Functional Medicine allows the physician to see things and their interconnections in a holistic fashion. Functional Medicine for multiple sclerosis regards MS as a disregulatory disease of the immune system (too much pressure on the accelerator, not enough pressure on the break). All autoimmune diseases and disorders, from MS to arthritis and psoriasis, are seen as the same problem manifesting differently in different people.
“Immune diseases, in general, are seen as being the same disease entity in Functional Medicine. The root is the same.”
Alternative Therapies for MS – Functional Medicine
How Does Medicine Diagnose a Disease
When you go to your doctor with a complaint, in standard medicine the doctor “pairs away”, trimming and trimming at different options and possibilities, until he or she gets to a diagnosis. Once a probable diagnosis is found, the doctor will do the confirmatory testing and then look up and prescribe what the standard therapies and drugs are for that particular diagnosis. This way of addressing disease never gets to the root of the complaint and what is making you not be healthy. We need to remember that this is not an infection or virus we need to get rid of. This is something your body shouldn’t be doing in the first place and the why of it is not explored in standard medicine. So, what can be making you unhealthy?
Discovering What Caused Multiple Sclerosis
In Functional Medicine, the objective is to understand what the root of the disregulation is and then support re-establishing health. The causes can be many. Functional medicine looks for possible causes in our physical environment and our history such as foods, toxins, medication, and genetics. Unlike standard medicine, the psychosocial causes are also taken into account. These causes include adverse childhood experiences (ACE), the stress of your mother during pregnancy, toxic relationships, work environment, grief and loss, coping skills, and lack of close community and support systems.
Additionally, the practitioner looks at antecedents (your family history) and at triggers. Triggers both before the onset of your MS as well as before each exacerbation. Events such as a big move, a marriage breakup, bereavement, or changing to a more stressful job can all act as triggers. Functional Medicine does not consider multiple sclerosis to be caused by these triggers, only activated – a spring that was already wound up too tight.
The Functional Medicine Matrix
Functional Medicine Matrix reviews all the areas that can produce imbalances in the system, from leaky gut, microbiota, hormones, lymphatic system, toxicity, energy, inflammation, infection as well as lifestyle.
In the middle of the matrix are the psycho-mental-emotional-spiritual aspects. The practitioner is interested in what sort of challenges you’ve experienced as well as what kind of support you have. Challenges such as “Are you taking care of an aging parent?” “Are you worried about a grandchild in a challenging situation?” “Did you have or witness abusive as a child?” Also, “Can you connect with a higher power and is that part of your life?” These psycho-mental-emotional-spiritual aspects have been show in research to be a very important component in modulating your immune response.
“We need to learn to process everything the world throws out at us”
Functional Medicine Timeline
Functional Medicine looks for the root of immune diseases such as MS all the way back to childhood as well as what is happening now that could be contributing to your multiple sclerosis and the existence of undesirable T-cell clones.
The Functional Medicine Timeline is a tool that helps the practitioner review and collect information regarding family history, the state of your mother before birth (was she over stressed?), to type of birth, if you where breastfed, if you took antibiotics at a young age, if there was abuse in childhood, to medications, even as presumably mild as Advil. All of these aspects could be contribuint to the MS.
Functional Medicine for Multiple Sclerosis
“Take away what needs to be taken away. Put back what needs to be put back.”
With multiple sclerosis, everything that is driving inflammation has to be attended to. Two key areas an FM practitioner will begin with a client with MS is to testing for leaky gut and the levels of vitamin D.
A Functional Medicine for Multiple Sclerosis first consultation will look something like this:
- Review and fill-in in detail the Functional Medicine Timeline and Matrix
- Do basic tests such as 25-Hydroxy vitamin D3 blood test and THF4.
- Test for leaky gut. One way to test for leaky gut is Zonulin. If this is elevated, you have leaky gut. If you have a leaky gut it’s important to treat it as its like pouring starter fluid on an open flame.
- Check the health of your gut’s microbiome through stool and flora testing.
- Conduct a standard neurological examination
Functional Medicine for Multiple Sclerosis – An In Depth View
This presentation was given by Dr. Dawn Motyka at the MS Self-Help Group in Santa Cruz, California. For more information on Dr. Motyka, visit www.optimagehealth.com or call (831) 421‑0197.
For more information and to find a local Functional Medicine practitioner, visit the Institute of Functional Medicine.
For research on the relationship between your gut flora, multiple sclerosis, and inflammation.