WHAT IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central (cerebrospinal) nervous system. In this disorder, the white matter surrounding nerve fibers becomes hardened. The term multiple sclerosis (MS) literally means "many scars." The hardened areas of nerve tissue are called plaques. The symptoms, severity, and course of multiple sclerosis are highly variable, depending partly on the sites of the plaques and the extent of the deterioration of the white matter. The deterioration of white matter in the nervous system slows nerve impulses leading to nervous system incoordination.
CAUSES OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
From a medical perspective, the cause of MS is unknown. Many of the characteristics of MS may be linked to a problem in the immune system whereby the body attacks its own cells (white matter). There have been several theories put forth to explain such an abnormal immune response. One of the leading theories is that a virus may trigger the aberrant immune response.
Genetics may also play a significant role. In other words, some people may be vulnerable due to an inherited predisposition. Various stressors (such as a virus) may trigger this vulnerability into the clinical manifestation of the illness.
THE SYMPTOMS OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
MS is a highly variable condition. The type and severity of symptoms depend on which areas of the central nervous system have been affected. Each individual has a different set of symptoms. The symptoms can vary from time to time and can change in severity and duration, even in the same person.
The afflicted individual may suffer from visual disturbances, including blurring of vision, double vision, optic neuritis, involuntary rapid eye movement (REM), and (rarely) total loss of sight. Neuromuscular problems with balance and coordination may result in loss of balance, tremor, difficulty walking, giddiness, and clumsiness. Weakness and fatigue are common. Altered muscle tone can produce spasms or muscle stiffness. Person with MS may experience tingling, numbness, a burning feeling in an area of the body, facial and/or muscle pain. Speech is sometimes abnormal, with slowing of speech, slurring of words, and changes in rhythm of speech. Frequent, urgent, incomplete and uncontrolled urination may occur. Bowel problems include constipation and loss of bowel control. Persons with MS may have difficulty with sexuality and intimacy as evidenced by impotence, diminished arousal, and loss of sensation. There is often an increased sensitivity to heat, which can cause a worsening of symptoms. Short term memory, concentration, and judgment or reasoning may also be affected. Depression is common.
COURSE OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
MS is not a fatal disease. Its course is unpredictable because it can be relatively benign, somewhat disabling, or devastating. At worst, it can leave a person unable to speak, walk, or write. From a medical perspective, it is regarded as incurable.
There are four basic types or patterns in the course of MS:
- Relapsing-Remitting MS:
About 25% of persons suffering from MS experience this pattern. There are unpredictable relapses during which new symptoms appear or existing symptoms become more severe. This can last for varying periods (days or months) and there is partial or total remission (recovery). The disease may be inactive for months or years. This pattern is particularly common among younger people with the disease.
- Benign MS:
In about 20% of MS cases, the person has one or two attacks with complete recovery. This form of MS does not worsen with time and there is no permanent disability. Benign MS tends to be associated with less severe symptoms at onset and minimal disability.
- Secondary Progressive MS:
This is the most common form of MS, occurring in about 40% of all cases. The initial pattern may be relapsing-remitting; however, there is the development of progressive disability later in the course of the disease.
- Primary Progressive MS:
In about 15% of MS cases, the pattern is characterized by slow onset and steadily worsening symptoms. There is an accumulation of deficits and disability.
The symptoms of MS are usually first noted between the ages of 30 and 50. Women develop the disease almost twice as often as men.
THE TREATMENT OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
From a medical perspective, MS is considered to be an incurable illness. Treatment is primarily directed at symptomatic relief of spasticity, loss of bladder control, constipation, pain, etc. A second approach is aimed at reducing the underlying inflammation caused by the immune system's attack on the nervous system. Rehabilitation may also be helpful to assist the person in improving coordination, developing coping strategies, and increasing social and interpersonal supports.
Lifestyle changes may also have a therapeutic effect. Changes in behavior and attitude may make it easier to cope with the physical and emotional stresses of multiple sclerosis. Patients often adjust their activities to avoid overheating. Exercise and physical and occupational therapy can help alleviate some muscle spasticity while increasing strength, coordination, balance, and stamina. Occupational therapy may be directed at improving activities of daily living. General health maintenance is important. Proper diet, sufficient rest, establishing priorities to conserve energy, and developing emotional support networks can all be very helpful.
EDGAR CAYCE'S PERSPECTIVE ON MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
Edgar Cayce gave numerous readings for persons suffering from MS. While he recognized the variability of this illness, he consistently stated that MS results from a chemical imbalance due to failure of the glandular system to produce the substances that the nervous system requires to maintain itself. He particularly focused on the glands associated with the liver (even specifying the right lobe of the liver in certain cases). Apparently, the gallbladder and duct are sometimes involved due to lesions or adhesions in that area of the abdomen.
The glandular aspect of MS requires some explanation. Edgar Cayce frequently noted that the nervous system does not function in isolation from the rest of the body. It requires a constant supply of nutrients and removal of waste products. If there is a lapse in the support system, the nervous system deteriorates.
The precise mechanism leading to nerve deterioration is not given. However, the readings do refer to poisons produced by the nervous system in MS. Perhaps toxicity produced by nerves which are deficient in nutrients may lead to an autoimmune response which destroys myelin sheathing (white matter) around nerve fibers.
In a special reading given for a medical doctor interested in the cause and treatment of MS (907-1), Edgar Cayce stated that the basic problem is a failure of the system to assimilate gold. Although this may sound implausible, keep in mind that the readings often state that gold is a key nutrient of the nervous system. Thus, gold is a key component in Edgar Cayce's approach to treating MS.
Although the MS readings are strongly oriented toward the physical pathology of this illness, there is also a notable emphasis on mental and spiritual patterns. Many of the MS readings begin with the observation that this is a "karmic" condition and that the mental and spiritual attitudes of the afflicted person would have to be addressed if there were to be healing. Interestingly, in the Cayce readings involving karmic conditions, the illness often manifested through problems with the glandular system. Glands were said to be the "spiritual centers" of the body - key centers of the body/soul connection. Presumably, soul patterns from past lives can play out in this manner.
EDGAR CAYCE’S TREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
Edgar Cayce often remarked that a change in mental and spiritual attitudes was the first priority in the healing of multiple sclerosis (MS). The first shift in attitudes was to be a change in the person's understanding of why he had the illness:
"While there might be much given as to that which has caused or produced the conditions, these should be rather viewed by the entity, the body (716), in this attitude: ‘The physical conditions that have come upon me are those most necessary for my own soul's development.'" (716-1)
With this attitude adjustment toward one's condition, Cayce also emphasized a positive mental attitude about the healing process. He encouraged individuals to expect to be healed. He emphasized the importance of patience. The readings state that in patience we become aware of ourselves as souls - an important step in soul development. From a practical standpoint, patience is important because nervous system regeneration is a long process requiring daily application of the Wet Cell Battery and massage.
Another essential aspect of attitude adjustment is applied spirituality. This may manifest in various ways. It may manifest as more kindness, gentleness and consideration toward others. It may be a positive attitude toward the treatments, which results in more consistency and persistency in their application. The readings say it is important to be good, but also to be good for something.
The second key component in Edgar Cayce's approach to treating MS is the Wet Cell Battery used with vibratory solutions. Daily sessions of about 30 minutes, followed by a massage, were standard. Gold chloride was the primary solution used with the battery. However, iodine (Atomidine), camphor and silver nitrate were included for certain cases.
For MS, Cayce typically recommended a basic balanced diet consisting mainly of vegetables and fruits. Avoidance of fried and highly processed foods was encouraged. Fish, fowl or lamb were the primary meats allowed. Seafood was often mentioned as beneficial. Carrots were the frequently recommended vegetable. Gelatin was often suggested, which was to be sprinkled over the grated vegetables.