Sometimes, I come across some strange stories about a medical phenomenon that could change the way we treat a disease—or even understand medicine—entirely.
One such story that I recall came from a doctor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). About a decade ago, this doctor treated a patient with multiple sclerosis (MS) who’d noticed her symptoms vanished when she was pregnant. They literally disappeared during a bout of morning sickness one day.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that damages the protective covering around your nerves. There is currently no cure and symptoms vary. Muscle weakness, numbness, paralysis, slurred speech, blurred vision, and even difficulty thinking are all common symptoms of the disease affecting roughly 400,000 Americans.
The doctors monitored why this happened. They understood that a woman’s immune system changes when she’s pregnant, making certain hormones more present. One of the hormones, in particular, is a form of estrogen called estriol, which is far more abundant during pregnancy. According to doctors, it’s estriol that fights back against the symptoms of MS.
Over the course of a decade, researchers monitored the impacts of estriol on MS. They experimented on mice with MS and found that they exhibited almost no effects while being injected with estriol. Next, they did a human trial with 158 MS patients. By adding estriol to their current treatment, MS relapses decreased by 47%. That’s a big number. The treatment worked!
Estriol appears to protect the sheath surrounding nerve endings from damage, while limiting the impact of any damage that has already been done. After the initial trial, a larger-scale study will be completed. Hopefully, the new treatment will be approved in the near future.
If you have MS and are currently on medication for it, this is great news for you. Of course, it’s never good to rely solely on medication for health conditions. There are a few things you can do on your own to help ease the burden of MS.
Because fatigue is a major symptom, making sure you get plenty of rest is very important. This might make you feel less tired throughout the day and limit the risks and feelings associated with fatigue.
Exercise can also help. By moving around and stimulating muscles you can improve strength and balance, while boosting energy levels.
MS symptoms seem to worsen when it’s warm, so staying cool can help, too. Hydrate yourself with cold beverages in the summer, and spend time in the shade. Carry a towel with you that can be dampened to pat on your body when needed.
Living with MS is not easy and medical treatment is necessary to keep symptoms in check. The hope is that this estriol treatment will improve existing methods, and so far, it appears it will!
Source for Today’s Article:
Wheeler, M., “Preliminary clinical trial shows great promise for new multiple sclerosis treatment,” University of California, Los Angeles web site, April 29, 2014; http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/preliminary-clinical-trial-shows-great-promise-for-new-multiple-sclerosis-treatment, last accessed June 3, 2014.