By: Shannon Veilleux Tripp
I would like to share some important information that I came across today. A friend of mine from church called me to talk about her son. He is undergoing testing for a likely case of Transverse Myelitis, and possible MS. My friend, whose son is older than I am, knew that I had some experience with diet and inflammation, but she wasn't expecting the earful that I was able to give her today.
For two years now, our family has been struggling against central nervous system inflammation. My five year old son experiences repeated attacks of encephalitis. He was tested for everything, but his neurologist called him a puzzle. It was when his body started responding by extremely cold core temperatures at night, barely over 95 degrees F, which is barely over hypothermia, that I theorized his body was attempting to heal itself by cooling his core. In less than a 48 hour period he once swung from 105.3 degrees to 95.3 degrees. I was frantic. But I learned a lot about the body during those few weeks. We began to allow him to have the ice that he was craving, and allowed him to run around in just his underwear to keep his temperature regulated and he developed normal temperatures during the day, but still remained very low at night. His neurologist was comfortable with this because dropping core body temperatures is actually used to treat inflammation clinically. And he felt there would be no long term harm in allowing his body to cool in that way.
After these incidences, I felt that if his body was attempting to heal itself by controlling its core temp in relationship to the environment, what about manipulating his metabolism and controlling inflammation by his diet. I searched and searched, and came across many sites claiming to control symptoms of MS with diet, like this one. So I informed my son's neurologist that I would be removing dairy to start, and eventually wheat, and he agreed dairy would be an excellent place to start. Within a number of weeks my son's symptoms disappeared. Only to return when he has even a small amount of dairy. We hope to improve on this incredible healing by removing wheat and other pro-inflammatory foods.
But what has bothered me is not knowing why this was true. Why did dairy cause such an extreme inflammatory response in my son? And the answer to that question came when I received my diagnosis of Systemic Sclerosis.
In researching how I might avoid the most severe symptoms of my progressive autoimmune disease, I came across a pro-inflammatory protein called interleukin-6 (IL-6). This protein is the deciding factor between limited and diffuse systemic sclerosis. It is found in high levels in those with severe skin and lung involvement. The worse the collagen damage in Scleroderma, the higher the IL-6 levels will be.
This pro-inflammatory protein is the culprit in many diseases. And its levels need to be brought low in order to reduce tissue damage. How does one do that? Drum roll please... by eliminating dairy and wheat, which are the largest producers of IL-6 in the diet! Also, fish oil supplements suppress IL-6 by 90%. Sleep deprivation, anything less than a full 8 hours, increases the levels, as does stress and anxiety. Blueberries and yoga decrease the levels significantly.
So... get plenty of rest, reduce stress with meditation and yoga, eliminate dairy and wheat, supplement with fish oil and eat a cup of blueberries every day!
Just for kicks, when I got off the phone with my friend tonight I did a google search for transverse myelitis and IL-6 and I came across the most stunning information at myelitis.org
Johns Hopkins researchers have found extremely high levels of IL-6 in the spinal fluid of transverse myelitis patients. It is the "central mediator of tissue injury in an autoimmune central nervous system disease."
And then I thought of you, my friends at MS and Diet. Reduce IL-6 in your bodies and you should see a vast improvement of your symptoms! Do your own research, of course... but I am convinced that eliminating dairy in my son reduced the IL-6 in his CNS and it has stopped his recurring encephalitis, as well as given his body the opportunity to heal, and develop normally. Before eliminating dairy we were losing him to hallucinations, myoclonic seizures, intense stomach pains, and all the developmental and behavioral features of autism. By eliminating dairy, we have our son back.
I have eliminated dairy from my diet. Wheat is next. And so are the rest of the IL-6 reducers. What do you think about this information, isn't it exciting?!?