Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a complex condition. This chronic disease causes uncomfortable, sometimes debilitating symptoms that can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
An unpredictable condition
The exact causes of MS are not entirely understood, and there is currently no cure, though there have been many advances in treatment in recent years. Western medicine considers MS an autoimmune condition that occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s tissues. In the case of MS, the immune system starts attacking and breaking down a substance called myelin, the sheath that surrounds the nerve fibres of the central nervous system. Myelin increases the speed of the transmission of nerve signals.
When myelin becomes “broken” or destroyed, nerve impulses are slowed down, leading to nerve-related problems. When these nerve fibres become damaged, symptoms can result, including:
Blurred vision loss of balancePoor co-ordination slurred speechFatigueMemory problemsNumbness or weakness of
The symptoms of MS vary from person to person, can range from minor to severe and can even disappear for a while only to flare up unexpectedly.
Depending upon your symptoms and the disease's progression, your doctor may suggest medications designed to slow the condition and cures for the signs.
It is essential to take an active role in your treatment. More and more, people living with MS choose to complement their Western treatment with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture and TCM can provide a safe, natural way for those living with MS to stay as healthy as possible. Including acupuncture and TCM in your treatment plan can help boost your overall health and relieve symptoms. Practitioners of TCM view MS differently than Western medicine practitioners, taking into account each individual’s overall health, lifestyle and emotional well-being—not just their symptoms.
TCM is based on Qi's (pronounced “chee”) concept, or vital energy flows through the body in channels called meridians. If Qi becomes stagnant, unbalanced or deficient, symptoms such as those linked to MS can result. This can occur for many reasons, from an inherited constitutional imbalance or illness to stress or an external invader such as wind or dampness.
Your practitioner will work to determine the condition at the root of your symptoms to create a treatment plan. For example, the muscular stiffness and numbness associated with MS are often related to excessive dampness within the meridians or a deficiency in the liver and kidney organ systems.
Based on their diagnosis, your acupuncture practitioner will balance the Qi in the body’s organ systems by manipulating corresponding points on the body with hair-thin acupuncture needles. While acupuncture alone can’t cure MS, it is instrumental in managing symptoms such as pain, muscle spasms and bladder problems.
Self-care for MS
MS can have an impact on every part of your life. To help support your physical and emotional well-being, your practitioner may suggest some of these lifestyle changes and self-care techniques.
• Herbal remedies – Your practitioner may provide herbs or nutritional supplements designed to help relieve symptoms and boost your overall health. Be sure to let your other health care providers know if you take supplements to avoid any potential drug interactions.
• Staying cool- Heat can make symptoms of MS worse. Tepid baths, cool drinks and air conditioning may help make you more comfortable.
• Exercise – Yoga and Qi Gong can help improve strength, balance and depression. Consider adding gentle aerobic exercise as well to improve your overall health and reduce stress.
• Stress relief- Stress can exacerbate symptoms and cause other health problems, so it’s essential to keep your stress levels in check. Meditation or deep-breathing techniques can help you stay calm and relaxed. Massage is another excellent way to help relieve stress and loosen tense muscles. If your anxiety becomes overwhelming, consider talking to a professional.
MS is a severe condition, but many people with MS live long, happy, fulfilled lives. Acupuncture and TCM can provide the support you need to cope with MS and its effects. If you or someone you love is facing MS, contact us today.