Multiple Sclerosis – risk factors and natural treatments
Many of you have heard of Multiple Sclerosis, often referred to as MS. It is a nerve disease that causes damage to the nerve sheath called myelin in the spinal cord and brain.. My mother had MS and you would have never known if you had seen her however, many people can barely walk. Symptoms are extremely variable and range from mild to severe. They may include: numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occur on one side of your body at a time and last for an extended period of time, loss of vision, pain in parts of your body, tremor, unsteady gait, fatigue and many more
Previously known risk factors include certain infections including Epstein Barr, environmental causes (which I will discuss below), autoimmune diseases like thyroid, type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease and genetics. If you have a first degree family member with MS, you might want to get checked for the gene HLA-DRB1*15. With this gene you have a 3 fold higher risk of MS. Women are twice as likely to develop MS as men. Other factors like sun exposure (more being protective, vitamin D status (more being protective) and adolescent obesity (higher risk) have been connected.
A recent study from Sweden looked at the link between smoking and organic solvents and risks of MS. Organic solvents and compounded that are widely used in many industries including paint and varnishing, dry cleaning, adhesives, and cosmetics. Higher risk exposure jobs include printers, chemical engineers, and farmers because of the chemicals they are exposed to on a regular basis. Bottom line from this study is you have a higher risk of MS with smoking and organic solvents regardless of genetics. Couple genetics and smoking and organic solvents and you have a tri-fecta. Here is how the statistics looked. The number at the end is called the odds ratio…the odds you will get the disease with that exposure compared to someone who doesn’t have the exposure. The higher the number the higher the risk of getting MS.
- Organic solvents with no genetic risk 1.53
- Organic solvents & genetic risk 6.7
- Smoking with no genetic risk 1.55
- Smoking & genetic risk 7.9
- Smoking & organic solvents with no genetic risk 5.0
- Smoking & organic solvents & genetic risk 30.3 (a 30 fold increase risk)
The longer the exposure to solvents and smoking the higher the risk.
As always, just because you have a risk does not mean you will get MS. However, if you have a tri-fecta then maybe you need to be making some major life-style changes. Here are some tips to help.
- Optimize your vitamin D level – goal is 80
- Eat organic as much as possible to decrease pesticide risk
- Stop smoking
- A vegetarian diet is favorable
- Exercise regularly
- Decrease household chemical use
- Decrease job exposure using recommended safety gear
- Supplements that may help
- Fatty acids (fish oil)
- Alpha Lipoic acid
- Coenzyme Q
If you already have MS, it is not too late to take all of these suggestions and make these adjustments. There are a few IV treatments that may help in some people so please call us and let’s talk about a plan for you.