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Diet's and Multiple Sclerosis

MS AND DIET
GMARC46 M.D.


There have been many claims as to the efficacy of certain foods or vitamin/mineral supplements in the care and treatment of people with MS. Physicians and nutritionists have recommended the use of diets low in saturated fats as a means of halting the rapidity of the disease's progression. Likewise, equally good results have been reported with supplementation by polyunsaturated fatty acids such as found in sunflower oil or safflower oil. These effects are supposed to prevent the frequency of relapses or lessen the severity of the relapse. Evening primrose oil is 48% safflower oil. These effects are supposed to prevent the frequency of relapses or lessen the severity of the relapse. Evening primrose oil has been very popular in this regard, but a bottle of 50 capsules from a natural food store costs $9.99 plus tax. The efficacy of these supplements have been proved" or "disproved" at various times, depending upon the slant of the author. Since there have been no harmful effects shown with the use of these oils, the only prohibition has been the cost. Similar good results have been claimed for Vitamins B12, K3, and C, manganese (a trace mineral) and calcium salts. Megavitamin therapy has also been touted as helpful in the treatment of MS, but their use can be dangerous. The use of liquid diets, gluten-free diets, sucrose-free diets, meals rich in aloe vera or natural unprocessed food--all of these have been shown to be helpful for patients with MS.

Drs. Soll and Grenoble have written a book. "MS. Something CAN be done about it and YOU can do it". They advise us to modify our diet by identifying and eliminating foods to which we are allergic. These foods cause the production of endotoxins that make our immune system start the whole chain of events that lead to a relapse, according to these authors. It makes for interesting reading and the type of diet they recommend is quite good for anyone. THERE IS NO HARD EVIDENCE OF ITS EFFICACY IN MS.

A big problem in evaluating any type of therapy or innovation is in the very design of the test if any test is included in the evaluation. First of all, there should be adequate numbers of people participating in the test to see if it is statistically significant. Secondly, the participants should be evaluated to see if they truly have MS and that they are at the similar levels of disability. Hopefully, they would not have been on any other treatments in the past few months that would confuse the issue. Thirdly, the patients getting this particular type of therapy should be matched up with individuals of the same age, sex and disease state who are not getting this particular therapy. This group of individuals would be as a control group. Lastly, the people under study should be followed closely to make sure that there are no other extraneous conditions that enter into the study such as concurrent illnesses or Aunt Sarah's home-grown remedy for MS and hair loss.

MS is a disease that flares up and gets better spontaneously unpredictably. This factor makes it very difficult to make an accurate statement as to the worthiness of any new therapy. Very few new therapies have followed the guidelines mentioned above. Delos Press has published soft-cover books "Research on Multiple Sclerosis" and "Therapeutic Claims in Multiple Sclerosis", advertisements for which appear in the MS Quarterly Reports which deal with these issues and should be part of your home library.

The principles of good nutrition need to be followed in anybody, whether they have MS or not. It is a reasonable assumption that a diet rich in calories and saturated fats is not beneficial for anyone. Since those of us with MS have muscles that fatigue more quickly, it makes no sense to put extra stress on them by being overweight. If you have trouble with your equilibrium, having that one drink of beer may rob you of whatever precious balance you have left. People with frequent bladder infections may need to add cranberry juice to their diet (check with your doctor). Since many people with MS find that their bowels seem to move more slowly than before, the addition of high fiber or bulky food such as bran, prunes or salads may make their lives a little less constipated. The general principles set down by Dr. Labe Scheinberg in his book "Multiple Sclerosis. A Guide for Patients and Their Families" promotes a common sense approach to diet.