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My very close friend claims he cured himself from rrMS without medication by a lifestyle change, I'm not sure he is doing what's best for him but I'm not sure if/how to approach him...

I do not have MS but a very close friend of mine has and he has a very strong opinion which I'm not sure about and wanted to gain some insight from this community.

The friend was diagnosed in his teens with rrMS and suffered from very bad flare ups once a year (sight loss, partial or full paralysis and other problems from all of which he fortunately recovered) and smaller flareups in-between, this happened for 8 years. He and his parents chose not to use any kind of medication and instead focused on lifestyle changes, diet, exercise, listening to the body etc... According to him, the flareups were reducing in severity and in length, and after the last flareup 2 years ago he was symptom free. he did a neurological test right after (did not do an MRI) that showed he was okay.

All of this made him believe he is cured from rrMS. I really hope for him he will stay well and healthy, but because I care for the friend I researched a bit myself. I saw that people with rrMS do sometimes have the disease stop from progressing, sometimes for years, sometimes for decades, but in a very high percentage (90%?) the disease unfortunately returns. It also appeared that both medicating and non-medicating patients have a similar chance of having the disease return, but medicating patients had much less of a chance of having severe damage to happen fast, unlike unmedicated patients who had the disease deteriorate fast once it returns.

I confronted the friend about it and said although I'm happy with his current well being, I feel like he is endangering himself without a good reason, and many people had the disease stop from progressing just like him, only for it to return later and cause massive damage, and the only thing that could minimize that damage was medication. His replay was basically that his case is special, because no-one had it as bad as him and then go for two years without symptoms which I find it hard to believe. He also said that medication is only slowing the disease a little bit and in any case, anyone he knows who takes the medication suffer from either bad side effects or have severe damage caused by the MS anyway therefore he doesn't see the point of getting injections all of his life. He said he could do an MRI just to prove me wrong and he is sure the doctor will either say he faked his n because it's fully healthy or he will say to take medication in any case even with prefect scan...

I understand that I'm in no place to argue with someone who has such a horrible disease without having it myself, and I don't feel I have enough knowledge from reading about it for several days unlike someone who had the disease for a decade and (according to him) researched it very thoroughly. But I still care for my friend very much and want to know what more experienced people would say in this situation.

TL;DR: My friend thinks he is cured from rrMS without any medication because he didn't have a flare up for two years after having severe flareups for 8 years straight, I think he is putting himself in danger because he doesn't use medication. Please share your opinion

  1. Hi . You are a wonderful friend to reach out like this on his behalf. It is obvious you care for him and worry about his future. Whether to medicate is a personal decision that your friend should make after doing some research and in conjunction with his doctor. Clinical studies have proven that medications can slow the progress of the disease, but there are other factors to consider when deciding whether to medicate. Many people with MS choose to go without treatment for several reasons, usually because they fear the side effects and/or because the medications are too costly. It is doubtful that he is cured even though he feels well. There is no cure for MS. But he might be in remission and it is impossible to say how long remission will last. I have a friend who hasn't had a flare or worsening of symptoms in more than 15 years. She is also medication-free and probably will not go on meds unless symptoms begin to interfere with her life. For her, those 15 years without the side effects or the cost have been worth it. Given the frequency of your friend's relapses, chances are good that he will have another, but, if you continue to push him toward medication, you will probably push him away and that might be the end of your friendship. The best you can do right now is to continue being such a wonderful and supportive friend. If he does have another relapse, it might be best to avoid mentioning that meds might have helped prevent it. He might feel that the years he has gone without the side effects and expense were worth it. I hope this helps and that you get lots of input from the community. Best of all wishes! - Lori (Team Member)

    1. Thank you for your very kind and insightful reply, it definitely allows me to better understand the situation 😀

      hope to hear more interesting answers from the community as I'm sure there is huge amount of combined experience here

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