In addition to the medical drugs that doctors prescribe for MS patients (which do sometimes help symptoms, but NEVER cure MS), there are other much less toxic things the we can use to reduce symptoms and increase our overall health. These are certain vitamins, minerals, herbs and other food supplements.
Because we have multiple sclerosis I think we can all agree we are not what people think of when they use the word "healthy". As a matter of fact we are very unhealthy. Generally speaking, as a group, we are fatigued and have cognitive, digestive, elimination, sleep and balance problems. Oh sure, we have lots of other physical problems as well, but these are the most common.
What can food supplements actually do to help our problems that make them worth taking? Supplements can reduce our fatigue, help to clear up our minds, improve our digestion, regulate our elimination, improve our sleep and make us feel pretty darn good. If we feel good we can accomplish more, work better, get out and exercise and generally feel like living instead of praying to die.
No single vitamin, herb, or food supplement combination is to going to make a huge difference in how any of us greet each morning, however the correct combination of the best quality supplements from many different companies will make a big difference in an MS'ers quality of life.
MS is a slow and insidious disease that becomes more debilitating over time for most patients. If you have had two or more MS attack/ exacerbations, you should expect more to come. The good news is that early intervention can change that future for most MS patients.
Establishment medicine thinks early intervention with one of the ABC drugs is the best way for any MS patient to proceed. I disagree. I believe that the early lifestyle changes we advocate, including the use of non-toxic food supplements, are an equally valid way to help slow down the progression of multiple sclerosis. And do it without side effects and with a better quality of life.
Used along with the other lifestyle changes we advocate, (Lo-fat Diet, Stress Control and Exercise) the food supplements that we use fall into two categories. Those that I believe every MS'er should take and others which will help to reduce some specific symptoms.
Here are the general food supplements we recommend for every MS'er and the reasons for using each specific one.
1) Every MS patient should use liquid (not capsules) Cod Liver Oil daily. This is the one supplement that Dr. Swank always insisted on because of its Omega 3 Fatty Acids. This recommendation was just re-enforced by the release of a two year study from the Dept. of Neurology at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway. It showed that every patient using CLO and receiving diet instructions had fewer and less severe MS exacerbations than were statistically predicted.
The problem with liquid CLO is its taste and smell. Many people just can't get plain cod liver oil down. I use and recommend the Dale Alexander, Orange Flavored, Emulsified CLO marketed by Twinn Labs Co and available from health food stores nationwide.
For the best result, start with a glass of fresh Orange juice. Roll a sip of juice around in your mouth and then swallow, follow that with one tablespoon of Emulsified CLO (1 tablespoon of Emulsified equates to 1 teaspoon of plain CLO). Follow by slowly drinking the rest of the orange juice. It should go down without a problem.
2) A complete multi-vitamin with a good balance of "B" complex vitamins. I use a formula from The Solgar Co. called Naturvite. The reason I recommend this formula is that it contains more vitamin B-12 in one tablet than any other multi-vitamin on the market. Since MS exhaustion is the single most prevalent symptom of MS patients the more vitamin B-12 we can get the less tiredness we feel.
3) Natural Vitamin E complex. There are two forms of vitamin E available on the market. The natural D-Alpha form and DL or just plain Alpha form which are synthetic. Vitamin E is a very powerful anti-oxidant. Numerous studies have found vitamin E to be helpful in maintaining human nerves. However, several studies indicate that the synthetic form might be harmful to MS patients using the A & B Interferon drugs. Therefore we use only the D-Alpha form which also contains the "mixed tocopherols" as is always found in nature. We use the Nature's Life brand.
4) Tiredness and exhaustion are such a universal and devastating symptom of this disease that we use a specific supplement called Prometol which is a 20 to 1 concentrate of wheat germ oil that contains a large amount of Octacosanol, a 26 carbon fatty alcohol which has been shown to increase stamina. Something to give patients a natural boost so that they don't run out of gas and need a nap in the afternoon. 10 Minimum Prometol from Viobin Corp.
5) An easily digested and absorbed multiple mineral. Minerals are usually the forgotten step child in nutrition. Adults need at least 1,000 mg of Calcium and 500 mg of Magnesium along with Potassium every day to maintain strong bones and teeth and protect heart. We also need significant amounts of Iron, Iodine, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum and trace amounts of other minerals. Instead of taking them all separately I use a very easily digested and absorbed multiple Mineral formula by Nature's Life Co.
6) Additional vitamin B-6 separately. Our needs for vitamin B-6 far exceed those of the normal population because of our MS damaged CNS. I use 100 mg tablets twice a day by Nature's Life.
7) Niacinamide is vitamin B-3. This vitamin is used in large amounts by our body in controlling our emotions and stress. Since MS is a disease that brings out the emotions of anger, fear and hopelessness, we need substantially more than the "normal" person to help smooth out our daily emotional roller coaster. Use one 500mg time released tablet daily and more when you are under extra stress. Nature's Life Co.
8) Pantothenic Acid is vitamin B-5. This is another "B" vitamin that our bodies use in larger than normal amounts. Dr. Roger Williams, the man who discovered this "B" vitamin called it the human "stress controller". Again, because of the MS we are under more than normal stress all of the time. And stress is devastating to the health of MS patients. Help control it with 500 mg extra of B-5 in a timed release formula daily. Nature's Life Brand.
9) Lecithin contains large amounts of Phospholipids that are essential to human brain and Central Nervous System function. Lecithin also is a prime factor in reducing overall cholesterol and specifically the "bad cholesterol". It is available in both granules and capsule form. The granules are less expensive and are easily mixed with juice. I recommend not using granules sold in bulk form because of the possibility of rancidity. We recommend 2 Tbs daily of the Schiff Brand sealed in a canister. For traveling or those who just prefer capsules use 12 - 19 Grain capsules daily. Nature's Life.
10) I strongly believe that one factor in the MS equation is a poorly functioning liver. Fortunately the human liver can regenerate itself if the body has abundant amounts of the correct amino acids available to it. Beef liver has a very similar spectrum of amino acids to human liver. I use 6 to 12 desiccated, defatted liver tablets per day. Liver is an excellent protein food as well. Even though I'm convinced of the roll that liver plays in MS, few researchers agree. (Of course little or no investigation of the relationship has ever been done.) My feeling is simple. If I'm wrong the liver is a good defatted protein with lots of added vitamin B-12 for energy. It sounds like a win/win bet to me. I use Liver with B-12 tablets from Solgar Co.
11) Another universal problem that MS patients seem to be plagued with is trouble completely breaking down and digesting their food. This encourages lower than necessary levels of some nutrients in their systems as well as indigestion and allergic reactions. I believe that this is at least as big a problem as liver malfunction. I use and recommend at least one, usually more, at each meal of a very complete and strong digestive enzyme called Ultra Zyme from Nature's Plus Co.
12) The last general supplement is Efamol Evening Primrose Oil capsules. In general this Omega 6 fatty acid supplement combats fatigue. But it does a few other things that have nothing to do with MS as well. It helps strengthen the heart muscle and increase the overall amount of oxygen in the blood. But, perhaps its greatest non MS function is to virtually eliminate PMS in females. MS is bad enough on its own, nobody needs the complication of PMS as well. NEW INFORMATION The Efamol brand has been sold. The new owners have changed the formula to increase the GLA content and thus have changed the nutrient ratios of the product. There seems to be some question about how this change effects MS patients. I am withdrawing my recommendation for this product until we have further information.
All of the supplements above along with some vitamin C should be used by every MS patient for their best possible overall health and longevity. But, by themselves the supplements above are pretty much limited to those patients who are mildly relapsing/remitting.
As the MS becomes more pronounced and its symptoms become more bothersome we add even more supplements. At this point I know some people expect me to rattle when I walk and others figure I am about to poison myself. But, let me assure you that I have taken all of the above every day for over thirty years. In 30 years I have never had MS fatigue, been depressed (except the first weeks after they amputated my left leg) nor looked forward to ending my life. No, the supplements do not endanger my life, they allow it to continue in an almost normal way regardless of my disabilities! My life is fun! My life is great! I don't have time to let MS get in my way.
Dr. Hans Nieper, MD, PhD did some very interesting work treating MS patients with active mineral transporters. He had a much better than average record of changing the course of the disease than any other single physician other than Dr. Swank. And some of those Dr. Nieper had positive results with were some patients that were unable to follow the Swank protocol. The basis of the Nieper success is a chemical formula 2-AEP.
13) We use the 2-AEP Complex (calcium, magnesium and potassium) manufactured by Nutrient Carriers Inc. 3 to 6 capsules daily. Dr. Nieper cautioned about using other mineral formulas in conjunction with his products. Large amounts of Zinc and Sodium Ascorbate (regular vitamin C) need to be avoided as they can interfere with the 2-AEP at the myelin cellular level and cause it to be ineffective.
14) For that reason we suggest MS patients use a vitamin C product from Alacer Corp. called Super Gram II because it is made in an entirely different way than standard vitamin "C". Alacer uses a wide spectrum of fully reacted mineral ascorbates, not simply Sodium Ascorbate. Depending on the MS'ers lifestyle one to six tablets daily.
15) Sphingolin Basic Myelin Protein by Ecological Formulas is the brand we use. This is something we recommend for patients whose MS is active and with fully established semi permanent symptoms. The idea of it is roughly equivalent to how the drug Copaxone works. Copaxone is a synthetic myelin injected under the skin to draw the "bad guy" T-cells away from our nerve myelin. MBP is real bovine myelin (same structure as human myelin) that stays in our digestive tract when swallowed. It is not absorbed! But, as it passes through the intestinal villi the "bad guy" T-cells are attracted to it pass out of the villi into the intestine and are eliminated with the feces.
16) Extra vitamin B-12. Even with all the other things we do to improve fatigue some MS patients still need one more little boost. For those patients we suggest a 5,000 ug sub lingual vitamin B-12 Lozenge from Nature's Life. One tablet dissolved in the mouth as needed. One a day is about like getting a B-12 shot once a week, but most people on our program do not need that much.
17) Many MS patients have unsteady or shaky hands or legs. They have spastic muscles, but not severe enough to call for strong drugs to control their tremors. To help these people we use an amino acid supplement in 500mg capsules called L-Threonine from The Solgar Vitamin and Herb Co. In some cases patients have been able to successfully replace Baclofen with L-Threonine.
18) One fairly frequent MS symptom is "burning feet". In many cases we have successfully dealt with this problem by using 180 mg capsules of Bilberry extract marketed by Nature's Life.
19) Once again we come back to the fatigue factor. A fairly new product on the market is a co enzyme called ENADA NADH.It is made by MENUCO Corp. This formula was developed in Austria and used to overcome Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in trials at the George Washington University, School of Medicine. It seems to work equally well for MS patients without side effects.
All of the above supplements
are available over the counter without a prescription at health food stores.
However, very few stores will have every item that we recommend. Many
are very specialized and are what we call "slow sellers", available
as special orders only. Therefore we keep all of the above supplements
in stock at all times for shipment anywhere in the USA by UPS except Alaska
and Hawaii. We ship to Alaska, Hawaii and anywhere else in the world via
US Postal Air Mail service. You may contact us for information.