Multiple sclerosis

In orthodox medicine, the current fashion in combating multiple sclerosis (MS) is to administer immune modifiers: interferons 1b and 1a, copolymer 1 and low-dose methotrexate. Although these drugs may help alleviate symptoms in a minority of patients, they cause severe side-effects, including damage to internal organs. Recently, I came across a surprising array of natural remedies which effectively treat this puzzling condition.

Tibetan Medicine
The branded herbal product ‘Padma 28’ is based on an ancient Lamaistic (Tibetan) formula using 28 different herbs. Of 100 patients with chronic progressive MS who were given either two tablets of Padma 28 three times a day or only treated for symptoms, 44 per cent of the herbal patients showed an increase in muscle strength and a decrease or disappearance of sphincter problems. In contrast, none of the symptom-treated group improved and, indeed, 40 per cent deteriorated (Phytother Res, 1992; 6: 133-6).

Phytotherapy
The seeds and leaves of Ginkgo biloba (the maidenhair tree) contain ginkgolide B, a platelet-activating factor, and key chemical mediator in many inflammatory and allergic processes, including MS. Pure ginkgolide B, mixtures of ginkgolides (BN 52063) and Ginkgo extract standardised to 24 per cent ginkgoflavonglycosides can help MS (Werbach MR, Murray MT, Botanical Influences on Illness, Tarzana, CA: Third Line Press, 1994: 239). In a French study of 10 MS patients treated with a five-day course of intravenous ginkgolide B, eight enjoyed an improved neurological score after two to six days of treatment, an improvement that carried on in five of the eight (Rev Neurol [Paris], 1992; 148: 299-301).

Several small pilot studies have suggested that Cannabis sativa (marijuana) may reduce spasticity associated with MS (Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther, 1996; 34: 446-52).

Reflexology
Reflexology can also help muscle weakness. When 71 MS sufferers were given foot reflexology treatment, prickling or burning sensations (paraesthesia), muscle strength, urinary symptoms and spasticity were all significantly improved (Focus Alt Complement Ther, 1997; 2: 196).

Massage
Massage can also help MS patients handle the condition. MS patients receiving regular massage had significantly lower anxiety levels, were less depressed, and had improved self-esteem, self-images and social functioning (J Bodywork Mov Ther, 1998; 2: 168-74).

Magnetic Field Therapy
Magnets sewn into items such as a mattress for whole-body treatment or a pillow or belt for more localised applications are used to treat a wide range of conditions, from muscle aches to tinnitus. In patients with MS, evidence shows that a pulsed magnetic field is also effective in bringing about significant improvement in bladder control, fatigue level, mental acuity, mobility, spasticity and eyesight (J Alt Complement Med, 1997; 3: 21-9).

Supplementation
Mercury toxicity can mimic the neurological symptoms of MS, and should always be investigated as a possible cause in every case of MS, as should low levels of vitamins, including B12 and folic acid (see WDDTY vol 7 no 11). In addition, if you have MS, your practitioner should investigate your entire toxic heavy-metal load as well as your nutritional status in terms of amino acids, essential fatty acids and minerals, particularly for deficiencies in copper, calcium and magnesium and/or elevated levels of zinc (Davies S, Stewart A, Nutritional Medicine, London: Pan Books, 1987: 365-6).

Harald Gaier has moved to The Diagnostic Clinic (tel: 020 7009 4650).