Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Diets & Complementary Approaches

Complementary & Alternative Therapy for MS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Diets & Complementary Approaches

Complementary therapies are alternative therapies used in addition to traditional treatments. Alternative therapies for multiple sclerosis can include acupuncture, massage, and linoleic acid.

Alternative therapy encompasses a variety of disciplines that range from diet and exercise to mental conditioning to lifestyle changes.

Examples include acupuncture, yoga, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbal remedies, and massage.

What is complementary therapy?

Complementary therapies are alternative therapies used in addition to traditional treatments. For example, you may have weekly massages to complement your drug treatment.

What alternative or complementary therapy is recommended for multiple sclerosis (MS)?

  • Positive attitude: Having a positive outlook cannot cure MS, but it can reduce your stress and help you feel better.
  • Exercise: Exercises such as tai chi and yoga can lower your stress, help you to be more relaxed, and increase your energy, balance, and flexibility. As with any exercise program, check with your doctor before getting started.
  • Diet: It is important for people with MS to follow a healthy, well-balanced diet. Ask your doctor what diet is right for you.

What are some alternative/complementary therapy options for multiple sclerosis (MS)?

  • Massage: Many people with MS receive regular massage therapy to help relax and reduce stress and depression, which can exacerbate the disease. There is no evidence that massage changes the course of the disease. It is usually safe for people with MS to receive a massage, but if you have bone-thinning osteoporosis (usually as a result of your treatments), massage may be dangerous. Talk to your doctor first.
  • Acupuncture: Some people with MS report that acupuncture provides some relief of symptoms such as pain, muscle spasms, or bladder control problems. There have been no scientific studies to confirm this or to document that acupuncture is safe for people with MS. Also, keep in mind that there are always risks when a procedure involves puncturing the body with needles, as is done with acupuncture. The main risk is infection. Unless sterile techniques are used, acupuncture could transmit hepatitis or HIV.
  • Evening primrose oil (linoleic acid): Linoleic acid is also found in sunflower seeds and safflower oil. There is some evidence that taking an oral supplement of linoleic acid may slightly improve MS symptoms.
  • Diet: It is important for people with MS to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet to keep them as healthy as possible. Discuss any dietary concerns you may have with your doctor.
  • Marijuana: The use of marijuana to treat any illness remains highly controversial. Some people with MS claim that smoking marijuana helps relieve spasticity and other MS-related symptoms. However, there is little evidence to date that marijuana really works. Research is ongoing to answer this important question. Until more is known, doctors do not recommend the use of marijuana to treat MS, as the drug is associated with serious long-term side effects such as heart attack or memory loss.

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Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/22/2014.

References

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Source: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/11666-multiple-sclerosis-alternative--complementary-therapies

The Swank Diet: Can Limiting Saturated Fat Stop MS From Getting Worse?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Diets & Complementary Approaches

The Swank diet was created by an American neurologist in 1990 as a way to help manage multiple sclerosis (MS). The overlying premise of the diet is simple: Cutting out saturated fat and focusing on eating more fish might help prevent problems with blood flow that ostensibly could play a role in symptoms of MS.

There's little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of the Swank diet, and so, as a therapy for MS, it's regarded as a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, enough people with MS who've tried the diet have found it to be helpful enough to continue its use.

Verywell / JR Bee

The doctor who developed the diet, Roy Swank, MD, PhD, was inspired by geographical and dietary differences in the epidemiology of MS, which caused him to theorize that diet could play an important role in the disease. Specifically, he saw that multiple sclerosis is more prevalent in areas where people eat considerably more fat (especially saturated fat), such as the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia.

He also noticed that in Norway in particular, people who lived in fishing communities (where fish is the main part of the diet) were significantly less ly to develop MS than Norwegians who lived in the mountains (where meat is the main dietary component).

Also, Dr. Swank saw that after a high-fat meal is consumed, blood cells tend to clump together, blocking circulation in capillaries. He hypothesized that the clumps blocked the tiny blood vessels in the blood-brain barrier, leading to the inflammation and lesions in the central nervous system that are hallmarks of multiple sclerosis.

his observations, Dr. Swank theorized that by cutting saturated fat from the diet and eating more fish, blood-cell clumping would not happen. As a result, he postulated, blockages and inflammation would be eliminated. This would mean (theoretically) that MS lesions would stop occurring.

Dr. Swank started his research in the mid-1950s by putting 25 people with MS on a very low-fat diet. Six dropped the study and five died. None of the 19 remaining participants had worsening MS.

He repeated the research by following a group of 144 people with MS for 34 years. The results of that study, which was published in The Lancet in 1990, were similarly encouraging: 95 percent of those who stayed on a diet of 20 or fewer grams of saturated fat a day did not experience progression of their MS.

What's more, after 34 years, they had a death rate of 31 percent, compared to the group following a more typical high-fat diet, which had a death rate of over 80 percent. It appeared the diet not only prevented multiple sclerosis from getting worse, it also was associated with longevity.

As exciting as his results were, Dr. Swank's research is viewed by neurological experts as flawed and too limited to support. Even so, the overall concept of limiting saturated fat and eating more of the healthy fats found in fish is regarded as a smart approach to eating and can have benefits for everyone—not only people with MS.

What's more, following the diet is straightforward: You don't need to measure portions or count calories. Simply steer clear of certain foods in order to keep total fat intake low and focus on eating other options.

This snapshot of the “rules” for following the Swank diet will give you an idea of what's involved. You can get more details on the Swank diet website or by reading Swank's book, “The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book: A Low-fat Diet for the Treatment of M.S.”

  • Oils: Limit those with unsaturated fat to between 20 and 50 grams per day.
  • Saturated fat: Limit to 15 grams each day.
  • Red meat: Exclude from your diet entirely for the first year (including pork and wild game); 3 ounces of red meat per week (if desired) thereafter.
  • Dairy: Avoid options with more than 1 percent butterfat; limit those with any amount of saturated fat to two servings per day. Artificial “dairy” products (e.g., margarine, shortening) not permitted; fat-free dairy products allowed in any amount.
  • Processed foods: Do not eat any processed foods containing saturated fat.
  • Grains: Four servings of whole grains and cereals per day (watch for hidden fats in baked goods and granola)
  • Eggs: Factor in the 5 grams of saturated fat in the yolks.
  • Pasta and rice: Whole grain pasta and brown rice
  • Poultry: White meat of chicken or turkey; remove skin and any visible fat
  • Fruits: At least two servings a day; limit avocados and olives
  • Vegetables: Unlimited, with a minimum of two 1-cup servings
  • Fish: All white fish and shellfish in unlimited amounts; count fatty fish in daily fat allowance
  • Coffee: Caffeinated beverages are OK, but drink no more than three cups per day.
  • Nuts and seeds: Include in daily oil allowance
  • Alcohol: A glass of wine or a cocktail with dinner is fine.

It's also advised that you take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement, along with a capsule containing the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil.

For potentially getting the best results, it's suggested that you:

  • Don't wait: In Dr. Swank research, people who had the best results in terms of delayed/no disability progression and/or improvement were those who started eating this way early in their disease.
  • Don’t cheat: Dr. Swank found that an increase of even 8 grams of saturated fat a day increases the risk of death from MS-related causes three-fold.

Following the Swank diet isn't about adhering to a strict meal plan but rather making food choices for meals and snacks that, over the course of a day, keep your total fat intake low. For example:

  • Fruit smoothie made with 1/4 cup each frozen raspberries, blueberries, and pineapple, half a frozen banana, and 1 cup of skim, soy, almond, or rice milk
  • One cup of coffee or tea, black or with a splash of non-dairy milk or cream
  • 1 cup non-fat yogurt topped with berries and roasted walnuts
  • Salad of dark leafy greens topped with one hard-boiled egg (one of three that are allowed during the course of a week), whatever mix of raw vegetables you enjoy (carrots, celery, cucumber, fennel, tomatoes), and 1/8 avocado
  • Whole grain crackers or a handful of baked tortilla chips
  • Almond-butter-and-sliced-apple sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • 4-ounce skinless breast
  • Vegetables (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or a combination) tossed with olive oil and fresh herbs and roasted on a sheet pan
  • Brown rice
  • Optional: One glass of wine
  • A slice of angel food cake

Thanks for your feedback!

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

Source: https://www.verywellhealth.com/swank-diet-for-multiple-sclerosis-2440476

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Diets & Complementary Approaches

In the search for causes and triggers for MS, numerous dietary factors have been implicated over time. Among these include dietary fat, sugar, alcohol, dairy, and gluten.

[7] Most of these associations have since been refuted, although controversy remains regarding the overall influence of diet on the development and progression of MS.

Several different dietary interventions have emerged, largely these associations.

Swank diet

The dietary link was initially investigated in observational studies conducted by Dr. Roy Swank in the 1930s to1940s. He concluded that MS prevalence in Norway was associated with the amount and type of fat consumed in different geographical regions.

People from the inland areas who consumed more dairy fat had higher incidences of MS, and those from coastal areas who consumed more fish had lower rates.[8] Epidemiological studies on MS in other parts of the world, including the United States, have come to similar conclusions, associating high rates of MS with high intake of dairy and animal fat.

[7] However, case-control trials have not confirmed these findings, making the epidemiologic data difficult to interpret.[7]

his findings, Dr. Swank constructed and studied a diet low in saturated fats and high in omega-3 fats. This was accomplished through significantly limiting red meat and dairy intake while supplementing with cod liver oil.

He conducted uncontrolled, longitudinal studies on this diet in MS patients and found positive long-term effects. Patients with the best adherence to a low saturated fat intake showed less neurologic deterioration and had better survival compared to those in the study with higher saturated fat intake.

[9] The results of his studies were impressive; however, the study was limited by a lack of a control group and blinding.

Other diets

Several other diets have been constructed with the intent of improving MS. The McDougall low-fat diet is another diet that has followed the lead of the Swank philosophy and is currently being studied.

It is a low-fat, vegan diet that limits fat intake to 10% of calories, as opposed to 15% in the Swank diet. Low-fat vegan diets have been found beneficial in other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

[8]

Gluten-free diets have become popular for many diseases, including MS. A few studies have examined the relationship between MS and celiac disease.

One small study showed a higher incidence of celiac disease in the MS group, and symptoms of both diseases improved on gluten-free diet.[8] However, most research has not supported the link between gluten sensitivity and MS.

[10] Currently, the main support for a gluten-free diet in MS would be if a patient also had a diagnosis of celiac disease.

Another diet that has gained traction in recent years is the “Brain Nutrient Diet” designed by Terry Wahls, MD, a physician with MS. She promotes a paleo-style diet that is high in vegetable intake and specific meats, with little to no grains or legumes.[8] This has not yet been studied in MS patients.

Summary

The most ly dietary association in MS is the intake of saturated fats from red meats and dairy products, but this relationship has not been definitively proven.

A diet that is low in red meats and dairy and high in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fats from fish seems a reasonable approach, especially given the ly benefit this style of eating has in preventing other chronic diseases.

Known diets that would fit well with these recommendations include Mediterranean, anti-inflammatory, or plant-based vegetarian diets.

Source: https://wholehealth.wisc.edu/tools/multiple-sclerosis/

Bottom Line

Some complementary health practices, yoga or tai chi, may help ease some symptoms of MS. There’s no evidence that any dietary supplement is effective for MS.

  • Mind and Body Practices
    • Practicing yoga may help with fatigue and mood, but not with mobility or thinking ability.
    • A few studies have investigated the potential of acupuncture for MS symptoms, and those that have noted benefit have been criticized for having less rigorous methods.
    • Reflexology (applying pressure to the soles of the feet) may reduce a burning or prickling sensation associated with MS; however, larger studies are needed to provide a reliable conclusion.
  • Dietary Supplements
    • Fish oil supplements have not been shown to be helpful for MS.
    • Ginkgo has not been shown to enhance the ability to think clearly and logically in people with MS.
    • Results of a large, 5-year study suggest that low blood levels of vitamin D may be a risk factor for long-term disease activity and progression. However, more studies need to be done to determine if taking vitamin D supplements is beneficial.
  • Other Complementary Health Approaches
    • Research involving pulsed magnetic therapy (devices that use an electrical current to generate a magnetic field) has shown mixed results for MS-related fatigue.
    • Bee sting, or bee venom, therapy (which involves placing live bees on certain parts of the body and allowing them to sting) seems to have no effect on either MS symptoms or disease progression.
    • Chemicals in marijuana known as THC/cannabinoids may relieve spasticity and/or pain in people with MS. While no marijuana-derived medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat MS in the United States, Canada and some European countries have approved Sativex®, a plant-derived cannabinoid prescription drug mouth spray containing THC delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), for MS-related muscle control. It’s unknown if smoking marijuana helps with MS. Researchers have not conducted enough large-scale clinical trials that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant (as opposed to its cannabinoid ingredients) outweigh its risks in patients it’s meant to treat.

Safety

  • Reflexology, yoga, and tai chi are generally considered safe.
  • Acupuncture is considered to be safe when performed by a trained practitioner.
  • Bee venom therapy may carry the risk of anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
  • Cannabinoid medications, which should only be taken when prescribed and monitored by a physician, are generally well tolerated. They may cause dizziness, anxiety, and short-term and long-term problems with memory and concentration. A small number of people may experience nausea/vomiting, constipation, and dry or sore mouth.
  • Marijuana can be addictive.
  • People who smoke marijuana frequently can have the same breathing problems faced by tobacco smokers (daily cough and phlegm, more frequent lung illness, and a higher risk of lung infections); it also can affect the heart.
  • If you’re considering a dietary supplement, remember that “natural” does not mean “safe.” Some dietary supplements may have side effects, and some may interact with drugs and other supplements. Taking too much of some supplements, such as vitamin D, can be harmful—and even life-threatening.

For more information on MS, please see the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Web site, as well as the information available on MedlinePlus.

This page last modified November 19, 2019

Source: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/multiple-sclerosis

Ketogenic diet and fasting diet as Nutritional Approaches in Multiple Sclerosis (NAMS): protocol of a randomized controlled study

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Source: https://trialsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13063-019-3928-9

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