What is MS?
Multiple Sclerosis (or MS) is an autoimmune disease. That means the body’s immune system is attacking healthy tissues; In this case, the central nervous system. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society defines MS as an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. The immune system, for as-yet unknown reasons, mistakes nerve tissue for bacteria. It then does what it’s designed to do: attacks the invader.
It boils down to a case of mistaken identity.
No one really knows what causes Multiple Sclerosis (MS). There’s ongoing research indicating that multiple factors can trigger the onset of MS. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, scientists believe that in order to pinpoint the cause, more research needs to be done in the areas of immunology (the study of the body’s immune system), epidemiology (the study of disease patterns in large groups of people, and genetics (understanding the genes that may not function correctly in people who develop MS). They are also taking into account infectious agents and a web of other factors. MS is tricky and isn’t easy to reel in.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of MS can vary greatly ranging from fatigue and weakness to blurred vision and dizziness or vertigo. Less common symptoms include speech and swallowing difficulties and hearing loss and seizures. There is a host of symptoms that can be found here. It’s worth taking a look.
Who can get MS?
According to research, MS affects approximately 1 million individuals in the US and 2.5 million worldwide. The onset of symptoms usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 50. Women are three times more likely to develop MS than men. Caucasians are more likely to develop MS than those in the African American or Hispanic populations. An interesting note is that MS seems to be more prevalent the farther away from the equator, in either hemisphere. This leads some to speculate vitamin D deficiency might be a factor, along with environmental influences.
There are, however, some disproven theories ranging from allergies to exposure to heavy metals that could still be floating around as fact.
The overwhelming take away from all the research that’s been on MS is that there’s still much more research to be done. The good news is that findings just keep coming as explained in this recent article. Even though scientists haven’t broken the code of MS, there seems to be a lot of hope on the horizon.
What can be done naturally to help?
Realistically, not a ton. Because we still understand so little about MS, treating it naturally has proven difficult. That said, there are several things we everyone agrees on: rest and relaxation. The symptoms of MS seem to flair up most when you’re tired or stressed. Being both is a BAD combination. Additionally, anything that will reduce general inflammation (the bodies first step in immune response) is great. Anti-inflammatory diets (Mediterranean style) combined with supplements like Omega-3’s and SPMs can help reduce the bodies unwanted immune response.