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Multiple Sclerosis: Overlooked Nutritional Research

Part II

Continued from Part I

MS and Blood Clotting 

What other conditions may be mutually exclusive with MS? Interestingly it is pulmonary embolism or deep venous thrombophlebitis.  I believe this may be a clue that at least some people with MS do not have blood that clots easily. The main nutrient responsible for blood clotting is vitamin K. (The "K" comes from the Danish word for coagulation.)

We get vitamin K from food and and much of it is synthesized by beneficial intestinal bacteria.  These are the same bacteria that are helpful in preventing bladder infections, a symptom of MS.  A common link between blood not clotting and bladder infections is harmful intestinal bacteria getting into the urinary tract and crowding out the beneficial flora that synthesize vitamin K, which is needed to promote all of the blood clotting factors.  I could not find any studies on MS and vaginal infections, but if I'm right, then these would be common in women with MS, too. 

Women who are low in vitamin K often have heavier menstrual bleeding, which can lead to low iron levels and iron deficiency anemia.  Low iron levels have been associated with MS. 



A common finding in MS is purpura.  Purpura are a condition associated with systemic blood clotting deficiencies.  Vitamin K deficiency can cause a systemic blood clotting deficiency, and vitamin K cream is known to treat at least one type of purpura.  Vitamin K deficiencies can be brought on by antibiotics.  People often develop MS right after they've had an illness, a time they are likely to have taken antibiotics, which can lead to vitamin K deficiencies by destroying beneficial bacteria.

My theory is that one reason people with MS may be less likely to get pulmonary embolism or deep venous thrombophlebitis is because they do not have a lot of beneficial bacteria in their intestines to make vitamin K, which is needed to clot blood.  I think this is the same reason that they have trouble absorbing vitamin B12.  Vitamin K is also linked to osteoporosis and frequent fractures, prime features of MS.  I suspect that all of these symptoms and links may be logically related.    

If a lack of beneficial intestinal bacteria is a factor in MS, then it would logically explain why people with MS are less likely to develop blood clotting problems.  It would also explain why they do have fractures, osteoporosis, frequent bladder infections, purpura, intestinal gas and other bowel disorders, and low levels of B vitamins and magnesium.  

Antibiotics can cause a vitamin K deficiency and bleeding problems because they destroy the microflora needed to synthesize the vitamin.  Antibiotics are more common in industrialized countries where MS occurs.  It would be interesting to see if patients with MS had higher rates of heavy menstrual bleeding, easy bruising (besides the purpura), nosebleeds, GI bleeding or hematuria and/or, other symptoms associated with vitamin K deficits.  I couldn't find any studies on this, but if my theories are right, then these would be features of MS, too. 


Liver is a very nutritious food that has high amounts of B vitamins, including B12.  It is also high in molybdenum and copper.  It is also one of the foods usually listed in nutrition books to avoid if you have gout, as it is thought to raise uric acid levels.  (As noted previously, gout is a mutually exclusive condition with MS, and people with MS have low uric acid levels).  Liver also contains high amounts of purines.  Many nutritionists believe food high in purines raise uric acid levels and may lead to gout. 

Interestingly, injections of liver extract have been successfully used  in a study in Canada to treat MS.  Injections of liver extract would bypass the intestines, so if an intestinal bacterial infection was causing B vitamin absorption problems for people with MS, then the direct injections would be a way of getting the liver nutrient into the body, without having to go through the intestines. 

Many nutritionists recommend eating liver once a week as a healthy thing to do in any event, whether or not you have MS, as it is a food very high in micronutrients. (Because of liver is the organ that absorbs and neutralizes toxins, it is recommended by most holistic health practiioners that only organic liver be consumed.)

Bowel Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis and Nitrites 

A book by the editors of Prevention magazine, entitled Food and Nutrition, notes some facts about multiple sclerosis and bowel cancer that are of interest.  The Prevention editors note that scientists reviewing historical cookbooks and medical records uncovered that there were no descriptions of MS or large bowel cancer in Austria and Germany until after the start of the nineteenth century.  Interestingly, they found that this was soon after nitrates began to be used as additives to preserve meat.  Nitrites are used to cure meat such as bacon, bologna, corned beef, sausages and hot dogs. 

Interestingly, many research papers have noted an association between diets high in meat intake and MS.  There are some African tribes that exist mainly on diets of meat, yet MS is rare in Africa.  If MS was caused by high meat intake, then it would seem logical that these tribes would have exceptionally high rates of MS.  But they do not.  Perhaps the association between MS and meat association be due not to the meat itself, but to the preservatives used in the meat in Western countries. One researcher has observed that MS is associated with higher intakes of pork, but not of beef.  Perhaps this is because pork is more likely to be preserved with nitrites, a common preservative in bacon and ham. 

Recent medical reports note that conditions like bowel cancer and MS are rare in countries in Africa.  This may be in part  because ethnic African cuisine is not generally associated with a high preserved meat. Foods like bacon and sausage are more common in the U.S., Canada and European countries, countries where MS is also more prevalent. 

Bifidobacteria, a strain of beneficial stomach bacteria, prevent harmful bacteria in the stomach from converting nitrates into nitrites.  Nitrites can be converted into nitrosamines, which are a known cancer causing agent.  Many health experts recommend limiting one's use of foods containing nitrites, because of the links to cancer.  Interestingly, MS patients, as well as non-MS patients with demyelination symptoms, have elevated serum levels of nitrites in their blood.  Perhaps a lack of bifidobacteria, combined with a high intake of nitrites, is a factor in MS. 

Interestingly, molybdenum and iron containing enzymes are also needed to reduce nitrites in the body.  A high nitrite intake, combined with low levels of levels of beneficial bacteria, iron and molybdenum, could logically all be factors in MS. If MS is caused by a virus unrelated to nutrition, then there would be no logical explanation for all of these links to nitrites, or a logical explanation of why people with MS have both elevated serum levels of nitrites and low levels of uric acid.   

Pressure Sores 

Pressure sores are a common finding in MS.  Pressure sores are more common in patients with nutritional deficiencies.  One specific cause of pressure sores has been found to be iron deficiency.  Interestingly, MS has been linked in a few studies to iron deficiencies. 

In another study on pressure sores, unrelated to MS, patients with the sores were found to be lower in calcium, magnesium and vitamin D than controls.  A factor in the vitamin D deficiency in the patients with pressure sores was thought to be a lack of sunlight.  Perhaps not coincidentally, a variety of studies show patients with MS have deficiencies of magnesium, vitamin D and/or calcium, and that variations of supplementation of these nutrients improves MS symptoms.  A lack of sunlight has been implicated as a causative factor in MS, too.  

Perhaps pressure sores are not caused by MS, but perhaps pressure sores and other symptoms of the disorder known as MS are manifestations of nutritional deficiencies. 

Excessive consumption of cows milk has been noted as a factor in MS.  Milk consumption has also been linked to MS in another study. 

High milk intake can lower magnesium levels because milk contains high amounts of calcium, which can throw the magnesium-calcium ratio off balance.  Interestingly, one of my nutrition books notes that some people have problems with urinary tract infections, a feature also associated with MS, whenever they drink milk.     

Low Blood Pressure, Body Weight, Gout and MS 
As noted above, people with gout never get MS, and people with MS never develop gout.  Gout is relatively common in industrialized countries, so this is a significant finding.  Interestingly, people with gout also have problems with high blood pressure, the opposite of the low blood pressure problem common in MS.  High blood pressure and gout are both associated with diabetes and obesity.  Obese people are unlikely to be suffering from malabsorption, a condition common in MS.  Women with MS are likely to have "healthier body weights".  Perhaps the healthier body weights are due in part to the malabsorption problems common in the disorder.  Not only gout, but juvenile diabetes is also mutually exclusive with MS.  And, interestingly, diabetes and gout commonly occur together.  

Common Associations

Gout  Multiple Sclerosis
High uric acid levels Low uric acid levels
Obesity "Healthier"  body  weights, Malabsorption
Diabetes Lower incidence of juvenile diabetes
Males, post-menopausal females Women age 20 - 40
Lower incidence of MS Lower incidence of gout
High blood pressure  Low blood pressure
Disorders associated with blood clots Less likely to get disorders associated with blood clots

When you look at things logically -  who gets MS, and who doesn't get MS, and what do the people who don't get MS get, etc., there seems to be some nutritional aspects worthy of further study.  Some researchers think MS is caused by soil variations, some by a virus, some by car exhaust.  These may all well be factors in MS, but each one alone does not provide a comprehensive answer for the majority of the features of the disorder. 
Many researchers believe MS is caused by a high degree of saturated fat in the diet.  If this were true, then you would expect people with MS to also develop other conditions linked to high levels of saturated fat - such as obesity, high blood pressure, blood clots and high estrogen levels.  But they tend not have these conditions.  According to some studies, they are more likley to have the opposite conditions such as osteoporosis and fractures, conditions associated with low estrogen levels.  They have healthy body weights and low blood pressure.  They are less likely to get disorders associated with blood clots.  The common features of MS resemble the problems associated with absorbing too little fat, not too much. 


Perhaps, like many chronic disorders,  MS does not occur from a single cause but rather an accumulation of multiple causes, which may not be identical in each person with the disorder. Dr. Roger J. Williams, in his book, Nutrition Against Disease, pointed out that while calcium is important for good teeth, in order to have healthy teeth you need to have all of the other nutrients that go into making teeth - the right enzymes, amino acids, other minerals and vitamins. Perhaps the same is true for myelin sheaths around nerves.  Researchers have found many different nutrients that seem to be needed for myelin sheath health, such as uric acid, vitamin D, and essential fatty acids.  Perhaps all of these are important.  If this is true, then there are many steps one could take for improved myelin sheath production based on current research. 

One common view of MS is that it is a result of an autoimmune disorder.  If this is true, then the issue of what causes the autoimmune disorder remains. One thing we clearly know is that research shows that people with MS do tend to have a wide variety of nutritional deficits, and these deficits could logically explain many, if not all, of the symptoms of the disorder.  It is unfortunate that there is not more research on correcting any nutritional deficits in MS patients and balancing their intestinal flora.

Unfortunately, you can't patent intestinal bacteria or common nutritional supplements, so this limits the number of researchers interested in pursuing research in this area.  Also, no one is going to win the Nobel prize for discovering that MS is a merely a compilation of common nutritional deficiencies that can be cured by most of the methods holistic doctors have been recommending for years.  So there's no fame or fortune in any of these research paths --  just a chance to help a lot of chronically ill people. 

Even among the researchers who are looking at MS from a nutritional standpoint, many are still focused on a single nutritional deficiency, which I believe is also an improbable scenario.  Nutritionist Adelle Davis pointed out in one of her books that researchers in general  were often interested in the affect of a single nutrient, while nutritionists tended to look more at a person's overall diet.  Many nutrients often work synergistically with each other, so simply adding one vitamin or mineral at a time may not be as effective as making broad dietary enhancements.   Based on all of the evidence to date, it seems like it would be highly logical to conduct a study of people with MS that looked at all of the known controllable factors that may influence MS, and see what impact a total diet, nutrient absorption and supplement plan may have.  

Return to:

Multiple Sclerosis- Alternative Treatment with Diet Part I

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