Dr. Steven Gundry explains the surprising cause of multiple sclerosis and suggests a new way to diagnose and treat this autoimmune disease.
Discover the symptoms and types of multiple sclerosis and learn the simple steps you can take to feel better if you’re suffering from MS.
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. Multiple sclerosis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the fatty coating around the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.
Think of this fatty coating (called myelin) like the protective coating around electrical wires. When that protective coating gets damaged – and the wires get exposed – it can cause your electronics to malfunction.
Similarly, when your myelin becomes damaged from inflammation, it also leads to electrical malfunctioning inside your body. The messages that travel along your nerve fibers may be blocked or exposed, altering electrical messages in the brain.
Over time, it can become difficult for patients with multiple sclerosis to send clear signals between the brain and the rest of the body. This, in turn, can lead to many of the symptoms most commonly associated with this autoimmune disease.
What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis can vary from person to person. However, there are a few common symptoms that could indicate an early diagnosis.
Symptoms affecting movement:
- Numbness in the legs or feet – often these occur on one side of the body at a time
- Difficulty balancing – including tremors or lack of coordination
- Shock sensations – particularly occurring with certain neck movements
Symptoms affecting vision:
- Optic neuritis – pain or blurry vision in one eye
- Diplopia – prolonged double vision
- Blurry vision
- Lost vision – usually in one or both eyes
Other common symptoms include:
- Fatigue – around 80 percent of people with multiple sclerosis report experiencing fatigue
- Slurred speech – multiple sclerosis can cause lesions in the brain that can affect speech
- Problems with sexual, bowel, and bladder function
If you have noticed one or more of these symptoms – without cause – consult your doctor immediately.
What are the different types of multiple sclerosis?
There are four different types of multiple sclerosis.
Clinically isolated syndrome – this refers to a single episode of MS (or MS-related) symptoms lasting for 24 hours or more. Symptoms of this type of multiple sclerosis cannot be tied to fever, infection, or other illness. If you experience clinically isolated syndrome, you may never experience another episode. However, it could also be the first of many future MS attacks.
Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis – this is the most common form of multiple sclerosis. It’s estimated around 85 percent of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis are experiencing relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis at the time of their diagnosis. This form of MS means experiencing clearly defined relapses or flare-ups followed by periods of partial or complete recovery.
Primary progressive MS – this form of the disease progresses steadily from first diagnosis. This means that symptoms stay at the same level of intensity without decreasing and without periods of remission. In other words, this form of MS gets progressively worse over time.
Secondary progressive MS – Similar to relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, this form of the disease is characterized by a period of relapsing and flare-ups. However, people with secondary progressive MS also experience a steady worsening of their symptoms during the typical “recovery” phase of relapsing-remitting MS.
What causes multiple sclerosis?
While mainstream medicine has not found an official cause of multiple sclerosis (with some studies indicating a link to the Epstein-Barr virus and others a lack of vitamin D), according to Dr. Steven Gundry – who has been treating patients with multiple sclerosis for 25 years – multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease with a clear cause.
That’s because multiple sclerosis causes the immune system to attack its own issues. And one of the chief causes of an autoimmune condition is intestinal permeability, sometimes called a leaky gut.
To understand exactly how leaky gut works on a scientific level, you need to first understand more about how your gut wall functions. Your intestines are lined with a single layer of mucosal cells (called enterocytes), which are locked tightly together to prevent material from entering or escaping. Though this intestinal layer is only one cell thick, its surface area is equivalent to the size of a tennis court.
The immune cells (specialized white blood cells) positioned along and interspersed within that lining play an important role in maintaining the integrity of the wall. In fact, about 70-80 percent of all your immune cells are concentrated along the lining of your gut.1 These immune cells are responsible for deciding what can leave the GI tract and what must stay contained.
Your stomach acids, enzymes, and beneficial gut bacteria break down the food you eat into individual components: amino acids, fatty acids, and sugar molecules. Your mucosal cells then bite off a single molecule of these digested amino acids, fatty acids, and sugars, pass it through the body of the cell, and release it into your portal vein or lymph system.
When all is working well, everything besides these single molecules remains outside the intestinal barrier, where it belongs.If your mucosal cells are lined up tightly side by side, your gut lining will help keep everything except single molecules of digested amino acids, fatty acids, and sugar on the other side.
However, when your gut wall gets worn down and becomes rife with microscopic holes, it will allow other compounds to “leak” through, and your health will begin to suffer. This is the definition of “leaky gut syndrome,” also known as intestinal permeability.
When the wrong molecules or even bacteria get across the border of your gut wall, your immune system kicks into high gear. Normally, this is really important since your immune system can call in “reinforcements” – inflammatory hormones called cytokines.
These cytokines can save your life from a bacterial infection and help you heal when you have an injury.
The problem starts when your immune system starts responding to every little thing – including environmental triggers or food allergies. Think of it like an overactive security alarm system. You’re grateful when it alerts you to the presence of a thief, but you’re annoyed when it goes off every time a fly enters your home.
That’s exactly what happens when you have a leaky gut. Your immune system begins responding to everything that gets through your porous gut wall. This leads to chronic inflammation.
The connection between multiple sclerosis and leaky gut
Now, what does chronic inflammation have to do with autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis? Well, one specific gene (called the zonulin gene) sits on a certain chromosome linked to many autoimmune diseases, certain types of cancer, and diseases of the nervous system like multiple sclerosis. In other words, there’s a clear connection between a leaky gut and the formation of autoimmune diseases.
So while genetics and your environment do play a role in whether you develop autoimmune diseases, a leaky gut is the crucial third ingredient. This is why it’s so important to keep your gut wall strong. And unlike your genetics, and often unlike your environment, you can fix a leaky gut.
For example, we now know that there are specific gut buddies that produce molecules called polysaccharides that regulate myelination and demyelination (the creation and destruction of myelin). Without enough of these gut buddies producing enough polysaccharides, the immune system attacks the myelin, resulting in MS.
In one study, mice were given supplements of polysaccharide-producing bacteria. The result? Their myelin was better protected, making them less vulnerable to MS.
This study suggests that by nourishing this strain of bacteria, you could prevent or treat your multiple sclerosis. As Dr. Terry Wahls has demonstrated, MS is reversible by diet. Dr. Wahls reversed her own MS – which had left her wheelchair-bound – by consuming 9 cups of vegetables per day and removing the vast majority of inflammation-producing foods (like sugar and lectins).
In 2018, Dr. Gundry reported at the American Heart Association EPI/Lifestyle Scientific Sessions on 102 patients with biomarker-proven autoimmune disease, including several patients with MS, who went on the Plant Paradox program for six months. Ninety-five of the patients are now biomarker negative, symptom free, and off all immunosuppressive medications.
How to treat multiple sclerosis
The pioneering work of experts like Dr. Terry Wahls and Dr. Gundry suggests there is a cure for multiple sclerosis (despite the mainstream medical opinion to the contrary).
That’s because one of the causes of multiple sclerosis – intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut) – can be treated with diet and lifestyle changes.
With his own patients, Dr. Gundry begins with blood work. He looks for specific markers of both autoimmune disease and inflammation. Once he’s confirmed the diagnosis, he then has his patients begin a specific dietary program. This program includes cutting particularly inflammatory foods – like sugar and lectins – from your diet. However, this is not an elimination diet, nor is it about depriving yourself or feeling hungry.
Get your own personalized multiple sclerosis care and recommendations from Dr Gundry-approved board certified doctors
If you’re looking for more guidance than these simple recommendations for multiple sclerosis, Dr. Gundry’s unique health program is now available to you (without needing an appointment at one of Dr. Gundry’s two, waitlist-only West Coast clinics).
Thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Gundry and his team at Gundry Health, doctors trained in Dr. Gundry’s unique holistic methods are now available to help you craft your own personalized multiple sclerosis program.
It’s easy to get started.
Simply click the link below to get more information about personalized multiple sclerosis treatment plan options, so you can get expert analysis, diagnostic care, and a plan for tackling MS or other autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis.
Each doctor at Gundry Health is Board Certified and trained in Dr. Gundry’s renowned approach to functional medicine and care.
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