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Food for Thought: Medical Food & Nutrition

Food for Thought: Medical Food & Nutrition

Food for thought

Reader FavoriteWe are what we eat.  I think everyone has heard that at some time, especially when our mothers prompted us to eat better.  I am the first to confess my eating habits are less than stellar.  I appreciate the nutritionists’ suggestions that our plates of food should be full of color – the reds, greens and yellows of vegetables and fruits are beautiful.  The covers of many magazines, especially this time of year when we enter into the growing season, are often populated with eye popping color.  The reds of tomatoes and the green of broccoli are spirit lifting sights, but the problem is I don’t like either of those.  The truth is, so much of my food is the color we are told to avoid – various shades of brown.

Cognitive decline is a common concern of all of us with MS – it is a very real problem and it got my attention when a Facebook MS friend told me about her participation in a clinical study for a new Medical Food, Axona.  I was immediately concerned that she was being taken for money with another ‘this will cure MS’ scheme promoting special foods or nutritional supplements, and was pleasantly surprised that this is not the case. She is participating in an MS study through Miami University (Florida, not to be confused with Ohio’s MU).

Axona has been approved by the FDA and is being used to treat mild and moderate cases of Alzheimer.  A few limited studies have shown its effectiveness and is being studied further. Axona  is a medical food, something I am just learning about.  Medical foods are not  nutritional supplements, but are also not a drug.  Medical foods are studied in trials but don’t  have to go through the same rigorous testing as pharmaceutical drugs. Medical foods are available only through prescription from a medical provider and are not on the shelves at your local grocery store, so they have much tighter control that those supplements you see advertised on tv or in magazine ads that claim to improve memory. The fact is, those other supplements have very little controls at all.

Alzheimer patients in the early and middle stages of this memory robbing disease, have been found to have improved cognitive function when they are taking Axona.  If it works for this population of patients, there is always the possibility it will work for other diseases, like MS, that create cognitive problems. We can only hope this coming trial of Axona and people with MS will yield positive answers.

In thinking about this, I began looking into what food group Axona might fit into – and was surprised to read it is a derivative of coconut oil.  The thinking behind this is the brain needs fuel to function, and that fuel can be boosted by Axona, which is a type of caprylic triglyceride, which is different from the triglycerides that clog our arteries. Please remember I have mentioned repeatedly I am not a scientist or doctor and the particular details escape me.

The loss of brain power – cognitive function – is a very real concern for most people with MS and this medical food may hold promise for us, too.  It’s much too early to tell, but I would like to make one more observation – coconuts are brown.  That fits my food color scheme quite well and I hope someday Axona can be added to my diet.

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

Comments

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts on this – we hear so much about diet and MS and I know there are other trials going on as well. This, however, is so different because of its status as a prescription food. I hope to find out more and how lomng this study will be run. The woman who was to take place in the U. of Miami trial was cancelled from the study, much to her disappointment. I don’t know what that means for their trial. Stay tuned, Laura

  • Cathy Chester moderator
    6 years ago

    Another great post, Laura. I have never heard of Axona, so thank you for the education!

  • Rendeanne
    6 years ago

    Great article Laura. Sorry for the only 3 star rating, meant for it to be 5 but couldn’t figure out how to change.

    Great topic ! I read about Axona and would love to be in a trial. Sounds like a great concept. Perhaps coconut oil is the key to a great memory and cognition. You’ve inspired me to do more rsearch.Thanks!

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    From you I will take the three stars and be quite satisfied. I’m glad it gave you something to think about.

  • Karla
    6 years ago

    About MS research, especially as to cognitive issues, I am passionate (desperate!) about this. About 2 weeks ago I took part in a research study related to this at the Mellon Center at the Cleveland Clinic (their MS center) in Cleveland, OH. I also asked a woman there about how they get volunteers (both with & without MS) for their studies. One of the sources they use is: researchmatch.org. I contacted them, liked what I learned, signed up, and hope to participate in more studies. I have benefitted so much from medical research, but had never before participated and was very glad to do so. (I even wrote a Letter to the Editor for our local paper to encourage people to participate in research!)

  • Janice
    6 years ago

    I always like to find out about any research to help cognitive function with MS. I have been progressing steadily with cognitive decline since officially being diagnosed with MS but no physical symptoms. It has been frustrating and disappointing that the cognitive issue of MS has not been researched and studied. The drug therapy for MS doesn’t seem to slow down the cognitive decline. To find out that there may be a food that could help is something that makes me hopeful.

  • Ronald Huff
    6 years ago

    Yes, continuation to decline, physically ‘and’ cognitively is on most people’s minds when they have MS, or are a caregiver or relative of someone who does. Anything offering positive help is welcome. That’s my vote.

  • susan
    6 years ago

    I found this article interesting on two levels. The first is the advantage that can be found with dietary aids for MS. I like to have the newest info that supports our health issues with something as simple as diet.
    Secondly, I wonder if this result could also be achieved with simply adding the food(coconut oil) into our diet without the need for a prescription? Why does the pharmaceutical end need to be involved if it is a simple food item? I can appreciate them using a pharmaceutical or pure grade food item to achieve the most accurate trial results but to lead the public into believing that this result is only achievable by purchasing a prescription seems to be a big issue in my opinion. If something is readily available to help a medical condition shouldn’t they give us the info so that we can add it as safely and inexpensively as possible? Isn’t big pharma involved enough with MS drugs…do we now need prescriptions for food as well?

  • Ronald Huff
    6 years ago

    I hear you on the ‘drug’ issue. MS biggest and latest pharmaceuticals are unbelievably expensive. For those with good insurance it can be covered. Without, and that includes many, it is impossible to pay those huge costs.

  • MsMyers
    6 years ago

    I am currently taking Gilenya, which costs $4,500+ each month. Even with insurance, I wouldn’t be able to affor it without help from the Assistance Fund — I STRONGLY recommend that anyone having trouble with payments for MS medicine contact this wonderful organization! http://theassistancefund.org/

  • Ronald Huff
    6 years ago

    This is interesting for sure. As a long-term MSer living in assisted living, I know cognitive decline in many forms. I’ve dealt with it personally and live next to it in others in many stages from beginning to advanced. Living with cognitive decline is as important to us now as polio was years ago. Anything that might shed some light on this, or help in some way is worth considering. Certainly, we appreciate that further study is going into this.

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