Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an often debilitating autoimmune disease that affects your central nervous system. Affecting women more than men, MS is caused by your body's immune system causing damage to the myelin sheath, the fatty covering that surrounds your nerve cells. When this sheath is damaged, multiple areas of scarring form (sclerosis), and nerve signals get slowed or blocked. These affected nerve signals are needed for muscle coordination, strength, sensation and vision, so MS can cause you to feel very fatigued and can affect your sense of balance as well, among other symptoms (see below). MS can occur in four main patterns: 1. primary progressive, an uncommon form, where symptoms come about gradually and there are no periods of remission; 2. progressive relapsing, an even more rare form, where symptoms come on gradually with periods of worsening quickly and no remission; 3. relapsing remitting, the most common form of MS, characterized by periods of flare-ups followed by periods of remission that can last months or even years; 4. secondary progressive, which occurs when someone with relapsing remitting enters a state of continuous deterioration.
It is not known exactly what causes your body's immune system to begin attacking your nerve cells with MS, but it is believed that it may be due to viral infection, genetic defect, or a combination of both. Environmental factors may also play a role, such as exposure to toxins and chemicals, stress, and even poor nutrition.
Signs and symptoms of MS include:
- bladder or bowel incontinence
- visual difficulties or eye pain
- inability to concentrate
- memory loss
- loss of balance and/or coordination
- muscle stiffness or tremors
- numbness or weakness in one or more limbs
- slurred speech
- tingling or pain
There is no known cure for MS, but if you have a relapsing form of the disease your doctor may be able to prescribe medications such as beta interferons that can help, to a degree, although they cannot be taken if you are pregnant. Other medications may be prescribed for your accompanying symptoms, so be sure to ask your doctor and/or pharmacist about potential side effects.
As with many chronic diseases, natural health care is recommended for helping you reduce your symptoms of MS and delay the progression of the disease. Diet modification, such as increasing your fish intake, can help your nerve function and also decrease inflammation. Acupuncture and TCM can help increase your energy levels, help with bladder and bowel problems, resolve your pain, and more. Yoga and massage therapy can help reduce stress and generally improve your sense of well- being.
Contact us for a FREE consultation on how natural therapy can help you manage your symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
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