The Cause of What Ails Us

The Cause of What Ails Us: Take the Quiz and Test your Knowledge

The past several years have been busy ones for researchers. Racing to reveal the mechanisms of Multiple Sclerosis, disease theorists have put forth many imaginative, thought-provoking test hypotheses.

Please take your time and read through the following causes that some theorists claim to be at the root of Multiple Sclerosis. Then answer one multiple choice question. Pass my quiz and you’ll win nothing, but you might learn something new. Fail my quiz, you’ll learn some stuff and have fun doing it! It’s a win-win!

1. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune and neurological disease of the CNS.
2. MS is a vascular disease.
3. MS is caused by toxicity from heavy metal deposits.
4. Smoking causes MS.
5. Vitamin D deficiency causes MS.
6. It is caused by herpes virus 6, a.k.a. Epstein-Barr, a.k.a. mononucleosis or “mono.”
7. MS is actually a mitochondrial (mtDNA) disease.
8. Stress causes MS.
9. We didn’t eat enough dirt when we were babies.
10. MS is actually Lyme disease.
11. Shyness causes MS.
12. Being sexually inactive causes MS.
13. You aren’t eating enough fat.

Which of the following multiple choice answers is true?

A. All 13 causes listed above are actual documented theories.

B.  All are documented theories except 11 and 12.

C.  Theories 9, 11, and 12 are bogus. I made them up.

D.  None of them are documented theories, I made up all of them, mu-hu-ha-ha!

The correct answer is B. Neither shyness nor chastity is suspected to be the cause of MS. I’m sure a lot of you are feeling pretty relieved to hear that right about now.

Were you surprised to read some of these ideas? Following are more details about these theories along with some much-debated treatments I’ve labeled “The Fix.” Bear in mind that these proposed therapies are not necessarily evidence-based. Do your homework before embarking on any treatment plan, especially for those that are based on anecdotal evidence only. Even a plan that uses natural supplements might cause toxic interactions with medications you are already taking, so consult your doctor beforehand.

1. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune and neurological disease of the CNS. This is the convention upon which our disease-modifying therapies are based.

The Fix: Treat the inflammatory form with a disease-modifying therapy to delay progression. Treat progressive forms as recommended by the patient’s medical team.

2. Multiple Sclerosis is a vascular disease similar to coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, and which has a connection to Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI).

A. Faulty lipid metabolism, a condition akin to clogged coronary arteries and atherosclerosis. Plaques form in the brain and spinal cord from oxidized LDL.1

The Fix: 1) Take a statin to reduce your LDL. A study has shown that statins inhibit demyelination in mice. 2) Go on the Swank diet to reduce fat intake.2,3

The Fix refuted, based on a conflicting study: Avoid taking statins. Statins have also been shown to inhibit remyelination in mice, having an overall deleterious effect on myelin repair in EAE animal models.4

B.  CCSVI: Restricted veins in the neck prevent blood from draining properly, leaving iron deposits and causing myelin and nerve cell damage in the brain.

The Fix: Venous angioplasty and stenting.5

3. Toxicity from heavy metal deposits, mercury being the worst offender.6,7,8

The Fix: Remove amalgam fillings and detoxify your entire body.

*This theory has been debunked.9

4. Smoking. If you have ever smoked and you have a high viral load of Epstein-Barr antibodies, your risk for MS increases. Moreover, smoking after receiving an MS diagnosis can hasten disability and progression. (Combined effects of smoking, anti-EBNA antibodies, and HLA-DRB1*1501 on multiple sclerosis risk.)10

The Fix: Quitting smoking either before or after diagnosis can slow progression.11

*Partially debunked: A study showing that a high viral load of Epstein-Barr virus raised the risk of developing MS failed to show a causal relationship.12

5. Vitamin D deficiency. Childhood serum vitamin D levels below 30 were found to be a risk factor in developing MS, but a causal relationship hasn’t yet been proven.13

The Fix: Get 15 minutes of sun every day and take a daily D3 supplement of 1000 or 2000 or 4000 or 10,000 or 50,000 IUs depending upon which study you read and what your doctor recommends. There is no formal protocol for treatment.14

6. It is caused by herpes virus 6, a.k.a. Epstein-Barr, a.k.a. mononucleosis or “mono.”

*The theory that viruses cause MS has been debunked. See #4 above.

7. It is actually a mitochondrial (mtDNA) disease.15

*The following study explores the likelihood that the two are separate and posits that there is mimicry between MS and mitochondrial disease at certain phases.16

8. Stress causes MS.

The Fix: Maintain a healthy lifestyle of good nutrition, regular exercise, and compliance with your effective medications; My personal fix: If you have a life that is unbearable, do yoga and avoid passive-aggressive personalities. If you don’t have a life and that bothers you, then get one. Make happiness and peace a life goal.

9. We didn’t eat enough dirt when we were babies. Better known as the Hygiene Hypothesis, "Our modern sterile, or clean, environment without parasitic and other infections, have left our immune systems immature and uneducated... The lack of infections has left our immune systems prone to developing autoimmunity... This is one of the reasons why the incidence of MS is increasing so rapidly and underpins the science of using parasitic infections as a treatment for MS and other autoimmune diseases.”17

The Fix: Helminthic therapy. Ingesting or absorbing this parasite commonly known as hookworm provides it an opportunity to live in the gut and calm the autoimmune response, thereby relieving allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.18

10. MS is actually Lyme disease. Hypothesis based on numerous autopsy studies of MS patients showing live spirochetal bacteria in their brains of the type that causes Lyme disease. This notion dovetails with extant theories that diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Crohn’s, and ALS are all caused by infectious agents.19,20

The Fix: Treat with antibiotic therapy that includes minocycline.

13. You aren’t eating enough fat, notably Omega-3 fatty acids, which the body cannot produce on its own.

The Fix: Take generous amounts of evening primrose oil and fish oils.21

So what can we make of this dizzying variety of possible causes? How could a disease that attacks the presumably closed off central nervous system acquire a build-up of fatty deposits akin to clogged arteries? Is MS triggered by viruses and bacterial infections--or is it actually a known bacterial infection such as Lyme, the disabilities and lesions of which are simply the manifestation of the infection?

You’ve probably noticed a pattern while reading through these hypotheses. Each hypothesis is based on something measurable, an anomaly that is quantifiable and often repeatedly shows up in “good” and “bad” studies alike. If we step back and look at the whole, we see a chicken-or-egg situation. Did a childhood vitamin D deficiency cause an attack in adulthood? We know that having low D and MS is more than just a coincidence. But lots of people in the northern hemisphere have low D. Comparatively few have MS. Lots of head-scratching going on in the research community.

However, these confusing possibilities that traverse the widest range of ideas one can imagine holds many small pieces of the puzzle. We can feel encouraged by this exploration. Consider that in 1864, Louis Pasteur proved that bacteria causes disease (aka “Germ Theory”)—yet Germ Theory was first put forth back in the 16th century. Fleming discovered penicillin quite by accident in 1928 after an assistant picked up a moldy Petri dish of bacteria only to notice that the bacteria had been killed in the area of the mold.

Although we don’t yet know when the epiphany will happen, we can be sure that Multiple Sclerosis will have its “aha moment” eventually, thanks to all the blind alleys and erroneous guesses MS researchers have faced. For MS patients awaiting the answer, however, it feels like we’re waiting for paint to dry.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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