symptoms of
this devastating condition? Do natural or alternative
remedies help?

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system – the
brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The disease harms the
fatty covering that contains the nerve fibers, slowing down
the transmission of messages through the nerve fibers and
blocking nerve signals.

People who suffer from multiple sclerosis may experience a
multitude of symptoms including blurred vision, lack of
balance and coordination,
dragging their feet, muscle
weakness and spasticity, bladder problems, numbness and
fatigue. One 2008 study from Universitätsspital Basel in
Switzerland observed that "numb chin syndrome" can be
the first sign of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis most commonly attacks between the ages
of 20 and 40. The first assault often is followed by
complete or partial remission, only for further attacks to
follow. Sufferers may become progressively less able –
there is a form of the disease that progresses extremely
rapidly, causing disability. In other cases, symptoms are
mild. Every sufferer is different and the exact symptoms of
the condition vary from one person to another.

What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?

Unfortunately we do not know for sure what causes this
condition. Multiple sclerosis is thought to be an
autoimmune disease, which means your body’s own
defense system attacks the fatty substance covering your
nerve fibers. Experts believe something like a toxin or virus
triggers this autoimmune response in some people.
Genetics may also play a role.

And environment and diet are important - according to a
1995 study from Universitaire Ziekenhuizen Sint-Rafaël,
Leuven, Belgium, multiple sclerosis is more common the
further away from the equator you live.

The disease, according to studies like a 1994 report by
Academic Teaching Hospital, Darmstadt, Germany,  is also
more prevalent in societies that consume more meat and
animal fats and less fish.

Who Gets Multiple Sclerosis?

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society says the condition is
significantly more common in women than men (two to
three times more common, as in other autoimmune

There is a somewhat mysterious connection between the
month of your birth and your risk for developing multiple
sclerosis. One study has found that those born in the
Spring have a higher risk for the disease. (
Read more the
link between the Spring season and multiple sclerosis.)

Most people are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis between
the ages of 20 and 50 but the disease can strike all ages,
even children. The condition is more common in Caucasians
of northern European ancestry although most ethnic
groups are affected.

New research has connected the composition of the
bacteria in your intestines with your multiple sclerosis
status, finding that sufferers have higher levels of certain
types of bacteria than non-sufferers. The 2017 study, led
by Dr. Helen Tremlett of the University of British Columbia,
found that multiple sclerosis sufferers had higher levels of
methane producing Methanobrevibacter (Archaea) and
Akkermansia and lower levels of Butyricimonas bacteria.]

Many people with multiple sclerosis manage the disease and
live happy and fulfilled lives, although the fight against the
condition is sometimes extremely hard. A number of natural
and alternative remedies are said to help treat the
symptoms of multiple sclerosis. In fact, around 75 percent
of people in the US with multiple sclerosis use at least one
natural remedy or therapy to help them, generally in
conjunction with their prescribed medication, according to
the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

We’ve looked at the scientific evidence to see which of
these natural remedies may help and why. Here is our Top
10 list:

Cut the Amount of Fat in your Diet to Reduce Multiple
Sclerosis Symptoms?

Experts believe that the amount of fat, and the type of fat,
in your diet affects how the symptoms of multiple sclerosis

In particular, a scientist named R.L. Swank proposed in the
1970's that following a low fat diet for over 20 years
resulted in significantly less disability than a diet higher in
saturated fat (1990 study at the Oregon Health Sciences
University, Portland). There were no controlled trials and
there is still controversy over whether the diet actually
works. However, different fats, especially fatty acids,
continue to spark interest in researchers battling the

Fish Oils as a Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

Essential fatty acids may hold promise as a treatment for
multiple sclerosis, according to experts. These include those
found in fish oil (omega-3s).

One of the reasons experts believe there is a link is because
people with multiple sclerosis have lower levels of omega-3
fatty acids in their body than people without the condition,
according to a 1990 study from Royal Victoria Infirmary,
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

However, this doesn’t prove that fish oils are actually a
useful treatment  for multiple sclerosis.  Several studies
have failed to find a significant difference between placebo
and omega-3 fatty acids. A 2005 study from Baird Multiple
Sclerosis Center for MS Treatment and Research, State
University of New York found fish oil, when used in
combination with a low fat diet, did produce benefits so it
seems this natural remedy is worth investigating further.

Our panel of
Doctors and Registered Nurses cautions
against simply taking fish oil supplements in hopes of
"curing multiple sclerosis". They note that taking fish oil
supplements is not the same as eating fish, and that in fact,
when it comes to heart disease, one important study has
found that taking fish oil supplements are useless while
eating fish can in fact benefit your heart. Likewise, eating
salmon, tuna and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
may in fact be preferable and more beneficial to multiple
sclerosis sufferers than taking supplements. In either case,
our panel notes that more research is needed before we
can form any opinion.

Linoleic Acid Treats Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Linoleic acid, one of the omega-6 essential fatty acids, is
touted as a multiple sclerosis treatment. Linoleic acid is
found in sunflower and safflower oil as well as other
vegetable oils.

Two sets of researchers in the 1970's looked at whether
linoleic acid supplements affected people’s symptoms (a
1973 study by Millar JH, Zilkha KJ, Langman MJ, et al.
entitled “Double-blind trial of linoleate supplementation of
the diet in multiple sclerosis”, and a 1978 study by Bates D,
Fawcett PR, Shaw DA, et al. called “Polyunsaturated fatty
acids in treatment of acute remitting multiple sclerosis”)
and found those taking the supplement had shorter and
less frequent attacks of symptoms.

However, other researchers found linoleic acid had no
effect on multiple sclerosis symptoms. Further studies are
needed to see if this supplement could prevent, delay or
improve symptoms of this disease.

Can Evening Primrose Oil Help Multiple Sclerosis

The evidence for treatment with gamma-linolenic acid –
evening primrose oil – is light, although one study from
1977 by DF Horrobin claimed the natural remedy produced
beneficial effects for people fighting the disease. While fatty
acids may be beneficial, experts warn against following any
fad diets or diets that exclude major vitamins or food

The best advice, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis
Society, is to follow a high fiber, low fat, heart-healthy diet
as recommended for everyone in the United States.

Threonine is a Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

Threonine is a naturally occurring amino acid and it may be
useful in the fight against multiple sclerosis, according to
experts. In particular, the amino acid may be able to lessen
the muscle spasticity associated with the condition,
according to a 1993 study from Royal Victoria Hospital
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK. However, improvements
were slight and were often only noticed by doctors and not
the patients themselves.

Does Vitamin D Play a Part in Multiple Sclerosis?

Many different experts have linked less exposure to
sunshine – and consequent lower levels of vitamin D – with
a higher incidence of multiple sclerosis, including a 1992
study from the University of Toronto, Mount Sinai Hospital,
Ontario, Canada. These findings lead scientists to believe
that vitamin D may help protect against multiple sclerosis.
There have been no human studies on this link so it is
difficult to say with certainty whether vitamin D plays an
active part in the development or avoidance of multiple
sclerosis. (Read about other
illnesses linked to Vitamin D

Until these studies are done, avoid taking Vitamin D
supplements as a remedy for multiple sclerosis symptoms.
Instead, get 20 minutes of indirect morning sunshine,
exposing your arms, to keep your supply of Vitamin D at
healthy levels.

Vitamin B 12 Helps Multiple Sclerosis Sufferers

Several studies show multiple sclerosis is associated with a
vitamin B12 deficiency, so does vitamin B12 offer a
protective effect? A 1994 study from the Faculty of
Medicine, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan says yes –
massive doses of the vitamin could improve certain
symptoms of the condition. Again, further research is
necessary and you must consult your doctor before you
dose yourself with this or any other vitamin in large

The Phenylalanine and TENS for Treating Multiple

A combination of phenylalanine, an essential amino acid
present in high-protein foods such as beef, lamb, fish and
chicken, and transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS), a
portable electrical machine designed to decrease pain levels
and muscle spasticity, is believed to help treat multiple
sclerosis symptoms. A 1984 study by A Winter called  “New
treatment for multiple sclerosis” found those treated with
phenylalanine and TENS experienced less intense muscle
spasticity, a lower number of bladder symptoms, and less

Does Magnet Therapy Help Multiple Sclerosis?

According to a 1997 study from the University of
Washington, Seattle a special magnet therapy known as
PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field therapy) helps treat the
symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Thirty people tried the
treatment or a placebo device and those receiving the
magnet therapy showed statistically significant
improvements in muscle spasticity, bladder control and
hand function.

Take Ginkgo to Reduce Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Gingko has been suggested as a treatment for multiple
sclerosis but what is the evidence that it actually works? A
2006 study from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte,
Charlotte reported benefits to people taking the
supplement although the trial was small and further
research is needed before complete conclusions can be

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Omega-3 fatty acids may help ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
fish oil pills help multiple sclerosis