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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My, Oh, My! Myelin!


A Brief Introduction to Myelin

Multiple sclerosis (MS) attacks the fatty protective coating of nerve fibers in the central nervous system called myelin. Even people without MS experience myelin decay as young as 39 years old. The first sign of myelin breaking down is a loss of speed of reflexes, for most people it’s not noticeable until they reach middle age or beyond. The next evidence of myelin breakdown is that balance can falter, shaking can begin, and coordination and memory begin to work more poorly.

Myelin plays a crucial role in the ability to function and remember information, and myelin is attacked in more diseases than just multiple sclerosis. For example, myelin is a key element of Guillan-Barre syndrome when a minor infection triggers the body attacking itself, causing muscle weakness and paralysis, and also in transverse myelitis, when an inflammation of the spinal cord damages myelin there. There are several organizations founded to fund myelin research, looking for a cure for demyelinating disease. The Myelin Repair Foundation encourages collaboration between scientists in separate labs. The goal of the group is to discover how to repair myelin, often through drugs that can result in quicker, more effective treatment of multiple sclerosis in order to end the suffering of the disease. The work may lead to therapies that will aid victims of other diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. The Foundation hopes to launch clinical trials in 2014, and to provide a therapeutic approach to repairing myelin by 2019. http://www.myelinrepair.org/

Another such organization is The Myelin Project. Founded in 1989, the organization funds research grants. In 2001, the Project funded the transplantation of myelin-forming cells into the brain of someone with multiple sclerosis. The procedure did not trigger myelin production or symptomatic change. http://www.myelin.org/home.html

How do you help your body fight myelin decay? There are a lot of supplements that could help. One thing emphasized on some sites is that without sufficient vitamin C, your body can’t move nutrients to the brain. If you do decide to take a vitamin C supplement, make sure it is buffered, so it doesn’t make you more acidic. We’ll talk about more things that can aid in growing new myelin in the next blog instalment. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Finding a Path to Sleep

Common to many with illness is the inability to fall asleep. Many would rather not add one more prescription to the medicines taken. I think we are fighting a lot but it still might help. Self hypnosis may be a way to relax and get some rest, and perhaps sleep. I am not a hypnotist or psychologist. Check in with yours for some good ideas. Meanwhile, here's one approach to it that I've used before.

First follow these two steps  to calm your mind. The first idea is to stimulate both sides of the brain and stop the brain from focusing on stress. To do so, try tossing a ball or bean bag gently back and forth from hand to hand for several minutes. As you do so, your stress should drop down. Toss a few minutes until your stress drops low.

For the second step, lie down comfortably in bed and do the following  visual exercise. Stare at a spot on the ceiling, focusing, then widen your gaze out in all directions while still staring. This gets you to focus outside yourself.||

Relax. Close your eyes and breathe gently, slowly deepening your breath as you relax. Slowly focus on your toes and let the muscles in them relax. Then, relax your feet, your ankles, and so on, from your feet to the top of your head. Now, visualize yourself floating on soft, gentle cloud, floating above a mountain. The cloud is comfortable. You are safe. You float down the mountain on the cloud, hearing the sound of birds. You hear the sound of a waterfall and follow the rippling stream bed as you float down the mountain. Your breathing is deep and slow, as you float on the cozy cloud. Slowly down the mountain and along the stream bed you float, listening to birds and flowing water until you come to the stream flowing into the sea. You drift off to sleep, cradled by the soft, fluffy cloud.