Multiple Sclerosis or MS, is considered a neuro degenerative disease and inflammatory immune condition that can cause problems throughout the body. MS affects approximately two million people each year with no known cure, making it a “chronic disease”. A diagnosis of MS can be scary, but it is important to know that MS is not fatal. With managed care and life style adjustments, people with a diagnosis have been known to live well into old age.
To have MS means that the myelin (whitish substance that wraps around the nerve to form a protective sheath) is damaged. MS is the breakdown of myelin as the body attacks itself. Sclerosis is the scarring or lesions on the nerve(s). When the nerves are damaged and unprotected they no longer perform normally and give way to symptoms that vary in range of severity. Symptoms can come and go without any pattern or predictability. Most people seeking treatment for MS report experiences of either exacerbation “flare up” or remission with no symptoms at all. Remissions can be one week, one month, one year, or longer.
The “nickname” for MS is the “invisible disability”, because many of the symptoms are not visible to others. Some of the symptoms are: blurred vision, chronic pain, sensory or spatial problems, lack of concentration or energy, and social withdrawal. Other body functions can be affected such as urine and bowel control or balance and mobility issues that may require the assistance of another individual. Each person’s experience with MS will be unique to the individual. A plan of care should be personalized and followed to keep the symptoms of MS at bay. Even when MS is in remission, there is disease progression.
Movement and activity levels can be limited due to some of the symptoms mentioned previously. Exercise is one of the essentials in managing the symptoms of MS.
According to the Nation Multiple Sclerosis, a study published by the University of Utah in 1996 was the first to demonstrate the benefits of exercise for people with MS. Those who participated in aerobic exercise programs benefited with results showing an increase in cardiovascular fitness, improved strength, better bladder and bowel function, less fatigue and depression, more participation in social activities along with a more positive attitude. Professionals should use extra care when working with a person who has been diagnosed with MS as they may experience a variety of unseen challenges from time to time.
Though each individual treatment plan will be unique, it is safe to say that a regular routine of stress reduction, exercise, and nutrition are important in managing the symptoms of MS and maintaining optimal health.
The nutrient, Vitamin D can protect against MS. Natural sunlight triggers the production of Vitamin D, but spending too time in the sun can also lead to heat intolerance. It is important to avoid unprotected exposure. Try to guard against the sun’s rays when it is at its zenith. Otherforms of food source Vitamin D can be obtained from eating; shitake and button mushroom, mackerel, sockeye salmon, herring, sardines, catfish, tuna, cod liver oil, and eggs.
Heat intolerance is commonly reported by people with MS. It is important that when exercising or performing outdoor activities to avoid overheating. Some triggers for overheating are: hot weather/sun exposure, fever/illness, hot baths/showers, and overheating from exercise.
To stay cool, use a fan, air conditioning, ice compresses, cool drinks, and layer with lightweight clothing that can be removed easily. Also note, though heat may cause a relapse, hot temperatures do not cause the disease to progress more rapidly. Because of the many non visible symptoms relating to MS, I recommend having an assistant present while performing non seated exercises. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with MS, it is important to find a qualified team of healthcare, fitness and nutrition experts to work together in creating a balanced plan to manage the symptoms and provide optimal health, fitness and well being.
1). Article by Erica Roth published July 18, 2013, Medically reviewed by Dr. George T Krucik, MD, MBA July 18, 2013
2). 12 Ways MS Affects the Body, www.Healthline .com
3). Global Healing Center Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Michelle D. Talbot, Board Certified LMT,CYFI, Ayurvedic Practitioner, is the practitioner at Pleasures II Wellness Natural Health Center in Woodbridge, VA. Michelle specializes in Personalized and Functional Medicine which includes Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment. She offers therapeutic massage, mind/bodywork therapies, in depth consultations and non-pharmacological recommendations for holistic healthcare, maintainace and relief from chronic dis-eases. View Michelle’s MFN profile