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Flax Seed and Multiple Sclerosis

Updated on June 4, 2016

How Diet Affects MS

Multiple sclerosis responds very well to dietary interventions, according to people who've gotten great relief from their symptoms, once they cleaned up their eating habits. By getting rid of offending foods, typically dairy, wheat, corn and refined sugar, they report that their muscle spasms, limb weakness and loss of coordination improve greatly.

Dramatic recoveries have been reported. The disease is still there, but it's kept in check. In some cases, people who've been unable to walk have regained their mobility. One woman, who later co-authored a book, which you can see below, described how she went from being confined to a wheelchair to hiking the grand canyon.

One supplement that many people are finding helpful is flax, either ground or taken daily as an oil. That's because this little seed contains a lot of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, which many of us don't get enough of.

In addition, flax seeds are very good at fighting inflammation, which many alternative practitioners consider the basis of degenerative disease, such as MS, Parkinson's Disease, amylateral sclerosis and even cancer.

Flax seed can help MS
Flax seed can help MS | Source

Diet Leads to MS Improvement

Ann B. Sawyer, co-author of The MS Recovery Diet, was having great difficulty walking before she changed her eating habits, in hopes of driving her multiple sclerosis underground. This strategy was very successful, as she was able to regain her ability to walk without any obvious impairment. Judith Bachrach, the book's other co-author, even though bedridden when she started this diet, has also noticed improvements in her condition.

Flax seeds can decrease inflammation.
Flax seeds can decrease inflammation. | Source

Conventional Versus Alternative Medicine

First, before I start talking about dietary interventions and MS, I need to explain how this devastating disease is viewed from two different perspectives. The first is the mainstream medical viewpoint, which sees this condition as an unrelenting disorder that progresses in an unpredictable manner. Some patients will go for many years with very few symptoms. Others have a more rapid progression and may quickly end up being unable to take care of themselves. Conventional physicians often prescribe a number of drugs that may temporarily control symptoms.

Multiple sclerosis is considered incurable. However, alternative practitioners strive to help patients regain their health as much as possible, in order to manage the symptoms. We don't know how often this approach is successful. But we do know that a number of people have written books about how they've stopped, and even reversed, the progression of their disease by changing their diet.

In these books, the dietary advice is not uniform. That's probably because it would be difficult to find one diet that is right for every one person. But some of the advice rings true, no matter whose book you pick up. Patients are advised to eliminate processed foods, and certain grains and certain other common offenders, such as corn, wheat and soy. Milk is usually not permitted either, as it seems to increase the level of inflammation. Many people are also allergic to a protein called casein found in cow's milk.

How Dr. George Jelinek Stays Healthy

Dr. George Jelinek, MD, has not let a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis slow him down. This is a disease that also struck his mother, and, as a teenager, he watched her die from it. Then, in 1999, when he discovered he also had it, he took a radically different approach. By making various lifestyle changes, including staying on a strict diet, he is virtually symptom free today.

You can read about his successful battle with MS in his book, Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis: An Evidence-Based Guide to Recovery.

Dr. Jelinek notes that mainstream medicine does not offer an effective treatment for this condition. However, he explains, people who change their lifestyles have the potential to recovery.

Flax seed comes from the flax plant.
Flax seed comes from the flax plant. | Source

Flax as a Superfood

The more we learn about flax, the more apparent it is that these little seeds can be considered a super food. In addition to being rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids, which are necessary for a well-functioning immune system and to reduce inflammation, they also contain powerful anti-oxidants known as lignans. In fact, they are one of the best known sources of lignans, which also appear to be effective in mopping up excess estrogen if someone has an imbalance, according to some studies.

One piece of exciting news that relates directly to MS is that patients who take flax seed oil have about a 65 percent reduced chance of suffering a relapse. This study was conducted by Dr. Jelinek. Fish oil was also found to do the same thing, but not as effectively as flax oil.

Dr. Jelinek has gone 14 years without hardly any symptoms since he was diagnosed in 1999.

George Jelinek, MD Talks About His Recovery from Multiple Sclerosis

Adding Flax to Your Diet

Many people add flax oil to their diets. However, you should use an organic, cold pressed brand to avoid exposure to additives and toxins. Keep the oil in your refrigerator, and don't open more than you will consume before the expiration date. Fresh flax seeds will last a long time, although it's generally recommended that you grind them before eating them, in order to release all the nutrients encapsulated by the hard outer shell.

However, because the essential fatty acids will deteriorate very quickly, you should only grind just what you need right before you consume the seeds. Most people use a coffee grinder to prepare their flax.

Ground flax can be eaten with cereal or stirred into baked goods. Most people who use flax in their diets eat about one to two tablespoons a day.

Flax Must be Ground Before Eating

To gain the full benefits of flax, you'll need to grind the seed. Trying to do this by hand is an exercise in futility. You'll need a reliable, but inexpensive, coffee grinder to break flax seed down so it's easily digested.

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    • BodyHairRemoval profile image

      BodyHairRemoval 3 years ago

      Very interesting read! Thank you for sharing.

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 3 years ago

      Interesting! First time I read on flax seed and multiple sclerosis. I want to learn more. Sundae ;-)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Definitely interesting information. I've read about using flax in an anti-cancer diet, too. Seems like there's lots of anecdotal evidence that it definitely can help.