Holistic Approaches for Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20-40, but it can affect younger and older people too. Roughly three times as many women have MS as men. [1]

MS is when the body itself attacks the myelin sheath in an auto-immune response. The myelin sheath’s function is to insulate the nerves. When it is compromised it causes the neurotransmitters to function less effectively, slowing or blocking messages between body and brain. This creates tingling sensations, fatigue, tremors, pain and trouble balancing.

Dr Mercola states “While your body does have the ability to repair myelin naturally, this process tends to become less effective as you get older. Now, however, researchers [from University of Cambridge] have uncovered a natural option that might play a major role in boosting the repair of damaged myelin in people with MS: vitamin D.”[2] This emerging research is also presented by the Multiple Sclerosis society.[3]

I have been aware of MS right from the beginning of my reflexology career through my tutor, Julie Crossman, and her experience with her close and continued work with MS sufferers. During my training and professional career it is always the nervous and digestive systems I focus on within a reflexology session for an MS sufferer. A course of Reflexology Lymph Drainage would aim to help too from the auto-immune angle: isolating the immune system reflexes intends to boost and seek rebalance.

Delayed nervous responses such as moving a hand away from a hot surface, or weakening bladder control can be debilitating. The latter example causes further problems because many sufferers deliberately drink less to try to reduce this symptom but in doing so can cause bowel problems and constipation. Less water is not going to help anyone: our bodies need around two litres per day to carry out its vital functions.

ID-100140238My advice alongside following a healthy diet (full of fresh fruit and vegetables and a good water intake), would be to take a high quality Multi Vitamin and Mineral supplement, alongside a Vitamin D supplement (ensuring you intake lots of leafy greens too), Vitamin B complex, as well as boosting your antioxidant levels. The NYRO supplements are superior because they are plant-based and organic, and are synergistic blends. Vitamins and minerals don’t work in isolation so it is important to take a good quality Multi Vitamin and Mineral supplement alongside a healthy diet to give yourself a good foundation.

Reflexology can also be beneficial from an emotional angle. Dr Mercola states “More often than not, some form of hidden emotional wound can also be found in patients suffering with autoimmune diseases like MS.” This has also been my findings from other readings of the condition by Ann Gillanders. The profound relaxation that reflexology invokes can create an emotional release for some people.

[1] https://www.mssociety.org.uk/what-is-ms

[2] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/12/21/vitamin-d-multiple-sclerosis.aspx?e_cid=20151221Z2_DNL_art_2&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art2&utm_campaign=20151221Z2&et_cid=DM93237&et_rid=1273927785

[3] https://www.mssociety.org.uk/ms-research/emerging-areas/vitamin-d

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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Winter is here so where will we get our Vitamin D from?

Generally known as the “sunshine vitamin”, our main source of Vitamin D is from the sun. It is needed in the body for healthy teeth and bones, but it also has links to other diseases such as mulitple sclerosis, depression, cancer, autism (lots of research is ongoing).

sunshine

Vitamin D is make via ultra violet (UV) light, and this type of light comes with health warnings during the summer months which is why we wear sun cream. There are 3 types of UV light: UVA, UVB and UVC.

UVB is the one which makes Vitamin D. During the winter months, the UK is at too higher latitude (above 35 degrees north of the equator) meaning only UVA hits the earth’s surface. There is insufficient UVB for the body to make Vitamin D during the winter months here in the UK.[1]

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means that it can be stored within the body (unlike water soluble vitamins such as B and C which cannot be stored and any excess will be excreted via the urine). Some people can store enough Vitamin D to last through the winter months without any problems.

However many people might be deficient in Vitamin D because they don’t go outside very much.  Examples include disease and illness forces them to stay indoors, they live a sedentary lifestyle watching TV for large proportions of the day, they work long hours in front of a computer, or they use so much sun block during the summer that their skin is not exposed to the UVB rays.

This is why a supplement is a good idea particularly over the winter months in the UK and other northern hemisphere countries. Combine the insufficient UVB and the little Vitamin D we get from our diets (oily fish and eggs) gives you a good reason to supplement.

In the UK the recommended amount is 400 international units (10 micrograms) a day for adults at risk of deficiency because of lack of sunlight. [1] But as we are all at risk of this during the winter months, my own opinion is to supplement daily.

Research data from the University of Aberdeen[1] suggests that Vitamin D status was higher for people who took sunny holidays abroad, and for those who were taking fish oils. The latter can be explained 2-fold: fish oils do contain small amounts of Vitamin D, and also fish oils are an essential fatty acid which optimises the body to store Vitamin D (remember Vitamin D is fat soluble).

Dr Mercola also suggests a Vitamin D supplement is optimised if taken alongside some healthy fat.[2] He also argues that 400IU is not enough and recommends a higher dose, however a study carried out by the University of Aberdeen showed that when the daily amount was increased from 400IU to 1000IU the marker of Vitamin D only increased by a small amount, revealing that the body is reluctant to increase to much higher levels.

It is important to remember that although you can take too much Vitamin D, there is a wide safety margin. So whether you decide to take 400IU or 1000IU or somewhere in between, it is generally a safe amount to take daily over the winter months.

As with all vitamins and minerals, they don’t work in isolation, which is why I use those formulated by Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic which are synergistic blends from plant sources surrounded by superior absorption capsules which are released within 15 minutes of entering the stomach.

Why not try the Multi Mineral and Vitamin Boost which is a synergistic blend of plant-sourced vitamins B, C, D and E and zinc. Combine with a healthy fat, such as the Organic Beauty Oil, Omega 3-6-9 or a teaspoon of coconut oil, or take a look at the Vitamin D supplement which is sourced from algae.

[1] FutureLearn course: Nutrition and Wellbeing University of Aberdeen http://www.futurelearn.com

[2] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/05/10/vitamin-d-recommended-dietary-allowance.aspx

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net