Welcome! This blog contains research & information on lifestyle, nutrition and health for those with MS, as well as continuing information on the understanding of the endothelium and heart-brain connection. This blog is informative only--all medical decisions should be discussed with your own physicians.

The posts are searchable---simply type in your topic of interest in the search box at the top left.

Almost all of MS research is initiated and funded by pharmaceutical companies. This maintains the EAE mouse model and the auto-immune paradigm of MS, and continues the 20 billion dollar a year MS treatment industry. But as we learn more about slowed blood flow, gray matter atrophy, and environmental links to MS progression and disability--all things the current drugs do not address--we're discovering more about how to help those with MS.

To learn how this journey began, read my first post from August, 2009. Be well! Joan

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What has Changed?

In the five years since Dr. Zamboni's first publication on the connection of MS to extracranial hemodynamics, there have been many changes in mainstream MS treatment and new discoveries made by researchers around the world.

The relationship of the vascular system in MS is being explored, and dealt with in a sideways manner by neurologists.  I do not expect we will ever hear that CCSVI is valid science from neurologists--they will attempt to rename it, requantify slowed venous return and hypoperfusion, and make it their own.  They will call Dr. Zamboni's discovery of CCSVI junk science- while they are working on patenting drugs to address blood flow in pwMS.  This is because neurologists work with pharma and write prescriptions.  They do not deal with the mechanistics of the brain's circulation or with the venous malformations Dr. Zamboni has discovered.  They are not phlebologists or vascular surgeons. For MS specialists, this discovery of hemodynamic alterations goes beyond their practical expertise.

However, one neurologist recently published a paper on the vascular connection to MS, and said this:

"...vascular contributions in MS do appear to support the notion of the vasculature being an initiating target in MS etiology and not simply a bystander presentation of other disease processes. Perhaps the strongest support for this is the number of MS therapies that have been developed, which target leukocyte binding to activated endothelial cells, a central component of the blood-brain barrier (BBB)."

Here are drugs being developed by neurologists to address blood flow:

What have we learned since Dr. Zamboni first began publishing his research on CCSVI?  

1. People with MS (pwMS) have slower cerebral hemodynamics than normal people.  Their blood flow exits the brain at a slower rate. There are hemodynamic differences between normal people and those with MS. Hypoperfusion is real, it opens the blood brain barrier and it damages the brain.  Whether it is a cause or effect of MS will be debated for decades, however vascular researchers have shown better perfusion and cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) flow after venoplasty for CCSVI.

2. People with MS do better with exposure to UV rays, which may explain the long-established link of MS rates and northern latitudes. UV ray exposure relieves symptoms in many.  This may be due to increased vitamin D levels, but it might also be due to the way in which UV rays release nitric oxide, change the endothelium and increase blood flow. 

3. People with MS are being advised to consider their nutrition and to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole foods and less saturated fats and processed foods.   When Dr. Swank suggested this 60 years ago, it was called "junk science" and people with MS were told it wouldn't do them an ounce of good.  It is now given as helpful advice by the NMSS and the AAN.   

Same thing with exercise.  Only a few years ago, pwMS were advised not exert themselves, but to rest and conserve their energy.  Now we know that physical exercise and activity delays progression, and reverses gray matter atrophy.  Same thing with smoking cessation, stress reduction, and better sleep.  All of these cardiovascular lifestyle changes can make a difference.

4. Oxidative stress and inflammation are recognized as driving forces in MS progression.  This has lead to exploratons of new modalities of treatment, like the Nrf2 pathway. 

5. Gray matter health has been recognized as a more accurate biomarker of MS progression than white matter lesions.  Gray matter atrophy will become the new target for MS therapies.

6. PwMS have much higher levels of the clotting proteins- fibrin and endothelin-1 in their serum than normals. These are markers of endothelial dysfunction.

7. Upright MRI has allowed us to see how cerebrospinal fluid and blood return to the heart is slowed and impeded in pwMS.

8.  The venous endothelium is being studied, and researchers are noting that there are changes happening to the lining of the veins in people with neurodegenerative disease.
9.  CCSVI is being explored around the globe.  There are literally hundreds of papers published in vascular and neurological journals.  New papers come to press every day.  The connection of blood flow and diseases of neurodegeneration continues, as doctors admit that lifestyle interventions and prevention are staving off Alzheimer's and dementia, while none of the drugs have helped one bit.

10.  The ISNVD has been established.  There is now an international society of researchers working on understanding the venous connection to neurovascular disease.  Their fourth conference will be held in San Francisco in February, 2014.  The International Society for Neurovascular Disease is convening, publishing, and moving this research forward.

All of these connections between MS and the cardiovascular system are new.  And this has happened in just the past five years.  

For those waiting for venoplasty to be accepted as an MS treatment, we have to step back and view the other changes that have happened in MS care.  

The American Academy of Neurologists has several papers featured on their page which connect slowed blood flow and neurodegenerative disease.  They have a patient outreach branch--The American Brain Foundation-- and they have a yearly Brain Fair to discuss diet and lifestyle changes people with neurodegenerative diseases, including MS, should consider.  So much for Dr. Swank's junk science.

Here's a wonderful video Christopher Alkenbrack found on Dr. Roy Swank's work.  It was made in 1989 as part of a Canadian news investigation into the success of Dr. Swank's diet in pwMS as compared to a vastly more expensive and failed chemotherapy trial.  If you haven't seen it, it's a must watch.  

Because today, 25 years later, the NMSS is making these very same dietary and lifestyle recommendations to pwMS.  Yet when asked about dietary changes for pwMS, the neurologist in this video from 1989 says there is "little to no benefit."

When reporters, scientists, neurologists, MS specialists and others say, "Oh, the connection of CCSVI to MS, that's junk science."  We've investigated it, and there's nothing there"---remind them about Dr. Roy Swank.  Remind them how long it took his observations of "capillary fragility", slowed blood flow, increased fibrin and hypercoagulation to be accepted as part of MS.    

He was noting endothelial dysfunction decades before scientists knew about nitric oxide and how environmental factors contributed to blood flow.  And he has never once been credited by mainstream neurology.  You won't see his name or read his research in their journals.  But he was right.

Dr. Zamboni's discovery has revolutionized how we look at cerebral blood flow, by studying the under-researched extracranial venous system, and utilizing doppler ultrasound to understand venous malformations which alter cerebral hemodynamics.  Like Dr. Swank, Dr. T.J.Putnam and others, he is decades ahead of his time.  His discovery of CCSVI may very well be the rest of the equation in understanding the slowed venous return and endothelial dysfunction found in pwMS.   To say that it is junk science, and that there is no connection of venous return in MS, is to negate scientific fact.  


1 comment: