Listen in as host Rachel Smith of Natural Health Rising and I dig into the nitty gritty of what is multiple sclerosis, the connection to inflammation, and steps that you can take immediately to help yourself fare better with this disease.
We talk about how inflammation is the common root of most, if not all, symptoms, so whether you’ve been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or with another autoimmune condition, or have been suffering from chronic symptoms without an official diagnosis, you’ll want to tune it to this interview.
If you have a family member, friend, or colleague who is chronically suffering, please pass this along to them and help them understand how much control they have over their own health!
After adjusting results for age and gender, asthma was found to be almost three times more common in MS patients than in the general population according to a new study presented at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIM) Forum.
This finding didn’t surprise me.
According to the dictionary, asthma means difficulty breathing due to spasms or inflammation in the lungs usually as an effect of allergic or hypersensitivity reaction.
I hope that those of us already diagnosed with autoimmune conditions already recognize that we are hypersensitive people and riddled with inflammation, at times both severe, as during a flare-up or exacerbation, and chronic, low-level hidden inflammation.
Asthma is a symptom of inflammation. Integrative medicine teaches us to look to the root of the symptom in order to address the real issue. Asthma is not the real issue; it’s what’s causing the hypersensitivity reaction that is the problem. Identify and remove the triggering offender, and the symptom will disappear.
The reason this finding didn’t surprise me is because I welcome all of my MS and other autoimmune sufferers to the “club of the hypersensitive.” Congratulations, I tell them. “You have just entered an exclusive club of those of us who have crossed our tolerance thresholds and are now officially hypersensitive. Your job now is to identify and avoid your inflammatory triggers while healing your gut so that you can live a pain-free life again.”
Why heal the gut? 80% or more of our immune system is based in our digestive tract. A dysfunctional gut may have helped send you down the road of autoimmunity to begin with.
Oh yes, and parasites. The buggers can contribute to chronic inflammation, too.
Erin, a 32-year old mother of a toddler, was diagnosed with NMO in 2009. When she came to me she reported: “I have the torch feeling really bad in my feet. Pins and Needles all the time in my hands, legs, and feet. Fatigue is everyday. Headaches come and go. Nausea comes and goes. Banding around my rib cage. Tremors off and on.”
She was also very distressed that she had gained 100 lbs since her diagnosis. At only 5’2″, there was no way to hide it and she simply felt lousy most of the time.
We started her off on an herbal parasite cleanse to level the playing field, so to speak, before analyzing her blood for inflammatory triggers with the MRT (Mediator Release Test) and analyzing her urine for the state of her digestive tract.
Erin will tell you that the first two weeks of the dietary program weren’t easy, but after five months, her diet has greatly expanded and her dietary choices have become part of her lifestyle rather than a “diet”.
Even better, following the LEAP diet gave her the energy to start living her life again. Instead of feeling chronically fatigued, she now has energy to work out 4-5 times each week and has dropped almost 60 lbs. (Adding the workouts boosted her weight loss trend from 2 lbs per week with the diet alone to 3 lbs per week on average.)
As for her NMO symptoms, they have subsided significantly. She now only has the pins and needles feeling when she has accidentally ingested something she shouldn’t have, and it works as an early warning system alerting her to retreat to her original safe diet until the symptoms abate.
But you should hear about it in her own words. Erin keeps a blog at NMOdiaries.com where she and several others journal their lives with NMO. She has posted a video describing her dietary journey through The Fight MS with Food project protocols.
Give it a listen. Hearing her life-changing progress brought tears to my eyes. You may find it inspiring.
(Be sure to read all the way down for a chance to win a free cookbook!)
We love, love, love Brussels sprouts at our house, only we call them “Monster Heads.” My son will tell you they are his favorite vegetable now that he has learned that mushrooms are a fungus, not a vegetable, that is.
In my cookbook, I’ve even written an Ode to Brussels sprouts of sorts. They were not something I liked as a child — in fact, I’m not sure my mother ever served them because I don’t think she liked the 1950’s-style of overcooked Brussels sprouts that she grew up eating. But once I started tossing those little green balls into my Glorious One-Pot Meals, a love affair began.
Brussels sprouts are a good source of Thiamin, Riboflavin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.
Eating Brussels sprouts together with some foods, like potatoes, will create a complete protein for your body to utilize. They have no glycemic load and are mildly anti-inflammatory, too. Not to mention filling.
It’s fun, too, to snag a whole stalk of Brussels sprouts. What a treat!
Need any more reasons to consider adding Brussels sprouts to your diet?
Consider only peeling away the top layer of leaves when cleaning, trimming the base, and making a shallow X with the knife in the heart (helps them cook more evenly and more quickly). I was disappointed to see fully white Brussels sprouts appear at dinner one night while in England visiting dear relatives. Outside of London it can seem like the Brits have an inborn aversion to green things like leaves and vegetables. We did find wonderful organic produce down south near Bath and in London, but up north and into Scotland green foods were far and few between.
5280, the premier city magazine for Denver (yes, the title refers to how many feet we reside above sea level — 5280 feet in a mile — get it?) has noted this passion for Brussels Sprouts showing up at the nicer restaurants around this town, too.
Ha! I knew I was not the only Brussels sprout-lover out there! It all has to do with how they are prepared.
Brussels sprout season is almost over, so get them while you can.
Oh, and if you’d like to share your favorite Brussels sprout recipe, I’ll reward my fave with a personally autographed cookbook. The contest ends March 1st, 2010, just because I have to end it sometime.
So let’s hear ’em! Leave your best Brussels sprouts recipes in the Comments below (just click “Comments” below this post online — sorry: while appreciated, emailed responses will not be entered in the contest).
When I feel there is something “off” in my body, that’s when I reach for the turmeric. As our friends in India have known for an eternity, turmeric does wonders to reduce all kinds of swelling, from swollen ankles or knees to swollen nerves or joints.
So many of our disorders are due to inflammation of various sorts. Anything that ends in “-itis,” just for starters: bursitis, tendonitis, dermatitis, arthritis, etc.
And of course, auto-immune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and MS that activate an inflammatory response. In MS, for example, the swelling that accompanies the damage to the myelin sheaths surrounding the nerves can cause as much damage as the resulting scar tissue. Often, a corticosteroid such as oral prednisone or I.V. solu-medrol is prescribed to keep the swelling down.
Can you guess how I feel about putting corticosteroids into my body, particularly the long-term, maintenance-level doses that are often prescribed? The last time I took corticosteroids for a problem was in 1999. The prednisone gave me heartburn and packed on 30 lbs. in 3 weeks. The solu-medrol blew out my veins and gave me track marks. But these are just a few of the possible side effects of corticosteroid use noted by the Mayo Clinic. I honestly couldn’t tell if they helped reduce or lessen the optic neuritis (ooohhh… another “-itis!”), or if it just ran its course regardless.
Although I haven’t had a major Multiple Sclerosis exacerbation since 2002, I try to be hyper-aware of my body so that I can address anything that feels “off” before it swells (pardon the pun) into a larger issue.
Hot weather can make these things worse. One evening recently I noticed some new blurring of my eyesight. While it might have been from simple fatigue, ever since my bout with optic neuritis, incidents like this are enough to send me running for the turmeric.
Now that I drink my turmeric in hot milk it’s a much more pleasant treatment. This last time I enjoyed one cup at bedtime and another the next day and that’s all it took to clear up whatever was going on with my eyes.
My version of Turmeric Milk:
1 cup coconut, almond or other safe milk, warmed
1 Tbsp. ground turmeric
3-4 whole black peppercorns
Honey, pure maple syrup, or other safe natural (not artificial) sweetener to taste
Heat the milk and add the turmeric and peppercorns. Let steep for at least 5 minutes before drinking. You may strain out the powder and peppercorns if you wish, or just leave them in the bottom of the mug.
* The circumin in the peppercorns intensifies the power of the turmeric. I saw this posted from a reader of Arun Shunbhag’s blog and tried it. Now I’m a believer.