How I halted MS naturally ~ My Wellness Journey

As an adult, I have always been pretty healthy and active. However, my wellness journey was kicked into high gear in December, 2017 and I started appreciating the little practices I had picked up over the years. After suffering for about 6 months with some random symptoms, the worst being numbness and tingling in the lower half of my body all the way into my rib cage (for nearly 3 months) and following a whole battery of tests and 3 MRI’s later, I was given a diagnosis of Non-Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. WTF….my first thought was of an old friend who had died from this disease at a fairly young age. He was on crutches at 18 and in a wheelchair by the time he was thirty. This can’t be what I have. By the time I received my diagnosis (after 6 months of extensive testing) my numbness and tingling had subsided. Needless to say, I was scared shitless. I still questioned whether I was misdiagnosed. I never had a spinal tap (NOT complaining!) which I had been told was the “final” confirmation. My Dr. told me I met all the “criteria” for the diagnosis. My spinal cord and brain showed evidence of lesions and scarring, which is one of the primary determining factors. I was also told I had four active lesions in my brain at the time of my last MRI and a spinal tap was not necessary. My doctor did offer me a variety of medical interventions/treatments, one of which was a 6 hour IV infusion, which seemed the least harsh and the only one I considered. My biggest hesitation was the fact that this particular treatment was going to compromise my immune system, and I could not really remember the last time I was sick (I was already practicing a holistic lifestyle). I sat in my Doctor’s office absorbing what he was telling me and I asked for some time to consider. He told me absolutely, call me when you’re ready and we can talk. I will say my neurologist has been one-hundred percent supportive in all of my decisions and if I needed medical treatment, I’d trust him to administer.

I took some time off work and went on a road trip to Colorado, and took my pops along, to process and talk with the rest of my family about my options. Ultimately, I made the decision (wholly supported by my family) to forego medical treatment and instead decided to step up and dial in my natural and holistic wellness practices. I researched non-stop (and still do) and was referred to another wellness practitioner who had reversed her scarring and was living with MS symptom free. I also consulted with four other people (a distant family member, a childhood friend, and two other friends – one’s son and one’s husband) who had been diagnosed and were being treated for and living with MS. They each shared with me their unique experiences and practices that reinforced some of the things I was doing or offered other treatments or rituals that then became part of my wellness routine. I was determined to beat it without the use and “uncertain outcome” of conventional medicine. I had become increasingly discouraged with our healthcare system over the past several years and I had already been heavily leaning into natural alternatives. I am in no way denying that Western Medicine has an invaluable place, but I wanted to first seek natural and/or ancient healing therapies. I am a big believer in Ayurvedic, Native American and Ancient Chinese medicines. All based in nature.

While I can not remember exactly when or how, I have always been aware of healthier styles of living. As a kid, I was exposed to growing our own veggies and raising our own food. Around the 4th grade we lived next door to Marylou. Marylou and my mom were friends and I can remember her and my mom visiting, and I would overhear things like “meditation”, “manifestation” and “the power of positive thinking”. Today, I would describe Marylou as an empath, a healer, a divine soul. At that time, I just knew she was sharing this stuff (and her yummy homemade granola!) with my mom and, inadvertently, with me. I also know, as kids, we ate at home more than we ate out, which I always perceived as “cheap”, but in hindsight, it was and usually IS the healthier option. During my Esthetics/Cosmetology training I was introduced to holistic skin care, which again, the significance of, did not “click” until later in life. I also had taken anatomy, physiology, chemistry and microbiology, (as prerequisites for a briefly considered nursing path) and those classes all fed my love for science and how the human body operates, rejuvenates, rebuilds, repairs, grows and thrives.

After my diagnosis and decision to use natural alternatives to treat my symptoms, I embarked on a Yoga Teacher Training certification in an effort to harness my health and learn the best ways to nourish and heal my body. During the course of my yoga studies I learned more about Ayurveda, and the invaluable practice of eating for your individual biological make-up, the importance of micro-nutrients, gut health, and detoxing and cleansing regularly. I was reminded of the importance of movement, mindfulness, breathing, prayer and meditation. I also began regular sauna usage about 4 year ago and shortly thereafter, started contrast therapy, via ice bath or hot/cold plunging/showering. I’ve learned how not only your diet, but stress and poor lifestyle choices definitely have the potential to wreak havoc on your body. I was also learning more about our food industry and the importance of knowing what you are putting into your body (reading labels and doing your research!). Last year I had a follow-up MRI, four years post diagnosis and four years of my optimized wellness routine. Sitting in my neurologists’ office, he looked at my scans and then looked at me and said, “I don’t even have a reason to prescribe medicine for you. Everything looks good. No progression.” Music to my ears.

I have several nutritional practices I do regularly (see my blog “My Little Daily Wellness-Nutrition Rituals“). All of my practices (for the most part) are focused on bringing down inflammation in my body. Inflammation is at the root of most illnesses including MS, eczema, joint pain and arthritis (all of which are in my history). So lowering and maintaining my overall inflammation is the major focus of my health journey, diet and lifestyle. Last year I added a daily breathwork and meditation practice to my routine which has enhanced my healing and my life in general (see my blog “Find Your Breath, Change Your Life – How Breathwork Has Changed My Life“). I also just had my annual follow-up MRI and am awaiting the results from my Doc. My vision is that I will have reduced at least some of the scarring in my brain and/or spine. Stay tuned!

I’m always looking for new and improved ways to take care of my body, mind and soul. Balancing the three is the the key to optimal health and the journey I am on, although there are lots of cross-roads to explore. That being said, I definitely know when my wellness is peaking and when I have been neglecting my needs. The key is listening to our bodies, tuning in and answering it….when it calls…..and it will! In the form of aches and pains, digestive issues, skin issues or worst case scenario, disease. I am pretty good about monitoring my habits and making the necessary adjustments to compensate for my deviations or deficiencies. I don’t live as “strictly” as I probably should, I like to enjoy myself, but when that becomes in excess for me, my body lets me know. I battle increased joint pain and eczema flare ups when I go on gluten or dairy binges (which both exacerbate inflammation). After a detox/cleanse they are significantly alleviated….and then the rollercoaster ride begins again.

I’ll leave you with this, because this is what drives me and what fascinates me. Physiology, biology, science, physics, and energy. The ol’ saying you are what you eat – very true! BUT it is not just what and how you eat. It is also what you consume mentally and emotionally, the energies you surround yourself with, your emotions you carry around with you – ALL of these things influence and affect the chemistry (i.e., hormones, blood sugars) in our bodies. Our bodies are miraculous biological entities made up of all sorts of cells, bacteria, microbiota, and they are constantly renewing and repairing themselves. We are in a constant state of mitosis and those cells are being made from the substances (nutrients….or not) and chemistry your diet/lifestyle/etc is supplying. Mindful eating, mindful living. That’s how I’m keeping my dis-ease in check. Please feel free to reach out for any information.

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