On October 25, 2010 in Paris I consulted with a Professor to inquire about the possibility that my multiple sclerosis is caused by cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) as postulated by his colleague Dr. Paolo Zamboni. He examined the status of my vascular condition in the neck using the “Doppler” ultrasound device to conclude that there was no apparent abnormality. However, as a patient who has lived a good 30 years (if not more) with MS I am concinced that the theory that veinous blood backs up into the brain/spinal cord to trigger MS symptoms is fundamentally sound. It needs to be expanded and refined.
Let’s look at another issue. MS patients typically have hydronephrosis (myself included) - the distention of the kidney with urine due to obstruction of urine outflow. Isn’t this essentially the same phenomenon, the urine backing up towards the kidney just as the blood backs up into the brain? I don’t have a physical block such as a kidney stone, nor apparently defective veins. ApparentIy I do have a general circulatory problem. The concept of “circulation” needs to include the Chinese notion of “chi” or energy.
What can impede circulation? Stress or tension are known to trigger MS “attacks”(poussées). There are multiple origins of stress - emotional stress, illness (a resurgence of a latent virus such as childhood mononucleosis –as in my case –is often cited as a triggering factor), allergic reaction (wheat is often considered a critical allergen to be avoided), chemical exposure, X rays (almost certain to trigger an attack in my case.) Let’s add low blood pressure (mine is 90 over 60), general low vitality or “chi” (maybe owing to a latent virus) and conditions would seem ideal for blood to stagnate and even get pushed back up into the brain as the veins tense up. Dr. Zamboni apparently believes that it is the iron in the veinous blood which damages the myelin sheath. MS may not be an auto-immune disease at
all. The well documented immune system activity may simply be the body’s marshalling of its immune resources to heal the injured tissue.
What works for me to treat MS (and hydronephrosis as well)? Any therapy that can relieve the stress and get the
blood or “chi” energy flowing as soon as possible - acupuncture, acupression, swimming, shiatsu, brisk walk (with a cane), chiropractic, kinesiology, competent homeopathic remedy. Even a good massage may do the the trick. An acupuncture treatment will halt an MS attack. (In one instance an acute symptom disappeared after only an hour’s treatment to never re-appear. Doesn’t this imply that blood backing up into the brain had reversed course to flow normally again?) On 2 recent occasions I treated myself with simple TENS electrical stimulation pads on 4 acupressure points - 2 per leg - (Spleen 6 (3 Yin meeting) which is found 4 fingers up from the inner ankle bone and Gall Bladder 34 just below the outer knee bone.) and by the next day I had recovered from an incipient MS attack. Normally I would be have been laid up for weeks thereafter. I am appalled to realize that all the nerve damage sustained over the past 20 years was entirely unnecessary because I had the means to easily treat myself. But I lacked confidence and knowledge, and, delaying treatment until I could find a therapist, often sustained considerable nerve damage over a period of weeks. (It might be interesting to see the effect of acupuncture on the veins/blood flow using the Doppler ultrasound device, though one difficulty with this is that the exam itself could distort the finding. A more reliable study would examen the status of hydronephrosis before and after a good acupuncture treatment – or a good swim – immediately after the bladder has emptied. I’m convinced the backed up urine will have been released, which could have implications for cranial blood flow in MS.)
In my opinion if a patient exhibits a physical anomaly –CCSVI or a kidney stone for example - it should be treated. In the case of brain damage symptoms are likely to persist which will take time to heal. I have found nutritional therapies essential. In addition one needs to consider circulatory/energy therapies such as acupuncture, and patents should be encouraged to exercise. Swimming is the best treatment for me to empty the urinary tract system as well as “oxygenate” the brain.
I know how to treat myself now which is a great relief although at age 62 my general vitality appears to be on the decline. Well, better late than never.
In conclusion I believe the condition known as MS should be treated as a circulatory deficiency disease; the definition of circulation needs to be enlarged.
After writing a version of this letter to the Doctor who examined me in Paris, I suffered the first signs of an MS "attack". As stress mounted over several weeks coupled with acute insomnia, my skin began to go numb, the muscles in my good left leg cramped, the leg lost coordination. Even though I used the TENS treatment on acupressure points, I continued to go downhill. In my experience the best way to stop this dynamic is to stay in bed until I can begin to doze off naturally. I took a sleeping pill Friday night, Saturday I stayed in bed all day, my body burned all over. I began to sleep fitfully. Saturday night I took another sleeping pill. Sunday morning symptoms persisted. I imagined a storm raging in my body, the blood spilling over into the brain like a river bursting its banks to flood unprotected territory. I told my husband I was having an "attack", could he please massage my upper back and neck to relax the veins, open the blood flow and bring the blood down towards the heart. I visualized all this while he worked. It was a simple, unexpert massage. And it worked. The "floodwaters" receded, the storm subsided: I had recovered. I was fragile all fay but by Monday could go out and resume my daily walks. Monday I asked my physical therapist to adjust my back. The muscle contractions had pulled the vertebrae out of place. I told him that often MS attacks begin with the flu, and isn't it true that the flus contract the muscles which could well contract the veins and reverse the venous blood flow? He agreed with this analysis as he adjusted my lower back and cervicals which were indeed out of place. (Another interesting testimony. A woman seriously handicapped with MS told me that after an ayervedic massage in India she could walk normally. This made no sense to me at the time she reported it, but now I realize that the massage must have released the blood stagnating in her brain.
What have I learned for myself? I continue with the TENS treatment. I can't drink coffee (that helped trigger the stress-insomnia-anxiety cycle.) Overcoming my general resistance to drugs, if I need a valium or tranquilizer to sleep, I take it rather than lie awake with mounting anxiety. (I do wonder if a tranquilizer might slow the blood flow even more, which could cancel the positive anti-anxiety effect.) I do whatever is needed to reduce stress. And if I do get stressed, I ask for a short massage in the upper back and neck and visualize bringing the blood down. It is so incredibly easy, so basic. I will continue with once a month acupuncture treatments. I use homeopathy to prevent viral illnesses. I vegetable "jiuce" twice a week in the hope I can heal brain damage. I continue to take nutritional supplements recommended by my San Francisco naturopath who has treated me since 1984. Above all, if symptoms begin, I DON'T WAIT to find a therapist before asking for a brief massage coupled with visualization. I will seek a therapist for a more profound treatment as soon as possible, but I never should have waited while the "storm" raged, spilling blood into the brain where it doesn't belong. It will be up to Medical research to figure out how to treat this circulatory problem, but I need to treat myself now with the means at my disposal. We can all thank Dr. Zamboni for his original insight which has certainly liberated me, even without any surgical intervention. Probably with age my batteries are running down which accounts for persistent minor symptoms as the blood circulation slows. But knowledge is liberating and I know what I must do to take care of myself. I hope others with MS will reflect on how this analysis corresponds to their own experience.