A WESTERN Australian physician and his research team have reported positive results in managing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) through lifestyle modifications.
The study, ‘Health-related quality of life outcomes at 1 and 5 years after a residential retreat promoting lifestyle modification for people with multiple sclerosis,’ published in the international journal Neurological Sciences, is based on healthy lifestyle changes that Professor George Jelinek has successfully followed himself since his diagnosis of MS thirteen years ago.
The research was carried out over five years with a study cohort of over 300 people diagnosed with MS.
Participants committed to a lifestyle modification program at an MS retreat at the Gawler Foundation in Victoria.
After a baseline assessment participants were asked to complete a lengthy questionnaire one year after the MS retreat and again five years later.
Results after one year showed a median improvement of 11.3 per cent in overall quality of life and after five years this percentage rose to 19.5 per cent.
“Where else in all MS literature will you find an intervention showing nearly 20 per cent improvement in mental and physical health and overall quality of life, five years after diagnosis?” says Prof Jelinek.
Medicinal doses of Vitamin D, sunlight, regular exercise, omega-3 fatty acids, low saturated fat diet, largely plant-based wholefoods and fish are recommended.
Stress reducing activities such as meditation and yoga, and group and individual counselling sessions form part of the retreat program.
Disease-modifying drugs administered early in the illness and steroids for any distressing acute relapses were also supported.
However, the research anecdotally reports that many participants were not taking immune-modulating therapies.
Professor Jelinek says it is wonderful to see many of the participants years later, looking happy and radiating optimism and often in considerably better health.
“For some people there is no improvement, but for others the improvement is much more dramatic,” he says.
“Many patients report the clearing of MS lesions from MRI scans.
“Many experience life in a completely different way and their optimism and good health affect every aspect of their lives.”
The Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (OMS) research is now expanding to use a larger cohort.
“We hope to answer important questions, essentially what can one do to change the course of MS and which particular lifestyle factors are the most important,” says Professor Jelinek.
Professor Jelinek combines his work as an emergency surgeon in Western Australia, an MS researcher and group leader at the Gawler retreat.