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

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

COVID-19, nitric oxide (NO) and your endothelium

You will be seeing more in the press on nitric oxide (NO), the 2 atom gas which is being trialled to treat patients in COVID-19.  Those who have read my blog for the last decade will know all about NO.  Healthy levels are the hallmark of a healthy endothelium.

Nitric Oxide (NO) is shown to kill the corona virus, as it engulfs invading viral particles in the human body.  This was demonstrated in the SARS outbreak.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15650225/

These new science stories will not be addressing the fact that we make our own NO in our bodies every single day, and that NO is the marker of endothelial health.  Instead, they will write about viagra.  Clickbait?  Perhaps.

Healthy levels of NO mean healthier erections.
link to published science "The Penis as a Barometer of Endothelial Health"

This is why you'll see viagra trialled to help COVID-19 patients.  It boosts nitric oxide levels (which boosts bloodflow to the penis as well as other parts of the body)   I know....I haven't written that before, because, well....TMI?   But we're well beyond that now...

Here is a good summation of how nitric oxide (NO) is being trialled to treat COVID-19, from the LA Times  link

Pre-existing endothelial dysfunction might be the reason older people, those with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or autoimmune disease are more susceptible to COVID-19 virus replication, organ failure and cellular death. They do not have a robust population of immune cells, specifically T helper cells. Their endothelial cellular lining has broken down, and they have endothelial dysfunction.  This also means they have less available nitric oxide in their bodies.
The FDA has granted permission to use inhaled nitric oxide (NO) as a treatment for those with COVID-19.  Here is a Newsweek article, published today:

But these treatments will not be available to us just yet, and they are being trialled on patients who have already contracted COVID-19.  
The good news:  You can heal and strengthen your own endothelial cells and increase nitric oxide availability. At home. Today.  You don't even need a little blue pill :)
Here is the Endothelial Health Program I developed for Jeff in 2008, to boost his nitric oxide levels and to heal his endothelial cellular layer.  http://www.ccsvi.org/index.php/helping-myself/endothelial-health

And here it is, in simple English
1. Movement. Daily cardiovascular pursuits are essential and healing. Shear stress, created by an active heart pumping flowing blood over endothelial cells, maintains EC integrity by increasing nitric oxide release. Inactivity allows endothelial cells to die. 
2. Stress reduction. The acts of deep breathing, the practice of meditation, yoga, prayer, all reduce endothelial cell damaging cortisol and increase healing, vasodilating nitric oxide.
3. Liver health. Decreasing liver damaging toxins--like alcohol, plastics exposure, chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, drugs--and increasing liver protecting flavonolignans (like silymarin) and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, maintains endothelial cell health.
4. Sunshine and Vitamin D supplementation.  Skin makes vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun. Because of sunscreen and our indoor lives, many people are not receiving enough of this potent hormone. And our circadian rhythm is affected. Vitamin D creates endothelial cell health by increasing nitric oxide. UV rays release nitrates from the skin, creating vasodilation. 
5. Sleep. Sleep deprivation creates endothelial dysfunction and cell death.
6. Eating whole, organic foods. Eating a diet of whole foods (unprocessed foods; foods that retain the natural state) provide ample levels of nutrition, vitamins and antioxidants. Antioxidants bind with free radicals to minimize the damage they cause to the endothelium. Vitamins B and C are hugely protective of endothelial cells. A lack of B vitamins increases homocysteine, which kills endothelial cells.
7. Eating healthy fats. Increasing omega 3 (DHA) fats found in fish, olives, flax seed, avocados, walnuts, etc. and decreasing transfats and highly saturated animal fats improves endothelial cell health. 
8. Probiotics and gut health. The endothelial cells of the gut's lining communicate with the rest of the body and rely on "good" bacteria. 
9. Essential minerals. Magnesium, calcium and zinc are all important in the preservation of endothelial cells.
10. Anti-inflammatory food sources, spices and herbs. Curcumin, Salvia, Ginko, and Garlic are all shown to decrease inflammation and regulate blood viscosity, preventing hypercoagulation, allowing for better shear stress. 
11. Reducing glucose and gluten. Sugary baked goods, simple breads, pastas and snack foods are damaging to endothelial cells. 
12. Smoking cessation. Please quit...smoking kills endothelial cells.
13. Laughter, joy, community, purpose, loving relationships. All of these things increase nitric oxide and improve endothelial health. 

Again, I am NOT a doctor. And you should consult your own doctors on best practices for YOU.Let me know how it goes.
Jeff and I are at home, thankful to be together, and still thankful for his health.

Stay well!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Thank you, Joan Embry

We have lost a brilliant, courageous and loving woman.  Joan Embry was deeply devoted to her family, as well as a movement for people with MS.  Joan passed away on April 1 (unexpectedly and unrelated to COVID-19)

As a trained nurse and nutritionist, Joan Embry worked tirelessly with her husband, Ashton Embry, to create a program which might help their son cope with his multiple sclerosis diagnosis.  Out of the love and concern for their son Mathew, the Embrys created Direct-MS, a proactive charity formed in 1998, with the goal of "providing information and strategies that could help reduce symptoms and even slow or halt disease progression."  DIRECT-MS link

The Best Bet Diet was a cornerstone development of the Embrys, based on scientific research compiled by Ashton Embry.  Matt quickly incorporated this diet over 20 years ago, and he credits his successful, progression-free life with MS to this program.  Here is Matt talking, enthusiastically and obviously wonderfully healthy, about the diet that changed his life.

This program would eventually be the inspiration for Dr. Terry Wahls program, as well as many others.  It was a post about the Best Bet Diet on an MS bulletin board regarding vitamin D that sent me off to PubMed to explore the connection with my husband's diet, exercise and sunlight exposure; as related to his vascular problems.  This eventually became The Endothelial Health Program.  I would learn years later that it was Dr. Roy Swank who was the grandfather of this approach to healing with MS, as he had noted the vascular connection and impact of diet decades earlier.  Dr. Swank was also the inspiration behind the Best Bet Diet.

The Embrys were at the very beginning of the empowered patient movement on the internet.  We would eventually connect over Dr. Zamboni's research into the venous system and CCSVI in 2009, after my husband had been treated at Stanford University.  The Embrys were curious about this research, and would begin the Canadian exploration into the vascular connection.  Matt would eventually be treated for CCSVI.

But the cornerstone of Direct-MS is the diet.  And as we all know---it's one thing to eliminate foods, but quite another to find foods and recipes that will keep us satisfied and fit into our lifestyles.  Dr. Swank was well-aware of this problem, and worked with his patients to create his program, as did the Embry family.

In the last year of her life, Joan was updating recipes and working on The Best Bet Cookbook, which Direct-MS, incredibly generously, gives away for free on their website.   You can download a free pdf of the book here:     The Best Bet Cookbook

The Embrys have never put profit or personal gain ahead of their message.  They have always been tireless advocates for better living for those with MS.  The few times we had together, in person, at The Canadian Neurovascular Health conferences or at our home for Matt's filming of Living Proof, were highlights in my advocacy work.

I can think of no better tribute to the Embry Family at this time, than to share their good news of hope and healing---by contributing to their charity, by downloading the Best Bet Cookbook,  or by watching, or rewatching, Matt's beautifully made documentary film, Living Proof https://www.seelivingproof.com

Please join me in lifting the entire Embry family up in prayer and intention, however you practice this in your own life.

As Jeff and I go out to work in the garden today, to harvest greens and soak up the sunshine, we recognize how fortunate we are to have so much, in the midst of global suffering and hardship.  We will say a prayer of gratitude, which includes the gift of the Embry family.  We deeply recognize the importance of family, food, health, love, connection and hope.

All of the things Joan Embry held precious in her own life.

Thank you, Joan.