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How To Treat MS Naturally With Vitamins, Supplements And Alternative Treatments

06 April 2023

Summary

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the body’s nerves, leading to a breakdown of communication between the brain and various nerves around the body. 
  • Such disruption within the central nervous system produces several symptoms, ranging from mild and intermittent to severe and debilitating, including vision problems, muscle weakness, memory problems, fatigue, pain, issues with balance and coordination, numbness or tingling in the limbs, and more. 
  • While there is currently no cure for MS, many herbal remedies can be used to complement or as an alternative to pharmaceutical medication to help relieve symptoms. 
  • Medical cannabis is one of the most common natural remedies for MS, with a growing body of evidence confirming its effectiveness. Lyphe is the UK’s largest medical cannabis clinic comprising a dedicated team of clinical experts on hand to help treat several conditions with medical cannabis, including MS. 

Introduction

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that affects the central nervous system and is caused by an improperly-functioning immune system. This autoimmune disease affects around 2.5 million people globally and around 130,000 people in the UK [1]. 

The immune system is designed to protect the body from harmful pathogens; however, in people with MS, it attacks nerves around the body, disrupting the chemical signals between these nerves and obstructing the flow of information between the brain and body.

While symptoms of MS are different for everyone, many sufferers commonly experience vision problems, muscle weakness, memory problems, fatigue, pain, issues with balance and coordination, and numbness or tingling in the limbs.

MS is a chronic disease for which there is currently no cure, and symptoms can worsen as the disease progresses. However, an increasing number of people are turning to natural treatments for MS, including herbs, vitamins and supplements, to reduce the frequency of symptoms and slow disease progression. 

Such remedies serve as a holistic treatment for MS, complementing conventional therapy and prescription medication. Patients should always consult their doctor before trying any home remedies for MS and not use them as a replacement for prescribed treatment.

Keep reading to learn how to manage MS naturally and explore the best vitamins and supplements for MS to incorporate into your treatment plan.

Complementary And Herbal Remedies For MS

Medical Cannabis

Plants in the cannabis family have been widely studied for their role in alleviating conditions related to the nervous system and reducing spasticity, neurodegeneration and inflammation. 

Since cannabis became legalised in the UK for medicinal use in 2018, many patients have used it to relieve their symptoms. 

Medical cannabis interacts with the endocannabinoid system located in the central nervous system to regulate pain and provide effective relief from various MS symptoms. 

A 2012 study found that cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, were highly effective in treating spasticity in MS patients by reducing the severity and frequency of spasms and pain [2]. Another study published in 2017 found that people with MS who took cannabis capsules saw an improvement in memory, bladder control and sleep quality [3]. 

There are instances when MS patients fail to respond to traditional treatment options or experience adequate relief; in such cases, medical cannabis can help. 

Lyphe is the UK’s largest medical cannabis clinic comprising a dedicated team of clinical experts who are on hand to help treat many conditions with medical cannabis, including MS, with personalised treatment plans and private care tailored to suit each patient’s circumstances and needs.

Starting from £49, people with MS interested in treating their condition with medical cannabis can book a private consultation with a specialist doctor via the website to learn more about the treatment options available at Lyphe.  

Ginkgo Biloba

While the evidence is mixed, some research suggests that extracts of ginkgo biloba may reduce inflammation and fatigue in people with MS, as well as associated cognitive problems, owing to its potential brain power-boosting abilities.

A 2014 study found that a 240 mg daily dosage significantly reduced fatigue without producing any adverse side effects after four weeks compared with a placebo [4]. 

With that said, it’s important to note that ginkgo biloba is known to produce side effects, including headaches, dizziness and allergic reactions. It also reacts with certain prescription medications, including blood-thinning drugs. 

Fish Oil

Fish oil is an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA and EPA, that have anti-inflammatory properties and may help protect the central nervous system. Omega-3 is also essential for blood flow, digestion, brain function, cell growth and muscle activity. 

Studies show that fish oil can reduce the rate of MS relapses and improve the overall quality of life in people with MS [5]. Oily fish, such as tuna, salmon and mackerel, are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids; alternatively, you can take fish oil supplements to obtain the same benefits. 

Curcumin

Curcumin is an antioxidant compound found in turmeric and has been used as a traditional Indian medicine for centuries. This yellow spice is widely touted for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties; more specifically, its neuroprotective effects show promise in alleviating MS symptoms [6]. 

The compound interacts with and regulates the communication pathways between brain cells, helping to reduce and prevent the development of autoimmune neurological diseases. 

While the evidence on daily turmeric use for treating MS naturally is insufficient, a therapeutic dose of 500-2000 mg per day can produce beneficial effects. 

Ginger

Chronic inflammation plays a major role in the development of various neurodegenerative diseases, including MS. Mounting evidence points to spices such as ginger holding vast anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective potential by targeting the inflammatory pathways that lead to such conditions [7]. 

Using ginger root in tea or as a cooking ingredient can effectively reduce nerve and muscle inflammation that causes pain and stiffness. Alternatively, you can take ginger in supplement form with little to no side effects. 

Green Tea

A 2014 study suggests that antioxidant deficiencies in people with MS may contribute to worsening symptoms [8]. Green tea may have extensive health and anti-inflammatory benefits due to its high antioxidant content.

One key component of green tea is EGCG, a powerful antioxidant that prevents oxidative stress and could potentially boost the immune system, brain health and muscle metabolism.  

Although green tea is safe to take in small amounts as a supplement or tea (up to 600 mg per day), high amounts of green tea extract may lead to severe liver problems. 

Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that improve and restore gut bacteria and may provide general health benefits. They are also known to trigger an anti-inflammatory response by the immune system and protect neurological health, thereby having potential benefits as an effective MS treatment. 

In fact, preclinical studies have shown that probiotic foods and supplements reduce the rate and severity of MS, delay disease progression, improve motor impairment and reduce inflammatory markers [9]. 

Probiotic foods include fermented dairy, cultured vegetables, kombucha and miso. 

Ginseng

Ginseng has been widely studied for its health benefits; however, its effects on MS remain mixed. Still, the medicinal herb may improve fatigue and help with memory and thinking.

A 2018 study found that participants who took a 250 mg daily dose of ginseng for four weeks experienced an improvement in fatigue and overall quality of life with no known side effects.

With that said, it is advised to proceed cautiously, as ginseng can also stimulate the nervous system, potentially making MS symptoms worse. 

St. John’s Wort

Although the effects of St. John’s Wort have not been heavily researched, the herb is well-known for its positive effects on depression, a common symptom of MS. Mounting evidence suggests it could also promote nerve healing and reduce inflammation [10]. 

However, St. John’s Wort can interact with a wide variety of prescription medications used to treat MS and other conditions, and it is important to discuss these effects with your doctor before using the herbal supplement. 

Valerian Root

Valerian root is a herb traditionally used to treat issues that people with MS commonly experience, including headaches, insomnia, anxiety and depression. However, much of the research on valerian root as an effective treatment for such symptoms doesn’t include participants with MS and is therefore inconclusive. 

With that said, some studies have found valerian root to be an effective sleep aid that decreases the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, so it may help with MS-related fatigue [11]. 

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant naturally produced in the body to fuel cells and assist in growth and maintenance. Although the compound is found in meat, fish and nuts, levels are insufficient to have any meaningful impact on the body.

CoQ10 supplements are available in the form of capsules, tablets, syrups and vitamin IV drips and may help people with MS manage symptoms of fatigue, inflammation and depression. This was confirmed in a 2016 study in which MS sufferers experienced relief after taking 500 mg of CoQ10 daily for 12 weeks compared to those who didn’t [12].

Minerals And Vitamins For MS

Vitamin A

Due to its high antioxidant content, vitamin A can help delay age-related macular degeneration and may benefit people with MS [13]. The vitamin plays a crucial role in immune system health and can help to reduce inflammation by suppressing the activity of pro-inflammatory immune cells. 

Vitamin A can be obtained from eating leafy greens, berries, organ meats, sweet potatoes, carrots, and black-eyed peas or with supplements. However, because it builds up in fat cells, it is possible to have vitamin A toxicity and shouldn’t be taken in large doses. 

B Vitamins

Vitamin B1 plays an important role in central nervous system health, as well as brain, heart, nerve and muscle function, with deficiencies associated with various neurodegenerative diseases, including MS. The vitamin can help reduce weakness and fatigue in people with MS.

Vitamin B6 is responsible for a healthy metabolism and helps support cognitive function and repair nerves, with low levels occurring in people with autoimmune conditions. However, it can be toxic if taken in high doses, potentially causing nerve damage.

Vitamin B12 is also vital for proper nerve and brain function, and people with MS may be more likely to develop a deficiency in this vitamin. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is critical to proper immune system function. Some research indicates that it can protect people with MS from nerve degeneration and preserve eye health, owing to its high antioxidant content [14]. 

People with MS may have trouble absorbing vitamin C, and the exact dosage is not established; however, high doses are generally considered safe as it isn’t stored in the body. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential in various bodily processes, including bone strength, muscle function, brain activity, immune function and reducing inflammation. Research suggests a strong correlation between low vitamin D levels and MS development and progression, and high intake may reduce the risk of developing the disease [15]. 

Vitamin D is naturally produced in the body following exposure to sunlight; however, depending on geographical location, this may not always be an effective way to obtain sufficient amounts of the nutrient, so it is important for people with MS to take supplements.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E can reduce the effect of cell damage and slow inflammation, yet some research suggests that people with MS have preexisting low levels of this fat-soluble nutrient and antioxidant [16]. 

Vegetable oils, nuts and green vegetables are good sources of vitamin E. Supplements can also be a good choice for a complementary MS treatment option. However, the vitamin can accumulate over time within fat cells and lead to toxicity, producing symptoms such as headaches, nausea, diarrhoea and abdominal cramping. 

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral responsible for a whole range of bodily functions, with deficiencies causing a variety of symptoms that are common in people with MS. Such symptoms include weakness, fatigue, tingling, numbness, cramps, personality changes and muscle contraction. 

Natural sources of magnesium include spinach, avocado, legumes, nuts and seeds, fish, bananas and whole grains. Incorporating these natural sources or magnesium supplements into your diet may help prevent MS symptoms from becoming aggravated. 

Calcium

Although there is little evidence to suggest that a calcium deficiency is linked to MS or that calcium consumption can improve symptoms, the mineral is crucial for bone health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis, which people with MS have a higher risk of developing. 

It is important for people with MS to check their calcium levels and increase their intake, if necessary. However, people taking vitamin D supplements should take extra precautions as it increases calcium absorption and could potentially lead to toxicity. 

Holistic MS Treatments

Diet

Although supplements can be a great way to obtain vital nutrients, they cannot substitute a poor diet, and it is always preferred to obtain the bulk of essential vitamins and minerals from a healthy and balanced diet. 

MS is caused by chronic inflammation, so an anti-inflammatory diet can help prevent and reverse inflammation and possibly improve MS symptoms. Eating a wholesome diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats whilst reducing the intake of dairy foods, salt, sugar, saturated fat, red meat and processed foods may help to ease MS symptoms and prevent relapse and disease progression.

Exercise

Engaging in regular exercise can help reduce stiffness and fatigue associated with MS, promote heart health, and help sufferers stay strong and active. 

People with MS can benefit from various forms of activities, including strength training to strengthen muscles and increase the range of motion, yoga to reduce stress and increase balance, and aerobic exercise to improve fatigue and improve lung and heart health. 

It is recommended to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise at least five times a week. 

Stress Management

Evidence suggests that both physical and mental stress can be a trigger for MS symptoms and is linked to brain health and immune response [17]. 

There are many techniques to effectively manage mental stress, including:

  • Observing good sleep hygiene
  • Therapy
  • Meditation
  • Journalling
  • Engaging in a hobby
  • Spending time in nature.

Physical stress management techniques include:

  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Magnet therapy
  • Reflexology
  • Isolation tanks. 

Reduce Exposure To Viruses And Toxins

Some experts believe that exposure to viruses and toxins may be a common cause of MS, including herpesvirus and retrovirus, heavy metals, mould and allergens. 

There are several habits you can adopt to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins, such as: 

  • Avoiding processed foods or those sprayed with pesticides
  • Regularly washing hands, especially before eating or handling food and after using the bathroom
  • Disinfecting home and work surfaces with natural cleaning products
  • Regularly washing fabrics and linen with a natural antibacterial detergent
  • Minimising exposure to artificial scents such as perfumes, air fresheners and scented candles
  • Avoiding sharing personal items such as towels and razors.

Conclusion

Research into the development and progression of MS is continually expanding, and while the cause is yet to be determined, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests alternative and complementary therapies may help in reducing the frequency and severity of MS symptoms. 

While people interested in using such treatments for MS should proceed with caution, discussing possible options with a healthcare provider can help to devise an effective treatment regimen, make symptoms more manageable and prevent relapses.

Medical cannabis can provide effective relief from a range of chronic MS symptoms, such as fatigue, pain, neurological and psychiatric issues, gastrointestinal problems and more. 

The team of experts at the Lyphe medical cannabis clinic can help you discover how to treat MS naturally. Book an online consultation with a specialist doctor for an expert assessment to evaluate if medical cannabis is the right treatment for you.

References

  1. MS in the UK | MS Society
  2. The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabis and Cannabinoids – PMC (nih.gov)
  3. Cannabis and Multiple Sclerosis—The Way Forward – PMC (nih.gov)
  4. A Review of Herbal Therapy in Multiple Sclerosis – PMC (nih.gov)
  5. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil supplementation on multiple sclerosis: a systematic review: Nutritional Neuroscience: Vol 24, No 7 (tandfonline.com)
  6. Curcumin has bright prospects for the treatment of multiple sclerosis – PubMed (nih.gov)
  7. Neuroprotection by Spice-Derived Nutraceuticals: You Are What You Eat! – PMC (nih.gov)
  8. Multiple Sclerosis: Evaluation of Purine Nucleotide Metabolism in Central Nervous System in Association with Serum Levels of Selected Fat-Soluble Antioxidants (hindawi.com)
  9. Efficacy of probiotics in multiple sclerosis: a systematic review of preclinical trials and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials – PubMed (nih.gov)
  10. Effects of antidepressive treatment of Saint John’s wort extract related to autonomic nervous function in women with irritable bowel syndrome – PubMed (nih.gov)
  11. Brochure-Vitamins,-Minerals,-and-Herbs-in-MS_-An-Introduction.pdf (nationalmssociety.org)
  12. Coenzyme Q10 as a treatment for fatigue and depression in multiple sclerosis patients: A double blind randomized clinical trial – PubMed (nih.gov)
  13. Serum levels of antioxidant vitamins and lipid peroxidation in multiple sclerosis – PubMed (nih.gov)
  14. [New approaches to antioxidant therapy in multiple sclerosis] – PubMed (nih.gov)
  15. Can we prevent or treat multiple sclerosis by individualised vitamin D supply? – PMC (nih.gov)
  16. Blood lipids, homocysteine, stress factors, and vitamins in clinically stable multiple sclerosis patients – PMC (nih.gov)
  17. Stress and multiple sclerosis: A systematic review considering potential moderating and mediating factors and methods of assessing stress – Laia Briones-Buixassa, Raimon Milà, Josep Mª Aragonès, Enric Bufill, Beatriz Olaya, Francesc Xavier Arrufat, 2015 (sagepub.com)

 

Author: Bojan
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Bojan Ambrus, Head of Marketing & Digital Product at Lyphe Group, is a data-driven growth marketing professional with over 15 years of rich experience. His background includes roles such as Head of Marketing at Vaping.com and growth marketing roles in various enterprises, startups, and scale-ups. His expertise in building and positioning businesses is particularly valuable in the cannabis sector, where he navigates its complexities and regulatory challenges. His strategic marketing insights make Bojan a key player in shaping Lyphe Group's marketing and digital product strategies.

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