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Home > Newsletters > August 2007 > Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

By Dr. Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D., O.M.D (China)

Not too long ago, a patient visited my office with lower back pain along with a tingling sensation in his left leg. He had seen several doctors and had a number of X-rays and MRIs to reveal a moderate bulging of the disk between lumbar vertebrae 4 and 5. When I first saw him he had been taking different pain medications, while undergoing physical therapy. However, he was feeling depressed and frustrated as nothing seemed to be helping. In fact, his condition had gradually worsened as he began to experience numbness and weakness in his left leg. I noticed he had a tendency to roll his eyes and was unstable on his feet, especially when walking. Upon further questioning, I discovered that he had been experiencing periodic bouts of blurry vision and I noticed that he tended to lean towards his left side while walking. These symptoms, along with a hyperactive reflex response, made me almost certain his condition was something much more serious. My hunch was that it was Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - a disease involving the central nerve system. So, I immediately referred him to a neurologist for further testing. Two weeks later, he returned with a confirmed diagnosis of MS. Unfortunately, this patient is just one of several thousand new patients diagnosed with MS every year in the United States.

What causes MS?

The cause of MS is relatively unknown. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease that is associated with certain viruses and environmental contaminants. The symptoms of MS are varied and caused by the immune system attacking the protective sheath (myelin) surrounding nerves within the central nervous system. The damage caused by the attacks disrupts the transmission of nervous responses. Often the first signs of MS are sensations of numbness or tingling in the legs or arms accompanied by muscle weakness, spasticity and dizziness.

How do we treat MS?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a similar condition to MS has been documented in ancient texts. So, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine have been involved in the treatment of MS-like symptoms for over 2,000 years. The results of treatment vary depending on the severity and progression of the disease. In our experience, acupuncture and herbs may decrease the side effects of many of the medications and assist patients to balance their lives and stabilize and halt the progress of the disease.

In my office, we have seen an increasing number of MS patients over the past ten years. We have observed that patients who have regular acupuncture treatments and take herbs, while making significant lifestyle changes, have often managed to stabilize and even slow the progression of the disease. In clinical studies and surveys conducted within the US, pain, spasticity, numbness, and tingling are among the many symptoms reported to be improved due to acupuncture treatments. In our experience, additional symptoms improve such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, and bowel or bladder function when using both acupuncture and herbs together.

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August 2007
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