Is healing multiple sclerosis naturally possible?
According to these 13 evidence and clinical-based studies, the short answer is “yes”—especially when the body is given the right tools to heal.
In this article, let’s discuss:
- Multiple Sclerosis 101
- The 3 Stages of Autoimmunity (& How to Know Yours)
- 13 Research-Backed, Holistic Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS 101
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves.
Multiple sclerosis causes a variety of symptoms, including: vision loss, pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination. Symptom severity and duration varies from person to person depending on the progression of the disease. Some folks may remain symptom free most of their lives, while others experience chronic symptoms that never go away.
Like other autoimmune diseases, the causes of multiple sclerosis stem from both internal and external stressors or “triggers” including:
External Trigger Examples
- Viral infection (EBV, lyme and lyme co-infections)
- Gluten and dairy
- Dietary imbalances (processed foods, nutrient deficiencies, eliminating entire food groups)
- Lifestyle imbalances (Excessive work, Sleep deprivation, Sedentary or overtraining exercise, Under-hydration)
- Mold toxins
- Environmental toxins(ie. Chemical exposures — paints, hair dyes, working near chemicals) Conventional hygiene, makeup and cleaning products, hormone disruptors—especially birth control pills, synthetic testosterone, plastics)
Internal Trigger Examples
- Chronic emotional stress
- A “feeling stuck” or “motor conflict” in your life (ie. Stuck in a job, relationship, season of life, etc.)
- Not feeling “good enough” (self devaluation “conflict”)
MS is diagnosed through a combination of bloodwork, MRI and signs and symptoms.
THE 3 STAGES OF AUTOIMMUNITY
Not all people with MS will experience a “fully progressed” disease. If you have the genetic susceptibility for the disease OR the “perfect storm” of toxic or viral exposures, then you may fall into one of the three stages of autoimmunity:
Silent, non-expressed, but immune sensitivities or inflammation is present. For example, you may have increased food sensitivities, gut issues (leaky gut), occasional brain fog or fatigue, or sensitivity to environments (smells, sounds, etc.).
Early symptoms of the disease, yet often still undiagnosed or early diagnosed; you may experience brain fog, fatigue, stiffness and “flares”. You also may find that, despite “doing all the things” to be healthy (like eating right or exercising), you don’t feel optimal.
Full blown/expressed autoimmunity with progression, relapsing or remitting presentations.
13 RESEARCH-BACKED HOLISTIC TREATMENTS FOR MS HEALING
While folks with an autoimmune disease may always be “susceptible” to autoimmunity, MS (and other autoimmune diseases) can go into remission. Especially if “caught” early on or in the slow-progressing stages (before full-blown). However, even if your MS is “full blown”, look no further than the amazing Dr. Terry Wahl’s for some inspiration and hope. Check out Dr. Wahl’s story here. Hope is possible. Especially with these 13 research-backed holistic treatments and a functional medicine practitioner who can help be your guide.
#1. Unlock “Issues in the Tissues” w/ German New Medicine
Disease in our lives manifests as disease in our body—particularly with chronic conditions like autoimmune disease. According to German New Medicine theory, for the majority of chronic diseases, there is a significant emotional stressor (or stressful life season) that precedes the onset of disease, interwoven with a specific conflict that shows up in a certain tissue of the body (depending on the type of conflict or stressor at hand). Motor disorders like MS and Parkinson’s are related to a “motor” conflict in one’s life—feeling “stuck” and related to emotions such as frustration or anger, sadness or fear. There may also be an underlying “attack” conflict in your health history timeline—either with someone else or yourself (this is common in autoimmune disease).
The body cannot distinguish the differences in physiological or psychological stressors and significant emotional events or stressors (that are not completely dealt with or ‘healed’) often precede the onset of disease and symptomology in the body. Interestingly, the onset of disease often follows the length and progression of the conflict itself. For example, if “most of your life” you struggled with self worth or not feeling “good enough”, then a slow onset and progression of MS may follow suit.
Working with a practitioner trained in ‘trauma-informed’ coaching or therapy and rewiring the ‘gut brain’ connection can be tremendously impactful for helping you release any of the ‘issues in your tissues’ connected to your disease. By allowing the body and mind to get rid of ‘negative emotions’ and stressors at a tissue and cellular level, it allows the foods, supplements and physical lifestyle factors to actually work much better.
#2. Heal Leaky Gut
Gut symptoms and leaky gut precede the onset of autoimmunity. This is because 70-80% of your immune system is in your gut. Hence, if your gut is out of balance, your immune system is out of balance.
Pro-inflammatory (Th17) immune cells are key players in the pathogenesis of MS, and studies show that these cells originate in the intestine—with increased brain autoimmunity the more that Th17 cells evade the mucosa of the intestines.
Translation: inflammation in the gut provokes “leaky gut” which then provokes brain autoimmunity in genetically or environmentally susceptible individuals.
“Healing leaky gut” entails supporting the gut lining with foods, supplements and lifestyle such as:
- Foods: Bone broth, sea moss gel, aloe vera juice, pasture raised and grassfed meats, wild caught fish,
- Supplements: Bone broth protein powder, collagen peptides, bovine colostrum , tributyirin
- Lifestyle: Chewing your food well, slowing down, sleeping enough, filtered water
#3. Address SIBO & Dysbiosis
MS patients have subtle but distinct differences in gut bacteria profiles, compared with healthy controls SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) is particularly common in Multiple Sclerosis. One study found that nearly 40% of MS patients had SIBO, compared to only 10% of non-MS patients.
In short: appropriate gut-directed interventions such as diet, nutritional supplementation or fecal transplantation may modulate the inflammatory response and improve the course of MS as a complementary treatment in the disease.
The gut-MS connection is a two way street. In one way, an inflammatory intestinal environment and “leaky” gut induced by dysbiosis could lead to an altered communication with the CNS through the cholinergic afferent fibers, thereby contributing to CNS inflammation and disease pathogenesis; and 2. Neuroinflammation affecting efferent cholinergic transmission could result in intestinal inflammation as disease progresses.
“Addressing SIBO and dysbiosis is 3 fold and involves:
- Prep the body—support the body’s drainage, immune and digestive “mechanics” with supplements, lifestyle and nutrient strategies
- “Cleanse” (ie. Cleansing out SIBO, dysbiosis, viral infections) with supplement and diet strategies)
- “Rebuild” a healthy gut with your leaky gut supports (bone broth, colostrum, collagen), quality probiotics, prebiotics and a diverse diet
Working with a practitioner to test and see if you have SIBO, gut dysbiosis or any pathogens via stool testing and SIBO breath testing. Viral infection testing may also be beneficial.
#3. Probiotic Up
Multi-strain probiotic supplementation significantly reduces fatigue, depression, brain fog and overall poor mental health status in MS patients. Other studies show that supplementation can improve disease progression, suppress depression, and general health in MS patients. Probiotics act like (non-toxic, non-steroidal) immunomodulatory agents that
Help modulate and shape a healthier gut ecosystem for a healthier immune system. Look for a bifidobacteria/lactobacilli formula with at least 50 billion CFU and 3rd party tested, like Seed probiotic and a quality spore-based biotic with commensal bacteria, such as Probiospore. Bonus: Add the probiotic, paired with prebiotics.
#4. Add in Mitochondrial Support
Mitochondria are responsible for fending off oxidative stress and boost immune resiliency to heal, not jus manage, chronic illness. Hence, supporting the mitochondria slow MS progression and can positively influence remission. In my clinical practice, I customize a high-potency mitochondrial supplement for my patients with chronic illness consisting of nutrients like L-carnitine, B vitamins, CoQ10, taurine, resveratrol, lipoid acid, proline, Vitamin E, zinc and manganese.
#5. Use Movement as Medicine
Exercise both reduces fatigue in patients with MS, and it also enhances cognitive function— diminishing brain fog. Daily movement (or wheelchair exercise) if “medicine” for neurological disorders and autoimmunity—as long as you don’t overdo it. Mix it up—walking, yoga, weights and group fitness, etc.
#6. Cut the Gluten, Dairy & Autoimmune-Stimulating Foods
It is well established that a diet rich in processed foods, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, red meat and table salt (the “Western diet”) can contribute to chronic inflammatory states. Moreover, autoimmune “stimulating” foods, including gluten, dairy, egg whites, peanuts, nightshades like tomatoes and chili powder, and high intakes of omega-6 fatty acids (like lots of nuts) can contribute to autoimmune up-regulation, especially if the gut is inflamed or dysbiotic.
Gluten “ataxia” (attack of the brain) is common in MS and other autoimmune disorders, Likewise casein (dairy) and other gluten cross-contaminating foods are inflammatory for the gut and brain, triggering MS due to cross-reactivity, or molecular mimicry, with a myelin protein. Adopt an “autoimmune paleo” protocol and emphasize organic meats, essential fatty acids and color rich veggies and fruits.
#7. Eat 6 to 12 Colors (Veggies) Daily
Short chain fatty acids (formed in the gut from veggie intake) are protective and remission-inducing for MS. On the flip side, SCFA reduction may have a causal role in MS presentation Eat 3 cups of dark leafy greens each day (cooked=1/2 cup) along with 1-2 colors with each meal (such as beets and roasted carrots; sweet potato and broccolini; kabocha squash and leeks; etc.). If you are sensitive to higher FODMAP foods, fix the gut first and keep foods simple and lower FODMAP.
#8. Fat & Protein are Friends
Omega 3 fatty acids (found in wild caught fatty fish, extra virgin cod liver oil, grassfed beef, egg yolks, flax) have immuno-modulatory effects on pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1β, IL-2, TNF-α, and IFN-γ. Additionally, essential fatty acids (found in ghee, coconut oil, avocado, grass fed butter, macadamia nuts, fatty cuts of feat) compose the majority of the brain mass (thus a fat-fed brain equals a healthier brain).
Likewise, despite the no-meat craze, amino acids found in complete proteins are not only essential for neurotransmitter (brain) function, but also essential for restoring the gut lining (leaky gut repair) and phase 2 liver detoxification (to help kick toxins out of the system).
#9. Ditch Toxins
Toxins by and large play role in autoimmune diseases as “triggers” for immune activation. One study found that bacterial colonization in the nasal passageways (similar to mycotoxins from toxic mold) is correlated with MS, releasing neurotoxins that dysregulate the central nervous system.
Heavy metals like aluminum, mercury and lead also play a role in the neurotoxicity seen in MS. Interestingly, one study found that dentists with high exposures to mercury in clinical practice were more likely to have MS and experience tremors.
While increased heat stress (sauna) is correlated with acute reduced functional and cognitive capacity in patients with MS, cryotherapy has been shown to improve the functional state and energy in patients with MS, which may be due to adaptive changes in bioelectrical muscle activity.
#11. Address EBV
The risk of MS is increased after infectious mono due to EBV infection, and MS patients have higher serum titers of anti-EBV antibodies than control populations. People with MS have a higher binding capacity of EBV epitopes than healthy controls. One study in previously healthy military personnel (955 out of 10 million) whom had developed MS found that they had a 32-fold increased risk of MS after infection with EBV, especially between ages 20-39. Addressing EBV involves a combination of supporting the immune system and drainage pathways, coupled with cleansing supports. Human herpesvirus 6A (HHV‐6A) infection is also worth considering in the work up and treatment of MS triggers. This is best addressed by working with a practitioner.
#11. Take Liposomal Curcumin + Resveratrol
Both curcumin and resveratrol are associated with the modulation of neuroinflammation and the nhibition of proinflammatory cytokines. Research finds this is due to the “gut balancing” effects of these agents, which then affect the gut-brain axis. One study (Khadka et al, 2021) in a model of MS found curcumin supplementation boosted healthy gut bugs throughout the intestines AND in the test subjects’ poo for suppression of MS symptoms.
#12. Rewire the Gut Brain Axis
Microcurrent therapy, vagus nerve stimulation, Heart Math, BrainTap and cranial sacral therapy are just some (of many) adjunctive therapies and treatments specifically targeting the gut-brain axis.
#13. Try Ozone & Red Laser Therapy
Ozone oxygen therapy (such as ozone IVs) may as well be called the “Windex” of chronic disease. It is amazingly powerful for disease remission—particularly autoimmunity—by regulating T-cell responses. In particular, ozone therapy lowers Th17 up regulation. Likewise, low level laser therapy has been shown to end disease progression in mouse models
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