An Alternative Therapy for MS

“Immune diseases, in general, are seen as being the same disease entity in Functional Medicine. The root is the same.”

Functional Medicine for MS

How Does Medicine Diagnose a Disease

When you go to your doctor with a complaint, in standard medicine the doctor “pairs away.” That is he or she will trim at different options and possibilities until they get to a diagnosis. Once a probable diagnosis is found, the doctor will confirm with further tests. Then, your doctor will look up the prescribed standard treatment for that diagnosis. This way of addressing disease never gets to the root of the complaint. Furthermore, it can make you more unhealthy.

We must 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, 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 the root of the dysregulation.  And then support re-establishing health. The cause of the disease can be many. Functional medicine looks for possible causes in our physical environment and psychological environment. It explores foods, toxins, medication, and genetics. But it also looks at psychosocial causes as well. 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 a supportive community.

The psychosocial causes also include antecedents (your family history) and triggers. In the case of triggers, functional medical doctors explore triggers that might have occurred at the onset of your MS and 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. Things such as a 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 and 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 shown 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. Both then and now can be contributing to your multiple sclerosis and to the existence of undesirable T-cell clones.

The Functional Medicine Timeline is a tool that helps the practitioner review and collects information. Questions include:

  • family history
  • the state of your mother before birth (was she over-stressed?)
  • type of birth
  • if you were breastfed
  • if you took antibiotics at a young age
  • if there was abuse in childhood
  • medications, even as presumably mild as Advil.

All of these aspects could be contributed 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 are: testing for leaky gut and levels of vitamin D.

A Functional Medicine for Multiple Sclerosis first consultation will look something like this:

  1. Review and fill-in in detail the Functional Medicine Timeline and Matrix
  2. Do basic tests such as 25-Hydroxy vitamin D3 blood test and THF4.
  3. 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.
  4. Check the health of your gut’s microbiome through stool and flora testing.
  5. 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 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.

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