Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a slowly progressive disease of the nervous system that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is called a “demyelinating” disease because of the patchy destruction of myelin – the coating around the nerve that speeds up electrical impulses passing along it.
Nerve cells send electrical signals along their axons (conduction channels) to specific targets such as muscles. Many of these cells are covered with a fatty substance called a myelin sheath that enhances nerve conduction about 50 times faster than unmyelinated nerve axons. In multiple sclerosis, this sheath becomes damaged through demyelination and disrupts nerve function.
This can cause numerous symptoms such as muscle weakness, numbness, visual and emotional disturbances. The course of the illness is highly variable and unpredictable and there is no specific treatment, although sometimes oral steroids can help. The cause is unkown, but an immunological abnormality is suspected.
Since 1995, I have treated a small number of patients with this condition using wheatgrass – and with some of them I’ve had quite encouraging results.
The most dramatic case was some years ago. A young nurse with three young children managed to struggle through work for half a day a couple of times a week, but spent most of her time when she wasn’t looking after her children, resting, trying to recover from chronic fatigue. She had only been taking the wheatgrass extract for about two weeks and called me from the Melbourne Royal Show to tell me that the previous year she had to be pushed round the grounds in a wheelchair. This year, she had spent all day walking round the showgrounds with her three kids and felt on top of the world.
In 2002, I noted that, “Several reports from other sources have provided equally significant improvement in fatigue, fewer and less severe relapses. One 54 year old male patient who had permanent neurological symptoms remained in remission for two years, but relapsed when he stopped taking the extract.”
Recently I received a call from a young woman who had suffered from MS for a number of years. Her main symptoms were loss of sensation and numbness in both hands – a substantial disability. I had sent her some commercially produced wheatgrass extract a month earlier which she took three times a day.
She rang to tell me how delighted she was that she had burnt her hand. This seemed a little unusual until she pointed out that she had had no sensation whatever in either hand for five years. It’s early days, but this possibly suggests that the MS-damaged nerves to her hands may be starting to recover.
(Note: The patient has subsequently regained full sensation in both hands. August 22, 2007 – View testimonial
Another young woman who had suffered MS for 17 years recently reported dramatic recovery of fatigue, enabling her to regain an almost normal lifestyle. She also mentioned her hair and facial skin were now “glowing” and that even her partner and friends had noticed how well she looked.
But how does wheatgrass work in this situation? I don’t know for certain, but I suspect it has something to do with immune stimulation and/or growth factors being stimulated to repair damaged nerve tissue. In laboratory animals it has been shown that barley grass increases production of growth hormone and the hormone prolactin (stimulates breast milk production) from the pituitary gland in the brain.
Perhaps part of the answer lies in a Canadian study published this year in the Journal of Neruoscience. (See abstract offsite) The study was prompted by the observation that many MS patients’ symptoms improve or disappear during pregnancy i.e. when prolactin levels are high. The scientists were able to show that increased prolactin levels in mice demonstrated “a striking ability to repair demyelination” and suggested that the hormone could be a potential therapeutic agent for MS.
I am not trying to raise false hopes, but results speak for themselves. Possibly wheatgrass also stimulated prolactin production in the MS patients mentioned above leading to remyelination of damaged nerve cells and symptomatic improvement.
And it’s all natural.
Dr. Chris Reynolds.