It is a question, I am sure many of us MSers ask. “Why does MS Relapse and Remit?” Somewhere along the line, I coined the phrase: “My body is at war, a war it cannot win, the outcome is uncertain as protagonists are within.”
Why does MS Relapse and Remit? “A good question” you may say and I don’t pretend to have the answer. Having experienced the condition for many years, I feel I have some understanding of why this might be. Any theories I put forward here are suppositions on my part because I am not a qualified physician.
Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder. Where the white blood cells, of the immune system, regard the protein in myelin (the fatty, protective sheath surrounding the nerve fibres) as alien to the body. And attack this “unwelcome” intruder.
This attack on the myelin protein causes the fatty sheath to break down. Thus, leaving scars or sclerosis on the nerve fibres. Once the myelin is damaged in this fashion, the nerve signals are prevented from passing normally along the nerve fibres. This may lead to the signals being lost or misrouted causing any of the typical MS symptoms such as; loss of muscle control, erroneous pain and poor balance.
The onset of the MS Relapse
This myelin degradation gives rise to a period of increased disability in the patient. This is known as a relapse or flare in Multiple Sclerosis.
However, our bodies try to repair this damage. And the resulting repairs lead to periods of remission before the immune system again takes the upper hand.
This includes your myelin. As soon as the myelin damage occurs the body begins regrowing new myelin tissue to repair the damage. As this happens the nerve function returns to normal, or near-normal, and a period of remission develops.
But, the immune system still sees this myelin protein as alien so, continues to attack it. This results in the cyclic pattern of MS relapse and remission experienced by those MSers with RRMS.
SPMS and PPMS are no different. There are still periods where the neurological effects are more noticeable than at other times. But with Secondary Progressive and Primary Progressive MS, the periods of remission are still way below what might be considered normal therefore no real recovery is perceived. This phase of the disease is called progressive because it is worsening. The myelin damage is becoming more severe, the nerve function is weakening and bodily function is evaporating.
I have coined the phrase “My body is at war, a war it cannot win. The outcome is uncertain as both protagonists are within.” For me, this sums up the constant swaying between relative health and extreme disability that I experience.
Controlling your MS Relapse
Now, I cannot speak for the experience of others, particularly the experience of others with different autoimmune disorders. However, I now believe that we can do something about these debilitating conditions.
I recently purchased a copy of the book “The Wahls Protocol” by Dr Terry Wahls. In it, the good doctor talks about what she believes is happening in our bodies. She makes a lot of sense and, I immediately adopted her dietary protocol. I have been following this diet for just over three months and can report a significant improvement in my health.
My MS symptoms have not disappeared, far from it, but, I have had MS for over 20 years, which I know of. I may have had underlying food intolerances all of my life. So, these intolerances took upwards of 30 years to manifest as the disease we call Multiple Sclerosis so, three months on the diet is unlikely to reverse those effects.
Now, this diet is NOT a cure for MS.
If following the Wahls Protocol can halt or reverse the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, that is as good as a cure in my opinion.
If the diet works then you will be on it for life. The intolerances that allowed MS to raise its ugly head are still there and will always be there. The modern food industry has evolved faster than our bodies, so we must adapt as best as we can.
A prolonged period of disease activity with the associated increase in symptoms is typical of an MS Relapse. I have not had such an episode for many years. This sounds positive but, I also believe my Multiple Sclerosis has progressed beyond the relapse/remission stage.
Stem cell treatment
Is stem cell replacement therapy a viable treatment for multiple sclerosis? This is a possible aid for the MS patient that has been prominent in the news lately.
But, I have serious concerns about the implications of having a blood transfusion to rebuild my immune system.
My wife was convinced by the argument and was sure we should be dipping into our hard-earned savings to finance a trip to Amsterdam. Or some other clinic offering this treatment.
However, I didn’t believe the claims. Yes, this stem cell therapy would build a new immune system.
But, it is not removing the environment that caused the original immune system to fail. I was certain that any benefit was likely to be temporary.
My suspicions have been borne out. Several recipients of this controversial therapy have made it into the media.
After their initial miracle health improvement, they have relapsed. Sometimes, quite badly. Returning them to their old health, or worse.
To my mind. The worst outcome would be crushing disappointment.
However, there are better options. Diet! Why are you banging on about diet again?
Because, believe it or not. A fasting diet could rebuild your immune system without visiting an expensive clinic.
Food for thought. And yes, the pun was very much intended.
I did have some information about the fasting diet published on this blog. But, for reasons beyond the remit of this article, they have been deleted.
Instead, I would refer you to a very interesting article by Dr Miriam Stoppard which should provide much more credence than any words I can shuffle together.
Originally, I heard about this diet from Dr Michael Moseley when he presented the documentary “Eat, fast and live longer”.
The gist of this restricted eating pattern is that the reduced feeding triggers the immune system to regrow. This renewal process will build a new immune system, quite naturally.
The fasting pattern I have chosen is the 5:2 diet where you fast for two days of the week and then eat normally for the remaining 5 days.
I found this fasting pattern attractive and achievable because you don’t need to completely starve yourself on the fast days. This eating plan requires you to limit your daily consumption to 300 calories.
Additionally, IF or Intermittent Fasting is reputed to increase your lifespan. Rebuilding your immune system and improving your longevity have got to be two reasons for you to try IF.