Multiple sclerosis (MS) is defined clinically as a disorder characterized by distinct episodes of neurologic deficits, separated by time, attributable to white matter lesions that are separated in space.
It is the most common of the demyelinating disorders, having a prevalence of approximately 1 per 1,000 persons in most of the United States and Europe.
Onset may occur at any age, although onset in childhood or after age 50 is relatively rare. Women are affected more often than men, with an overall ratio of approximately 2:1.
In general, the frequency of MS increases with distance from the equator. However, groups living in relative proximity may have divergent rates.
Individuals take on the relative risk of the environment in which they spent their first 15 years. A transmissible agent has been proposed in the pathogenesis of the disorder, but all attempts to identify a well-characterized virus have been unsuccessful.
Genetic influences are also clearly evident. The risk of developing MS is 15-fold higher when the disease is present in a first-degree relative. The concordance (degree of similarity) rate for identical twins is approximately 25%.
Linkage studies have indicated that there are associations with several MHC antigens, specifically A3, B7, DR2, DQw1, DQB1, and DQA1, and some studies have claimed association with polymorphisms involving the alpha and beta subunits of the T-cell receptor.
It is clear that there is an inflammatory component to the lesions of MS, and new evidence points to an autoimmune cause, although there does not appear to be any association of MS with other forms of autoimmune illness, except for autoimmune thyroid disease, which remains controversial.
Cerebral spinal fluid examination shows a mildly elevated protein level, and in one-third of those afflicted with MS, there is a variety of white blood cell types. There is an increase in B-cell immunoglobulin, but T-cell helper cells (CD4+) and T-cell suppressor cells (CD8+) are present in the active lesions. Clones reactive with myelin basic protein express a range of T-cell receptors.
Although the demyelinating lesions can occur anywhere in the central nervous system, and as a consequence may induce a wide range of symptoms, certain clinical presentations are common.
Unilateral visual impairment over the course of a few days, which is due to involvement of the optic nerve (optic neuritis), is common. However, only some with this initial manifestation will go on to develop MS, with rates ranging from 10% to 50%, depending on the population studied; the remainder do not develop other lesions.
The natural course of multiple sclerosis is variable. In most patients it begins as an off-and-on illness in which episodes of neurologic deficits develop over short periods of time (days to weeks) and show gradual partial remission.
The frequency of relapses tends to decrease over the course of time, but in a subset of patients there is a steady neurological deterioration. The cellular basis for recovery from symptoms is unknown.
The pathologic findings are remarkably similar regardless of the clinical tempo of disease progression.
Possible Underlying Causes of MS
The body’s immune system’s job is to fight foreign substances in the body, such as bacteria and viruses. But with autoimmune diseases, things go awry. The immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, causing inflammation, pain, and tissue injury.
Nobody is sure of the underlying cause of autoimmune diseases. Genetics appears to play a role, and some experts believe that microorganisms may be involved.
Other possible culprits include food allergies and “leaky gut,” which allows partially digested proteins to cross the intestinal walls and enter the general circulation, where they prompt an immune response.
Conventional Medicine’s Approach to Treating MS
Conventional doctors offer little relief for multiple sclerosis, except to prescribe powerful medications such as immunosuppressive agents and steroids such as Prednisone.
Often, cancer-killing chemotherapy is prescribed to suppress the immune system to slow down the development of the white matter lesions. But long-term use of these drugs can have serious side effects, including gastrointestinal bleeding, retinopathy, headaches, kidney failure, and of course, life-threatening infections, bleeding, gastrointestinal disturbances, hair loss, fatigue, and brain fog — as commonly seen with any patient on chemotherapy.
Furthermore, the conventional medical community ignores proven therapies, including drugs, that have the potential to help millions of patients.
Natural Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis
At the DaSilva Institute, we help our patients implement natural treatments for MS that, unlike medication, address the patient’s overall health as well as the underlying disease mechanisms. We have excellent success in helping our patients alleviate symptoms and prevent relapses.
In most cases, clinical, laboratory, and radiologic evidence of MS goes away. We strive to find the root cause of what is turning on the autoimmune process with the goal of shutting it off naturally.
Personalized Lifestyle Program for Patients with MS
A therapeutic diet
Multiple sclerosis is often associated with food allergies and abnormal bowel permeability, linking the disease closely to diet and lifestyle. We will help you learn to identify and avoid your individual food allergens.
There is a strong connection between diet and inflammation, and for MS sufferers, inflammation means more lesions. Certain foods stimulate the formation of inflammatory chemicals, while others actually reduce inflammation.
We will teach you to use your diet to help control flare-ups. More importantly, you will learn how to shop for and prepare healthy meals and make them part of your regular diet.
Exercise and nutritional supplements
When your condition allows, regular exercise is one of the best therapies around. Exercise will help you strengthen the musculature around affected joints and improve flexibility. It will also improve your sleep, increase your energy, and even improve your mental attitude.
The immune system needs a strong nutritional foundation over a long period of time to combat autoimmune diseases. In addition to prescribing a broad range of protective antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals, we will prescribe a potent combination of nutritional supplements for relieving pain and inflammation.
Revolutionary Therapies for Autoimmune Diseases
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy
Natural bioidentical HRT can be a godsend for patients with multiple sclerosis since bioidentical hormones have a major affect on the brain.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has a modulating effect on the immune system and lowers production of stress hormones. Estriol, a form of estrogen, also shows promise, particularly for women with multiple sclerosis. And natural thyroid (as opposed to synthetic Synthroid) often improves outcomes in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease.
In addition, we use a decades-old therapy that in some cases actually reverses autoimmune disease. It involves a course of low-dose antibiotics aimed at eradicating the microorganisms present in the MS-affected brain.
Although this therapy has been well studied and written about in top scientific journals, it is largely disregarded by conventional physicians. But for some patients with MS and other autoimmune diseases, low-dose antibiotic treatment is nothing short of miraculous.
We may also prescribe another overlooked, yet very powerful drug for autoimmune disorders: low-dose Naltrexone (LDN). Small doses of LDN taken at bedtime have a powerful balancing effect on the immune system, making it an excellent therapy not only for MS but for a wide range of other conditions as well.