Interferon or brocolli?

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Interferon or brocolli?

Postby expat119 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:46 pm

I had my only MS attack in the summer of 2010 and have been officially dx'ed with Clinically Isolated Syndrome. MRIs show lesions in my spine and brain. My neurologist recommended beginning Interferon injections immediately to delay/lessen any further attacks.

My family physician is very holistic and is dead set against me taking these injections. He says there's no point since there's no cure for MS, the side effects are as bad as as the disease and since the disease is cyclical anyway there's no proof that the injections work. He insists that the ONLY thing that will have any effect is to become a vegetarian.

I went with my neurologist's advice and started Extavia three months ago. I now avoid my GP as much as possible because he makes it clear he's not happy with my decision.

I wondered if anyone else has ever heard of this school of thinking? Is he right? Should I avoid the meds and bank on the beansprouts?
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Postby 1hunter » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:04 pm

I was also dx with CIS, (only one mild attack summer of 09) my nero also offered MS drugs. I decided not to take them, i have instead started a healthy lifestyle. Excercise, Swank diet, vitimans, plenty of water, inclined bed. i have had no other symptoms.
My thought is even the experts know so little about MS, who knows if that is what you have? there are alot of other thinks that can cause lesions. If I (and i pray i dont) have more attacks i may rethink this but for now. No drugs, but i'm keeping a close eye on all options especially CCSVI.
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Postby patientx » Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:27 am


I think you are wise to avoid this doctor. He should tell you what proof he has that becoming a vegetarian will have an effect on the disease (let alone that it's the only thing that will have an effect).

You said you've been doing the Extavia for 3 months now - so you are already familiar with the side effects, if you are experiencing any.
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Postby mrbarlow » Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:03 am

I agree with patient X

On a vegetarian diet you are not going to get much Omega 3. Forget linseed as a source - most people are very poor at converting short chain vegetable omega 3 into long chain.

On a vegetarian diet you will struggle to keep your uric acid levels up. UA has a neuroprotective role in MS

You will also struggle to maintain B vitamins and Vit D.

I largely stick to fish and poultry and have red meat as an occasional treat.
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Postby jimmylegs » Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:53 am

expat, i had one major episode in jan 2006 and after a flurry of tests, by early feb i met all the macdonald criteria for 'lab supported definite ms'.

i had been a strict vegetarian, ie vegan, for 15 years prior.

while i considered my treatment options, i was leaning towards rebif. from wikipedia:
'Interferon beta-1a (also interferon beta-1-alpha) is a drug in the interferon family used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS).[1] It is produced by mammalian cells while Interferon beta-1b is produced in modified E. coli.'

hmm i thought. produced by mammalian cells, or produced by modified E coli. which to choose. (keeping in mind that was 2006, here's an update
"At present, the most common source of interferon-beta is derived from CHO (Chinese-hamster ovary) cells."

anyway i figured i'd rather figure out why my mammalian cells weren't doing it right and needed more. i strongly suspected some serious imbalances due the vegan diet i had been on for so long.

therefore i have always strongly objected to diets which cut out whole foods or groups of foods. for example cutting out dairy as a solution made no sense to me since i had not consumed dairy in well over a decade.

first i tried to figure out how to be the most nutritionally and biologically appropriate vegan but then i realised that the safest bet was a careful return to a healthy omnivorous diet including eggs, dairy, fish, and various types of meat. within reason.

so no, personally i don't agree with your doctor that going vegetarian is the answer. i do agree that ms patients have known nutritional problems that can be addressed through dietary modification. i *did* have many of the nutritional problems seen in ms patients but i had to correct them by *stopping* being a vegetarian.

so going back to mammalian cells and interferon production. the article below is specific to interferon gamma. (i'm having more trouble finding research on human interferon beta production) please note in particular the importance of things like protein and zinc, both of which you can expect to be lower in vegetarians.
Prog Food Nutr Sci. 1984;8(3-4):193-228.
Cell-mediated immunity in nutritional deficiency.
McMurray DN.
Dietary deficiencies of specific nutrients profoundly alter cell-mediated immune responses in man and experimental animals. Both moderate and severe deficiencies are associated with significant changes in immunocompetence. Diets with inadequate levels of protein, calories, vitamin A, pyridoxine, biotin and zinc result in loss of thymic cellularity. Secondary to thymic atrophy, the production of thymic hormones critical for the differentiation of T lymphocytes is reduced, especially in protein-calorie malnutrition and zinc deficiency. Confirmation of a T cell maturational defect in nutritional deprivation comes from the observations of decreased total (T3 and rosette-forming) T cells in the peripheral blood of children with kwashiorkor and marasmus, with preferential loss of helper/inducer (T4) T cell subsets. Reduced number and in vitro function of T cells have also been reported in experimental deficiencies of iron, zinc, copper, and vitamins A and E. ... Natural killer (NK) cell function may be either enhanced or depressed, depending upon the nutrient and its effects on interferon production. Several authors have demonstrated normal or enhanced macrophage activity in a variety of experimental deficiencies. The extrapolation of these observations to infectious disease resistance is not straightforward, and depends upon the nature of the microbe, its own nutrient needs, and the relative importance of innate, as opposed to immunologic, defense mechanisms.

of course there are a lot of other ideas and theories out there about ms but if you're looking at interferon vs nutrition the article above is pretty relevant.

so how to go forward .. the 'best bet' diet ( is something i would consider a lot closer to appropriate for ms compared to vegetarianism. i have some reservations regarding best bet, mostly with the way people take it on board, such as cutting out red meat altogether as opposed to sticking to no more than one serving per week. i also think removing nutritious whole foods because they 'might' be allergens is not that logical. i'm a lot more in agreement with the best bet supplement recommendations compared to the dietary stuff.

is making sure you balance pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods good? yes. definitely. i think that's where the merits of programs like terri wahls kick in.

there's lots of great info out there. IMHO reading is your best friend at this time.

hope that's useful to you as you go forward :)
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Postby jimmylegs » Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:33 am

one more study:
Synergism of nutrition, infection, and immunity: an overview
NS Scrimshaw and JP SanGiovanni
Infections, no matter how mild, have adverse effects on nutritional status. The significance of these effects depends on the previous nutritional status of the individual, the nature and duration of the infection, and the diet during the recovery period. Conversely, almost any nutrient deficiency, if sufficiently severe, will impair resistance to infection. Iron deficiency and protein-energy malnutrition, both highly prevalent, have the greatest public health importance in this regard. Remarkable advances in immunology of recent decades have increased insights into the mechanisms responsible for the effects of infection. These include impaired antibody formation; loss of delayed cutaneous hypersensitivity; reduced immunoglobulin concentrations; decreased thymic and splenic lymphocytes; reduced complement formation, secretory immunoglobulin A, and interferon; and lower T cells and T cells subsets (helper, suppressor-cytotoxic, and natural killer cells) and interleukin 2 receptors. The effects observed with single or multiple nutrient deficiencies are due to some combination of these responses. In general, cell-mediated and nonspecific immunity are more sensitive than humoral immunity.
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