Lisa is a 43 year old lady who has graciously given me permission to share her remarkable story of her 16 year battle with multiple sclerosis.
Lisa started getting severe episodes of dizziness in 1994 at the age of 28. The symptoms occurred periodically and she was finally diagnosed by a neurologist in 2000with multiple sclerosis, proven by an MRI of the brain. Over the past decade she has experienced many episodes, and has been treated with intravenous steroids many times to quiet the inflammation. Four times in the last decade she developed acute episodes of extreme fatigue and muscle weakness, symptoms common with MS. Prior to 2006 she was on a variety of MS medicines, including daily injections of Copaxan for the MS, muscle relaxants, and Neurontin for neuropathic pain. Eventually she was tried on Avanex, an interferon-like drug. The Avanex never lessened her symptoms but did cause a great deal of side effects and made her feel quite sick. It is noted for causing flu like illness, causing her to take it very irregularly.
In 2005, I first learned about the connection between MS and Vitamin D. At my urging she obtained a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level. The result was 13 ng., which is a very low. She was started on 50,000 units of vitamin D a week and her level over the next year went up to 40 ng. She noticed a decline in symptoms and an increase in energy. By 2009 with adjustment of her vitamin D dosage, her level was now 70 ng. In mid-2009 she received another one of many MRI’s of the brain, and this one showed no worsening from the previous one done in 2007. (All previous MRI’s had always been getting progressively worse with more brain lesions). At the time of the 2009 MRI, her MS symptoms were no longer present. Lisa is totally free of symptoms for the first time in 2 decades.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease. Studies show it has a genetic component, although most children of MS patients do not develop it. A geographic factor was noticed decades ago; studies showed that the MS rate in countries was higher the further away from the equator the country was (and therefore the lower the vitamin D levels were).
Dr. Roy Swank of Canada was a neurologist who worked at the Montreal Neurological Institute for decades. He published 30 year studies on the treatment of multiple sclerosis long before many drugs were available. His treatment showed a high incidence of arresting the multiple sclerosis, and consisted of minor modifications in the diet to reduce fat, and daily cod liver oil in an amount that contained about 800 units of Vitamin D3 (5600 units a week).
In the last few years, with the increasing recognition of the importance of vitamin D, one study showed 85% of subjects with MS improved with Vitamin D. Other studies show those an inverse relationship between vitamin D levels and MS. Geographic studies show the incidence of MS is correlated with distance from the equator.
Regarding Lisa’s case, it is important to notice that there was an initial decrease in symptoms as the level reached the 40’s, but a complete disappearance of symptoms didn’t occur until her level was about 70. (For comparison, most male lifeguards are over 100 ng.each August after several months in the sun).
Lisa had no lifestyle changes during the time of her improvement. Her improvement is one example of a complete remission of MS with Vitamin D alone.
I first heard of the connection of MS with sunlight over 3 decades ago. A search of the National MS Society and the MS Association of America web sites show that vitamin D articles are available to patients, but far too few MS patients have adequately treated their vitamin D insufficiency. In the past 5 years in South Jersey there are several prominent neurologists who are now testing their MS patients for vitamin D, and most likely this is occuring across the country.
Reportedly the first time a conection between Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis was made was in 1974 by Dr. P. Goldman in an article published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies, although the correlation of MS and distance from the equator was known before then. Over 3 1/2 decades have passed since then. It is time for neurologists, primary care doctors, and MS patients to act. Every MS patient should receive a 25-hydroxy vitamin D level routinely, and any insufficiency should be treated with a goal of maintaining an ideal level.
If you know a patient with MS, send this link to them.