Functional Medicine Delivers Help for MS
Living with an autoimmune disease is a complex and often confusing experience, especially prior to diagnosis. This is due to the many ways in which an autoimmune disease will manifest in the body. One of the goals of functional medicine is to identify the root cause or causes of an autoimmune disease.
In instances of one of the more common autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, or MS, this means identifying potential triggers and working with individuals to develop a lifestyle that is conducive to avoiding the worsening of symptomology. In fact, a 2012 study out of the Functional Medicine University found that functional medicine therapy can be an extremely effective intervention in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Functional Medicine for Autoimmune Diseases: Treatment for MS
The goal of functional medicine is to bring together the most effective treatment methodologies in a comprehensive manner to address the underlying symptoms of any given issue. Often, the symptoms that are addressed through functional medicine feel scattered and disconnected, but typically this isn’t the case physiologically. The body functions in unique ways. One seemingly minor issue here could create another issue over there. When the focus is on symptomology alone it becomes easy to overlook underlying connections in our health and wellness.
This is the problem that many people with autoimmune diseases face. Autoimmune diseases create inflammation throughout the body, and this inflammation will often create a number of disturbances and seemingly unrelated symptomology. Sorting to the bottom of the issue will often reveal a singular though often complex issue that needs targeting.
MS is caused by the deterioration of the myelin sheath, which is the protection surrounding the nerve cells in the body. The question that many researchers have asked is what causes the damage to the insulation of these nerve cells. This is the along the line that functional therapy physicians will focus when addressing MS.
The symptoms of MS won’t develop until damage to the myelin sheath is already done, or well underway, which means that by the time the neurological symptoms are present, there is already a significant chance that some damage is irreparable. The goal then becomes limiting further damage to reduce the worsening of symptoms.
The most common symptoms of MS include:
- Chronic confusion, often called “brain fog”
- Eye pain or blurred vision
- Numbness in the extremities or face
- Muscle spasms or pain
- Extreme, unexplained fatigue
- Difficulty with balance or dizziness
- Bowel and bladder concerns
Functional Medicine for MS
Conventional treatment for MS includes a series of intense medication regiments, but these medications are usually only marginally effective. Functional medicine focuses on the underlying causes of the symptomology: inflammation of the immune system. By addressing the inflammation in the body it is possible to ease the symptoms and reduce or delay the development of the disease.
The exact treatment methods for MS will vary based on individual symptoms and the specifics of the condition, but for many, treatment will include changes to the diet, including the elimination of gluten, legumes and dairy from the diet. Many functional medicine practitioners will also want to eliminate as many toxins from the bloodstream as possible, including heavy metals that often make their way into the bloodstream. Sometimes chelation therapy will be recommended to support this effort, as it can help with the removal of mercury and other toxins from the body.
The goal of functional medicine is to enhance the body’s ability to care for itself by addressing underlying issues and supporting the immune system. In treating MS, supporting the immune system is of the utmost importance. Supplements and IV therapy can help restore strength and vitality and help reduce inflammation throughout the body. If you have been diagnosed with MS, are showing symptoms of MS, or have a family history of MS, talking to Dr. Waller, a functional medicine physician about your concerns may be the support you are looking for.