Multiple Sclerosis: Is There Substantial Evidence To Slow Progression or Even Cure MS?

By Michael Mooney, Updated January, 2015

This page is meant to be a resource for people with MS, so that they can consider options that their healthcare practitioner might not be aware of.

In about the year 1997 my best friend's mother developed multiple sclerosis (MS). He was brilliant at researching biochemistry and so we began researching alternatives to what little conventional medicine did to address MS.

We found some studies from Germany and Poland that showed that the use of the anabolic steroid nandrolone decanoate had reversed MS symptoms, even for women.

His mother was almost amorphous, meaning barely able to move, when he found an old country doctor who agreed to prescribe nandrolone to her.

My memory is that the dose was 30 mg a week.

Note that anabolic steroids are male hormone analogs - cousin molecules of testosterone.

So while a male might be prescribed 100 mg a week for age-related testosterone replacement therapy, females could experience masculinization, like growing mustache hair, unless the dose was much lower.

With nandrolone his mother could roll her wheel chair around the house and do the laundry and various tasks that she couldn't do before using nandrolone.

She lasted about a year more because of nandrolone, but she drank and smoked, so she didn't embrace the lifestyle and dietary disciplines that might have prolonged her life.

An elite male skier who had become physically dysfunctional also benefited from nandrolone. When I last spoke with him, in about 2001, he was running white water rafting trips, as he had returned to full physical function.

MS symptoms reduce during certain hormonal changes in women, such as during pregnancy. Nandrolone's role as a hormone may explain why it would address MS.

CAN DIET AND SUPPLEMENTS CURE MS?

I hadn't looked at multiple sclerosis for a dozen or so years. Fast forward to 2013.

A YOUTUBE video of a doctor who cured herself of MS using diet and dietary supplements makes a strong case that a very clean, highly varied all-natural, organic diet with nine servings of organic vegetables, fruits, nuts and berries a day, refraining from eating or drinking all grains, sugars, pops, and candies and only eating meats that are raised naturally, such as grass-fed meats, can cure MS.

Maybe eating like this is daunting, but some effort to clean up one's diet should be at the core of efforts to address MS. If we put garbage, such as soda pop, in our bodies we can't expect it to function at its best, especially if we are dealing with a critical debilitating illness, like MS.

Eating anything like the normal American diet creates significant nutritional deficiences, while also insulting the immune system by consuming what are not real, clean natural foods. Processed foods, with sugar and artificial ingredients create the inflammation that can result in the loss of myelin, the shield that surrounds nerves that is core to MS.

Recently, a new friend told me that his mother had MS and was using high dose vitamin D with some success. I had heard that some people with MS were returning to normal function by taking 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, prescribed by a doctor in the San Francisco Bay Area.

THE SUNSHINE CONNECTION

I did a Medline search and there were several studies that showed the potential benefits of vitamin D3.

Also confirmed is that MS occurs much more often in people who live in Northern latitudes where sunshine is not abundant, like Canada, than in high sunshine areas, like Florida.

This too points at vitamin D as being a factor in MS because we make vitamin D in our skin from sunlight exposure.

In 2006 a friend who owns a health food store in Northern California told me that he had a man come into his store asking what the highest dose vitamin D that he had in stock was. His doctor had prescribed 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day to him and it was working.

The man said that a year ago he was in a wheel chair with MS and couldn't reach up to grab a bottle off the shelf, but there he was fully mobile, acting like anyone with normal health would act.

After the store owner had several people come to the store who were patients of this doctor the store owner had a 50,000 IU vitamin D3 product that he keeps under the counter for made for the doctor's patients.

(A caution is that the only prescription 50,000 IU vitamin D is synthetic vitamin D2 (Drisdol). This is the wrong form of vitamin D. It is one-third as well utilized in the body as vitamin D3.

Also 50 randomized studies show vitamin D2 shortening overal lifespan by 2%, where vitamin adequate D3 has been shown to lengthen lifespan by 7%.

A study in 2010 did not focus specifically on finding out whether supplemental vitamin D3 can effectively treat active MS. Its focus was more to look at the tolerability and safety of high dose (40,000 IU/day) vitamin D.

In this trial with people with active MS, using escalating doses up to 40,000 IU/d of vitamin D3 for 28 weeks followed by 10,000 IU/d for 12 weeks, there were no significant adverse events, and there seemed to be significantly less progression of disability in the treatment group. The group that received high dose vitamin D appeared to have fewer relapse events.

The study did find benefits, but the focus of the study was not to find benefits, but to see if this high dose caused toxicity. It did not cause toxicity. Now another group might do a study with high doses and focus on how it affects MS.

Another safety study looked at vitamin D doses of from 28,000 IU to 280,000 IU per week (4,000 to 40,000 IU per day times seven days) and found no safety problems, while finding that the number of gandolium-enhancing (brain) lesions per patient, assessed with a nuclear magnetic brain scan, decreased from the initial average of 1.75 to the end-of-the-study average of 0.83, which means that brain lesions basically decreased to less than half.

Another study looked at 20,000 IU of vitamin D/day and found no safety problems, while it found a trend towards an anti-inflammatory cytokine profile, which supports the evidence that vitamin D is an immune-modulator for MS.

And finally, a study using vitamin D3 at 50,000 IU/week (7,142 IU/day average) found that none of the patients taking vitamin D experienced a second demyelinating attack, while five of the 11 placebo patients did. The incidence rates of positive MRI findings, such as black holes, cortical, juxtacortical, corpus callosal, new gadolinium-enhanced, and new T2 lesions were significantly lower in the vitamin D treatment group than in the placebo group. The incidence rate for black holes in the vitamin D group was 84% less than the placebo group.

Most interestingly, a study published online January 20, 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology showed that the MS patients that had the highest blood levels of vitamin D had the lowest number of MS symptoms. This study cited low vitamin D as a cause of more MS activity. Finding cause is a very compelling reason for people with MS to consider finding out how much vitamin D they can take to get the highest blood levels, safely. An article on MEDPAGE TODAY does a good job of describing the study.

Does Combining Vitamins A and D Render Each of Them Non-Toxic

Several studies indicate that ultra-high vitamin D doses that would normally cause toxicity do not cause toxicity when ultra-high dose vitamin A accompanies ultra-high dose vitamin D. The reverse appears to also be true; ultra-high dose vitamin D inhibits ultra-high dose vitamin D toxicity. Please see: Does_Combining_Vitamins_A_and_D_Render_Each_of_Them_Non-Toxic?

NEW ANTIOXIDANT APPEARS TO HELP MS SYMPTOMS

Recent headlines said, Antioxidant Drug Knocks Down Multiple Sclerosis-Like Disease in Mice. The antioxidant, MitoQ, was shown to significantly reverse an MS-like disease in mice.

To conduct their study, the researchers induced mice to contract a disease called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, or EAE, which is very similar to MS in humans. 

After 14 days, the EAE mice that had been treated with the MitoQ exhibited reduced inflammatory markers and increased neuronal activity in the spinal cord -- an affected brain region in MS -- that showed their EAE symptoms were being improved by the treatment. The mice also showed reduced loss of axons, or nerve fibers and reduced neurological disabilities associated with the EAE. The mice that had been pre-treated with the MitoQ showed the least problems. The mice that had been treated with MitoQ after EAE also showed many fewer problems than mice who were just induced to get the EAE and then given no treatment.

"The MitoQ also significantly reduced inflammation of the neurons and reduced demyelination," the study's author said. "These results are really exciting. This could be a new front in the fight against MS."

MitoQ supplements are being sold on the internet for $2 a day at http://www.mitoq.com/supplements/

CITICOLINE MAY TREAT MS

In researching this article I also found interesting data on a dietary supplement called citicoline. The citicoline molecule contains choline, which is a building block for myelin. Someone with a good knowledge of chemistry paid approximately $60,000 to get two patents on the use of citicoline to treat MS. This is the link to the second patent.

For someone to pay this much money to patent citicoline gives crediblity to the notion that citicoline might help re-build myelin for those who have MS.

So, considering all that is in this article, what would I do if I found out that I was experiencing MS?

1. I'd find an inquisitive neurologist to monitor me. I would interview three doctors and work with the one that I felt most comfortable with, one that was open to alternative approaches to MS. I am very careful about selecting doctors. I want a doctor that is inquisitive and will partner with me as we seek answers. I also want a doctor who regards nutrition as an fundamental component of my health.

2. I would improve the quality of what I consume, as the doctor who cured herself did, avoiding all processed foods and sugar, while making organic vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, and only wild caught fish or naturally-raised meats, like grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chickens my only consumables.

3. I would ask my doctor to give me a "OH-vitamin D" blood test to find out what my baseline vitamin D blood level is. Then I'd start taking 40,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day. I would take it for a month and then re-test my "OH-vitamin D" blood level, as well as testing my blood and urinary calcium, because high blood or urinary calcium are signs of vitamin D toxicity. The three high dose vitamin D studies did not find elevated calcium, but it is prudent to watch for elevated calcium to be sure that high dose vitamin D isn't causing this problem. If my calcium tested in the normal range I would discuss the concept of staying on 40,000 IU/day with my doctor, especially if there were noticable or measurable improvements detected in my MS symptoms.

4. I would also take 10,000 IU of vitamin A (real retinol, not beta carotene) a day, which has been shown to counteract vitamin D's potential for toxicity, while also taking 300 mcg of vitamin K2 (MK-7) a day. Vitamin K2 works with vitamin D and vitamin A to help guide calcium away from soft tissues, such as arteries, and into bones and teeth. Further, vitamin A has been shown to have a beneficial anti-inflammatory roles in MS while, working with vitamin D for immunity.

5. I would buy citicoline and take 1,000 mg in the morning, consistently, starting with 500 mg/day and working up to 1,000 mg/day after two weeks.

6. I would buy MitoQ and take 5 mg a day, consistently.

REFERENCES - This list does not include all of the studies linked above.
Mall G et al. [The treatment of multiple sclerosis with anabolic steroids]. Med Klin. 1968 Dec 20;63(51):2075-7.
Sicotte NL et al. Treatment of multiple sclerosis with the pregnancy hormone estriol. Ann Neurol. 2002 Oct;52(4):421-8.
Doctor Cures Her MS With Diet
Burton JM et al. A phase I/II dose-escalation trial of vitamin D3 and calcium in multiple sclerosis. Neurology. 2010 June 8, 74(23):1852-59.
Kimball SM et al. Safety of vitamin D3 in adults with multiple sclerosis. Am J Clin Nutri. 2007 Sept,86(3):645-651.
Smolders J et al. Safety and T Cell Modulating Effects of High Dose Vitamin D3 Supplementation in Multiple Sclerosis. PloS One. 2010;5(12):e15235.
Derakhshandi H et al. Preventive effect of vitamin D3 supplementation on conversion of optic neuritis to clinically definitive multiple sclerosis - a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot clinical trial. Acta Neurol Belq. 2013 sep;113(3):257-63.
Ascherio A e tal. Vitamin D as an early predictor of multiple sclerosis activity and progression. JAMA Neurol. 2014;DOI:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.5993.
MEDPAGE TODAY, January 20, 2014. MS: Slow Progression With Vitamin D
Peizhong Mao et al. MitoQ, a mitochondria-targeted antioxidant, delays disease progression and alleviates pathogenesis in an experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease, 2013; 1832 (12): 2322 DOI:10.1016/j.bbadis.2013.09.005
United States Patent Application Publication: Method of treating motor neuron diseases and demyelinating diseases with citicoline.
United States Patent Application Publication: Use of citicoline for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS)
Synergism between Vitamin D, Vitamin K-2 and Vitamin A: Masterjohn - Sept 2013

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is for educational purposes only, and is in no way a substitute for the advice of a qualified medical doctor, registered dietitian, certified nutritionist, or exercise physiologist. When you ask any health care professional to help you make decisions about your personal healthcare, I recommend that you show them the information you find here because they may not be aware of it and the scientific studies that support it. Appropriate medical therapy and the use of pharmaceutical or nutritional compounds should be tailored for the individual as no two individuals are alike. I do not recommend self-medicating with any compound as you should consult with a qualified medical doctor, preferably one who is knowledgeable about nutrition and complementary/functional medicine who can determine your individual situation. Any use of the information presented in this publication for personal medical therapy is done strictly at your own risk and no responsibility is implied or intended on the part of the contributing writers, or the publisher.