Like I said earlier, living with Multiple Sclerosis is hard. But, overcoming it is even harder. You have to be willing to work for it. You have to be willing to give things up, change your habits, change your thinking and step out into the unknown. It CAN be done. Here’s how.
Stop Making Excuses
This is my biggest pet peeve. People who have MS, or any other potentially disabling chronic illness, who say they want to do everything they can to get better. But, when someone who has done exactly what they claim to want tells them how they did it, the person complains about how hard it sounds. I encounter these people every single day. I’ve lost count of the number of people who tell me, “Oh, I could never give up wheat or sugar.” One woman I know spent two days asking me for advice on managing her autoimmune disease. Over those two days I spent many hours sharing research sources, books, websites, and recorded expert interviews. We discussed nutrition, Candida, Lyme, internal inflammation, and 8 different herbs. She asked me to put together a written plan she could use as a guide to making these changes. I willingly did so. When I emailed her a detailed plan. The first month she was to simply concentrate on eliminating bread and pasta from her all her meals for 4 days a week. So, by the end of the first month she would be eating no bread or pasta 4 days a week. She emailed me back and told my suggestion to only eat bread and pasta 3 days a week was unreasonable. It was too difficult.
YES. It is difficult. Yes, it means going to family dinners and bringing your own food. Yes it means eating out rarely and learning to cook. It means giving up your favorite foods, and learning to like new foods. It means learning to prepare foods in different ways. It means reading labels and standing up for your needs with friends and family.
Sometimes it means being labeled the “oddball” or even the “conspiracy whack-job.” If you take the steps necessary to manage MS (and other chronic diseases) naturally people will look at you weird. So what? Why care if people think you’re a conspiracy nut when ability to walk, see, or dress yourself might be on the line?
Yes, it’s difficult and requires an enormous amount of self-control. You don’t have to do it alone. There are people out there who are willing to help. Can’t afford a health coach? Some people, like myself, work with some clients for free, or under barter. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There are millions of excuses not to make these changes. There is only ONE reason to go through the hassle, inconvenience and frustration of making the needed lifestyle changes. In the end, the choice is yours. You are the only one responsible for your health.
Get rid of Gluten
I don’t care what “they” say, I don’t care what you’ve heard. I don’t care how addicted you are to your bread/bagels/cake/favorite gluten containing food. Science has repeatedly shown that modern gluten damages the body. It causes an immune reaction in MOST humans. This immune reaction causes inflammation inside the body. Every single person I have talked to who has overcome Multiple Sclerosis has stopped eating gluten.
Personally I saw improvement within one week when I eliminated wheat. Brain fog started to lift, pain started to decrease, stuttering eased. The difference with other gluten grains wasn’t as dramatic, but 10 years later, I always notice a decline if function and ability if I accidentally eat something with gluten in it.
Stop eating sugar AND chemically produced sweeteners
Yeah, I know, Giving up sugar in our modern world is difficult. But, it’s necessary. And it doesn’t help to replace it with chemical sweeteners like aspartame. That just causes more problems.
Try pure stevia from a health food store. Read the label and find one that uses no fillers. Some people say it has a bitter after taste, but after a while you get used to it. Besides, your health—maintaining or regaining the ability to walk, dress yourself, talk, think, and function is more important that a slight aftertaste in your coffee.
MSG— mono-sodium glutamate— is a neurotoxin. It has a negative effect on the human neurological system. It’s used in food manufacturing because MSG makes you think a food tastes better than it actually does. It fools your brain into experiencing a sensation that is not there. Some people are lucky enough to react almost immediately after ingesting MSG. Some don’t. Read labels carefully.
Read websites that explain the dangers of sugar, wheat, MSG, oxalates, environmental chemicals, fluoride, and other things. Read alternative doctors like Dr. Mercola and Dr. Kruse. Read viewpoints that are different from yours. Learn the truth about Wakefield and Dr. Weil. Find out what the Best Bet Diet is, explore the differences between Primal and Paleo, and learn what Edgar Cayce had to say. Read about successful cancer treatments in other parts of the world. Explore the worlds of botanical medicine, and orthomolecular medicine. Understand why Lyme Disease might be important and learn what LLMD means.
In short, read absolutely everything you can find on “alternative” methods of healing.
Don’t just read articles. Seek out, read, and learn to understand the research reports those articles are based on. Don’t take other people’s word for things, read original research and form your own opinions.
Also, don’t be afraid to conduct your own experiments. Give up gluten for two months. Record how you feel every day for those two months. Then, eat a piece of bread and see how you feel over the next few days. What helps YOUR MS might be different from what helps my MS. That’s why individual education, about methods and about your own body is so important.
Identify what effects your immune system
Your immune system is different from any one else’s. Each person has a unique genetic profile, and unique body chemistry. Yes, we are all human and have many similarities, but things like gene profile, nutritional status, race, gender, prenatal and infant nutrition, current diet, and physical fitness have an effect on delicate body chemistry. Those slight differences in body chemistry could mean big differences in immune and neurological function. Knowing how YOUR body reacts to various things is vital to planning recovery. Remember, you already have a chronic illness. Things inside your body are already not working at their best. Keep an open mind. Just because something “shouldn’t” effect you doesn’t mean it doesn’t.
When you have Multiple Sclerosis in any of its form, stress is the enemy. Managing stress can be the difference between walking and not. I personally experience symptoms of stuttering, balance difficulties, pain, and brain fog when I don’t adequately manage stress. When I allow myself to become upset, angry or afraid I stutter. That doesn’t mean that I avoid things which cause those emotions. I’ve learned techniques to better manage them so that I don’t experience symptoms. Consider meditation, biofeedback, walking, music, creative visualization, goal setting, and even the occasional dose of kava kava to help you better manage daily stress.
Research shows that active people are healthier than sedentary people. When you have a condition that makes mobility difficult being active becomes harder. But it IS possible. I’ve gone from barley being able to walk across my own living room to hiking more than 5 miles at a time. Start slowly, and don’t let yourself become exhausted. If the best you can do right now is stand for 5 minutes at a time then DO that, as often as you’re physically able to. As you make lifestyle changes you’ll get physically stronger and your endurance will increase.
Learn about oxalates
By the time I learned about oxalates I had already experienced quite a bit of healing. Adding oxalate management to my protocols gave me more stamina, less pain, less brain fog and an even greater awareness of how my food choices effected my health. Yes, it’s another diet change. And, like all diet changes it takes dedication and determination.
Associate with people who have done it, and avoid the naysayers.
When I first started down this path of natural healing I started a blog on Xanga (remember them?). The sole purpose of the blog was to record my experiences, take notes on what I learned and network with other people who had MS. My hope was that I’d connect with other people who had done what I was doing and who could guide me.
One of the most frequent posters was a woman, we’ll call her Judy. Judy said she’d had MS for 20+ years. She claimed that she had tried the path I was on and that it led nowhere. Judy continually told me how bad her life was. She said she was in a wheelchair and had been in a nursing home for the past several years. She claimed her family never visited, and told me that I was looking at a similar outcome. I reached out to Judy and offered her copies of the research I’d found speculating that myelin can regrow and repair itself if given the right conditions. She responded that the source was unreliable. I shared nutrition, supplement and herb tips that I picked up from people who had varying levels of success in their MS recovery. I shared contact information for the email group I was part of—a group full of people who were actively learning to manage MS through natural means. She called them all a bunch of liars. Judy was a “victim” of MS. She let it control every aspect of her life, and was depressed despondent that she would never get better. Eventually, I blocked her from commenting on my blog because her negativity caused me stress.
It was a difficult decision for me, because I wanted to help Judy, but I had to realize that Judy didn’t want help.
Instead, I focused on talking to people in the ms healing group that I was part a part of. I learned a lot about MS diets, supplements that were working for others, supplements that made MS symptoms worse for some people. I learned about LDN, magnesium, lecithin, and fish oil. More importantly, by surrounding myself with people who believed it could be done, with people who were doing it I maintained my belief that *I* could do it.
Eat real food
Real food comes from plants grown without pesticides and other chemicals. Real food comes from real animals that have been raised without drugs and have been fed a species appropriate diet.
Real food is not made in a lab and it certainly doesn’t come in a box.
Real food hasn’t been genetically modified by scientists to produce more yield, to be bug resistant, or to last longer on the grocery store shelf.
Real food does not contain “ingredients” you can’t pronounce, nor does it contain “ingredients” that are harmful to the human body.
Real food is prepared from fresh ingredients. It can’t sit on a shelf or on your counter for weeks or months on end without going bad. Real food nourishes your body.
Yes, in today’s world it takes real commitment to eat only real food. I cook every single meal my family eats from fresh food every day. On the rare occasions we buy a packaged foods we read labels carefully to ensure there are no “fake food ingredients.” We never eat fast food. Or, rather our families idea of fast food is pre-made salads from a local grocery store, deli, or salad bar. When we attend family or church pot lucks we always bring several dishes because we know there might not be anything else there we can eat. If we want chips or fries, I make them myself, usually from rutabaga or turnips since my family doesn’t eat potatoes. We make our own soda with stevia and hand crafted flavor extracts.
Eating real food takes extra work, but when you factor in the improved health of my entire family, along with my continued ability to function it doesn’t cost us any more to eat the way we do. In fact, I recently compared average food bills with a friend. She has the same number of kids as we do and we live in the same general area. They eat the typical American diet. Looking at our monthly food expenses, I spent about 50$ per month LESS on food than she did.
Even if you follow my suggestions exactly, I can’t promise you will overcome MS, or any other chronic illness. But, you will take important steps toward improving your health and uncovering the underlying causes of your chronic condition.
*Remember, I’m not a medical doctor, and this is not intended as medical advice. This article is intended as educational material and is based on my education and experiences.