Follow by Email

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Heroes

I admin a private support group on Facebook for folks coping with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other chronic diseases. (Private means you can’t find it with a search engine, so everything we say stays in the group and not seen by the public. You can only join by invitation of a member.) There are over 400 of us now. Most have MS along with a myriad of other diagnoses such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, lymphedema, depression, migraines, and more. We have members with Crohn’s, Ehlers-Danloss, and cardiac problems. Some folks are caretakers of others with these diseases.

Every day, it’s a challenge finding ideas that can ease each other’s pain or keep each other’s households afloat, but we do it anyway, and we keep at it. We are living for a cure for each and every one of these ailments, and we are going to try to carry each other along into the future until the cures come for us all.

You would be amazed at the strength of our folks. So many are in constant pain while they raise their kids, care for their parents, or just keep up with life. They are all heroes. No matter how low a body is, there is always someone who offers a reason to cheer up, and who encourage us to press on in the fight.

We have few rules in our group. There’s the sanctity of the group – nothing gets copied out to other sites. There’s also a sense of civility. We are not rude. We do not belittle each other or compete to see who hurts more or knows best. Incredible! I am constantly humbled, and forever grateful. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Growing Myelin – N-Acetyl Glucosamine

There are supplements that help our bodies fight the damage from multiple sclerosis (MS). The one I’d like to talk about now is n-acetyl glucosamine (NAG). N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG) is an enzyme and one of the 8 essential sugars, a monosaccharide. (It is sometimes called NAG but more properly, it’s GalNAc.) Bodies use NAG for repairs including cartilage, and the muscosal lining of the digestive system. It aids in insulin production and in absorbing cholesterol. It can help suppress pain, tumor growth and viruses.

In one experiment, in rats, those which took NAG saw remyelination. In other words, they got myelin coming back to cover the nerves that were bare of it due to MS. Humans and rats have a lot in common, and scientists think that NAG will cause remyelination in humans. The dose that’s recommended is 3500-4000 mg a day of NAG. Because NAG effects the gut, it’s important to build up slowly and find the amount that you can handle. NAG comes in 500 or 750 mg pills.

Table 1. What N-Acetyl-Glucosamine Does in the Human Body.
May cause remyelination.
Cuts inflammation, decreases pain, increases mobility; reduces swelling and stiffness esp. in knee and hip
Repairs damage
GI Tract
Repairs the mucosal lining; may help resistance to Crohns, and other bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis
Multiple sclerosis
Suppress damage of the autoimmune response; reduce or eliminate symptoms
Type I diabetes
Suppress damage of the autoimmune response; reduce or eliminate symptoms
Immune system
Boosts disease and illness fighting ability; limit spread of viruses within the body
Aids in ability to learn
Aids in secretion
Aids in absorption
Temporomandibular joint arthritis
As effective as ibuprofen in reducing pain
Aids in wound healing

Side effects you might experience include diarrhea, gas, heartburn, bloating and an upset stomach. Caution: if you are sensitive to shellfish or iodine, this supplement may bother you.

Note: I am not a doctor, just a researcher. What you read here is not meant to diagnose or treat any disease. It’s just my point of view on the information. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Vitamins and Supplements - Good Deals!

I take a lot of vitamins and supplements for several reasons. I am trying to work, and to counter the stupefying effect of meds like Baclofen. Nutrients give me the best chance of overcoming the drugs without adding negatives. I am trying to help my body remyelinate. That is, I am trying to counter the impact of multiple sclerosis (MS) on my nerves. It slows the rate at which my body builds new myelin to keep my nerves covered and useful. Taking things like N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG) provides a way for my body to speed back up the process. I am trying to fight the impact of MS overall, by taking D3, B12 and others, and I am trying to be stronger and healthier. The prices for these supplements are pretty steep. I get the best prices for almost all of them on Amazon. They are often 40% off list price. Once a year, I pay $75 to be a member of Amazon Prime, and the rest of the year, I pay nothing for two-day air shipping from Amazon. It saves me a lot of money. There’s a link for the NAG I get from Amazon on this page.

Some things I get elsewhere. My B12 shots cost only a dollar apiece when I get them through Trim Nutrition. I’ve been getting my injections from them since early 2011, and have had no problems at all. The link for Trim Nutrition is on this page, too. 

How are you getting your vitamins and supplements?

Oils, Fats and Health

Fats consumed is important for anyone to manage, much less for folks with multiple sclerosis (MSers). A term you’ll see a lot is essential fatty acids (EFAs). Humans don’t make these, so they have to be consumed. The two EFAs that are important for human beings are alpha-linlenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, and linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. Some studies seem to show that MSers don’t absorb or transport essential fatty acids (EFAs) properly. Supplementing your diet with EFAs becomes critical.

Whether you have multiple sclerosis (MS) or not, balancing the omega fatty acids is important to promoting good health. Balance omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to promote health. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio should be 2:1, 3:1, or 4:1. In other words, take 2 to 4 times omega-6 than omega-3.

There are three kinds of EFAs to be aware of: omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9. Omega-3 is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and is in fish oils, flaxseed, canola, soy, perilla seed, walnuts and walnut oil. High omega-3 suppresses inflammatory response. They help reduce heart disease, and lower LDL, the bad cholesterol. They reduce stroke; enhance blood vessel elasticity; and prevent build-up of harmful fat deposits in arteries. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to brain and eye development, prevent cardiovascular disease, and help prevent Alzheimer’s. Fish oils include herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines. But you can also get vegetarian DHA.

Omega-6 is linoleic acid (LA), which is in evening primrose oil (EPO), black currant oil, sunflower oil and seeds, safflower, peanut, cottonseed, rice bran, corn. and some vegetable oils. Too much omega-6 can be inflammatory and result in heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis and depression. Avoid cooking with them. Omega-6 oils work together with omega-3s, must be in balance (that ratio mentioned above).

Omega-9 is oleic acid - monounsaturated fat, and is , in sunflower, canola, olive, peanuts, pistachios, almonds and avocados. Canola and sunflower are very high in monounsaturated fats. They help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Omega-9s are also produced by the body. They reduce key factors that contribute to heart disease and diabetes. They increase HDL (good) and decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol, and help eliminate plaque in arteries. The US FDA says 1 ½ tbsp per day canola oil can reduce heart disease.

The cell membrane is made up of fats and is constantly being remade. The gut and skin are quickly remade. Bones and cartilage are remade slowly.
Saturated fats make cells stick together. When cells stick together, you get clots, heart attacks, and strokes. Organs made of these cells become hard and inflexible, and result in atherosclerosis or hypertension. These cells are more prone to degeneration which may play a part in MS progression. Unsaturated fats are the building blocks of immune system chemicals, while monounsaturated fats are neutral for immune system.

It’s important to remember which foods and oils fit into which category of fat, so you can keep them in balance. Since fats interact with the immune system and with inflammation, it’s critical to MSers. That’s more than enough about fats for one day! Phew!!