Do Supplements Add Up?

Do Supplements Add Up?

john connor
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
What supplements? My breakfast! (Courtesy of John Connor)

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:

Vitamin D3

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.

Omega 3

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.

Lipoic acid

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.

Biotin

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.

Tumeric

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!

Kefir

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.

Taurine

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!

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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.

13 comments

  1. Om says:

    Agree with most.
    Only comments: Kefir, good if it’s not from cow’s milk.
    Biotin, you need to use that massive dose suggested by latest research to get any benefit.
    Increase your Lipoic acid.

      • John Connor says:

        Hi Mary – I find reputable companies on the net in the UK that deliver. I’ve seen a lot of stories about supplement companies not supplying what they promise! I’m happy though with what I get.
        As to doses I tend to take one lot a day – a lot of the drug trials are at much higher doses. But they are trials!
        The only supplement I take more of is Vitamin D3 but the research I did on this was a long time ago. However it would take me a while to re-ferret that info. So I’m not recommending – it’s just what I do to put up my own fight…

        • Heracles says:

          John, You mention the supplements but not dosages or outcomes. What are your images and symptoms telling us? Have you changed your diet? Are you exercising? Are you on any DMDs? What is your testosterone level? Any longitudinal data to share? In order to be a useful data-point for others, it would be helpful to know more. It does not have to be prescriptive but it would more helpful to get better observational information. Are you taking more than 10,000 IU D3? Remember that scurvy was cured through anecdotal evidence and not by classically trained doctors.

          • John Connor says:

            Mate, I’m a comedy writer not a scientist! I do take circa 10,000 IU DR
            as it happens.
            I have no idea if any of this does me any good. The point is to do something whilst not doing any harm!

  2. Suzanne Becker says:

    Ahhh ha ha ha…snort. Omgosh, you sound so much like me…dry snarky sense of humor. I love it! Still laughing 😆. I take D3, Biotin and B12 in addition to a daily multivitamin. Think I’ll try Taurine, I am a serious pool 🎱 player and it’s just not cool to yawn while drawing back on the 8-ball.

  3. Merichel says:

    Nice to read about this! I was diagnosed recently. I’m taking almost the same things as you. I’m not taking Kefir – I did for a while- because dairy makes me terribly sick (irritable bowel symptoms) so I take a probiotic called Protransitus. I take Vitamin D, Omega 3 capsules, vitamin B complex, Gingko Biloba, Iron (I have hypothiroidism and there is defficiency linked to it, same with the vitamin D) and instead of taurine I take yerba mate (It has a bit of caffeine and it boosts your energy too). I’m doing so much better since I’m taking all that. Glad to read you said “they’re not doing me any harm”. That’s why I’m onto this and I visited a neuro that followed the Coimbra protocol. Why? Because the ‘treatments’ the old neuros I visited gave me had made me suffer, only after 2 months, liver malfunction, terrible lumps and pseudo arthritis and tenosynovitis. That thanks to interferons (my mind was also terrible) and thanks to the stheroids. So yeah, better to take things that are not giving me those side effects and that actually make me feel better.

  4. Jeanine Shahin says:

    Has anyone tried CBD? It seems to help with pain and spasticity. Tried high dose biotin didn’t seem to help.
    Biotin can cause lab interference with thyroid levels at high doses.

    • chuggie says:

      CBD has not helped me with MS pain however Sativa does help quite well. You’ll have to learn what works for you, as it is different for each individual. Good luck!

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