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26/Sep/2022

Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating neurological disorder that can often leave patients feeling hopeless and alone. But there is hope! In this blog post, we will explore nine natural treatments for multiple sclerosis that have helped my Toronto patients alleviate some of the symptoms associated with the disease.

1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body. It is believed that this helps to clear energy blockages and promote balance and healing within the body. There is some evidence to suggest that acupuncture may be effective in treating symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as fatigue, pain, spasticity, and bladder problems.

2. Herbal Medicine

There are many different herbs that have been traditionally used to treat various ailments, including multiple sclerosis. Some of the most common herbs used for MS include ginger, ginkgo biloba, turmeric, milk thistle, lions mane and green tea. These herbs can be taken in pill form or brewed into a tea. It is important to talk to a Naturopathic Doctor or qualified herbal practitioner before starting any herbal treatment regimen, as some herbs can interact with medications you may be taking for your MS.

3. Dietary Changes

Making some simple dietary changes can also help improve symptoms of MS. One study showed that following a Mediterranean diet—which includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil—may help reduce inflammation and slow the progression of MS. Other helpful dietary changes include avoiding processed foods and food allergies, getting enough vitamin D, and drinking plenty of water.
Food sensitivity testing can help to identify gluten sensitivity and other food sensitivities in people with MS and other autoimmune diseases. The most common type of food sensitivity test is an Elimination Diet, in which potential triggering foods are eliminated from the diet for a period of time and then reintroduced one at a time to see if symptoms occur. However, Elimination Diets can be difficult to stick to and can take months or even years to complete. Another option is an IgG Food Sensitivity Test, which measures levels of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies in the blood.
Antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to perceived threats, such as bacteria or viruses. However, in people with food sensitivities, the immune system overreacts to harmless proteins found in certain foods, producing excessive amounts of IgG antibodies. IgG Food Sensitivity Tests can be helpful in identifying food sensitivities because they can measure levels of IgG antibodies specific to each individual food protein. This allows for a more targeted Elimination Diet and can speed up the diagnosis process. If you think you might have a food sensitivity, you can book an appointment for testing.

4. Exercise

Exercise is important for everyone, but it is especially crucial for those with MS. Regular physical activity can help reduce fatigue, improve mobility and coordination, ease depression and anxiety, promote better sleep, and boost overall fitness and well-being. Even if you are not able to do strenuous exercise due to your symptoms, there are still many low-impact activities you can do to get moving and feeling better.

5. Stress Reduction Techniques

Stress is a well-known trigger for multiple sclerosis (MS) flare-ups. Managing stress is therefore an important part of MS treatment. Stress management techniques such as relaxation therapy and yoga can be helpful, but some patients may also benefit from taking adaptogens. Adaptogens are a class of natural substances that help the body to adapt to stress by reducing the production of stress hormones. They have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, and are now gaining popularity as a natural treatment for stress and anxiety. Some common adaptogens include ashwagandha, holy basil, and ginseng. If you are interested in trying adaptogens, talk to your Naturopathic doctor first to discuss whether they are right for you.

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium. It’s found naturally in very few foods, so most people get it from exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is also available in supplement form. Some studies suggest that vitamin D may play a role in helping to prevent or treat MS. If you think you might be deficient in vitamin D, book an appointment with us for vitamin D testing or talk to your doctor.
Sometimes supplementation is ineffective or can take too long to bring up severely deficient vitamin D levels. I offer these patients the option of a high potency vitamin D injection that will bring levels up very quickly.

7. Mitochondrial Support

Mitochondrial support using resveratrol, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 and NAD boosters is a promising new treatment for patients with multiple sclerosis. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, and they are responsible for producing energy. In patients with multiple sclerosis, the mitochondria are not working properly, and this can lead to fatigue and other symptoms. Resveratrol, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 and NAD boosters help to support the mitochondria and improve their function. In a small study of patients with multiple sclerosis, those who received mitochondrial support had less fatigue and improved quality of life.

8. Hormones

Hormones play an important role in the human body, regulating everything from metabolism and mood to reproduction and energy levels. When hormones are out of balance, it can lead to a host of problems. For patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), hormone imbalances can cause fatigue, weight gain, depression, and loss of libido. Hormone testing can help to identify imbalances and allow for tailored treatment plans that use bio identical hormone replacement therapy to restore balance. By addressing hormone imbalances, patients with MS can improve their quality of life and potentially reduce their risk of disease progression.

9. Cannabinoids

Recently, cannabinoids have emerged as a potential therapy for MS. Cannabinoids are compounds found in the cannabis plant, and they have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. In animal studies, cannabinoids have been shown to reduce inflammation and nerve damage in models of MS. In small clinical trials, cannabinoids have been shown to improve symptom control in patients with MS. These promising results have led to the development of several cannabinoid-based medications for MS. Dr. Shawn Meirovici N.D. is experienced cannabis educator in Toronto, Ontario. Dr. Shawn can help patients decide if cannabis therapy would be a good addition to their treatment plan.

Conclusion:

If you are living with multiple sclerosis (MS), know that you are not alone—there are millions of other people around the world dealing with this disease every day. And while there is no cure for MS at this time, there are many different treatments that can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with the disease. In this blog post, we explored nine natural treatments for MS—acupuncture , herbal medicine , dietary changes , exercise , stress reduction techniques, vitamin D, mitochondrial support, hormone balancing and cannabinoid therapy. Make an appointment with us or talk to your doctor about which treatments might be right for you.

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31/Aug/2018

Multiple Sclerosis is a complex disease; those living with it need a simple approach. A treatment approach should appreciate the physiology of the disease process without neglecting the human body as a holistic system, and the patient as a person.

Naturopathy is an ideal philosophy of medicine for the treatment of M.S. as it aims to address disease processes and symptoms without loosing sight of the patient as an individual.

I chose to focus in neurological disease early into my professional career and as a result I have come across many complex chronic diseases of the nervous system including all subtypes of M.S. When patients come for their initial visit it is not uncommon to be privy to a long list of life events that have impacted the disease, symptoms that have evolved over years and medications that have been tried, stopped and tried again.

It’s easy to see why the practitioner on the other end of the patient with M.S. can become overwhelmed and confused, loosing sight of the big picture, dismissing the patients needs and goals. Unfortunately, this medical tunnel vision re-aimed at addressing each and every concern translates into complex and confusing treatment plans that most patients cannot comply with. I sympathize with these patients who have to remember to take dozens of pills while also dealing with a life altering condition.

To make matters worse, these confusing treatment plans hardly ever work because they tend to forget that the human body is not a series of islands, rather it’s a society striving to work in harmony and balance. The key to developing a simple, understandable and effective treatment plan is to figure out what is out of balance and how do we bring it back.

A typical treatment plan for M.S. has three parts: Foundations, The Immune System and Specific Symptoms. Since we are working toward bringing the body back into balance it is important to take the time to hear the full story and timeline of how the condition started and progressed. Often during the initial consultation it will become clear as to what type of events precluded the first attack and how these events triggered a physiological imbalance.

Diet therapy in multiple sclerosis

Foundations

It’s a futile effort to try and treat symptoms while the very basics of health and wellness are not fortified. The foundations of health can be summed up into three parts: Sleep, Diet and Exercise.

Sleep is the healing chamber for the body. Recently studies have shown that the brain undergoes a type of detoxification process while we sleep. Many neurodegenerative diseases have been correlated to poor sleeping habits. It is common to see sleeping issues in patients with M.S. In fact I have had a few cases where years of terrible sleep may have contributed to the patient experiencing their first symptoms related to M.S. This makes sense in the light of the new research demonstrating how important sleep is in clearing neurotoxic compounds from the brain.

One of the most important protocols I put together for my M.S. patients is aimed at improving sleep. This is achieved through sleep hygiene education and supplements that have been carefully vetted over my years in practices for their effectiveness in improving sleep initiation and maintenance.

Diet is important for a number of reasons, some are general and some are specific to M.S. The food we eat and its relation to our digestive tract determines our nutritional robustness.

M.S. is a chronic neuro-inflammatory state and therefore patients with M.S. will be using up vitamins and minerals involved in inflammatory processes at a greater rate than in a healthy control group. Therefor it’s important to determine what the nutritional status is of the M.S. patient (through consultation and specific lab tests), bring it back into balance and correct deficiencies. Otherwise the body will be unable to cope with the inflammatory process and the disease will progress.

It is also important to identify any food allergens, intolerances and sensitivities in the M.S. patient for these will perpetuate the inflammation. Chronic inflammation has a detrimental effect on the immune system, which I will discuss further in the next part of the treatment plan.

Another aspect related to diet is the health of the gastrointestinal tract and more specifically the micro-biome (the bacteria of the gut). A healthy micro-biome is important for detoxification, nutrient absorption and immune system regulation. A protocol addressing diet will focus on testing for nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, specific dietary guidelines for M.S. and supportive supplements where necessary.

A good dietary resource specific to M.S. is The Wahls Protocol.

physiotherapy for Multiple SclerosisExercise is a powerful health modulator and is under-appreciated for its importance in chronic disease and specifically M.S. Often exercise comes in the form of physiotherapy in progressive M.S. and the first thing I will do with a patient is set them up with one of the physiotherapists in my clinic (if they don’t already have a physiotherapy program). Often patients newly diagnosed with M.S. are neglected by the medical system in terms of exercise. In-patient rehab programs are inadequate, scooters and wheelchairs are promoted over therapy. Exercise and physiotherapy are instrumental in promoting neuroplasticity, decreasing inflammation, improving energy metabolism, maintaining and improving upon range of motion.

My clinic specializes in neurological rehabilitation using the Bobath Physiotherapy approach. Physio-Logic

The Immune System

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune condition and therefore one cannot overlook the role of the immune system. Autoimmunity basically translates to a confused immune system that has targeted healthy cells and tissues rather than disease. The philosophy behind this part of the treatment plan addresses two questions: how the immune system became confused and how to bring it back into harmony.

There are many theories as to the cause of M.S., to name a few: Genetics, Vitamin D deficiency, Environmental Toxin Exposure, Candida Overgrowth, Dairy Protein Antigen Confusion and Leaky Gut Syndrome. There are truths to be told within many of these theories but in reality we just don’t know exactly what causes M.S. Some things we do know are the triggers for symptom activation, and things that reduce the risk of developing M.S. We know that stress (physical and/or emotional) often precipitate symptom relapse and progression. We also know that having adequate vitamin D levels are protective toward the development of M.S.

Vitamin D from SunlightVitamin D is not longer thought of as merely a bone-building vitamin. In reality it is more of a hormone and has a very important role in maintaining the health of the immune system. Step one of addressing the immune system is making sure the patient has optimal levels of vitamin D and if not, to adjust those levels using specific supplemental doses of vitamin D along with calcium and regular follow-up blood work.

Stress, whether it physical or emotional, causes a burden on the body. Most of the time we are able to cope with short durations of stress; however, when the stressful event is severe enough or lasts long enough it can impact the immune system in a negative way. Chronic stress can affect the immune system in two ways: Creating chronic inflammation that harms tissues and suppressing immune cells needed to fight infection.

When the immune system is under prolonged stress it becomes tired and makes mistakes, much like how we feel when under stress. One of these possible mistakes is mounting an autoimmune attack, harming normal healthy tissue rather than disease. Prolonged stress also depletes natural anti-inflammatory compounds like cortisol, allowing inflammation to run amuck. Therefore the protocol built around the immune system is aimed at decreasing stress on the immune system and bringing the immune system back into balance.

Anything that can be causing unnecessary inflammation needs to be dealt with and therefore chronic infections and food sensitivities must be addressed. Specific lab testing is used to investigate infections and sensitivities. Common food sensitivities in M.S. patients include: Dairy, Gluten, Yeast and Egg.

Once the major obstacles to a healthy immune system are removed we can work toward assisting the immune system back into a balanced state. The most important cells involved in bringing the immune system back into balance are “regulatory T cells” also known as “T suppressor cells”. These cells maintain tolerance in the immune system preventing autoimmunity. Part of the protocol is therefore aimed at supporting these cells. Some compounds that influence regulatory T cells are: probiotics, vitamin D, vitamin A, Omega 3 fatty acids and food sensitivities.

Sleep

Specific Symptoms

Treating foundations and immune system irregularities take time, therefore it is almost equally important to address the specific symptoms of the patient. Fatigue, weakness and pain are often obstacles to important foundational concerns like sleep and exercise.

Fortunately, there are many great strategies within Naturopathic medicine to help address the most common symptoms in M.S. namely: Weakness, Spasticity, Fatigue, Pain, Bowel and Bladder issues. There are dozens of supplements that have shown promise in treating the common symptoms of M.S. The art of the practitioner is in choosing the right compounds for the right patient. As an example, medical marijuana can be very effective for spasticity, pain, bladder dysfunction and sleep but can exacerbate weakness. A good practitioner with experience in treating M.S. will know how to choose the appropriate medications for the patients needs.

Multiple Sclerosis is a complex condition with many subtypes and many different ways it affects the individual patient. Naturopathic medicine aims to treat the root cause of disease while also addressing the individual concerns of the patient. The treatment plan can be summed up into three areas: Foundations, Immune System and Specific Symptoms. This helps direct the practitioner toward the right approach and simplifies the philosophy behind the treatment, improving upon compliance and therefore patient outcomes.

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16/Mar/2018

Why get a license?

I want to tell you how to obtain a license for Medical Marijuana. Every month I see a handful of patients who are trying to medicate with unregulated cannabis obtained either through “a guy” or a local illegal dispensary. The problem with this approach is that you are buying an unregulated product, meaning you cannot guarantee its purity, quality, potency, and cannabinoid profile.

There are some decent products out there but largely its hit and miss and perhaps the most frequent complaint is a lack of consistency from batch to batch. Its funny how patients will be shy about discussing use of medical marijuana with me and yet will go to a complete stranger for their medication. A growing part of my practice is convincing patients to transition from their “street weed” to a proper regulated medical marijuana product.

Although, as a Naturopathic Doctor, I am not able to directly prescribe medical marijuana in Ontario, I am fortunate to have a good professional relationship with a licensing clinic and am writing an average of 3-5 patient referrals per week. Most licensing clinics will require a referral from a healthcare professional.

How to get a license

The process is quite simple: a patient will come in either having experience with cannabis or will be curious as to whether cannabis can help them. I will then preform an assessment, including a health history and short physical exam, in order to determine if they would benefit from cannabis. A referral is then made to the licensing clinic. The licensing clinic then calls the patient to setup an appointment to get a license for access to medical marijuana. Once setup with an account the patient then does all their ordering online through a regulated distributor such as Tweed, Aphria, Tilray or MedRelief.

These regulated grower/distributors have an excellent selection of strains and oils with varying cannabinoid concentrations and terpene profiles. Most importantly, the purity and potency are guaranteed and there is very high consistency from batch to batch. Therefore, if you find a strain or oil that works for you, you can pretty much guarantee it will work the same way every time you order it.

Common conditions for referral

The most common conditions I write referrals for are: Insomnia, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Pain, Migraine, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, PTSD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Cancer, Fibromyalgia and Neurological Conditions with painful spasms.

The environment in Canada with regard to cannabis is going to change as we approach legalization, but until that happens I would advise you that it is usually better to consume regulated medicines, this medication just happens to be marijuana.

 

For more great articles and information on cannabis and CBD check out the link below:CBD Oil Room


dr_shawn

Patient focused integrative health care. Utilizing effective natural approaches designed to be used alone or to compliment conventional medical care.


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