May 3, 2016

Preventing Cluster Headache Recurrence

Natural Relief for the Worst Pain on Earth

by Dr. Scott Saunders

Imagine a headache waking you in the middle of the night. The pain is so intense it can only be described as a “a red hot poker being pushed through your right eye and out the back of your head.”

This severe headache may last from minutes to two hours. Nothing you do can relieve it. It goes away as suddenly and mysteriously as it came.  In some cases, the exteremly painful headache occur in clusters – usually at the same time every morning and lasts for weeks. Then, it goes away for months or years.  It is only on one side, but can switch sides, centering in the eye.  Most often the eye tears profusely.

Type of headachePeople who have them call them “suicide headaches.” Because it seems like the only way to get pain relief is death.  Doctors call them “cluster headaches.”  They affect about one person in a thousand, regardless of age.  Some get them in childhood, and continue to have them throughout life. While others get them much later in life – even into the 9th decade.  Women most commonly get them after age 60.  Those who get them assure us it is the worst pain any human can experience – beyond childbirth and kidney stones.

Anatomy of a Cluster Headache

Cluster headaches are a problem with the autonomic nervous system.  These are the nerves that unconsciously regulate and automate body functions. So you don’t have to think about controlling your temperature, blood pressure, heart, breathing, digestion and so forth.

how trigeminal nerve causes cluster headachesIn cluster headaches, something goes wrong in the sensory nerves of the head.  Specifically, the “trigeminal nerve” is affected. There are three branches of this nerve, and people can get pain in any branch.  Tooth pain and jaw pain come from the lower branches. But because the eye is so full of sensory nerves, the upper ophthalmic branch of the nerve can cause the worst pain.

Cluster headaches may be caused by inflammation of trigeminal nerves off the brainstem behind the eyes. It sends impulses throughout the cranium and face, causing distinctive stabbing, throbbing pain usually felt in one eye.

Studies indicate that because the blood vessels are smaller, the blood supply may be diminished. The lower blood flow may causes headache pain in the nerves.[1] Problems with blood flow are associated with many illnesses such as arthritis, lupus, or other autoimmune diseases.  Blood flow is also associated with activation of the hypothalamus, which controls parts of the autonomic nervous system,[2] and even tumors of the pituitary gland.[3]

Cluster Headache Treatment

To relieve the sharp, constant pains triggered by the trigeminal nerve, cluster headache treatments have included:

  • Prescription pain medications
  • Morphine
  • Marijuana
  • Sedative drugs
  • Cutting the nerve to create constant numbness

Sometimes these work. But amazingly the pain is not relieved by even the strongest prescription pain medications.  Until a supply of blood circulation returns and the nerve is working, the pain will not be relieved.

Current cluster treatment and medications include:

Aborting the Current Cluster Attack

  • Sumatriptan injections or nasal spray
  • Lidocaine
  • Capsaiacin
  • Ergotamine

Breaking the Cluster

  • Corticosteroids (prednisone)

Preventing Clutter Headache Recurrence

  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Methysergide
  • Lithium
  • Anti-convulsants

Seeking the Cause of Clutter Headaches

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Dangerous Sulfonylurea Side-Effects for Diabetes

SULFONYLUREA DRUG WARNINGS

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

 

Jan was almost a hundred pounds overweight. She came into my office because she was getting “tired spells,” headaches and severe fatigue that interfered with her work. Her doctor had put her on diabetes medications. But ever since then she had no energy and was getting these episodes. She was also horrified that she was gaining weight. Jan was worried what might happen to her if she continued taking these medications with such side-effects. She was hoping I could help get her off of them, even though her doctor said she would be on them for life.

After assessing Jan’s laboratory tests and medications, I reassured her that she did not need to take these medications for life. I could help her body and blood sugar return to normal. It turns out that she was given a medication that is commonly used in diabetes called glyburide, a sulfonylurea type medication that is known to cause all of these problems.

Sulfonylurea side effects What are Sulfonylureas?

The use of sulfonylurea medications to lower blood sugar began in the 1940s. It was found that sulfur-containing antibiotics would cause an increase in insulin from the pancreas. It wasn’t the sulfur, but the specific chemical antibiotics that blocked a certain calcium channel and caused excess insulin to be excreted in those who had insulin resistance.

The first generation of sulfonylurea drugs began to be marketed to those with high blood sugar in the 1950s. These include:

  • Chlorpropamide (Diabinese)
  • Tolazamide (Tolinase)
  • Tolbutamide (Orinase, Tol-Tab)

In the 1980s, the second-generation agents became available:

  • Glipizide (Glucotrol)
  • Glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase, Micronase)

The last class of sulfonylurea drugs came in 1995.

  • Glimepiride (Amaryl)

Sulfonylureas lower blood sugar by causing a release of insulin from the pancreas. Thus, they require a working pancreas that can make insulin. Those with type 1 diabetes cannot benefit from this class of drugs.

Sulfonylurea Side-effects

Doctors often consider the desired effects of a medication, but downplay the side-effects. It is important to understand that all drugs are toxins and that they are not natural to the body. There is a desired part of toxicity – lowering blood sugar, for example – but there are other effects of toxicity that are undesirable.

When a sulfonylurea drug is introduced into the body, it targets not only the pancreas, but is distributed throughout every other system. It acts on a certain enzyme that affects how calcium enters the cells. So, wherever these calcium channels exist, the drug will block them, causing a certain effect. For example, nerve cells contain the same calcium channel so the sulfonylurea can damage nerve function.

Genetic differences increase susceptibility to the effects of sulfonylureas. Some people will get very ill. Others may die, while most are only mildly affected.

The “desired” effect of sulfonylureas is to increase insulin. However, there are several undesirable effects:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Obesity
  • Increased hunger, especially craving carbohydrates

The sulfonylureas class of drugs can block the liver from making more glucose (sugar). The result is extremely low blood sugar. The low blood sugar causes people to feel weak, tired, get headaches and feel pain all over. They also start craving sugar, causing them to eat more…and create additional fat.

Weight Gain from Sulfonylurea

One of the worst side-effects of sulfonylureas is obesity. First, sulfonylureas stop fat cells from using fat for energy. Second, because sulfonylureas increase insulin, this fat is deposited into cells. Together, sulfonylureas create more fat cells that aren’t used, which increases obesity.

Higher insulin also causes more insulin resistance, which increases fat, making diabetes worse. As blood sugar gets higher, doctors often increase the dose of the medications. This causes further toxicity to the calcium in the cell, eventually leading to cell death.

There is evidence that these medications also worsen diabetes by killing the very cells that make insulin in the first place.[1] Some with type 2 diabetes progress to type 1 diabetes. When the pancreas no longer produces insulin, the sulfonylurea medications don’t work, and the patient needs insulin injections for life.

Besides causing obesity, higher insulin levels are also associated with worse outcomes. One study that compared the outcomes of several different treatment regimens concluded, “…insulin was associated with higher rates of death, major cardiac and cerebrovascular events, and microvascular disease.”[2] There is a direct association with high insulin to complications such as stroke, heart disease and death.

Other areas that are known to be affected by the toxicity of sulfonylureas include:

Chlorpropamide (a drug in the sulfonylurea class) seemed to have an effect on the protein production in the liver, but wasn’t found in one study to cause hepatitis, or damage liver cells.[3] Thus, it may not directly cause hepatitis, but indirectly kills liver cells by increasing insulin and causing excessive storage of glycogen and fatty liver disease.

The nerves are also affected indirectly by decreasing the energy available to them. Nerves are very sensitive to energy production, and when there is not enough energy, the nerve cells die, causing neuropathy, or numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.[4]

Sulfonylureas affect the energy production of the heart because of their effect on the chloride channels, creating fatal arrhythmias and death. Because of the risk of cardiovascular death, the FDA requires a warning label such as this on sulfonylurea medications:

sulfonylurea warningSULFONYLUREAS WARNINGS



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Taking Care of Colon Problems

Strategies to Keep Your Colon Healthy

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

The colon is the least appreciated organ of the body – until it doesn’t work!  People with colon problems can be miserable.  The symptoms of colon trouble can include a wide variety of issues:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • And even cancer

the wrong bacteria in your colon can make you fatIf you’ve been wondering how to care for your colon, this is the article for you!

The colon is the large intestine.  It is the waste dump for everything we eat.  The small bowel absorbs all the nutrients from our food. Whatever is left over goes to the colon where the waste ferments through multiple types of bacteria. 

In the colon we have our main store of bacteria – trillions of them!

The types and amounts of bacteria we possess in our colon are essential to life. Even though they are residents of the colon, bacteria are very much a part of us, and in some ways make us what we are. They may determine our:

When we were babies in the womb we were sterile. Our first exposure to bacteria came from the birth canal, which supplied our intestines with bacteria needed to digest milk. People who are born by caesarian section don’t pick up the bacteria from their mother’s colon. Instead, their intestines start growing bacteria obtained from the skin. These bacteria don’t help digest food and can even cause inflammation over one’s entire lifetime!

One researcher concluded:

“Concurrent with the trend of increasing [Caesarean Delivery], there has been an epidemic of both autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis and allergic diseases, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis.[5]

The Wrong Bacteria in Your Colon Can Make You Fat!

Additionally, those who are born by C-section are more susceptible to metabolic diseases and obesity.[6] Multiple studies in rats and humans have shown that bacteria in the colon have a large effect on obesity. One study used mice that had intestinal bypass surgery. Those mice that had the surgery now developed different bacteria. When that bacteria was given to obese mice, they lost weight without the bypass surgery. Essentially, bacteria from a thin mouse caused an obese mouse to lose weight.[7]

Humans also experience weight gain or loss associated with their gut flora.  In one study, humans with higher levels of a certain bacteria, M. smithii, were much more likely to be overweight than those with low levels.[8]

Wrong Colon Bacteria Can Cause Arthritis

Studies on the types of bacteria in the colon suggest that arthritis can be caused or worsened by our bacteria.  One study suggested that a single organism can make the difference between having arthritis – or not.[9] The organisms that cause inflammation grow on simple sugars and starches.  On the other hand, those bacteria that grow on prebiotics create butyrate. Butyrate acts as an energy source for cells lining the colon and reduce an inflammatory response.

Prebiotics are the fiber found in fruit and vegetables. They have certain fibrous carbohydrates that nourish the good bacteria to help them to grow.

Best Prebiotic FoodsGod gave us quite the gift when it comes to prebiotic foods because there are many that have just the right “ingredients” to improve gut function without us having to do anything else but eat them! The top most nutrient-dense prebiotic foods are:

  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Cabbage
  • Beans
  • Artichokes
  • Root vegetables
  • Apples

Prebiotic foods are like fuel for good bacteria. They escape digestion in our small intestine but continue to the colon where the “good” bacteria digest them.  These bacteria make butyrate, which prevents inflammation, such as arthritis.

Because of these bacterial studies, many have proposed fecal transplants to treat arthritis and obesity, instead of surgery and drugs.

What is a Fecal Transplant?

It is just as it sounds. Stool from one person is given to another person to change the bacteria in their colon.  When this procedure first started, the diluted donor stool was put through a tube that went from the nose into the small intestine. However, standard procedure today is done by way of an enema.  Doctors who do this procedure will use a colonoscope to get the bacteria all the way through the colon.

The purpose of a fecal transplant is to populate the colon with good bacteria and give it more biodiversity.

We not only need lots of bacteria, but a diverse population of bacteria growing together in harmony.  Research shows that this procedure can remedy many different problems such as drug resistance, chronic diarrhea, arthritis, obesity, and diabetes.

Probiotic Supplements

Because of this research, many advocate that we take probiotic pills that contain certain amounts of good bacteria.

Until the modern era, humans (and all animals for that matter) ate food laced with bacteria.  Dung fertilized the soil, allowing colon bacteria on the growing food.  People ate food that easily fermented and contained live bacteria. These are foods such as sauerkraut, natto (fermented soybeans), miso (another type of fermented soybeans), yogurt, kefir, and cheeses of all kinds.  Also, without refrigeration, food grew bacteria quickly.

Traditional cultures did not know all these important reasons to eat cultured foods.  However, they definitely knew that fermented food lasted longer, tasted better and made them feel better.  We would be wise to remember techniques our ancestors have left us about probiotics to help the colon!

By contrast, today, we take great measures to prevent bacteria from getting into our food.  For a longer shelf-life, food is:

  • Pasteurized
  • Radiated
  • Gassed
  • Sprayed with chemicals
  • Refrigerated
  • Frozen

Milk that has not been pasteurized lasts only a few days, even refrigerated. Whereas, pasteurized milk lasts for weeks. And ultra-pasteurized milk lasts for months without even being refrigerated!  Many think they may be getting some bacteria in yogurt or cheese. But most dairy products are also heated to prolong their shelf-life.  Canned kimchi and sauerkraut are heated so they contain little or no bacteria.  While there are benefits to decreasing bacteria in food, such as less food poisoning, there is a downside, as well. We don’t get many probiotics anymore.

The bacteria in your colon are like a fingerprint. Your native gut flora have been present since birth. They are uniquely you. They don’t like other bacteria coming in and growing so they usually kick them out.  If you thought you could take a probiotic for a short time to get it to grow inside the colon, guess again!  Probiotics do not become established members of your gut ecosystem. When you stop taking them, their numbers dwindle quickly. That specific probiotic strain level declines and eventually disappears. Within a couple of days to weeks, you’re back to your old self again.

This is why we need a constant supply of good bacteria, or probiotics, from our food.  However, since we don’t get much from food, we often supplement with probiotic pills.  For some people, taking probiotics can make a huge difference in:

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Metformin and Diabetes: Trouble in Paradise

Popular Drug Damages Your Cells But Fasting Delivers Energy

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

Jessica came to see me because she had been diagnosed with a condition that is becoming more and more common – PCOS. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a problem of the adrenal glands that causes:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Obesity
  • Easy fatiguing
  • And even diabetes

Jessica was prescribed a diabetes medication called metformin (tradename Glucophage) that seems to help metabolic problems. It also allows people to burn fat so they stop gaining weight.

This drug is a first-line therapy for Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) and has been used for many years. It has the effect of making the body more sensitive to insulin and blocking the liver from putting out more sugar. The net effect of this is to lower blood sugar levels.

However, metformin’s specific action reaches deeper into your cells. It blocks the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells of your body, from using sugar efficiently. When cells are unable to use sugar, they must switch to fat-burning mode. With the ability to burn fat, the body has lower sugar levels and can actually lose weight!

The effect of metformin has been trumpeted for many years. Metformin:

  • Decreases blood glucose
  • Increases fat use
  • Prevents kidney problems
  • Improves PCOS in women
  • Prevents diabetes
  • Lowers cancer rates [1]

Because of these effects metformin is now being considered and used for many conditions including:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancers of all types
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic Syndrome X

Indeed, as one of my professors stated, it seems that metformin should be “included in the drinking water.”  Everyone would supposedly benefit.  Many without diabetes, PCOS, or even pre-diabetes are taking it to prevent diabetes and cancer.

Beware of Treating Disease with Metformin

All of the symptoms and diseases treated by metformin have one thing in common: they are all diseases of metabolism, or energy production.  These conditions actually result when energy is not properly made in the body.  Adding metformin to those cells that need sugar makes them less efficient. They can’t make energy!

This is why people with diabetes develop Alzheimer’s disease, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage.  In spite of having lots of sugar, they are unable to metabolize it.

The problem with taking metformin is that it blocks the proper use of sugar.  Some tissues need sugar to function. So when your body is already impaired, withholding cell energy can cause further damage to the liver, kidneys, brain, vision, and muscles.

The list of “side-effects,” or better said, toxic effects, of metformin include:[2]

  • the problem with taking metformin Stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, or constipation
  • Headaches
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Taste problems
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fingernail and/or toenail disease
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Heart throbbing or pounding
  • Muscle pain
  • Redness of face and neck
  • Increased blood acidity due to high levels of lactic acid
  • Low blood sugar
  • Megaloblastic anemia

These are just the symptoms of the toxic effects of metformin; the underlying cause is the lack of energy production. Basically, cells treated with metformin become energetically inefficient. As a result, your mitochondria, which manage your cell’s energy, become poisoned. Lead, mercury, arsenic, and cyanide, are known to have similar disturbing side effects on your cells.

Not all who take metformin have this unique set of horrible toxic side effects. But it is important to know that there is a risk to taking it. Much of the time, patients with diabetes or other conditions are given the medication without being told about its toxicity.

Metformin and Type 2 Diabetes

The hallmark of T2D is an overload of sugar, which makes it toxic.  Anything we get too much of can poison the systems of our body. Yes, we can get too much of a good thing.  When we eat more than we need for the day, we store the extra as fat and glycogen. Eventually the energy production of the body gets sluggish. The systems designed to regulate and manage your body become inefficient. We feel weak, fatigued, tired and listless. Even though every cell stores millions of calories and many pounds of fat are reserved under the skin, metabolic energy is inaccessible due to overload of sugar.

Many blame their thyroid because low thyroid can cause similar symptoms.  However, these symptoms almost always point to an overload of a sluggish energy system.  This happens because the sugar system is inefficient, and extra insulin blocks the fat system.  We call this “insulin resistance.”

When given metformin, it blocks the cells’ ability to use sugar and stimulates the use of fat.  This allows more sugar into the already bloated cells.  It also prevents the muscles from getting energy from their stored glycogen, which can cause them to die of starvation.  It might seem to make sense to treat the overload of energy by starving the cells. It may work temporarily, but ultimately these cells die of starvation while swimming in energy.  It would be like a person dying of thirst in a swimming pool because he was afraid of drowning.

Metformin and Type 1 Diabetes

A deficiency of insulin does not allow sugar into the cells and they starve of energy.  Before the discovery of insulin, people died of starvation from T1D (type 1 diabetes).  They couldn’t use the sugar so they would switch to fat-burning.  When they ran out of fat, they started burning protein, and when there was no more protein, they died.

Long ago, people with “honey urine” (type 1 diabetes) ate high fat diets to keep them alive. Now we can give them insulin and they can live an almost normal life.  However, some are saying type 1 diabetics should take metformin to block the liver from making sugar and help keep their sugar down.  While this sounds good, it would be a disaster on the cellular level!  With the imminent threat of starving cells, it is unwise to use a chemical that can further disturb energy production.

Studies indicate that metformin side-effects, especially hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), are more likely in T1D, with hardly any blood sugar benefit.[3]

Metformin and PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome is primarily a hormone abnormality that is commonly inherited.  The adrenal and other glands have abnormal responses to stimuli that cause either too much or too little of certain hormones.  Cortisol tends to be excessive, as is testosterone. High cortisol and testosterone hormones prohibit other hormones from being produced or used. The net effect on the metabolism is insulin resistance (because of excess cortisol) and even diabetes.

Metformin has been a first-line medication for this problem because it effectively blocks excess cortisol.  However, it is important to note that it works only on the symptoms of cortisol excess, while allowing the disease to progress.

In women with PCOS, high insulin levels can cause the ovaries to make more androgen hormones such as testosterone. Metformin affects the way insulin controls blood glucose and lowers testosterone production. As a result, ovulation can return.

On a side note, the goal to reverse PCOS is to use nutrients to:

  • Decrease sugar cravings
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Improve carbohydrate metabolism
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • And balance hormones

Meditation, mindfulness, gratefulness, journaling, and any other mind-body techniques can be used to lower cortisol levels.

Metformin Worsens Alzheimer’s Disease

While laboratory studies indicate that making the brain more sensitive to insulin should help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, clinical studies show the cognitive problems actually get worse.[4] It turns out that the ability to use fat actually helps the brain to function better and to repair. However, the toxic effects of metformin on the body’s ability to use sugar lessen this benefit. The brain needs a constant supply of energy from sugar even when the body is burning fat.

The Optimal Alternative to Metformin

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How to Turn Off Weight Gain Hormones

Turning on Metabolic Hormones to Fight Fat 

By Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

 

The human body secretes thousands of hormones, many of which have multiple functions.  Hormones are signaling molecules found everywhere inside of us.  They affect how the cells and organs function by communicating what is going on in the body. In this article, I’m going to focus on the hormones that affect metabolism, or energy production.  You have surely heard about some of these hormones:

Adrenal hormones

  • how to turn on metabolic hormones to fight fatCortisol
  • Adrenaline
  • DHEA

Pancreatic hormones

  • Insulin
  • Glucagon

Other hormones

  • Thyroid
  • HGH

Adrenal Hormones

Cortisol Hormone

Adrenal hormones come from two little glands situated on top of each kidney, the adrenal glands. Although small, these glands are very important. They give us our sleep-wake cycles, and keep everything in line with the metabolism. They get you started in the morning, and put you down at night. They also have a lot to do with fat storage.

Cortisol is the major metabolic hormone from the adrenal glands. Cortisol affects fat in the following ways:

  • Long-term elevations of cortisol raises insulin and increases fat
  • Rapid, or short spurts of cortisol pair with adrenaline or HGH (Human Growth Hormone) and decreases fat

Stress causes us to make more cortisol. Positive stress can help build muscle and decrease fat by being coupled with HGH (human growth hormone). But negative stress, or long-term stress, coupled with insulin causes a loss of muscle and increase in fat.  If you think about it, the very things people do when they are stressed may worsen their situation.  Cortisol causes us to crave sugar and starch, which increase insulin, causing more fat gain.  So, eating chocolate when stressed is exactly the wrong thing to do – if you don’t want to gain weight.

You can maximize the good effects of cortisol on fat with positive stress through:

  • Exercise
  • Learning
  • Helping others
  • Growing
  • Writing a book
  • Starting a business
  • Raising a family

Whenever we are improving, we are stressed. That’s why life is hard.  However, when we choose our stress, accept it, and love it, we are in positive stress mode. This increases our growth hormones and we actually build our bodies and reduce fat storage.

Negative stress, on the other hand, occurs when we don’t choose. When a choice is forced on us from the outside, we feel loss, depressed, or trapped. This increases the negative effects of cortisol.

Fear and distress are negative stressors that result from:

  • Trauma or injury
  • Car accident
  • Death of a loved-one
  • Divorce
  • Toxins
  • Illness, infections
  • Dead-end job
  • Lack of money

You can make simple lifestyle choices that will reduce stress and lower your cortisol levels. Meditation, prayer, sleep, enjoying a hobby, and maintaining a regular routine all help to manage cortisol and improve the ratios of adrenal hormones.

how interval training turns adrenaline into fat lossAdrenaline Hormone

The hormone that causes your heart to race and your blood pressure to go up when you have a scare is also one that can help you burn fat.

In a dangerous situation, adrenaline mobilizes fat in order to increase the energy supply for the muscles and brain.  You can use this to your advantage to stimulate adrenaline and burn more fat without having to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, ride 3.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu, or go spelunking with a torch.  You can do this in the safety of your own home!

Interval training is a good way to release adrenaline. Engage in interval training in a controlled way to gain all the benefits and avoid any negative stress effects.  An interval training routine looks like this: 

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Osteoarthritis: Taking Care of Degenerative Joints

Repairing Cartilage to Heal Joints

by Scott Saunders

The word “arthritis” conjures up images of gnarled fingers and chronic pain.  But it actually means any joint inflammation.  There are over 200 known causes and types of arthritis.  People can get arthritis from any inflammation in their bodies, such as:

  • Infections
  • Psoriasis
  • Deficiencies
  • Toxins
  • Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Degenerative joints
  • Genetics
  • Autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Metabolic issues (gout)
  • Allergies
  • And many others

Osteoarthritis Symptoms However, we are going to focus on the most common type of arthritis: osteoarthritis, or degenerative joints.

Osteoarthritis

Have you ever seen bumps or knobs on people’s finger joints? Those nearest the fingernail are called Heberden’s Nodes. Enlargement of the middle joints are called Bouchard’s Nodes.

These boney swellings are an enlargement of the cartilage in the joint.  It feels like very hard rubber but generally isn’t painful.  Many things damage the cartilage:

  • Injury
  • Inflammation
  • Lack of blood flow

Where there is any kind of injury and the cartilage is unable to repair itself correctly, the cartilage continues to enlarge as it attempts to repair. At this point, this knobby bony deformity is not damaged or inflamed, such as with most other types of arthritis. It is simply unable to repair itself. A very common early sign of osteoarthritis are these types of nodes.
People with osteoarthritis may experience the following symptoms:

  • Enlarged cartilage
  • Pain is often worse after exercise or pressure on the joint
  • Grating or crackling like sand in the joint when moved
  • Morning stiffness

However, these symptoms are usually only noticed later in the development of the disease.  Often there are no early symptoms, even though x-rays can show joint damage.  The reason for this is because the cartilage is degenerating for lack of nutrients, energy, or use. But since there are no pain nerves in cartilage you don’t feel it breaking down. When you do feel pain, it is because the cartilage has completely worn away and the bones are rubbing against each other. Bones have lots of pain nerves. That is when the worst symptoms of osteoarthritis start to manifest: pain, stiffness and swelling.

For this reason it is very important not to wait until you have lots of symptoms to take care of degenerative joints.  If your knee is not working properly, it can be helped early-on, but may require surgical replacement if you wait too long. 

Osteoarthritis Causes 

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8 Ways To Boost Your Lymphatic System

Supporting Your Lymph System to Prevent Disease, Infection and Cancer

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

Mary is a spry 78-year-old woman with her left arm significantly larger than her right. Several years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The surgeon removed her breast, along with most of the lymph nodes in her right axilla (armpit). Since that time, she has had swelling of the right arm, which bothers her, especially at night.

Two Circulatory Systems

Most people don’t know that they have two separate circulatory systems in the body: the cardiovascular and lymphatic.

The cardiovascular system basically moves blood throughout the body. The blood system is a closed system that keeps the red blood cells and most proteins inside at all times. The blood system allows only the plasma to leak into the tissues and around cells bringing nutrients such as sugar, oxygen, vitamins and minerals – everything a growing cell needs.

Function of Lymph SystemHowever, while most of the fluid is taken up into the veins after it feeds the cells, a significant portion is left behind. This fluid builds up over time and can create a lot of swelling. In order to get that fluid back into circulation, the body has a separate system of vessels – twice as many as the blood vessels – called the lymphatic system.

Rather than blood, the lymph system carries a clear fluid called lymph unidirectionally towards the heart through lymphatic vessels.

Functions of the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system has three functions:

  1. To bring fluid from around the cells back into the blood circulation
  2. To remove bacteria, viruses, other infections, and cancer
  3. To remove waste from the cells
lymph edema in arm

Lymphedema after left mastectomy with removal of lymph nodes.

Mary’s discomfort came because when the surgeon removed the lymph nodes it cut off the lymph vessels. Now her lymph system can no longer bring the excess fluid back to the heart so her arm just gets bigger as the fluid increases.

Thus, the primary function of the lymph system is to act as drainage of excess fluid that accumulates around the cells. This amounts to about 15% of all the fluid that comes out of the blood to bathe the cells. As we move around, this fluid is pushed through the lymph vessels, which have valves that allow the fluid to move only one way, towards the heart. There it enters the veins, and ends up back into the blood circulation. Amazingly, the vessels themselves also have muscles that contract and push the lymph through them.

Mary needs to wear a pressure sleeve to keep her arm from continuously getting larger. The extra pressure squeezes the fluid into the venous system to get back into the circulation. This doesn’t get all of the fluid back, but it keeps her arm from becoming gigantic.

Even health care professionals ignore the lymphatic system; we take for granted the importance of this system – until it doesn’t work. For example, in many areas of the world mosquitoes can inject a parasite that gets into the lymph system and completely blocks it. The area affected continues to get larger over time without stopping. After this happens, there is no way to clear the lymph system, even after killing the parasites. Without constant treatment the limb just continues to grow, causing a disease known as elephantiasis.

lymphedema from mosquitoes that blocks lymph systemAnother function of the lymph system is to aid the immune system in fighting infection. Lymph nodes contain white blood cells that can detect and fight infection locally. They stop infections from spreading through the body by trapping disease-causing germs and destroying them.

Because the lymphatic system extends to the far reaches of the body, it also plays a role in telling the rest of the immune system where there is an infection.

The lymphatic system is like the fire department in a city.  If there is a small fire, the local fire station is well equipped to handle it on their own. However, if the fire is raging out of control, then the local station calls other stations to send more personnel and equipment to put out the fire.  Each lymph node is like a local fire station, taking care of local infections, and getting help when an infection is out of control.

Cancer is another fire that needs to be extinguished.  The lymphatic system is also important in preventing and destroying cancer cells.  We all have cancer cells that travel through the lymph drainage system and into the lymph nodes, where immune cells eat the cancer and destroy it. This probably happens to everyone every day!  When we are diagnosed with cancer, it is because this system didn’t work properly.

Lastly, the lymph system cleans out the excess waste from cells. Lymph is composed of:

  • Water
  • Protein molecules
  • Salts
  • Glucose
  • Urea
  • Lymphocytes (white blood cells)
  • Other substances

Since the blood vessels only take up fluids and salts, the lymph system has to take care of the larger molecules and debris left behind.

The lymph vessels are very porous, allowing proteins, bacteria, viruses, and cell parts to get into the lymph.  Dead tissue and other foreign matter or invaders are removed by the lymph nodes.  Other debris goes into the blood circulation and is removed by the spleen.

By the same token, the lymphatic system absorbs larger nutrients, like fat, from our digestive system.  The lymphatic vessels transport fat to the veins of your chest, and the blood carries fat to be stored in adipose tissue throughout your body.

Detail-of-the-small intestines with lymph vesselTherefore, the lymphatic system deposits fat directly into circulation, without going through the liver. This has incredible implications for toxicity. The fat is not detoxified by the liver before getting access to our cells.

All the blood from the intestines has to go through the liver first, before it can get to the circulation and the rest of the body.  The liver is our primary defense against toxins because it can detoxify almost any molecule.  However, since the lymphatic drainage from the intestines doesn’t go through the liver, some toxins from your food may be able to get direct access to your body, brain, and organs.

The lymphatic system takes up all the constituents of blood, such as proteins and minerals. But by far the most important component is the absorption of fat. Most of the fats from the diet end up in the lymph system and are dumped directly into the blood.

Lymphatic Issues

Now that you know what the lymphatic system is and what it does, you can guess what will happen if it isn’t functioning well. Some of the problems associated with a poorly functioning lymphatic system include:

  • poorly functioning lymphatic system SymptomsEdema, or swelling
  • Regional pain syndromes
  • Toxic overload, including heavy metals
  • Poor digestion
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Rashes and skin problems
  • Frequent infections, colds/flu or skin infections
  • Cancer, especially lymphoma or Hodgkin’s Disease

Caring for Your Lymphatic System



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The Reality of Lyme Disease Infectiousness

Building a Strong Immune System 

by Dr. Scott Saunders

“You’re number 80,” the middle-aged woman said mournfully as she walked in.

“You’re exaggerating.” I stated matter-of-factly.

“No,” she replied, “I’m counting!”

doctor healed lyme disease v2For the previous seven years Jane had been to 79 doctors for an illness that nobody could figure out.  She was having chest pain and difficulty breathing, but nobody could find anything wrong with her heart or lungs.  Nothing turned up on blood tests, x-rays, and other investigations.  She continued to get worse over time, including fatigue, weakness, and joint pains. We finally determined that she was suffering from a very elusive infection – Lyme disease.

Lyme Disease Discovery

The story of how Lyme disease was discovered is fascinating.  Lyme disease was unknown until 1973 when a group of people became ill with a mysterious disease in Lyme, Connecticut.  Due to the persistence of mothers of several sick children, an investigation was conducted. The disease was named “Lyme disease.” At the time, it was considered a tick-borne disease. However, the exact cause was unknown until 1981 when the spirochete organism was found in ticks in Colorado.  Dr. Willy Burgdorf was studying another illness caused by ticks when the bacteria for Lyme, called spirochetes, were found.

Spirochetes are not like other types of bacteria or viruses.  They have unique characteristics that allow them to infect any cell or tissue in the body.  They can also evade the immune system, both by hiding inside cells and by producing a protective coating.  For this reason, they can cause any type of problem and disguise as many illnesses. This is why syphilis, another spirochete-like Borrelia, was called “The Great Imitator.”  It could imitate any disease because it can infect any tissue. Its symptoms are like those of many other diseases, from rashes to schizophrenia.  One researcher on syphilis noted:

Spirochetes“In two-thirds of untreated people, spirochetes and host will live amicably together until the patient dies of other causes, in about a third, however, the organism will continue to act upon the host to cause a variety of mischief.”[1]

These exact words could be used to describe Lyme disease today. The “variety of mischief” means it could infect any organ or tissue, causing any sort of problem. Indeed, Lyme disease could be “The Great Imitator” of the 21st Century!

A Stealthy Disease

Even though Lyme disease was only recognized 40 years ago, new discoveries found the Lyme bacteria in a fossilized tick from the Dominican Republic, indicating that it existed before humans walked the Earth.[2] The oldest known human to have Lyme disease was a mummified body found in a glacier in the Italian Alps that may be as old as 5300 years![3]

Lyme Disease Symptoms

Lyme disease bullseye rashThe symptoms of Lyme disease are as variable as the people who have it.  It is a slippery condition to diagnose because nothing defines it, except a known tick bite. Subsequently, the tick bite produces a rash known as erythema chronicum migrans (EM) days to weeks later.

These rashes typically look like a “target,” but are actually highly variable. The CDC states that up to a third of people with Lyme disease never get, or see, a rash. In some cases rashes may spread beyond the original bite, and persist for years.

Other common symptoms include:

(3 to 30 days after tick bite)

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Later Signs and Symptoms

later signs and symptoms of lyme disease(Weeks to years after tick bite)

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
  • Severe fatigue
  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints
  • Facial or Bell’s palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face)
  • Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
  • Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme myocarditis)
  • Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Nerve pain
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Problems with short-term memory[4]

Lyme Disease Testing

Jane had visited so many doctors who weren’t able to find a diagnosis because there is no accurate way to know if she had Lyme disease. The tests for Lyme look for antibodies, but the organism doesn’t always produce antibodies. Many people have little or no immune response to the presence of the spirochete. If you test positive, there is a good chance you have it. However, if you test negative, that doesn’t rule it out. Twenty years ago doctors were told that in order to have Lyme disease four criteria had to be met:

  1. The patient had to be in the Northeastern United States
  2. The tick had to be attached for more than 36 hours
  3. There had to be an EM rash
  4. There had to be a positive blood test

It turns out that as more research is done, some people with Lyme disease may have only two, one, or even none of these. Unfortunately, most doctors still only know these four criteria, and fail to recognize many cases of Lyme disease.

Lyme Disease is Increasing in Numbers

In January 2014 Lymedisease.org reported,

“Last summer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that Lyme disease is much more common than previously thought, with over 300,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. That makes Lyme disease almost twice as common as breast cancer and six times more common than HIV/AIDS.”[5]

We’re not sure that there are that many black-legged tick bites every year! In spite of this, the CDC continues to assert that the disease can only be acquired by ticks. Clearly, these numbers are much greater than can be explained by only tick bites.

Lyme Disease Transmission

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What It Is Like to Live With Anxiety

How to Remain Calm in Life

By Dr. Saunders, M.D.

Sheri can hardly function in life because of a gripping fear of everything.  She lives in an apartment above the businesses in the center of town, but hasn’t left her apartment in over five years.  Everything is brought to her.  She shops online and on the Home Shopping Network.

A trip to her house is a trip indeed!  Boxes she has purchased remain unopened, stacked four feet high around the whole apartment.  There is a trail only six inches wide leading from the front door to the bed and from the bed to the bathroom and kitchen.  She tried to leave her apartment a year ago. But only made it to the front steps before she got a panic attack and had to run back inside.

When anxiety becomes a problemPanic is a type of severe anxiety from a sudden release of adrenal (stress) hormones.  Short or long-term stress produces large amounts of these hormones, causing severe anxiety. When this surge of stress hormones hit the body, people feel like they are going to die.

In a typical hospital emergency department, patients with severe anxiety often display symptoms of: chest pain, palpitations, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and a fear of imminent death.  They get blood tests, EKGs, X-rays, and even cardiac catheters to determine if they are having a heart attack.  The symptoms of anxiety often mimic a heart attack.  But more than 80% of the time there is no sign of heart trouble. Many people are told, “It’s just a panic attack.”

Living with Anxiety

While panic attacks are the extreme, and happen to some people, anxiety is very common. In fact everyone feels anxiety at some point, like fear or trepidation.

  • Needles often provoke anxiety, such as before a vaccination or blood draw.
  • Others feel anxiety before a test, interview, or court case.
  • Most get anxious at the thought of public speaking. They get a dry mouth, sweaty palms, cold hands and feet, and palpitations of the heart.
  • Even professional speakers, businessmen, or giving speeches or presentations experience anxiety.

The worst effect of an anxiety attack is on the brain. It causes disorganized thinking and poor memory, making it harder to present material.  One speaker noted after many years of public speaking that the “butterflies” in his stomach didn’t go away; they just flew in formation.[1]

Anxiety with a threat of loss is normal. Situations that cause anxiety are common to all people.

The purpose of anxiety is to warn us of danger. A message of fear sends a signal to the adrenal glands that there is an emergency. We then release hormones from the adrenal glands such as adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol (cortisone) to help us get out of danger.

These stress hormones:

  • Increase our blood sugar and heart rate for quick energy.
  • Suppress our immune system and other “unnecessary” functions to protect our body.
  • Create a multitude of effects on the brain, including a sense of fear, danger, imminent death or foreboding, as well as loss of memory.

Their overall effect is an increase in circulation and energy to certain body systems and a downshift of less important ones into maintenance mode. In this way, the fight or flight response prepares the body for extreme action.

When there is danger our body doesn’t need to function at capacity. We just need to get out of danger!

However, even when there is no danger present, the adrenal glands release the stress hormones causing all the same symptoms.  This emergency response causes physical symptoms that many people misinterpret as a heart attack or other serious physical conditions. Misinterpreting these symptoms can cause anxiety and the fear response to continue.

Sheri would feel panic just from walking outside her door.  She had no control over the release of hormones or how she felt; it just happened.  She tried taking medications of all kinds, and received counseling, but nothing seemed to help at all.  She was stuck.

The ways we categorize anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is constant worry or fear.
  • Panic Disorder refers to those who get sudden panic attacks, feel out of control, or sense impending doom.
  • Social Phobia feels like continually being embarrassed in public.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is when fearful thoughts take control of one’s actions. People then “have to” do things to relieve the anxiety.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) refers to those who have had major trauma that brings on chronic anxiety.

Anxiety becomes a problem when:

  • You feel anxious most/all of the time for more than 6 months
  • Your level of anxiety is excessive and intense
  • Your anxiety is uncontrollable and disrupts your job, relationships, sleep and social life
  • Your behavior changes due to your level of anxiety – this could be anything from drinking lots of tea, finding it hard to breathe, not being able to leave the house, or performing repetitive rituals, such as counting to 10 before you do something

Generally, anxiety is not considered abnormal unless it affects the normal functioning of the person, such as their ability to work, play, interact with others, or sleep, and has been present more than six months. And, of course, there are levels of anxiety – mild to severe.

Symptoms of anxiety may include one or more of the following:

  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Shortness of breath, or unable to fill the lungs completely
  • Jumpiness and feeling on edge
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swallowing problems, like a lump in the throat
  • Stomach problems and difficulty digesting food
  • Headaches of all types
  • Sleep problems of all types
  • Palpitations of the heart
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Cold sweats
  • Frequent urination
  • Bad moods
  • Eating, drinking or smoking more than usual

Mainstream Medical Treatment for Anxiety

Since the beginning of time people have used alcohol to relieve anxiety.  Doctors call it “the drug of choice” for all types of anxiety and panic because people who have anxiety drink it. And those who have more anxiety, drink more.

  • For some, it works so well they become “addicted” to alcohol. If they stop drinking, then they feel lots of anxiety.
  • Others only use alcohol for occasional anxiety, or in the evening to relax after a stressful day at work.
  • Some try to use it to sleep, but it disturbs sleep.

While it’s effective for anxiety, the side effects of alcohol can be devastating, as most of us know.

Standard medical treatment to relieve anxiety includes medications that stimulate the receptors in the brain that induce calm.

Most anxiety drugs, such as the benzodiazepines, work on the GABA receptors.  Stimulating these receptors in the brain suppresses anxiety. Because GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, it slows down the brain function in certain areas. It works immediately, but for only a few hours. However, tolerance to its effects is easily developed. These medications, like Valium and similar drugs, work in much the same way as alcohol to numb anxiety.

Valium was a godsend for many.  In the 1960s they called it “mother’s little helper.” Valium allowed moms to be calm and relaxed with the children – without alcohol!  Doctors originally believed it was not addictive, and only caused some drowsiness. However, this is not the case.  Over time, people become tolerant to the level of stimulation provided by the drug and needed more.

When benzodiazepine treatment is stopped abruptly, patients may develop withdrawal symptoms.  Some benzodiazepines, like Valium, can even cause seizures from withdrawal.

Now, the benzodiazepines have become standard fare for all types of anxiety. I had a patient who found that a benzodiazepine worked so well she carried one pill around for over a year, “just in case” she got a panic attack. It helped her to relax, knowing that relief was available if she absolutely had to use it. She never did, and now doesn’t need it at all.

Other medical treatments that might help include antidepressants for anxiety. Most of these work on the serotonin receptors, which have a relaxing effect.  This makes sense on a chemical level. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter that has an effect on multiple brain functions, including anxiety.

Others work on dopamine or norepinephrine receptors as well, such as the “major tranquilizers” or antipsychotic drugs.  The use of these for anxiety is becoming much more common.  Some people with anxiety prefer opiates like morphine, codeine, and the like.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to anxiety. People have different reasons for being anxious and display different anxiety symptoms, and therefore need different types of medications to relieve anxiety.

The primary problem with most of the medications used for anxiety is the same as with alcohol – they suppress all feeling and create numbness.  Using drugs to resolve feelings is always a gamble. This is especially true when people have anxiety because they report they “don’t feel anything.”   Some, of course, prefer to live this way. But many would like to try another way.

Determine the Cause of Anxiety

Medications may relieve anxiety symptoms for a short time. But they don’t take care of the problem, or address the cause of anxiety. The key to successfully treating anxiety is to find the cause(s) and remove them. There are many causes of anxiety:

  • many faces of anxietyExcessive stress, or change
  • Adrenal tumors
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Hypothalamic tumors
  • Hormone imbalances (such as low progesterone)
  • Ectopic adrenal production
  • Medication side-effects
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides
  • Nutrient deficiencies like B-vitamins, minerals, or amino acids
  • Thought disorders
  • Loss of foundation, or shock such as a sudden illness, loss of a loved-one, or accident

Once you find the cause of the problem, you can begin to change it at the roots, not just for temporary relief of anxiety symptoms. In looking at the list, it becomes apparent that this is no simple task. Some may require the help of a professional.

To end anxiety, follow the general recommendations and try each of the specific supplement and herb recommendations one at a time. 

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How to Reverse Multiple Sclerosis

Natural Protocols to Beat MS

by Dr. Scott Saunders

We often use the word “disease” to denote a “syndrome” or collection of symptoms. To define a disease requires that we know the cause of the symptoms. Thus, correctly stated, multiple sclerosis is not a disease, but rather a syndrome. The causes are not one, but many, making it difficult to find a single cause for all the symptoms that we call Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Because MS affects the nervous system it can have effects anywhere in the body on any function of the body. Some people have terrible pain, others get numbness. Some have weakness of certain muscles, while others have brain dysfunction and memory impairment. Commonly, people with classical MS get visual disturbances such as blindness or double vision.

Reverse MS and eliminate symptoms naturally 2Four disease courses have been identified in multiple sclerosis:

  • Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)
  • Primary-progressive MS (PPMS)
  • Secondary-progressive MS (SPMS)
  • Progressive-relapsing MS

Each of these disease courses might be mild, moderate or severe.[1]

Neurological problems that resolve in a matter of days to months, but then recur in other areas characterize relapsing-remitting. Thus, for example, a person with RRMS may have weakness in the left leg for months which then resolves, and later get double vision, only later to get pain in the other leg. These MS patients usually go on to develop a progressive form.

Progressive MS is exactly as it sounds. The disabilities don’t resolve, but rather continue as new ones are added. This usually leads to paralysis, pain, and even mental dysfunction.

Multiple Sclerosis Causes

There seem to be multiple factors involved in the cause of the symptoms of MS. These may include:

  • Genetic – Generally, close family members have a higher risk of MS that may not be due to environmental factors. For instance, an identical twin of someone with MS has a 1 in 4 chance of developing MS. However, fraternal twins have about a 1 in 40 risk, the same as other family members. The general population has about a 1 in 1000 risk.
  • Autoimmune – The debate over MS as an autoimmune disease rages. There is definitely inflammation in the brain, but specific antibodies are hard to consistently find.
  • Nutrient deficiencies – The fact that MS attacks happen more in the winter may indicate a vitamin D deficiency, but no causal relationship has been shown. Vitamin D is also an important immune system activator and may prevent viral illnesses.
  • Infectious diseases – Viral antigens have been found in the spinal fluid of people with MS, but not consistently enough to assure a causal relationship.

Mainstream Medical Treatments for MS

There are several MS drugs on the market that are approved by the FDA for treatment of MS.

Disease-modifying drugs that have been shown to reduce exacerbations and slow the progression of MS include:

  • Avonex (interferon beta-1a)
  • Rebif (interferon beta-1a)
  • Betaseron and Extavia (interferon beta-1b)
  • Copaxone (glatiramer acetate)
  • Novantrone (mitoxantrone)
  • Tysabri (natalizumab)
  • Aubagio (teriflunomide)
  • Gilenya (fingolimod)
  • Lemtrada (alemtuzumab)
  • Plegridy (peginterferon beta-1a)
  • Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate or DMF)
  • Ampyra (dalfampridine)[2]

These MS drugs clearly state that although they may decrease the number of relapses, they don’t cure the disease. Some people have good results from using them, but eventually progress with more MS complications anyway. Plus, many of the drugs have side-effects that are more harmful than the disease. I recommend people use drugs for symptomatic relief, if needed, while they are working on reversing the illness.

Alternative Medical Treatments for MS

I’m not going to discuss each alternative MS treatment here, because my purpose is to reverse the disease, and not to put a Band-Aid on it. The use of these protocols should be in consultation with a doctor who can prescribe it.

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