Many Ways to Help MS, Rheumatoid and Other Disorders

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Published 3-21-09

“Dear Pharmacist,

I watched Montel Williams talk about his multiple sclerosis on Oprah. He described a knife-like, burning pain in his legs similar to what I experience. Since I’ve started taking the vitamin B12 you suggested in Chapter 15 of your Drug Muggers book, my pain has lessened. What other suggestions do you have for people with MS?”

–J.P. Seattle, Washington

Answer: Montel has been open about his diagnosis, but never has he been so forward about the degree of pain and disability that he faces.  Just like many of you with MS, every day is an uphill climb.

Your nerves are surrounded by a fatty layer called “myelin,” which acts like insulation. With MS, the myelin unravels and the nerves get touchy so they short-circuit.  This creates burning pain, tingling and numbness. Certain nutrients like vitamin B12 protect the nervous system.  You can eat all the B12-rich foods you want, but if your gut is in bad shape, or you take a drug mugger of B12, you will still be ‘deficient’ in the nutrient, and your nervous system pays the price. In case you didn’t know, acid blocking drugs and diabetic medications are drug muggers for B12. People who have digestive disorders, Lou Gehrig’s disease, spinal degeneration, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia are usually low in B12.  I only recommend the methylcobalamin form (not cyano) so buy it at your local health food store or shop online. I also recommend that you take probiotic supplements to replenish your intestinal flora and improve B12 utilization.

What else can you do to ease the pain? Take cod liver oil because it is especially rich in vitamins A, D and DHA, an essential fatty acid that supports nerve health.

EPA and DHA combination fish oils will help support a healthy heart by providing heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

It’s a good idea to completely eliminate gluten from your diet. I know, I know, you want your bread and pasta but I’m sorry, gluten (a wheat protein) has been repeatedly implicated in MS, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes. For some people, eating foods with gluten is like putting acid on an open sore. Gluten (or casein) may be the dietary trigger that causes myelin destruction. People who are gluten intolerant are diagnosed with “celiac disease” and they usually have irritable bowel problems. But you don’t necessarily get GI problems; it’s shocking, but gluten allergies can actually manifest as a neurological disorder. Eat gluten-free for 6 to 12 months and if it helps clear your symptoms, then stick with it forever. Other important pain-relieving supplements include phosphatidylcholine, glutathione, melatonin and alpha lipoic acid. For more information about gluten, visit

Did You Know?
Yerba Mate is a tea-like beverage similar to coffee, and it may have anti-cancer benefits.