Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. A neurodegenerative disease, MS is unpredictable in how it affects patients who are typically diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50 years.
Activation of T cells outside of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is thought to be a key triggering event of a MS relapse. But the question we need to be asking is ... exactly what IS triggering these T cells and essentially telling them to go rogue?? After entry into brain tissue, the T cells become reactivated and are able to participate in the disease process by producing soluble immune mediators including cytokines and chemokines. They regulate transmigration of immune cells into the CNS and mediate the subsequent development of tissue damage or, alternatively, may counter the development of tissue injury in the CNS.
Within the CNS, the immune system causes inflammation that damages myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers, as well as the nerve fibers themselves and the specialized cells that make myelin. Once this immune response has been turned on, patients can have a variety of symptoms that can vary in severity and type .
I know from experience that no one walks in the door and gets MS. And as with other neurodegenerative diseases, there is a current “germ theory” that I believe strongly supports the idea that infectious or environmental triggers can initiate this disease incidence. In fact, we know that genes actually contribute to less than 25% of the risk.
It is estimated that more than 1 million people in the United States and approximately 2.5 million in the world have MS. But maintaining MS statistics is difficult because this is not considered a “reportable” disease, meaning the government does not require physicians to inform any central database so we really have no idea how many live with MS.
Each year in the United States, about 10,400 new cases are diagnosed, averaging out to 200 new cases per week. Women are almost 70% more likely to get MS then men and we see this disease in both children and adults. MS is more common in the Northern latitudes and it was recently reported that Syracuse, NY and Seattle, WA have the highest number of MS patients. Certainly, we have to consider that something in the environment of these particular geographic locations may be to blame.
Dr. Suzy Gazda
How we treat MS
At Gazda Integrative Neurology, we believe that adding an integrative approach to MS care is key to successful treatment. With our 30-year expertise in the field of autoimmune-mediated neurological disease, our approach is one that combines the use of both conventional and integrative protocols. Dr. Gazda has conducted numerous clinical trials in the MS arena so she has a deep understanding of the mechanism of action and potential risk of every current MS drug. With this knowledge, she also feels strongly that the medication 'alone' will not work as well and that not only do we need to look for root causes , but also lifestyle interventions such as diet, exercise, stress modification , discontinuing smoking, Vitamin D deficiency , the use of key and personalized nutraceuticals and detoxification protocols to help reduce toxic load are essential for healing the brain .
Dr Gazda is a strong supporter of the Wahls Protocol and the work that Dr Terry Wahls has done bringing forward profound healing mechanisms through our understanding of the microbiome and food.
The Wahls Protocol
Dr Terry Wahls’ story is quite compelling. She was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in 2000. By 2003, despite the best pharmaceutical treatments at the time, she had transitioned to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. She underwent chemotherapy in an attempt to slow the disease and began using a tilt-recline wheelchair because of weakness in her back muscles. Yet within a year of implementing what we now know as the Wahls Protocol, she achieved a remarkable recovery. Her brave and brilliant efforts to reverse disease are shared in her many publications and her TeD talk in 2015 has over 2.5 million views. Dr. Wahls clearly started what we believe is an admirable movement to change the course of destiny for so many MS patients. You may read more about her work at:
Dr. Suzanne Gazda, Integrative Neurology