Covering the Bases

Covering the Bases

“I’m sorry to see you don’t cover multiple sclerosis,” wrote an HSI member named Janet. “I would like to ask that you consider that topic.”

MS is one of our key concerns here at HSI. But Janet’s e-mail gave me a jolt because I realized it’s been awhile since I covered this topic in the e-Alert. So today we’ll look at some previous research that will be useful for MS patients or anyone who helps care for someone with MS.

Nurses on call

About 50 years ago, scientists began to recognize higher rates of chronic diseases (such as multiple sclerosis and cancer) among people who lived in northern and southern latitudes – far from the sunny zones closer to the equator. Researchers eventually realized that higher levels of vitamin D, accumulated through sunlight exposure, might provide protection against certain diseases.

This theory was tested in a Harvard School of Public Health study that appeared in the January 2004 issue of the journal Neurology. Researchers culled data from two phases of the Nurses’ Health Study, in which the diets and multivitamin use for nearly 190,000 women were followed for a period of 20 years during phase one (accounting for approximately half of the women), and 10 years in phase two.

A total of 173 cases of MS were reported. Analysis of the complete data revealed two significant results:

* Women who had the highest intake of supplementary vitamin D, had a 40 percent reduced risk of developing MS compared with women who used no supplements at all.
* Risk of developing MS was not reduced for women who had vitamin D intake from food sources, but took no supplements.

The women who benefited from supplement use all had a minimum intake of 400 IU of vitamin D each day.

In addition to prevention, vitamin D may also be an essential element in the treatment of MS – especially when other nutrients are present.

In a small study in the mid-80s, researchers followed 10 MS patients who took daily supplements of vitamin D (5,000 IU), calcium (1,000 mg), and magnesium (600 mg). For two years, subjects kept detailed records of their disease activity. When these records were compared to each subject’s personal histories, noting frequency of aggravation from MS symptoms, results showed a clear decline in the rate of disease activity after supplementation began.

Prompting the pineal

In the March 2002 issue of Real Health Breakthroughs, William Campbell Douglass, M.D., wrote about a New York doctor – Reuven Sandyk, M.D., M.Sc. – who believes that MS is associated with calcification of the pineal gland, which contains the brain’s highest concentration of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps regulate our sense of well-being. Dr. Sandyk theorizes that the pineal calcification may contribute to MS symptoms such as depression, sleep disorders, carbohydrate craving, heat sensitivity, and fatigue.

Dr. Sandyk recommends these natural ways to prompt the body to produce more serotonin:

* Spend a few minutes in the sun each day. Even twenty minutes may make a big difference.
* Increase your intake of foods that contain L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is a precursor of serotonin. These foods include raw milk, sunflower seeds, bananas, turkey, nuts, and corn.
* Supplements that may promote the production of serotonin include biotin and magnesium, as well as vitamins B-1, B-3, B-6 and B-12.

For a comprehensive overview of natural ways to treat MS, HSI has prepared a special report titled “Underground Cures: What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Multiple Sclerosis.” Compiled with the input of experts on the HSI Advisory Panel, this report offers details on alternative treatments that have provided answers for many MS patients. You can use this link for more information about this special report:

“Vitamin D Intake and Incidence of Multiple Sclerosis” Neurology, Vol. 62, No. 1, 1/13/04,
“Vitamin D Supplementation in the Fight Against Multiple Sclerosis” Ashton F. Embry, DIRECT-MS,
“Multiple Sclerosis: Decreased Relapse Rate Through Dietary Supplementation With Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D” Medical Hypotheses, Vol. 21, No. 2, October 1986,
“REAL Hope for MS: Simple Steps to Treat and Even Prevent This Dreaded Disease” William Campbell Douglass, M.D., Real Health Breakthroughs, March 2002,