Do Supplements Add Up?
It started with vitamin D.
Little did I know I was starting a habit.
I had my first sclerosis attack in 2006 and learned about it by having an appalling fall on a tennis court. That’s another story. I haven’t written about that yet, but I’m sure I will. This story is about getting MS just as social media was erupting.
Twitter launched in 2006. A year later, the first iPhone hit the shelves.
I didn’t get an iPhone that early, nor, indeed, was I fully diagnosed with MS until 2009. But the two events did somehow coalesce.
I have spent my life in the arts, but have always been a science nerd. Spurred on as an early adopter of “Doctor Who” (watching the first-ever episode broadcast in 1963 when I was 6! Precocious? Moi!) and “Star Trek” (first time out, no reruns to get addicted). I didn’t have the capacity in math to do physics, yet I spent many happy hours as a teenager in the school library reading high-end articles about it in Scientific American.
So now I had MS, and the world of gaining knowledge had shrunk to a handheld “Star Trek”-style device! And it was no longer just the ease of searching out knowledge via the old-school internet, rather Twitter, Facebook, etc., sent me information, too. Somewhere along the line, I stumbled onto the site you’re reading, Multiple Sclerosis News Today, and it became part of my educative landscape.
Supplements may not be doing me any good, but hopefully I’ve done enough research to ensure they’re not doing me any harm. I source anything that has a hint of helping MS. The list has expanded from vitamin D3 to the latest, taurine. Here is my regime — which is as close to the language of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop as I ever want to get:
I can’t remember if this was suggested to me by a health professional or if I found out about it for myself. I do remember it being discussed at an MS conference and being prescribed it when I ended up in the hospital, before I knew about self-catheterization and UTIs. That was five years ago, but even by then, I was an old vitamin D3 hand.
My friend Nigel, who was nearly killed by a massive sclerosis, badgered me about this supplement early on in my illness. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, there just might be some benefit, and it certainly seems to help the heart health of Inuit and Japanese people. There is also evidence of neuroprotective properties.
Currently in Phase 2 trials for use with MS, lipoic acid is an over-the-counter supplement that might also be neuroprotective. The trials are at a high dose. I take one a day. If nothing else, I’m supporting capitalism.
Again, something currently on a high-dose MS trial. I also just take one a day. This supplement just might be keeping what little hair I’ve got left healthy.
A 2017 study summary said, “Studies have reported curcumin as a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant agent that could modulate cell cycle regulatory proteins, enzymes, cytokines, and transcription factors in CNS-related disorders including MS.”
I’m British and therefore love curry, but I could never eat the quantity needed, so I’ve added a turmeric/curcumin pill every morning. “With added black pepper extract to aid absorption,” proclaims the label. I have no idea if this claim is scientifically accurate, but as I put pepper on anything savory, bring it on!
Again nothing is solidly proven yet but an article in Stat says, “Gut germs play role in multiple sclerosis, studies show. Are probiotics for MS next?” I tried probiotic drinks for a while, then discovered the wonderful world of kefir, which is a fermented milk that is many times stronger. You get billions of more microbes for your buck! Anything fermented is good for us! With my Austrian heritage (my mother’s side), I can now have sauerkraut in the house without getting voluminous complaints.
This one is homegrown: “Taurine Seen to Boost Effectiveness of MS Therapies in Remyelination Process, Study Shows.” Although it seems more efficacious when added to other drugs rather than taken on its own. Still, it’s the main stimulant in energy drinks, so at least it wakes me up. It’s also far more sensible to take in capsule form than as a Red Bull and double vodka before breakfast!
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.