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Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

A Summary

by: George Pararas-Carayannis, Ph.D.*

(Excerpts from summary prepared under contract for the ReGenesis Medical Center/ Dec 2000)

* Disclaimer - I am not a medical doctor. All material provided at this website is for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Patients and consumers should review the information carefully with their professional health care provider. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. I will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising therefrom.

Introduction

In Multiple Sclerosis, the nerve fibers of the brain and spinal cord gradually lose their protective fatty covering, myelin. Just like a wire that looses it insulation, a nerve affected by MS develops a short circuit. Scarred patches called plaques may develop throughout the brain and spinal cord. Even before this happens, MS can cause swelling and lack of oxygen to these tissues and can produce many different symptoms. The accumulated Central Nervous System (CNS) damage from years of repetition of this process eventually results in disability.

Multiple Sclerosis afflicts both sexes but is more prevalent in women, given the greater female tendency to anemia. There is a higher incidence of MS in people of Northern European descent.

MS symptoms

Several symptoms, not all of them typical of MS ( some similar to symptoms of porphyria), have been associated with MS. These include:

Central Nervous System (CNS) Damage and Disability
Overall Pallor and Local Cyanosis (bluish nail beds)
Severe to Mild Abdominal Distress During Flares
Constipation During Flares (can also be diarrhea instead)
Weight Loss During Flares
Flare During Last Trimester of Pregnancy
Dark, Reddish Urine During Flares
Sun Induced Rash Following Flares
Abnormally Strong Craving For Salt
Tendency To Low Blood Pressure
Bright Flashes of Light in the Peripheral Vision

Regarding this last symptom, a prominent Immunologist who specializes in `MS has stated that an immune system attack on the CNS cannot cause this symptom. It has long been known, however, that the acute porphyrias can cause this symptom by causing spasms of the retinal artery.

Causes of MS

All forms of MS are exacerbated by things like stress hormones, alcohol, infection byproducts, etc., all provocateurs of heme synthesis by the liver. It also appears that `MS occurs with greater frequency in areas high in environmental toxins.

MS is caused primarily by autoimmune and environmental inducers which may include viral infections and genetic susceptibility. However, biochemical hereditary factors may also be responsible for some form of a new MS subtype. These factors affect the body's iron metabolism and the heme biosynthesis pathway. Heme synthesis commences in the liver in response to the presence of toxins requiring neutralization (stress hormones, alcohol, sulfonamide medications, infection byproducts, barbiturates, etc.). The nervous system damage from hereditary and biochemical factors of MS may be related to a derangement of heme synthesis in the liver during periods of anemia.

The increased prevalence of `MS in women compared with men is due to genetic defects of iron metabolism and/or the effect of sex hormones on the heme biosynthesis pathway in subjects with a predisposition for MS.

Mechanism responsible for MS

The ultimate cause of this illness appears to be an inherited reduced ability to absorb iron resulting in a tendency to chronic anemia. The impact of low iron availability during heme synthesis by the liver may cause a derangement of the heme biosynthetic pathway that promotes CNS damage in a manner similar to that seen in the acute porphyrias.

The mechanism responsible for MS-induced damage to the CNS is rather difficult to explain in simple terms. It will suffice to state that the neurotoxic process causing central nervous system (CNS) damage in MS patients with intermittent iron deficiency may be due to a genetic defect but may also occur in persons who become anemic for other reasons. This may provoke onset of autoimmune MS as the immune system may mistakenly target CNS components, like myelin, as it attempts to clear the damage left behind by this process. Characterization of the putative HBMS gene and its product may therefore also explain the establishment of classical MS.

Biochemistry of Central Nervous System Damage by MS

More specifically, CNS damage is evoked by a disproportion between the porphyrin precursors, such as delta aminolevulinic acid and porphobilinogen (reducing agents) and uroporphyrin-1 isomers (antioxidants). Uroporphyrin-1 is deficient as a result of iron deficiency, leaving the central nervous system vulnerable to the oxidative damage of the precursors.

Differences between acute porphyrias and MS

The main difference is that MS results only in CNS damage whereas in the acute porphyrias, the peripheral and/or central nervous systems are also affected. Another differentiating characteristic between this `MS and the acute porphyrias is that porphyrin precursor levels, delta Aminolevulinic Acid (ALA) and Porphobilinogen (PBG), need not be elevated for the damage to occur. It is suspected that it is the proportion of precursors in relation to Uroporphyrins that is cogent.

Diagnosing MS

MS is sometimes is misdiagnosed with porphyria because of the similarities of symptoms and damage caused to the Central Nervous System. Porphyria is a broad term referring to any of several hereditary disturbances in the liver's heme-making processes. Heme synthesis commences in the liver in response to the presence of toxins requiring neutralization (stress hormones, alcohol, sulfonamide medications, infection byproducts, barbiturates, etc.). The acute porphyrias damage nerves.

Symptoms, beyond those commonly associated with `MS have been observed such as hive-like skin rash following sun exposure, abdominal pain and digestive disturbances.

Medications for Multiple Sclerosis

There are several medications for treating chronic-progressive multiple sclerosis (often known as secondary progressive multiple sclerosis ). Approved for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis are medications such as Betaseron, Avonex, and Copaxone. Very favorable results have been completed with Betaseron. Besides utilizing these medications, chemotherapies such as methotrexate or Iniuran have also been successfully utilized for certain forms of multiple sclerosis.

Research on MS

The exact mechanism responsible for the development of MS is not fully understood. Since, autoimmune, environmental and biochemical genetic factors may be responsible, present research is focused on the possible connection of these factors to the heme biosynthesis pathway and to possible disturbances in porphyrin metabolism. Understanding the relationship of heme synthesis to Central Nervous System (CNS) damage may also help explain its control over MS. For "hereditary biochemical multiple sclerosis" (HBMS) present research is focused on identifying a gene that may be responsible.

Alternative treatments for Multiple Sclerosis

MS appears to occur with greater frequency in areas with high levels of toxins and heavy metals, thus suggesting the importance of environmental triggers. Therefore, for patients whose MS may have resulted from environmental triggers (i.e. infections, hormones, heavy metal intoxication), or even from autoimmune and genetic factors (also affecting the heme biosynthesis pathway), iron supplementation may be a helpful form of treatment (if the patient is not suffering from Hemochromatosis, a dangerous hereditary condition that causes over absorption of iron). EDTA and other forms of chelation therapy (to remove heavy metals), as well as Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments, may also be helpful.

Miscellaneous Summaries on Chronic Illnesses

heart disease | | stroke | diabetes | | high blood pressure | | high cholesterol | | Alzheimer's | | Parkinson's | | arthritis | | chronic fatigue | | poor circulation | | brain injury | | multiple sclerosis | | cerebral palsy | | life extension | | memory loss |

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