Hello, I don’t mean to waste your time with this, but I am very confused with what I was told by a Chiropractor (that there is a cure or a way to reverse MS per the book that Dr. Terry Wahl’s.) It was like the Chiropractor was comparing cancer to MS. That is like comparing apples to oranges correct? Could you please assist me with my confusion and if I need to apologize to the Chiropractor or was I correct?
We should not throw around the word, “Cure” casually. Very few things are cured in medicine; the exceptions generally apply to abnormal growths or foreign invaders that we kill with surgery (cut out) or drugs (antibiotics and chemotherapies). Most of the remaining diseases we manage.
I often ask people on antihypertensive medication if they have high blood pressure and when they say, “no", I ask them why they are taking an anti-hypertensive drug. They usually respond that they didn’t mention the high blood pressure because that was “taken care of” or “cured” by the drug. This is not true. The drug only helps to control the hypertension and only works if you take it correctly. Even then the drug may stop working or require higher doses later.
We have heard much about the potential benefits of dietary manipulation in MS. Some people with MS parse their words carefully and express their perception that an alteration in their diet makes them feel better regardless of the effects on their disease. They do not attempt to jump to conclusions regarding cause and effect. After all, any type of change sometimes impacts well being. A vocal minority jump to the conclusion that their improvement in well-being from the altered diet must mean they have altered their disease or even cured it. I wish this could be true, but it is doubtful that a single therapeutic approach will ever cure a disease like MS.
As I often tell people with MS, there is no magic bullet or pill for what ails them. Some pills do help but a lot of health benefits and improvements require hard work on the part of the patient to alter their lifestyle and diet, exercise, control negative thoughts, constantly strive to learn and communicate better with their fellow man.
When you view anecdotal information on the web or in popular books and media about the health benefits of a diet or supplement, you really need to ask yourself the following questions. Think of Teri Wahl’s book as an example:
- Who is providing this information? Merely being a doctor provides no particular expertise about one’s illness. I can assure you of this by my own personal experience with my own health
- If the information is anecdotal, especially someone relaying their personal experience, it is exceedingly important that certain parameter’s are met before you even consider the information.
- First, you need independent confirmation that you are dealing with a “case”, in the parlance of clinical research. In this situation you need independent confirmation from an MS expert that the person actually has MS. Believe it or not there are many people who strongly believe they have MS but there is either no evidence to support this belief or, more commonly, little evidence to support their perceived MS severity.
- Second, you need independent confirmation from an MS expert that a deteriorating state in their condition was followed by a sustained improvement in their condition after a therapeutic manipulation (e.g. diet change).
- Third, you need to know that this sustained improvement was entirely unexpected. This is almost impossible to know with MS since spontaneously improvements are so common.
- Fourth, there needs to be a reasonable hypothesis for this potential cause and effect.
- Fifth, the cause and effect must be confirmed in a least one controlled studies.
Revere (Rip) Kinkel MD
Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program
Professor of Clinical Neurosciences
University of California San Diego