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Issue 13: My Personal Experience, Healing Multiple Sclerosis


"Educating Instead of Medicating!"


Online Health & Wellness Newsletter Issue 13
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My Personal Experience, Healing Multiple Sclerosis


by Karlen R. Gunderson, USA
karlen@methow.com





It feels so good to be able to share what has worked for me.


I hope it will help you, too.


Before I go any further, I wish to state for the record that I am not a trained
M.S. professional, nor do I have any formal medical, nutritional, or other
training pertaining to M.S. I am self-taught, and I have only my personal
philosophy and experience with this disease to share with you.


I believe my regimen is healthy, but always consult your physician before you
begin ANY new regimen!


I am not selling anything, nor am I receiving any compensation from any of the
products or services I mention. I'm only here to try to help you by telling you
what has helped me.




****



I was diagnosed with M.S. in 1984, at age 35. I am now in my 18th year since
diagnosis. However, I've probably had the disease since junior high school,
since I had symptoms even then. (They were chalked up to "growing pains" and
"laziness" at the time.) So it's possible I have had M.S. for 37 years.



Some doctors, and even some M.S. patients, will consider my experience with
M.S. to be an anomaly. True, the course of M.S. is different for each
individual. However, I don't believe my "good luck" is an accident. I have
made it my mission to learn everything I can about M.S., how the disease
process "works", and what raw materials our bodies need to repair the damage
the disease process causes. Over the years, I have developed a program for
myself that I believe has helped me to influence the course of my M.S.




With this program, I believe I have been able to:


* reduce the frequency, and the severity, of my exacerbations; and
* repair and rebuild much of its damage.




I believe this program can benefit you, too.


* * *



It is very uncommon that, 18+ years after diagnosis, an M.S. patient would have
an clear MRI (no evidence of M.S. sclerotic plaques) and be doing as well as I
am.



What I DON'T have, after 18+ years with this disease, is a lot of permanent
damage in the form of sclerotic (scar) tissue throughout my nervous system.


My MRI shows "no evidence of demyelinating disease", even after all these
years! More important, on my "good days", I feel every bit as well and healthy
as any "normal" person does.



I believe that my clear MRI confirms what I already knew -- that my brain is
not sustaining permanent damage, in the form of sclerotic plaques, as a result
of M.S. activity in my body. Instead, I believe my body is replacing the
damaged myelin with new myelin, which is why I haven't really gotten "worse"
over all these years.



I feel like this health regimen has allowed me to "buy time" for these past 18
years, while we await a real cure for M.S. My goal is to continue to "buy
time" until we find that cure.



I'm hoping this program will help you do that, too.




* * *



As you may have already discovered to your great frustration, our current
allopathic medical paradigm offers very little real help for those of us
with M.S. It often takes a long time for us to be diagnosed and, when we
are, there is little our doctors can really do to prevent the deterioration
of M.S. They can offer us pharmaceuticals to cover up some of the symptoms,
but they cannot yet help us actually stop the progression of the disease.
This is not our doctors' faults. We must remember that, although their
education is excellent in many ways, our medical doctors spend all those
years studying medicine, i.e. pharmaceuticals, surgery, etc. There is so
much for them to learn about medicine that there is no time for an in-depth
study of nutrition or preventive medicine. Therefore, they are specialists
in medicine, but are not experts on the benefits of nutritional
supplementation.



Certainly no responsible physician would assert that M.S. is caused by a
"deficiency" of Avonex or Betaseron or Copaxone!


Personally, I believe these drugs, although they may temporarily relieve some
symptoms (often replacing them with others symptoms, in the form of side
effects) may not be the wonder treatments the drug companies would like us (and
our doctors) to believe. In fact, I believe these foreign chemicals may add
insult to injury in our bodies.




The very fact that pharmaceutical drugs have side effects should tell us
something. I personally don't think drug "side" effects are as benign as we
have come to believe they are. I believe they should be a clue to us that our
body is having difficulty handling these foreign chemicals, and that the drugs
are causing further stress to our bodies, on top of the everyday stresses of
life, and the additional stresses of caused by the disease process.


I am not a fanatic who is against all pharmaceuticals. In fact, I do take
some pharmaceuticals. However, I try to use pharmaceuticals only when I am
convinced they are in my best interest and will cause my body few if any
side effects, and if I can find no other effective, more natural option to
heal the cause of my problem.



I believe our bodies are already stressed, if not overwhelmed, by the
disease process. Therefore, as a general rule, I try to avoid the
additional stress added by the foreign chemicals contained in the
pharmaceuticals, if I can. However, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Let me go back a step and briefly explain my personal philosophy of healing
so you can understand where I'm coming from. Perhaps you have felt this
way, too.



MY PHILOSOPHY OF HEALING:



I sincerely believe our bodies are Miracle Machines, with the inherent
wisdom to heal themselves, if there is any way they can do so. I believe
our bodies can heal best when we become active partners with them in the
healing process.



I believe that, in order to truly partner with our bodies, we must listen to
their messages to us. We must honor and respect our symptoms and see them
as information potentially helpful to us. We must respect our bodies and
their wisdom and work with them by responding to their messages and needs,
gently and appropriately.



To accomplish this partnership, I believe we must do several things:
First, I believe we must remove as many of the impediments to healing as we
can. We do this by avoiding toxins and other "abuses" to our bodies,
therefore eliminating, or at least decreasing, additional, unnecessary
physical stresses upon our bodies, as much as we can. Removing impediments
to healing (i.e., stresses) allows our bodies to focus more of their
attention on healing the effects of our M.S., rather than on dealing with
those other stresses.



Second, I believe we must provide our bodies with all of the raw materials
needed to repair and/or rebuild damaged tissues, and in the amounts required
for that healing. Our bodies are sustaining extraordinary damage to our
myelin, so I believe our bodies need extraordinary amounts of the raw
materials for replacing (or rebuilding) that damaged myelin. If we fail to
supply those nutrients, or we fail to supply them in sufficient quantities,
our bodies are forced to do the best they can with what they have to work
with. And that often means our bodies must replace the damaged myelin with
scleroses (scar tissue), rather than new myelin.



Third, I believe we must provide the body with the rest it needs so that it
can focus its attention on its healing process, rather than on other things.
In the last decade or two, pediatric studies have shown that children do
most all of their growing while asleep. I believe our bodies must also be
at rest in order to heal most efficiently - and that is why we are so often
tired when we are sick, even with a cold or the flu.
My definition of "rest" includes mental and emotional rest, as well as
physical bed rest.



Finally, but perhaps most importantly, we must attend to our spiritual
needs, however we define those for ourselves. Studies continue to validate
that there is a very potent mind-body connection, and that our attitude
toward our disease is one of the most important factors in whether or not we
will successfully heal.





HOW MY PERSONAL REGIMEN DEVELOPED:


At the core of my personal regimen was my personal philosophy of the body's
inherent wisdom, and of its inherent will to heal.
So, as soon as I was diagnosed, I asked each of my doctors to explain to me
what raw materials the myelin sheath was made of. I was amazed that not one of
them could tell me.


So I explored everything I could find on M.S., mainstream and
non-mainstream. I had some Adele Davis nutrition books in my library, so
her writings offered my first clues to the makeup of myelin. I began
immediately with her recommendations for healing M.S. while I continued my
own research.


Although she wrote her books back in the 1950's, Davis' recommendations,
such as incorporating lecithin and essential fatty acids (two important "raw
materials" of myelin), along with other nutritional supplements and a very
healthy, low-fat diet, remain at the core of my own regimen. My vitamin and
supplement regimen has become more sophisticated over the years, and I have
incorporated new information as it has become available, but I find that
Adele Davis' philosophy of healing, and her nutritional recommendations,
remain sound.


Over these past 17+ years, I have continued, by myself and in partnership
with my more MD's to explore the possible physiology of multiple sclerosis.
Together, we continue our efforts to further identify and refine the body's
requirements for healing the damage caused by M.S.
We focus on healing modalities that are as natural to, agreeable to, and
"welcomed" by the human body as possible -- "body friendly", as they would call
it in the high-tech world.





MY REGIMEN:



I mentioned earlier that two of the primary "raw materials" of the myelin
sheath are lecithin and essential fatty acids, both of which are sorely
deficient in our western diets.


However, it's not quite that simple. The production of myelin, like so many
other functions within our bodies, is a complex process with a number of
"steps". Each step requires its own complement of raw materials, in the
form of nutrients, as well as various enzymes and catalysts. Just one weak
or missing element and the whole process breaks down. Therefore, my goal
has been to supply my body with a wide variety of quality nutrients. After
all, one cannot build a brick house out of straw!
Specifically,



(1) I use Dr. Roy L. Swank's Multiple Sclerosis Diet.


His diet book can be found in larger bookstores, ordered over the Internet,
or found at your local library. It's called "The Multiple Sclerosis Diet
Book". I urge you to check it out from the library and read it. The first
half of the book contains a lot of valuable information about M.S. that you
will not see elsewhere. The second half educates you about the diet.
Although I don't agree with everything in his book, I do believe that Dr.
Swank's diet is a key to reducing the number and severity of your "attacks".



If you suffer from the fatigue of M.S., this diet will eventually give you
much more energy than you ever dreamed you'd have again!


I believe the Swank diet is effective because it removes one of the major
impediments to healing our M.S. -- saturated and hydrogenated (or trans)
fats. I agree with Dr. Swank's research and clinical experience that these
"bad" fats act almost like a "poison" to those of us with M.S., that our
bodies just can't handle them.



In a way, I think we will eventually find that, whatever we discover to be the
initial cause of M.S., the effect is that our bodies simply can no longer
handle saturated, hydrogenated and "trans" fats -- much the way diabetics can
no longer "handle" certain sugars. No one really knows yet what specific agent
(virus or whatever) "causes" diabetes, nor what "causes" M.S. However, I
believe scientists will find that both diseases are metabolic disorders. In
diabetes, the ability to handle certain sugars is compromised; in M.S., it's
the ability to handle certain fats.



I also agree with Dr. Swank's idea that the damage resulting from
continued intake of "bad" fats appears to be cumulative over time -- rather
like the slow accumulation of lead poisoning, which also happens over years
of even low-level lead exposure.




You will find that mainstream doctors often pooh-pooh Dr. Swank and his diet.
I believe there are several major reasons for this:


a) The diet's effectiveness can't be proven by a double-blind study, which is
currently considered the only "scientific" way to "prove" the effectiveness of
any treatment. Obviously, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to
conduct a double-blind study on what we eat. Therefore, mainstream doctors
consider Dr. Swank's results "anecdotal" and throw the baby out with the bath
water.


b) There is little interest in funding research that does not result in a
marketable drug or treatment that can be sold for a profit to reimburse the
initial investment in the research.



c) Dr. Swank used complex, but accurate, diagnostic tools which were able to
diagnose M.S. before major damage had set in. Those patients who then followed
his regimen carefully regained their health, or at least arrested the
progression of their M.S., and mystified traditional neurologists.



d) A lot of M.S. patients report to their doctors that they have tried the
diet, or are on the diet, but it hasn't worked for them. I believe that these
patients have either given up too early, because they haven't seen immediate
results, or that they are only partially on the diet. Partially on the diet
doesn't cut it. And true healing is not a quick fix.




In my experience, the Swank diet really does work. I became a patient of
Dr. Swank's early in my disease. I had a chance to see, first hand, how
well his patients did when they had been strictly "on diet" for some time.
I also had the opportunity to see how poorly they typically did when they
followed the diet "most of the time", "part of the time" or none of the
time. It was truly amazing, the difference.


I personally knew a number of Dr. Swank's patients who had been in
wheelchairs, or even bedridden, when they found Dr. Swank and went on his
diet. Many of them were not only up and around today, no one would ever
guess they had M.S.!



Every single M.S. patient that I know who follows this diet faithfully does
much, much better long-term than those I've known who haven't followed the
diet, or have followed it only partially. The diet truly does seem to reduce
the frequency, and severity, of exacerbations for every person I know who is
faithful to it. However, like any other true healing, progress comes
slowly. It took me 18 months of being absolutely faithful on the Swank diet
to even begin to feel its effects, but boy, was it worth it!
The Swank diet isn't easy for me, and it probably won't be for you, either.
We all love to eat! And most of us love all those things that aren't
"legal" on the Swank diet.




Food is such a basic comfort -- and heaven knows we with M.S. need some comfort
in our lives! So it becomes a choice - we must decide whether we would we
rather have the immediate gratification of eating the foods we so enjoy, or
would we rather do everything we can to preserve our health, long-term. When
we're hungry and faced with one of our favorite foods, it's often not an easy
choice to make. Nevertheless, if you can do it, the long-term benefits of the
Swank diet are wonderful.



Besides, the Swank diet is a healthy Diet that most anyone would benefit from.
It is similar to diets recommended by the American Heart Association and
others. So, by being on diet, we may be preventing other health conditions
which could further complicate our lives.



And, being "on diet" is a lot easier to do these days than it was when I
started, back in 1984. We have SO many fat-free foods now that weren't
available then! And, once you get the hang of it, it's a cinch to convert most
of your favorite recipes to "legal" ones. I even make a wonderful, gooey pizza
that is "legal"! And you should taste my brownies!!! With a little practice,
you'll get good enough at it that people won't believe you when you tell them
that what you are serving is "legal"! (I will be happy to share recipes and
tips with those of you who are interested.) In my experience, the diet works,
and it's a healthy Diet as well. Who cares if its benefits to M.S. cannot be
"proven" in a scientist's double-blind study?



I urge you to at least take the time to learn more about Dr. Swank's diet, and
then decide for yourself. Your doctors may tell you that they've seen M.S.
patients who tried the diet and it didn't work for them. They probably have.
But hopefully, they won't discourage you from using the Swank diet, because it
is a healthy Diet for most anyone, even those without M.S. Just remember that
the diet is not a quick fix -- many folks give up too soon, or they have only
been partially on diet, and that doesn't work.





(2) I take high-quality, high-potency, vitamin and mineral supplements, to
provide my body with the building blocks to build my overall health and to
provide the raw materials needed to rebuild/replace damaged myelin.
Nutrition was not Dr. Swank's specialty, so he doesn't talk about it much in
his book. However, if you add a wide variety of high-quality foods and
nutritional supplements to the diet, I believe the combination is much more
effective than either diet or supplementation alone.



Just be careful. It's very easy to take the wrong supplements, or the right
supplements in the wrong amounts. It's crucial that we get this right. Try
to remember that, when it comes to nutritional supplements, you most often
get what you pay for. Please avoid the One-A-Day or Centrum type
supplements, or the kind one can buy at Costco or your typical drug store.
To get what you really need, expect to pay about $45 a month for a quality,
all-around vitamin/mineral supplement.



I know that sounds expensive. However, I am convinced that high quality,
high potency vitamins, along with the Swank diet, will WORK. Just give it
time. After all, is anything more important to us than our preserving or
regaining our health?



For many years, I did my own research to find out what supplements I should
take, how much, and in what form. The more I learned, the more I realized
that vitamin companies often don't use the best ingredients or the best
combination of ingredients. I found I had to buy many of my supplements
individually in order to get the amounts in the proportions most beneficial
to me. I had bottles everywhere!




Finally, however, I have now found a line of supplements of very high
quality, made of the right compounds, and offered in the correct amounts.
They were developed by a M.D. whose healing practice focuses on healing
through nutrition and lifestyle changes. His name is Dr. Julian Whitaker,
and his website is http://www.drwhitaker.com/. I encourage you to learn
more about him and his philosophy at his website. His vitamin formulas can
be ordered through
http://www.healthydirections.com/



If you carefully study the formulations on his website and then shop around,
perhaps you will be able to find a comparable quality supplement system for
a bit less money. If you can, that's great. So far, I haven't found
anything better, but that doesn't mean it isn't out there. What I like
about Dr. Whitaker's formulas is that he uses the highest quality individual
vitamins, and in the appropriate amounts. Not only that, he has made it
easy for the layperson to target specific health concerns with a number of
specific formulas, like the Glucose Essentials program for those concerned
about blood sugar, for example.



Anyway, the core of my vitamin regimen has become Dr. Whitaker's Forward
Plus Daily Regimen in packets, along with the Essential Greens and his
"Neurovascular Support" formula. You will find detailed information on
these products at
http://www.healthydirections.com/
Always read and carefully follow package directions, of course.





(By the way, I have no affiliation with Dr. Whitaker or Healthy Directions. I
simply have learned a lot about nutrition and nutritional supplements over the
years, and I consider Dr. Whitaker's formulas exceptionally good, overall.)



Here's a list of some of the Dr. Whitaker formulas I take, and why. I take all
according to the directions on the labels, unless otherwise noted:


* Forward Plus Daily Regimen in packets (basic health support)


* Essential Greens (basic health support)


* Neuro-Vascular Support (supports healthy nerves; contains Evening Primrose
Oil, which has been shown to be especially helpful in M.S.; anti-oxidants and
anti-inflammatories; and alpha lipoic acid, which is used in Europe to treat
peripheral nerve degeneration and to protect nerves against oxidative stress).


* Vision Essentials (powerful support if you have any visual disturbances; many
ingredients in this formula also provide valuable support for nerve tissue)


* Coenzyme Q10 (powerful antioxidant, helps metabolize fats)


* Melatonin (an antioxidant; also assists in energy production, anti-aging,
protects against degenerative diseases, aids in restful sleep) Start with 1 mg
per day at bedtime if you are 50 or older. Many younger folks probably won't
need this supplement.)


* Digestive Enzyme Complex (several studies have shown that a majority of M.S.
patients produce insufficient stomach (hydrochloric) acid, and are deficient in
digestive enzymes, resulting in poor digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
(Betaine HCl (hydrochloric acid) has many liver-supporting and neurological
functions.)


* Joint Essentials (great for maintaining mobility. The Joint Essentials
formula includes the following, which have shown significant benefits to M.S.
patients:


* Green Tea (antioxidant and reduces clotting tendency of blood. M.S. patients
have abnormal platelet aggregation or "sticky platelets")


* Grape Seed Extract (or Pycogenol) (powerful antioxidant, protects brain and
spinal nerves against free-radical damage, moderates inflammatory responses)


* Sea Cucumber (beneficial for inflammatory diseases by improving the balance
of prostaglandins, which regulate inflammatory processes)


* Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) (important organic sulfur compound that assists
in healing damaged tissues, aids in immune function, detoxification, and many
other functions) (Note: Since I wrote this, Dr. Whitaker has removed MSM from
his Joint Essentials formula and offers the MSM separately as a powder. I
prefer capsules, so I buy my MSM separately now. I take 1,000 mg per day.)


* DHEA under doctor's supervision. (Low blood levels of this natural hormone
are associated with many degenerative conditions, including M.S.; also helps
memory) I take one capsule every 3 days so my body doesn't become dependent on
this supplement)


* L-Carnitine (assists in essential fatty acid utilization. EFA's are vital
to repairing myelin)




I also take vitamin B-12 and folic acid supplements, in the form of
self-injections (1,000 mcg of B-12 every 3 days). Vitamin B-12 is an essential
building block of myelin (which means our requirements for this vitamin are
much higher than "normal" people's requirements). B-12 also prevents nerve
damage by protecting the myelin sheath. It helps with energy production and
the proper utilization of fats and eases the Depression often associated with
M.S. A great many of us with M.S. do not absorb oral B-12 supplements well.
Folic acid and B-12 work as partners, so I take both.


If you would like to try oral supplementation of B-12, be sure to get B-12
sublingual spray or tablets. If you can find sublingual co-enzymated B-12,
that's even better, because that form is more easily absorbed and utilized by
the body.) Use 1,000 mcg twice daily.



Thiamine (vital to nerve function, cognitive ability, brain function, is also
helpful for numbness, tingling, sensitivity to pain.) I take an additional 100
mg 3x daily. Dr. Carlton Fredericks, M.D, in North Carolina is having great
success treating M.S. with high doses of thiamine and other nutrients,
including MSM, riboflavin and others.




I take 1-2 tablespoons per day of organic, cold-pressed oil with meals to
provide essential fatty acids (EFA's). This is very important. EFA's are
vital raw materials for the repair/replacement of myelin. They also aid in the
transmission of nerve impulses, serve to strengthen the immune system, and are
vital to many other functions in the human body. The typical American diet is
very deficient in EFA's. Since those of us with M.S. have higher requirements
for EFA's because of our constant need to repair and rebuild myelin, I think it
is very important for us to supplement our intake of EFA's. I vary from the
Swank diet in that I take these oils in addition to the oil allowance on the
Swank diet.



I prefer to use the oils themselves, and use formulas balanced between Omega 3
and Omega 6. I take one tablespoon with my morning meal, and one tablespoon
with my evening meal. If you are having an exacerbation, take more. Just be
sure to take with natural Vitamin E, which protects these EFA's. If you are
thin or have lost weight, or you have cravings for junk food or fatty foods,
increase to 3 tablespoons per day. I have found that I don't crave the fats
"forbidden" on the Swank diet when I'm getting enough EFAs, and that makes it
much easier to avoid "illegal" foods.


These oils are available in the refrigerated section of quality health food
stores. IT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP THESE OILS TIGHTLY CLOSED AND REFRIGERATED AT
ALL TIMES. They are very unstable and will go rancid (oxidize) easily, not
only losing their nutritional value, but in fact becoming useless and even
unhealthy to the body (by creating free radicals). Never cook with these oils.




I personally use "Essential Balance" oil by Omega Nutrition or "Udo's Choice",
but there are other high-quality brands out there, too. Some people prefer
flax seed oil, which is good, too.



I take 3 Dale Alexander cod liver oil capsules daily, for additional vitamin A
and D, and for the essential fish oils they contain. Cod liver oil has been
shown to be highly effective in treating M.S. It has the additional benefit of
helping to prevent infections, including colds and flu; and infections can
trigger or exacerbate M.S. attacks. Always take NON-concentrated cod liver oil
- we WANT those "extra" essential fish oils.


(Although this supplement increases the total amount of vitamins A and D in
your supplement regimen and your physician may caution against them due to the
possibility of A and D toxicity, this is old information. It has been found
that A and D toxicity are rare, even in high doses, when the natural forms of
these vitamins are taken. Toxicity has resulted from the synthetic forms of
these fat-soluble vitamins, however, and it is this toxicity that has created
the concern. The sources in my recommendations are all natural sources of these
vitamins. I have taken high doses of these natural vitamins for decades
without any deleterious effects, and my blood levels are monitored as part of
my periodic blood workups. However, you will want to make your own decision
about this.




I take 1-2 tablespoons of granular lecithin with my morning meal and again with
my evening meal. Lecithin is one of the major building blocks of myelin. It
works with the EFA's and many other nutrients to produce myelin. (And a
wonderful side benefit is that it will help reduce cholesterol and keep your
arteries "clean"!)



Like EFA's, granular lecithin is also unstable in the presence of oxygen. I
buy lecithin either vacuum packed in a can, or I buy it in bulk in the
refrigerated section of my health food store. I keep mine in my freezer,
sealed tightly to avoid exposure to oxygen.



Lecithin is virtually tasteless and dissolves readily, so this supplement is
easy to incorporate into my diet. Sometimes I sprinkle mine on my morning
cereal. Sometimes I mix it into warm sauces (e.g. spaghetti sauce) or soups.
Sometimes I simply mix it into fruit juice.


I take one 400 I.U. natural, with mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols vitamin E
capsule with morning and evening meals, in addition to the amount found in the
Forward Plus Daily Regimen packets. This additional vitamin E helps protect
the stability of the lecithin and essential oils I take. Vitamin E also helps
maintain the integrity of our blood-brain barrier, which is often compromised
in M.S.



Knowing what I know now about vitamins, I would NEVER take synthetic vitamin E,
the dl-alpha tocopherol acetate kind. I will only take d-alpha tocopherol
acetate, and I always make sure my vitamin E supplement contains those extra
"mixed tocopherols" as well. I consider this very important.


The "real thing" vitamin E is more expensive, but it is well worth the
additional expense. Some synthetic vitamins are equal in nutritional value to
natural ones, because they are exactly the same chemical compounds, but that is
not true of vitamin E. The synthetic and natural forms of vitamin E are not
the same compounds, as indicated by the different letters "d-" versus "dl-" in
their chemical names, and the synthetic form ("dl-") has been shown to be
significantly less effective.



I also prefer vitamin E supplements which contain "mixed tocopherols" and
tocotrienols, along with the d-alpha tocopherol. Scientists are not sure what
those other tocopherols and tocotrienols "do" yet. However, since all are
found together with vitamin E in Nature, we're probably going to discover some
day that they all work together.


The brand I prefer is Carlson E-Gems Elite, because it contains not only the
mixed tocopherols, but also the naturally occurring mixed tocotrienols as well.




I try to be sure I eat enough high-quality protein -- just making sure it's not
high-fat protein! I've found I do best on a high-protein diet, and it seems to
be true for many of my M.S. acquaintances as well. Protein is vital to repair
and rebuilding of body tissues, as well as to many other functions.



By the way, studies continue to confirm the old wives' tale that fish really is
brain food. This is especially true for those of us with M.S., because fish
contains high-quality, low-saturated-fat protein, plus EFA's -- which are found
especially in cold-water fish, like halibut and salmon. I had to learn to like
fish, but now I enjoy it. In my case, the crucial secret for me is having very
fresh fish!



And I try not to forget those fresh fruits and veggies!


I also try to focus on organic foods and those processed as little as
possible. I just read recently that the amount of pesticides used on our foods
has increased 900% since 1945. That's a horrendous increase! And that doesn't
even take into account all the other harmful chemicals, such as fertilizers,
that we put on our food crops! Nor does it address the issues of all the
hormones and Antibiotics given to animals, etc. It all adds up to one thing:
Our body systems are barraged with chemicals foreign to them, which our bodies
must find some way of dealing with. We are told these chemicals are "safe" -
and yet years later we often discover that these so-called "safe" chemicals are
indeed dangerous. So I try to buy organic, when I can, just to reduce another
possible "insult" that my body would have to work on.




(10) Drink plenty of filtered water, at least eight 8 oz. glasses per day, more
if you can.


Although we assume our tap water is clean and pure, but most often, it isn't.
It contains harmful chemicals, including chlorine, toxic fluoride salts, heavy
metals, fertilizers and pesticides, and even harmful bacteria and parasites,
all of which provide extra stresses to our bodies. Buying a good water filter
is a wonderful gift to yourself.




(11) I take what exercise I can to keep my body flexible and strong.


However, I pay attention to what my body tells me. If I feel ill or weak, or
am having symptoms, especially fatigue, I do not exercise. If I feel poorly or
have fatigue after exercising, I know I'm over-doing, stressing my body, and
therefore creating an "impediment to healing". If that happens, I REST IN BED
until my fatigue lifts, and scale my exercise program back to a level my body
can deal with.




(12) A word about REST...


This is a really hard one for those of us who have M.S. Most of us were highly
active and highly productive people before we got M.S. However, as part of
listening and honoring our bodies, we do need to learn to rest when our bodies
ask for rest.


Our bodies ask for rest in the form of fatigue. I believe our bodies "ask for
rest" by getting tired when they want to focus on their healing and repair
work.


By "resting", I mean bed rest, not resting by sitting in a chair or on a sofa.
I have found through experience, as did Dr. Swank in his 45+ years of treating
M.S. patients, that sitting rest has little benefit and that bed rest is much
more beneficial for those of us with M.S. We are not sure why this is, it just
IS. (You will learn more about rest in Dr. Swank's diet book.)



It makes sense, though. The medical profession is well aware that babies and
children do the majority of their growing while they are asleep, and that
children who receive inadequate amounts of sleep have poorer health than those
who get plenty of sleep.


As adults, we all know that our bodies want to sleep more when we are injured,
sick, or otherwise in need of healing. We are aware, too, that even our mental
health suffers when we get inadequate sleep. So, if you feel like sleeping,
SLEEP! It's one of the best things you can do to help your body with its
repair work.


Almost everyone has experienced the fatigue of the flu, for example. We seem
to understand that the fatigue of the flu is our body's way of demanding that
we STOP so it can fight the flu virus and reverse the damage it is causing. We
allow ourselves, and others, to be sick in bed with the flu... Why is it so
many of us with M.S. won't allow ourselves to be "sick" in bed when our M.S.
flares up and we experience its profound fatigue?


I believe it's because we are culturally conditioned to feel we need to be
"strong" and "overcome" our disease and not "give into it". In fact, we often
feel quite noble when we can do so. We may try to "work past" the fatigue, or
we may take a prescription drug (like Amantadine) - or even coffee - to cover
it up, but in any event, we don't "allow" the fatigue to "win".


I believe this is a serious mistake for our long-term health and healing.


You may be in a situation where you have no choice but to cover up your
fatigue. But do think about this: When we ignore ANY of our symptoms, we are
in effect telling our bodies to "Shut up!" -- and that's not partnering with
our bodies!



If we decide to take a prescription (such as Amantadine) to alleviate our M.S.
fatigue, we are still telling our bodies to "Shut up!" The drug will cover up
our fatigue so we can go on with our busy lives. Meanwhile, our bodies are
unable to focus on the healing and repair work they want and need to do. As a
culture, I believe we should consider the possible long-term cost of working
against our bodies and their healing process, rather than with them...


I believe we must always keep in mind that our bodies are trying to cope with a
very serious disease, and do that coping on top of the normal activities that
healthy people deal with. When we take a pharmaceutical, our bodies must cope
with that foreign chemical, too, as well as with our M.S. and our normal
activities.


No wonder our bodies are overwhelmed!


Instead of trying to overcome the fatigue with will power or drugs, I have
learned over the years that I do much, much better if I give my body what it is
asking for when I am fatigued: Rest, bed rest.






(13) I have learned to take time for my spiritual self.



This has been a whole new experience for me. I have learned that MS is more
than a disease -- it is an opportunity for us to learn some important lessons
we might never learn without its presence in our lives.


My first attack was so severe it stopped me in its tracks and, for all
practical purposes, forced me to reevaluate my priorities in life. The process
took years, and is still happening, but I am a different person today than I
was in 1984 -a much more grounded, serene, and gentle person, I think. I
honestly believe that I would never have looked at my life that carefully, had
it not been for the life-changing diagnosis of M.S. So, this is one area
where, for me, M.S. has been a very great gift. M.S. is very often accompanied
by depression, and I've had my share. Without a spiritual perspective, the
unpredictable ups and downs of M.S. can be especially depressing. Even with a
spiritual perspective, I sometimes can get depressed over my occasional
symptoms and the toll they take on my life!



I was an atheist when I got M.S. In fact, I once kicked a good friend out of
my house when she suggested we pray together for my healing. I was so very
angry then. If there was a God, why would he do this to me? What had I ever
done to deserve this?



Over the years, I have changed. I have discovered my own, comfortable
relationship with God - the Creator, the Universe, or whatever label we choose
to call that Force that is behind everything. I have found a new appreciation
for Nature, and a new relationship with Her. I'm not evangelical or a fanatic,
I simply have found a side of myself I didn't realize I needed, my spiritual
self. It has given me perspective, and I consider the discovery of my
spiritual self one of the greatest gifts that M.S. has brought into my life.




Now I try read or listen to inspirational, uplifting books and/or tapes on a
daily basis. I try to devote some quiet time to contemplation of what I am
learning. And, I try to put some of it into practice.


Here are just a couple of things that have helped me. Right after my
diagnosis, for example, Dr. Seigel's "Love, Medicine and Miracles" gave me
inspiration to take control over my M.S., and my relationship with M.S. Dr.
Seigel (as well as Dr. Swank) helped me realize that I don't have to be a
"victim" of M.S. It's a choice. I can be a "victim" or a "victor".



These days I listen to Anne Murray's "It's a Wonderful World" CD every morning,
as I sit out on my porch with my coffee. Her wonderful selections help me
start my day with hope and help me keep things in perspective. With a little
exploring, you will find the right spiritual tools for YOU.





(14) I try to cultivate patience.



(This is still the one of the hardest things for me to do on a daily basis!)


Physicians who focus on true healing of M.S. (and other diseases) suggest that
it may take two years of following a healing program, such as the one I'm
describing, to overcome one year of M.S. (or other disease).


Sometimes progress if faster, sometimes it's slower, but that's the average
that they see.



In our society, we have learned to want, and expect, immediate gratification.
We expect to see at least some results quickly. When we don't see quick
results, we often assume something isn't working. Please, try to be patient,
if you can. True healing is often gradual and "silent", but it IS happening.
It's a bit like growing was, when we were youngsters -- we couldn't see or feel
our bodies growing from day to day, but it was happening!


Those of you who have had M.S. for a long time, and who are significantly
disabled, may require more time, because your body has much more repair work to
do. And frankly, there may be some damage that is never fully healed.


(I still have a plaque or two - just not enough these days for a neurologist
unfamiliar with my case to diagnose M.S.)


Those of you who are very newly diagnosed, or who have little or no disability,
may see significant healing in only a year or two.


So please, have patience. REAL healing takes time. After all, it took us X
amount of time to get into our current condition -- it may take as much as 2X
or even longer to get better, but I sincerely believe you WILL get better! If
I can and others can, you can, too.


It took me 18 months of being on the Swank diet and my vitamins to notice
enough difference to be able to say with any confidence "This really does
work!" Talk about a lesson in patience! But it was SO worth it! Once you
stabilize, you'll start moving toward feeling like your old self. It takes
time, but I am convinced it will happen for you, as it has happened for me, and
others.



After all these years on my regimen, I am more convinced than ever that our
bodies will do their repair work IF we give everything they need to do so and
then are patient. We may not be able to "cure" our M.S., but we can certainly
help our bodies repair its damage. We can minimize our symptoms, the number of
our exacerbations, and the damage done to our nervous systems. So, I continue
to try to pay attention, to listen to the messages my body is trying to send
me, and then to respond to its needs as best I can. Remember, it's all about
partnership.


And try to remember that true healing is a much slower process than the "quick
fix" we have been taught to expect from pharmaceuticals that simply cover up
symptoms. Most important, I have learned over these past 17+ years that, if I
take care of my body, it WILL take care of me.






(15) I do acupuncture once a week.



I almost hesitate to mention acupuncture here. This is certainly optional. It
may appeal to you, or it may not. It may work for you, or it may not. I'm not
very keen on "needles" myself. I hate shots, or having my blood drawn.
However, acupuncture is not as uncomfortable as I expected it to be. The
needles are SO thin that often I don't even feel them. (At other times, I'm
hypersensitive. Then it's not as easy for me.)


Just be sure you find a highly qualified acupuncturists. It seems there are
many certifications floating around out there, and some are better than
others. (My current acupuncturist is an M.D. who received his acupuncture
training through the AMA - how's that for progress!)



I don't quite understand all the details of how acupuncture works.


However, it was the key to my recovering my vision when I lost it and nothing
else was working. And I have found that it does help me even now - especially
if I do it on at least a weekly basis and then go home for several hours of bed
rest immediately afterward (while it "takes"?) Acupuncture isn't always a quick
fix, either, but done properly, it gently stimulates the nerves that aren't
working properly. As I understand it, acupuncture helps us balance the
electrical energies of the body -- and we all know that our nerves function
electrically... At any rate, I believe it's helping over the long term,
especially with my "restless leg syndrome" and other tics and spasms. I think
it helps with many other things as well.


It helped a LOT when I had optic neuritis in 1984. My first M.S. attack was
bi-lateral optic neuritis, a very severe case. I was totally blind for 3
months, and nothing was helping -- not Prednisone, not the other drugs
prescribed. The doctors began hinting that I may not regain my eyesight,
because I had been blind so long. The longer I was blind, they told me, the
more permanent the damage would be to the optic nerve.




Yet, on my trip home from my first acupuncture visit, I began to see red tail
lights -- dimly, but the first thing I'd "seen" in months --. Was that an
interesting coincidence, a placebo effect, or did my combination of supplements
and acupuncture really help? I guess I'll never really know. Acupuncture is
another treatment for which it would be difficult to do a double-blind study.


One thing I do think about is how acupuncture has been around for thousands of
years, while our current medical paradigm is only a couple of hundred years
old, at best. If acupuncture didn't work, would it have stood the test of time
through the millennia?






(16) I found a physician who is in alignment with my philosophy of healing and
my health regimen.




Whatever your philosophy about your own healing, or this disease, or whatever
your personal regimen, find a doctor who understands where you are coming from,
where you want to go, and how you want to get there.


After years of searching, I believe I have (finally) found such a physician for
myself. For those of you who might be interested, he is Dr. George Gillson
(M.D.) at the Tahoma Clinic in Kent, Washington. (The Tahoma Clinic was
founded by Dr. Jonathan Wright, who used to write articles for Prevention
Magazine and others. Dr. Wright is the author of several books on natural
healing, and is a leader in the field of natural medicine.)


I first met with Dr. Gillson in June of this year, and I am extremely
impressed. For the first time in years, I felt like I'd found a doctor who was
well worth every penny I spent. Dr. Gillson has a special interest in M.S. and
in the natural healing of M.S. He has treated about 300 M.S. patients, and
focuses on his own clinical M.S. studies, as well as following the progress of
other researchers. Currently, Dr. Gillson is conducting a double-blind study
on the Procarin (histamine) patch, for example. He recommends a diet and
supplement regimen for his patients, as well. In fact, our programs are very
similar.


Dr. Gillson is the very first physician I have met who is in alignment with my
philosophy of natural healing and knows more about natural healing of M.S. than
I do! (I don't mean that to sound as egotistical and arrogant as it must
sound. It's just that physicians receive very little training in nutrition or
health-building - or even preventive medicine - during their schooling or
subsequent training. As I mentioned before, their training is in medicine,
i.e. using drugs, surgery, radiation, etc., to relieve disease - or at least
the symptoms of it.




After so many years of such schooling, it's hard for traditionally trained MD's
to "climb out of the box", so to speak, and educate themselves in a new and
different mind-set. Therefore, few MD's ever become "true healers", as I call
them - healing by helping the patient deliver what the body requires for its
own healing process. Dr. Gillson has.
{NOTE: Since this was written, Dr. Gillson has moved back to his native
Canada.}




Since the Tahoma Clinic focuses its attention on natural healing, people come
to the Clinic from all over the country. If you're interested, you can find
more information about the Tahoma Clinic on the Clinic's website:
http://www.tahomaclinic.com/





(17) I had my mercury Amalgam dental fillings removed.


There are a number of studies indicating that mercury contamination may cause
neurological symptoms similar to M.S. and/or exacerbate symptoms already
present. Many M.S. patients report improvement in their condition after
removal of their Amalgam fillings. But be careful. Improperly done, you may
end up ingesting more mercury than you would have had you left your fillings
alone! Be sure you find a dentist who truly understands and believes the
dangers of mercury and who uses rubber dams and the other important tools to
minimize any possible ingestion of the Amalgam dust as it is removed.




(18) Avoid aspartame.



Several studies have indicated that Aspartame (NutraSweet, etc.) is harmful to
the human body, as both a neurotoxin and possibly in setting up the body for
insulin resistance and potential later diabetes. I used to drink a lot of
"diet" soda pop and other beverages containing aspartame. Aspartame used in
coffee, tea or other heated foods and beverages can be especially harmful,
since heat changes the Aspartame into formaldehyde-like substances. I don't
touch anything with aspartame (or any other artificial sweetener) anymore.



I sincerely hope some of this information will be helpful to you as you find
your own path through your journey with M.S. If you do decide to try some of
the things I have done, I'd love to hear from you as you see results. Please
feel free to email me if you have questions, or want clarification, or just
want some support. I'd love to hear from you!



Good luck -- and best of health to you!


Karlen Gunderson
karlen@methow.com
 

 
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