There are few effective treatments for the Neurologic problem called Multiple Sclerosis. Sufferers tend to get progressively worse and often end up in wheelchairs, unable to even perform the simplest tasks by themselves. But a new study is showing that effective treatment is right outside the door- in the form of the inexpensive and even FREE- Vitamin D.
Multiple Sclerosis is a devastating disease with few treatment options except hope. It often strikes at a young age and leaves the afflicted unable to care for themselves when they should be in the prime of their lives. It gets its name from the 'sclerosed' appearance that the fatty outer layer of the spinal cord, the myelin sheath, has when viewed on medical scans. These patches slow down- and even stop- electrical transmissions from the brain to the rest of the body and vice versa. Over time, strength and movement slow and are lost entirely.
Treatments for multiple sclerosis haven't worked very well, but drug manufacturers and researchers are always attempting to develop treatments to, if not cure the disease, at least give sufferers relief from their symptoms. Some drug treatments that have seemed to show promise are, as usual, being found to have serious consequences like: brain infections from the drug Rituximab and an increase in cancer from a class of drugs called beta interferons! What a choice to have to make to get better functioning.
But it seems that MS sufferers may not have to make that choice any more. A new study shows that those taking VERY high doses of Vitamin D, about 14,000 IU's per day on average, prevented the frequent relapses that occur with the disease. These high doses of Vitamin D significantly helped the patients in the study to maintain their current level of functioning with virtually no adverse effects. It's somewhat baffling, however, that the researchers warned other MS sufferers not to take more than 4000 IU's of Vitamin D per day until the treatment was proven to be safe.
This is baffling for two reasons: one because the much lower dosages of 4,000 IU's that were used in the study showed absolutely no benefit; two because study after study has already shown that high dose Vitamin D IS safe. In fact the University of Toronto, the research facility for THIS study, had stated previously in a DIFFERENT study that there is "no evidence of adverse effects from taking 10,000 IU of Vitamin D a day".
But even if you are skeptical about taking high doses of Vitamin D in pill form, where there IS the chance of taking too much, you can get high dose Vitamin D for FREE just by exposing your skin to sunlight. If you are light skinned and expose the majority of your body to direct sunlight for the amount of time that it takes you to get the slightest bit pink, you will make up to 20,000 IU's of Vitamin D. Interestingly, even though the body makes such a large amount of Vitamin D all at once, there has NEVER been a recorded overdose of Vitamin D from too much sun.
While this may be the first study to show the effectiveness of Vitamin D to prevent relapses in MS, there is already precedent for the use of Vitamin D in the disease. Several studies have shown that higher levels of Vitamin D are effective at PREVENTING Multiple Sclerosis in the first place. Another study showed that the number of sclerosed areas on the spinal cord could be reduced by as much as HALF using the same high dose Vitamin D used in this study!! In fact, Vitamin D researchers such as Oliver Gilley, who did extensive studies on Scotland's high rate of Multiple Sclerosis, has been urging higher levels of Vitamin D for years in order to ward off this preventable disease.
So, while drug researchers continue looking for the latest greatest drug treatment, Great Britain urges its Prime Minister to devote millions of pounds for stem cell research and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada creates new training centers designed to "conduct MS research through training of the next generation of MS researchers"; the "next generation" for the prevention AND treatment of this 'incurable' disease is sitting right in front of us -right here, right now. While you may have to weigh the risks and benefits of getting your Vitamin D through the sun, this safe and effective treatment for Multiple Sclerosis is completely free of charge and no insurance is required.