stress

Morse Code Keeps My MS Mind in Gear

I speak Morse code. It’s my second language, and I’m fluent. I’ve been speaking Morse code since I got my ham radio license nearly 63 years ago. (My call letters are KR3E.) At first, I received what was sent at a very slow speed of five words per minute,…

Review Gives ‘Cautious Support’ to Childhood Trauma as MS Risk Factor

Most available studies suggest a connection between childhood trauma and multiple sclerosis (MS), from earlier symptom onset to potentially poorer outcomes, but more research is needed to understand this association, a review paper highlights. While several high-quality studies have been published, the scientists noted “considerable heterogeneity [variability] in methodology, including inconsistencies…

Cognition-targeted Exercise May Boost CBT’s Easing of Fatigue

Cognition-targeting exercise, when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — a type of talk therapy — may further ease fatigue and other symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a study found. The study, “The added value of cognition-targeted exercise versus symptom-targeted exercise for multiple sclerosis fatigue: A randomized…

Addressing Some Misconceptions About Hypnotherapy

After speaking about hypnotherapy recently with a few people I know, I realized that many of them didn’t know that hypnosis can be used to manage stress and anxiety. One person remarked, “What do I need to say to get you to quack like a duck?” Well, it’s not like…

Early-life Trauma Affects MS Development, Treatment in Mice

Childhood trauma can affect disease progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) and treatment in adulthood, a study in mice suggests. The study shows that mice that experienced early-life trauma were more likely to develop an autoimmune condition and less likely to respond to common treatment with interferon beta. The study,…

5 Ways to Let Go of the Stress

Well, folks, we made it to the end of a very long political season and an even longer week. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel a bit relieved. In fact, I have tension and stress trapped in every muscle and joint of my body. And that’s not…

3 Techniques to Help You Overcome Anxiety and Stress

Bookmark this page! Why? Because in this column, I’ll give you three techniques to help manage your anxiety. Anxiety and stress are unhelpful for anyone’s mind or body, particularly with a chronic illness like multiple sclerosis. Feeling anxious or stressed is our brain’s mechanism to prepare the body…

Mindfulness: Putting Mind Over MS

Can you use your mind to attack your MS, just as you use things such as medications and physical therapy? Some people who believe in the benefits of mindfulness think you can, at least to some extent. Mindfulness is defined as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware…

Stress and MS: Time to Chill

How do you manage stress when you are stressed? How do you avoid letting stress dominate not only your mind but also your physical being? I wish I knew. At my first clinic following my MS diagnosis, the doctor warned me about stress and its effect on MS. I…

Finding Peace During the Holidays

The Christmas season is upon us — decorations, shopping, and get-togethers dominate the month of December. If you tune into the Hallmark channel you will see this season as synonymous with love, laughter, and an abundance of cheer. With joy the prevailing theme it can be difficult to experience…

Researchers Identify Nerve Pathway Linking Brain Inflammation, Gut Dysfunction in MS

Chronic stress and inflammation in the brain can cause multi-organ dysfunction including severe gut failure, mediated by a newly identified nerve pathway in animal models of multiple sclerosis, a Japanese study shows. MS is an autoimmune disease caused by CD4+ T-cells that cross the blood-brain barrier protecting the central nervous system. This inflames and stresses the brain and spinal cord. In previous studies, a team led by professor Masaaki Murakami of Japan's Hokkaido University showed that these cells could cross the blood-brain barrier in specific sites. These entrance sites depend on brain regional activation, which was found to be triggered by specific nerve interactions — a mechanism the team called gateway reflexes. In collaboration with other Japanese researchers and a team from Germany, the project aimed to address the potential correlation among chronic stress, brain inflammation and organ failures in MS. Using mice with MS-like disease — the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis model — researchers found that animals that had autoreactive CD4+ T-cells and which were exposed to stressful conditions developed severe symptoms such as gastrointestinal failure, or even death. Detailed analysis of the animals' brains showed that in stressed mice, CD4+ T-cells accumulated in two specific sites in the center of the brain around blood vessels. This event would cause inflammation around those vessels, and activation of a nerve pathway that is commonly turned off. This switch led to gut dysfunction, bleeding and failure. "These results demonstrate a direct link between brain micro-inflammation and fatal gastrointestinal diseases via the establishment of a new neural pathway under stress," Murakami, the study's senior author, said in a news release. Researchers were able to prevent gut symptoms by inhibiting inflammation in the brain or blocking the nerve pathway responsible for driving the signals from the brain to the gastrointestinal tract. "Micro-inflammation in the brain is also seen in Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease," Murakamai concluded. "So it's of particular interest to investigate possible connections between brain micro-inflammations and organ dysfunctions, including those within the brain itself, in those patients."

Stressful Environment Triggers Inflammatory Cells Linked to Autoimmune Diseases Like MS, Study Shows

A stressful microenvironment, characterized by low metabolites and low oxygen levels, triggers the generation of immune cells directly implicated in a variety of inflammatory diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). The study, “Cellular Stress in the Context of an Inflammatory Environment Supports TGF-β-Independent T Helper-17 Differentiation,” was…

Serenity Now: Relaxation Techniques for MS, Part Two

My last column “Serenity Now: Relaxation Techniques for MS, Part One” offered some quick and easy suggestions on how to relax in times of stress. This column is a continuation of that series. Movement, massage and applied pressure to the correct areas have many benefits. Massaging certain areas of…