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In Multiple Sclerosis blood vessels "deformed" by childhood
stress cannot accommodate the blood flow. I believe the auto-immune activity is secondary to the true cause of MS, blood refluxes which injure the brain and spinal cord. The origin of the refluxes may be structural 1) CCSVI stenosis (as proposed by Professor Zamboni) and/or cerebrospinal fluid pressure or 2) it may be a stress reaction to toxic substances.
Let's re-think first causes. And then move on to real solutions.
Epidemiological studies on MS show that those who grow up close to the equator have less chance to develop MS than those living in latitudes closer to the poles. It is the latitude where one lives before age 15 that counts, not where one lives subsequently. It is therefore thought that the lack of sunlight – hence Vit D – is a factor in susceptibility to MS. Vit D is recommended for M.S. patients.
But perhaps a better explanation of the geographical factor is Winter Cold.
The shoulders and neck typically tense up under stress thus restricting circulation to and from the brain. Cold weather stiffens the muscles. Winters bring the body aches of colds and flus. Illness itself (e.g. Clamydia Pneumoniae, Mononucleosis, Lyme disease, Guillaume Barré) may damage the cell walls and valves of the vascular system.
It is also said that MS patients tend to be high powered, ambitious people. Tensed up in other words. MS cases cluster in northern Europe and North Amerca. Let’s say growing up in a culturally demanding family environment (or in any case stressful) while subject to Cold weather and frequent colds and flus actually compresses and deforms the circulatory system in the child’s developing body. By the time he/she reaches age 15, the stunted blood vessels can no longer accommodate the blood flow. MS first appears in adolescents, seldom in children. Let’s compare the deformity to ancient Chinese footbinding where the tiny child’s foot cannot support the adult woman.
Food intolerances, especially to wheat and dairy products, can further compound the stress. The Neolithic agricultural revolution dates back not much more than 10,000 years, a blink of the eye in terms of biological evolution. Bowel problems are a sure sign of food “stress”. The significant increase in MS cases in Japan over the past 30 years points to food toxicity as root cause.
And the disadvantage of being female. Between puberty and menopause at least two-thirds of MS patients are women. This implies that gynecological problems (including menstrual cramps and birth control pills) both stress and require "poisoning" treatment which impact negatively the vascular system. Perhaps monthly menstrual cramps in a growing girl actually "stunt" the circulatory system. Perhaps female hormones affect the vascular system negatively. Factors of Stress.
Maybe the real story behind MS is the damage to the blood vessels caused by growing up female in a 1) driven, ambitious or otherwise stressful family environment compounded by 2) a climate of Cold winters which contribute to 3) frequent viral illnesses compounded by 4) an intolerance to the wheat and lactose of a Neolithic diet.
In any case, I believe the Italian Angiologue Professor Zamboni is right, it is a blood reflux which injures the brain in M.S. After having successfully overseen angioplasty treatment for his wife in 2006 (who had developed MS in 1995) he began research on his theory that MS is essentially a vascular disorder leading to neurological injuries. He theorized that reflux of veinous blood into the brain and spinal cord injures the tissue. He believes as well that it may be the iron in the blood which causes the much remarked demyelinating inflammation. This would seem to explain the lesions clustered around the veinous blood vessels in autopsies of MS victims observed by the great French Neurologist Dr. Jean Martin Charcot who first identified MS in 1868.
Professor Zamboni first published his work on the internet December 5, 2008. I first read about it the summer of 2010 on Daily Kos (thanks to my San Francisco Kinesiologist Carolyn Parker - see August 25, 2010 "There was good medical news yesterday. So now what?" by Joel Spinhirne.) In his paper “CCSVI – A New paradigm and therapy for multiple sclerosis” posted on Sunday July 25, 2010, Salvatore J.A. Sclafani, MD refers to Dr. Zamboni’s work by writing “Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) is a hemodynamic condition in which cerebrospinal drainage is altered and inhibited. Outflow obstructions of the internal jugular veins (IJVs), vertebral veins, and/or azygos vein( AZV) and their tributaries result in stasis or reflux of these outflow veins and redirection of flow through vicarious circuits…The majority of patients with CCSVI appear to have multiple sclerosis (MS) and the majority of patients with MS have CCSVI.” (my emphasis).
Dr. Zamboni’s "liberation procedure" involves expanding the veins exhibiting stenosis through angioplasty. While results have been promising, questions persist. Not all people exhibiting stenosis of the veins have MS, not all MS patients have stenosis (or CCSVI). The rate of Jugular vein collapse after angioplasty is 50% (not great) and Dr Zamboni warns against the use of stents. Some patients enjoy spectacular recoveries after angioplasty, others see little or no improvement. These varied results seem to cast doubt on his theory. However, I believe his idea is substantially correct. MS cases are as varied as the veins involved, the areas of the brain or spinal cord drained by these veins, their structural condition and the general metabolism of the patient.
Another well-known MS therapy long popular in alternative medicine circles imposes a strict gluten free diet. Under the care of a San Francisco nutritionist-kinesiologist as of February 1984, I recovered “permanent” nerve damage, my recovery being so impressive that my Neurologist declared I could not possibly have had MS. All was well until 1987 when I decided to leave my husband. The stress triggered a sore throat followed by an MS attack. What happened? The answer is straightforward. The stress was so intense that it overwhelmed the positive effect of the diet.
These 2 approaches -angioplasty and diet/energy therapy - would seem to be unrelated, but they converge. I believe some MS patients have structural deformities in their veins that, once corrected, can effectively cure the disease. Others (perhaps myself) do not have such a structural deformity, but are sensitive to foods or allergies to such an extent that under stress the veins compress forcing the veinous blood to back-up. Or perhaps my veins are somewhat "stunted" so that I am excessively sensitive to stress of any kind. The former patient may be more severely handicapped until intervention brings the cure. In my case the handicap has been less severe, but the solution requires more personal discipline.
In any case Dr. Zamboni’s insight has allowed me to understand my symptoms, the history of my disease, and the direction I need to take to heal. This insight poses two distinct problems. First, the reflux of veinous blood into the central nervous system must be halted (at best) or minimized. Second, the injured tissue must be healed.
Summer 2010 I too felt liberated when I read about the Dr. Zamboni’s theory, now dubbed “Liberation Therapy”. Eureka! Of course! I now understood why an acute MS symptom could disappear after only an hour’s acupuncture treatment since it must open the blood flow and stop the reflux. This also explains why a severely handicapped Frenchwoman I spoke with experienced a miraculous recovery after an Ayurvedic massage in India. This made no sense to me. But now I can see that the massage must have relaxed the veins to open up her blood circulation.
If I had heard about Dr. Zamboni’s theory 20 years ago I am convinced I wouldn’t need a cane to walk today. I remember when I began to limp. May 1993 I was on vacation in Morocco with a companion who was particularly rude, I was very upset and began to cry. I can see now that the blood must have been surging up into my brain and/or spinal cord. In San Francisco I would have rushed immediately to get an acupuncture treatment to put a stop to it. I now realize I didn’t even need to do that, all I needed was a neck massage. It seems incredible that a gesture so simple and ordinary could stop a process so devastating as an MS attack leading to paralysis. But at least for me, that’s the truth.
Now at first sign of MS symptoms I ask someone to massage my upper back and neck visualizing bringing the blood down towards the heart. And it works, the next day I’m fine, no traces of an MS relapse. Recently upset and crying, I could feel my body freeze up, my nervous system began to burn and falter, I had difficulty emptying my bladder, I could imagine all the “plumbing” freeze up (urine, blood flow, who knows what else.) Again I asked for a massage which brought the process under control.
If I am alone I can use electrical stimulation pads on acupressure points to the same effect. On learning of Professor Zamboni’s “blood reflux” theory I began to use Gall Bladder 34 points outside the knees and the Spleen 6 points inside the ankle, my reasoning being that the Yang Gall Bladder meridian is indicated in MS treatment (according to Dr. Lai, my San Francisco Acupuncture Doctor) and Spleen 6 can serve as a good Yin complement. However, I recently discovered that the upper back points just below and slightly outside the neck (GB21) are sufficient by themselves to stop the blood reflux and subsequently learned that these points are also on the Gall Bladder meridian - the same meridian indicated to treat the migraine/tension headaches I had known before developing MS. Every morning now, after waking up groggy and depressed (blood stasis leading from the brain?) I use electrical stimulation pads on these points to “clear up” my head, as though the brain lacked oxygen.
As for the question of angioplasty, until this year the only available treatment in France was experimental. October 2010 I did succeed in obtaining an Echodoppler of the neck to find that my Interior Jugular Veins (IJV) and Vertabral Veins are normal. The following January I received a confirming diagnosis . I was told by another Angiologue that if the Jugular veins are normal the Azygous vein will likely be normal as well. Being then unavailable in France, I made inquiries from a clinic in Brussels which diagnoses and treats CCSVI. I delayed further inquiry and treatment which was probably just as well because treatment has evolved since then. (Two years ago angioplasty without the use of Intra Venous Ultra Sound (IVUS) sometimes resulted in injury to the veins and even blockage. Future use of stem cells promise enhanced results.) I have recently learned that treatment is now available in France from a Professor in Bordeaux. I remain ambivalent. The fact that
a neck massage appears to open blood flow from the head implies that veins in my neck are narrowed or collapsing even if the Echodoppler exam found them normal. Perhaps the valves malfunction. Perhaps I am someone whose veins constrict without stenosis or that they are simply too narrow to accommodate normal blood flow. And recent observations about cranial fluid dynamics, the possibility that cerebrospinal fluid build-up can "pressure" venous blood circulation leading to a blood reflux implies that attention should be paid to all aspects of brain physiology before jumping to an angioplasty conclusion. For some MS patients specialized chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation may suffice to release blocked blood circulation.
That possibility returns me to the question of nutrition. First diagnosed with M.S. in 1980 while living in San Francisco, I turned almost immediately to acupuncture treatments which stopped or minimized the “attacks”. However, after going slowly downhill for 3 plus years, my real healing breakthrough came only in 1984 through diet modification and “energy balancing” therapy prescribed by a pioneering San Francisco Kinesiologist, Jimmy Scott, PhD. Now a generally recognized treatment for MS in alternative medicine circles, I’ll call it the “cave man diet”. No glutens such as wheat and no lactose. ( Dr. Scott believes that up to 80% of humans have a wheat intolerance.) My personally prescribed diet included vegetables ( lots of greens), fruit, no meat, some poultry, raw fish, eggs, papaya once a week, nuts and seeds, grains (rice, buckwheat, millet and corn are O.K. for me) and 12 cups a week of raw vegetable juice. Forbidden items include glutens (such as wheat), lactose, alcohol and chemical food additives. He also prescribed a full round of dietary supplements which I continue to take to this day. Coupled with Dr. Scott’s monthly “energy” treatments derived from Chinese acupuncture theory, it took a full year to detoxify my poisoned metabolism, to regulate my intestines and to heal “permanent” nerve damage. As noted above, I suffered a MS relapse in 1987 when under severe emotional stress, but my legs were not affected and I could still walk miles in 1988.
I believe proper diet serves 3 purposes; 1) to heal and reinforce the vascular system at the cellular level 2) to prevent stress on the vascular system and 3) to nourish the brain cells, especially important if there has been some brain damage. (One interesting observation. When I lived in Sonoma County as of 1989 I began to have a MS relapse and told my homeopath Dr. Carlston I would have to see my acupuncture Doctor in San Francisco to stop it. Dr. Carlston suggested I try a Homeopathic remedy. I didn’t think it would work, but it did, the “attack” stopped. He is a classical Homeopath, using a single remedy which corresponds to the totality of symptoms. Apparently a submolecular substance was enough to de-stress the veins and open the blood flow. Does this suggest that a single substance “toxic” to the body could be sufficient to compress the veins and impede the blood flow? Recent testimony by email@example.com implicates the artificial sweetener Aspartame as the cause of his sister's Multiple Sclerosis. Once off the "toxic" substance she could walk again.)
Analysing my own situation, while I am able to control an outright M.S.“attack”, any nerve symptoms which manifest imply that blood reflux is injuring the brain/spinal cord. Mornings I have the impression blood is stagnating in my brain which again implies some injury. Any anxiety triggers “burning” in my legs. I can’t always avoid stressful situations, or viral illnesses which cause the body to “seize” up. Therefore I need to use nutritional therapy to both prevent stress on the vascular system while healing a nervous system under constant assault .
I stopped following “the cave man” diet upon arriving in France in 1992. I was unhappy, isolated, and without a healing “partner”. At that time there was little in the way of “health” food stores and gluten free products (not to mention being faced with the constant temptation of great French food.) It took me several years before I could find a good acupuncture Doctor and by then I had begun to limp. In 1997 I started using a cane. This past year I could see I was going downhill, with symptoms weakening my “good” left leg, so I needed to buck up and get serious. Also, I had been increasingly depressed which is really a sign of metabolic imbalance or a health problem.
Late 2011 a friend referred me to a YouTube video by Dr. Terry Wahls (TEDxIowaCity –Minding Your Mitochondria) who described her healing from MS through diet modification. After 7 years of decline while taking prescribed drugs, towards 2007 she turned to the Internet to research a very successful self treatment program through nutrition. For me this was an excellent reminder of the program I had abandoned 20 years earlier. (Dr. Wahls has not invented the wheel. Actually these ideas date from at least Norman W. Walker’s discovery of raw vegetable juice in the early 20th century.) Somewhat reluctantly mid January 2012 I stopped eating glutens while enriching my overall diet. Of particular importance I resumed extracting 12 cups of vegetable juice a week. (Using a base of carrots, I add the essential greens. Rather than munch through plates of vegetables, one can concentrate and drink them in juice. ) In consequence I’m feeling much better. But in contrast to Dr. Wahls, I don’t believe diet alone can prevent stress induced setbacks. (I never took drugs for MS. I was lucky to find in the early 1980’s alternative therapies which worked. )
In 1984 the nerves damaged four years previously healed entirely. Now I doubt I can fully recover walking since the damage dates back about 20 years. The raw vegetable juice is a very powerful healer. After an accident which required surgery in Spring 2007 I asked my husband to bring me the juice to the hospital. The scars healed so beautifully they are virtually invisible. However, the juice did nothing to heal old scars. If I extend that observation to my nervous system, recent plaques may recover but long term scarring may not heal just as stroke victims can recover quite dramatically at first, while long term damage persists. Nevertheless, the diet/juice is good for me and I’ll give it the good college try.
For further information, check out Dr. Zamboni, Liberation Therapy and CCSVI on the internet. The site Thisisms.com has a thread titled "Dr. Sclafani answers some questions" under CCSVI which is particularly informative since he presents full reports of angioplasty treatments he has performed complete with photos. CCSVI Locator is also of interest. Available clinics are very careful to say that they are treating CCSVI and not MS, no doubt because of FDA restrictions. I believe it irresponsible for a Dr treating an M.S. patient to neglect to refer him or her for a CCSVI evaluation and treatment.
Check out as well (at the least) the Blog Posts on this site titled "Cure or Control Review" as well as "After Diagnosis" which reflect how my thinking has evolved. (Jan 20, 2013)
If CCSVI treatment is not warranted, M.S. patients should consider adjustments to their diet. (And even if CCSVI treatment has been successful, good nutritional therapy can heal the nerve damage which has occurred while maintaining a healthy brain. Check out Paleo-Macrobiotic Diet on this site. Known dietary therapies include the Swank diet, the Roger Macdougall Paleo diet, the Kousmine diet as well as the more recent Terry Wahls diet.) Also, my own experience with alternative “energy” work might serve as an example.
Even though Dr. Zamboni’s insight has come a bit late for me, it has given me a new lease on life. I used to live in constant fear of a debilitating relapse. Now I know what to do to head off a breakdown. Having embarked once again on my diet, I feel better and hopeful of improvement in the future. I know that anything which improves blood (fluid in general?) circulation (swimming, acupuncture, massage, kinesiology, chiropractic, any energy therapy) will make me feel better and prevent a relapse.
I hope other MS patients will reflect on their own history and that these ideas will be of use in their healing.
February 15, 2012
Revised March 14, 2012 Updated October 5, 2012, January 20, 2013
Anna Macy is an American writer living in Paris. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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