More Alternative Treatments for MS
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) can be used in conjunction with complementary or conventional treatments.
Before trying these options, the American Academy of Neurologists has a guideline that you should consider, along with your physician’s recommendation. The guideline was designed to help answer these questions:
- Do these therapies reduce symptoms and prevent relapse and disability?
- Can they worsen symptoms or cause serious side effects?
- Can they interfere with disease-modifying therapies (DMTs)?
It is so important to discuss these options and questions with your doctors as many CAMs do not have the backing of research to validate their claims.
Some popular CAMs include diet and exercise, stress management and acupuncture. Look for treatments that have clinical trials to back them up.
Are There Any Other Options?
I read an article recently that mentions intermittent fasting as a successful way to manage your MS symptoms.
One fasting diet limits calories to 500 per day for two to three days a week with the remainder of the week being unrestricted. Many years ago, I would fast for religious reasons, and in my experience, I was able to maintain a healthy weight, and I felt very clean internally. With all the talk of “gut health” in health news recently, it may be worth a try.
According to the National MS Society, a trial using mice has shown that intermittent fasting “enriched gut bacteria and reduced MS-like symptoms.” The study also found that the fasting “changed blood levels of molecules that relate to inflammation” in 16 people with RRMS. Funded by the National MS Society, researchers are now doing a clinical trial to test this fasting theory further.
Changing Your Diet to Manage MS Symptoms
Because some infections thrive in an acidic environment, changing your diet and the way you prepare your food, can greatly reduce inflammation and some MS symptoms. Here are some suggestions to help with your MS diet-changing journey.
- Eat green leafy vegetables. Kale and spinach are excellent choices.
- Eat more raw or steamed vegetables or fruit. Cooking raises the acidity of some foods which makes prime real estate for infection. Tomatoes are an example of a food that becomes more acidic when cooked. Eating them raw is a better choice.
- Reduce red meat intake, especially when your symptoms are worse, or you are experiencing a flare or relapse. Red meat is extremely high in acid, so cutting back or eliminating it can make a big difference in how you feel.
- Reduce your total amount of all meat intake. Meat is an acid causing food, so reducing your meat intake and perhaps considering a vegetarian diet can be helpful in successfully managing your multiple sclerosis symptoms.
- Consider a “green shake” using ground kale as the main ingredient. I use kale quite often. It has incredible nutritional value, and it tastes great in soups and smoothies.
- Add an antioxidant, such as blueberries, to your shake. Plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables (and their juices), whole grains, nuts, seeds, and cocoa are also excellent sources of antioxidants.
- Try juicing or blending as an alternative to getting your daily supply of fruits and vegetables. You tend to lose fiber when you choose to juice as an alternative. If you suffer from bowel issues, try blending rooted fruits and vegetables instead, as it retains fiber.
Can an MS-Specific Diet Help Symptoms?
We know there is no known cure for MS, but there are diets that have worked for some. Because MS is so unique to each person, trial and error become our allies in the search for relief. A few diets to consider in your search are:
- The Swank Diet: Introduced in the 1950s by Dr. Roy Laver Swank, its main idea is to reduce saturated fats. Followers of this diet are encouraged to eat lean fish, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and non-fat dairy. There are some drawbacks to this diet, as with any you may try, but do your research and find out if it may work for you.
- The Best Bet Diet: This is similar to the Swank Diet in that it is restrictive. Ashton Embry, Ph.D. is the brain behind this diet. He wrote in 1996 about the link between MS and nutrition. The basis of this diet is the avoidance of problem foods like dairy, gluten, legumes, and refined sugar. Eggs and yeast are on the list as well but should be limited and not avoided. It is also recommended to take vitamin and mineral supplements including vitamin D3, calcium, magnesium, and various other vitamins, minerals, oils, and antioxidants.
- The MS Recovery Diet: Created by two female MS sufferers Ann D. Sawyer and Judith E. Bachrach, they have found success by eliminating problem foods as well. They name gluten-containing grains, eggs, legumes, yeast, and sugar just like the Best Bet Diet.
I, personally, am not a fan of fad or “healing” diets. I do believe that there are great health benefits to be found in changing the way we eat.
Before you begin any diet plan, consult with your physician. There are so many important things to consider when choosing or altering a multiple sclerosis treatment plan.
Next page: Making lifestyle adjustments as a multiple sclerosis treatment and more.