Multiple Sclerosis: a Case History

Philip had been steadily losing his grip—literally—for four years, since he first began to notice that his left hand would shake when he tried to hold his fork. He got really alarmed when his left foot started to go. Before long one could trace his route by the marks his toe left on floors after he went by. He bumped into doors, took a few spills, dropped things and began to lose the self-confidence that had given him the courage to start his own real-estate business. He also became steadily more fatigued and he mysteriously lost 20 pounds in weight. He was only 38 years old. Where would it end?

A few medical and neurological consultations in search of a diagnosis led to an MRI scan of his brain. There it was: patchy demyelination, not only in the right side of his brain, controlling his left hand and leg, but the opposite side as well, indicating multiple sclerosis—the worst, a progressive disease with a downhill course, eventual wheel-chair status. Worries without answers: How would his two young children take to seeing their father as an invalid? Would he be able to satisfy his wife? When would he lose bladder control and other physical attributes?

But Philip didn’t give up. He dug deep for knowledge about MS and soon heard about Dr. Roy Swank, the brilliant neurologist, who pioneered the low fat, low dairy diet for multiple sclerosis. Most of his patients went into remission by following this plan and Dr. Swank had followed their cases for upwards of thirty years. It was not just a flash in the pan. Philip seemed to respond to this program. At least he stopped getting worse; but he had hoped for return of function. He wanted to participate in sports again. He wanted to be “happy, healthy and rich.” So he continued his search, even beyond Dr. Swank, and looked for “alternatives.” He found my name through the grapevine. Orthomolecular practitioners are a rare commodity, and those of us in the movement know most of the others in the country through medical meetings and publications.

He had done his homework and he was easy to work with. He knew he wanted to be examined, both physically and molecularly. There was nothing new on his physical examination; he looked healthy except for a bit of dandruff and oily, ruddy facial skin. Neurological examination confirmed the weakness in his left foot, past pointing when touching his nose, loss of concordant rotational movements of his hands, hand tremor upon purposeful movement and his finger tapping speed was reduced by 25 percent on the left side. He also had left-sided hyper-reflexia, jerky movements of both the left arm and left leg when stimulated with a neurologic percussion hammer. He also had nystagmus, jerky movement of his eye in lateral vision, another unmistakable sign of MS.

The laboratory was also revealing and actually more promising than the physical examination. Because the data were riddled with nutrient-related faults, there was a possibility that he might respond well to treatment. The iron storage protein, ferritin, was at the high end of normal, suggesting iron overload, perhaps due to the fact that he had been taking multivitamins for years. On the other hand the thyroid panel showed a low activity (1.1 on a scale of 1.4 to 3.8). There was above average mercury in hair (7.2 parts per million) and blood (0.06 mcg per ml), this despite the removal of all mercury-containing fillings 3 years earlier. Nerve cells are exquisitely sensitive to mercury because it readily binds to the tubulin protein that lines the microtubules that feed the nerve cells, thus blocking the flow of nutrients within the cell, even at low concentration. Tying up just part of the cell’s tubulin can inactivate without killing the cell; hence such low level cases can recover dramatically once the mercury is removed. This may be the basis of recovery in patients who improve or recover from neurological disorders after removal of their dental amalgams.

Philip’s laboratory tests also showed an unusual increase in the antioxidant enzymes, probably because he also had a high level of lipid peroxides, presumably caused by viral infection—or perhaps aggravated by the presence of mercury. But the most dramatic findings were the gross deficiencies of vitamins, specifically thiamin and pyridoxine, both of which are crucial to nerve function.

Armed with this information it was a simple matter to provide specific nutrient support and it was gratifying to find that he showed a prompt improvement in his condition. Laboratory testing after four months showed return to normal in these tests and he is in remission-free of symptoms for over four years now, thus permitting return of nerve functions that had been presumed lost: he no longer limps, is able to run, has regained normal weight, and is functioning with full energy and confidence. Would he have done as well without orthomolecular diagnosis and nutrient repletion and maintenance? I think not.

It is disturbing to realize that the nutrient test results would have been missed by a conventional medical work-up. They would not have been performed at all by doctors who are trained to look on nutrition as “alternative medicine?” For shame! Nutrient diagnosis should not be seen as “alternative.” Nutrients are not alternative; they are essential!

Modern, high-tech medical care is the alternative, particularly if it is invasive or traumatic. Nutrition is physiologic, measurable and correctable; therefore it takes priority. Of course, drugs, surgery and other therapies should be provided, but only AFTER evaluation of the patient’s lifestyle, including diet, occupation and avocation, and in relation to nutrition, pollution and stress. If we want health-medicine, then we MUST put nutrition first!

©2007 Richard A. Kunin, M.D.