In the new study “Multiple Sclerosis: Possibility of a Gut Environment-Induced Disease,” research once again outlines the importance of the status of the gut (microbiome) in health and wellness both for those who want to take a preventative approach, and also for those who are already on the road to disease.
The study focused on several key findings:
1. The number of officially registered Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients in Japan increased almost twenty-fold between 1980 and 2014. Up until recent years, cases of MS in Asia were quite rare. It’s likely no coincidence that these developments have occurred with the introduction of the Western diet - we now see instances of MS rising in all parts of the world.
2. Gut microbiota significantly influences human gut homeostasis - as well as the central nervous system - via various mediators including lymphocytes in the intestines. Remember: we have 70 percent of our autoimmune function in our gut.
3. Numerous studies have shown distinct differences in fecal samples as they relate to the controlled alteration of the microbiome. In animal models, simply transplanting MS fecal material into a non-MS mouse will induce this disease. Recent studies from Germany and North America showed that when microbiome from an MS patient was administered to germ-free mice and EAE (an animal model of brain inflammation) was induced, the mice developed more severe symptoms and pathology compared to that when microbiome from a healthy subject was given. Collectively, these animal studies indicate that changes in gut microbiota play a causative role in the inflammation of the central nervous system, as well as both disease onset and progression.
It is absolutely critical to recognize that MS is a heterogenous disease (all are different), so we cannot expect one treatment approach to work for everyone. The alteration of the gut microbiota is a key factor in both the genesis of autoimmune disease and the advancement of disease, with immune cells linking the gut and the brain with constant “crosstalk.”
I continue to firmly believe that no treatment for MS is going to be very helpful unless we “heal the gut” starting with food as medicine, lifestyle changes, exercise, reducing toxic load and other approaches, including pharmaceutical use in some cases.
Staying healthy is more complicated than ever, but under the guidance of functional medicine, we can achieve it together. Call today to schedule your appointment!
by Suzanne Gazda M.D.