Multiple Sclerosis,all kinds of help also Portulaca[see green-coloured part
My best friend from college, now a dentist and jazz saxophonist who plays with a group imaginatively named Group Sax, was hit with multiple sclerosis (MS) around age 55. He asked my advice about this mysterious and elusive disease. I told him what I knew and about natural healing techniques that might be promising–some herbal oils and a few dietary approaches.
That was ten years ago. Apparently, my advice helped. Like most MS patients, he has ups and downs, but when I last talked with him, he had a new girlfriend and was planning to attend the reunion of our Satterfield Big Band Jazz Orchestra. He and I both played with Satterfield during college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For nearly 15 years now, we’ve been reuniting in Chapel Hill each August, playing big band numbers for one fun weekend a year. Despite my friend’s MS, he’s outlived several other Satterfielders.
The Young People’s Disease
Multiple sclerosis is a baffling, heartbreaking chronic illness of the nervous system that afflicts an estimated 350,000 Americans, about 60 per cent of them women. Two-thirds of MS cases are diagnosed in people ages 20 to 40.
In MS, the protective myelin sheath that covers the major nerves breaks down, causing minute electrical malfunctions within the nerves. People with MS may experience various possible symptoms, from minor weakness to paralysis. In most, however, the symptoms come and go. After each attack or exacerbation, some people return to normal, while others experience residual disability.
Scientists are not sure what causes MS, but there are two major theories: MS often appears in clusters, leading some experts to theorize that a virus or viruslike microorganism is the culprit. Others believe that MS is an autoimmune disease. In this view, the immune system mistakes the myelin sheath for a threatening invader and attacks it.
A third theory has also been proposed, but it has received scant attention from conventional medicine. It links MS to a high-fat diet. Its originator, Roy L. Swank, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus of neurology at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland and author of The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book, claims impressive results in treating MS with a low-fat elimination diet.
Green Pharmacy for Multiple Sclerosis
Most dietary approaches to MS stress the importance of decreasing the amount of saturated fat in the diet–the kind of fat found in meat and dairy products. In addition, I’d also suggest some herbs.
stinging nettle ( Urtica dioica). I’d certainly flail myself with nettle if I had MS
[my remark:James Duke z”:l [a very famous medical botanist]
“This practice, known as urtication, involves taking the fresh plant, which is covered with tiny, hairlike stingers, and simply slapping it against your exposed skin. (Remember, you need to wear gloves whenever you handle this plant.) It stings and is irritating as all get out, but it does provide microinjections of a number of potentially beneficial chemicals.
Among these compounds is histamine, the chemical that often induces allergies like hay fever. Several compounds in stinging nettle might have effects similar to bee stings. I know it sounds far-fetched, but some people with MS have benefited from being stung by bees, a form of therapy that is occasionally recommended by proponents of alternative healing methods for people with this condition.
I personally think people are better off using a potted stinging nettle plant rather than bees. Unlike the bees, which die after stinging you, the plant recharges its microinjector needles and can be used again and again. I don’t consider nettle curative, but I believe it would help, and as I mentioned, I have heard testimony to this effect.
There are no reports in the United States of serious allergic reactions to stinging nettle, but there have been severe reactions to bee stings, including some fatalities.
|Dr Swank’s Low-Fat DietIn the late 1940s, Roy L. Swank, M.D., PhD, professor emeritus of neurology at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland and author of The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book, who is now almost 90, first became interested in multiple sclerosis (MS). At that time, scientists were puzzled by the observation that the disease becomes more prevalent as one moves away from the equator. [my remark: vitamin D: SUN !!!] |
Rates in the United States, Canada, England, Scandinavia, Germany and Switzerland were higher than rates in Mexico and southern Europe.A half-century ago, MS statistics were sketchy in most countries except Norway, which had instituted one of the first comprehensive disease-reporting systems.
Dr Swank looked at MS there, expecting to find more cases in the northern part of the country than in the south. Instead, he found a completely different pattern. The MS rate was low along the entire north-south Norwegian coast, but considerably higher inland. What could account for the difference? Using Norwegian diet surveys,
Dr Swank determined that the farm-based inland population ate a diet that was considerably higher in saturated fat (meats and dairy products) than the fishing-based coastal population. Intrigued, he reinterpreted the strange geographic distribution of MS: All of the northern countries with high MS rates also consumed more saturated fats than the southern countries with low MS rates.
To test his theory, beginning in 1950–decades before dietary fat was linked to cancer, heart disease and other ills–Dr. Swank recruited 150 people with MS, placed them on a diet low in saturated fats and compared the course of their disease to that of a similar group who ate an unrestricted diet.
After 20 years, those on the Swank diet experienced substantially fewer MS flare-ups, fewer deaths and fewer disabilities. (Their blood cholesterol levels also fell to an average of less than 150, substantially reducing their risk of heart disease.)
The details of Dr Swank’s diet are available in his book. There are many stories of the neurological deterioration of MS substantially slowing, and sometimes stopping, on the Swank diet, but it remains very controversial. The MS organizations do not endorse it.
I think it’s probably worth trying. Even if the Swank diet doesn’t help your MS, it would certainly help prevent cancer and heart disease because it is low in fat and high in fibre.
Black currant (Ribes nigrum). Black currant oil contains a compound known as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) that is thought to be useful in treating MS. Herb advocate Andrew Weil, M.D., professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and author of Natural Health, Natural Medicine, strongly endorses GLA as an effective antiinflammatory for treating autoimmune disorders. He recommends taking 500 milligrams of black currant oil twice daily and says improvement can be expected after eight weeks.
PRPGLA can also be found in borage and evening primrose oil (EPO), but black currant oil may be cheaper. (I’m partial to EPO myself.)
|Black Currant Black currant seeds contain the same anti-inflammatory substance that’s found in evening primrose oil.|
Blueberry ( Vaccinium , various species). These berries contain compounds known as oligomeric procyanidins ( PRPOPC s). The biochemistry of OPCs is complicated, but there’s good evidence to show that they help prevent the breakdown of certain tissues, such as the myelin sheaths that surround the nerve fibers. OPCs also have anti-inflammatory activity that might help relieve MS symptoms. This sounds like a good reason to eat more blueberries.
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis). Like black currant oil, EPO is rich in GLA. British herbalist David Hoffmann, author of The Herbal Handbook, says that EPO is “recommended in all cases” of MS.
Pineapple ( Ananas comosus ). Pineapple contains enzymes, pancreatin and bromelain, that break up protein molecules. Besides being anti-inflammatories, these enzymes have been shown to help reduce the level of circulating immune complexes (CICs). High levels of CICs occur in a number of autoimmune diseases including MS. These immune complexes activate the immune system to attack the body, ultimately leading to tissue damage.
Purslane ( Portulaca oleracea) and other foods containing magnesium . In a letter to the British medical journal Lancet some years ago, a British biochemist with MS said that supplemental magnesium by itself worked better for him than all other supplemental vitamins and minerals. He took 375 milligrams a day. (The Daily Value is 400 milligrams.) This is just one man’s story–an anecdote–even though it comes from a biochemist and was printed in a respected journal. Still, from my point of view, it means that purslane and other sources of magnesium are worth trying. I know I would try them if I had MS. If you’d like your magnesium from an herbal source, purslane is the herb richest in this mineral, at nearly 2 percent on a dry-weight basis, followed by poppy seeds, cowpeas and spinach. I steam purslane like spinach and eat it raw in salads. A heaping serving of steamed greens could provide as much magnesium as the biochemist took. So would eight ounces of fresh greens. If you’d like your magnesium from a herbal source, purslane is the herb richest in this mineral, at nearly 2 per cent on a dry-weight basis, followed by poppy seeds, cowpeas and spinach. I steam purslane like spinach and eat it raw in salads. A heaping serving of steamed greens could provide as much magnesium as the biochemist took. So would eight ounces of fresh greens.