Without a background in science, nevertheless, I try to read material in this area:
One source is InFocus
, the quarterly publication of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (website: http://www.aarda.org
); another is the Multiple Sclerosis Quarterly Report
) available free to participants in the registry of the North American Research Committee On Multiple Sclerosis (website: http://narcoms.org
), where I first read of the findings of researchers Barnett and Prineas at Australia's University of Sydney. (The information is also found at ThisIsMS in the reprinting of the article, "Multiple sclerosis: Taming of a shrew.")
I have read and recommended the book, The Autoimmune Connection
by Rita Baron-Faust and Jill Buyon, M.D.. Though it is good, I found it lacking in an important area--insulin, specifically excess insulin production (hyperinsulinemia). I readily find info on other hormone abnormalities--too little cortisol (Addison's Disease), too much (Cushing's Syndrome); too little thyroid hormone (Hashimoto's thyroiditis), too much (Grave's Disease); too little effective insulin (diabetes), but too much (???)--scarce info.
Much of this reading and my personal experience (Five people, I know to have MS, including me, have had insulin testing for various reasons and all five report elevated insulin levels.) lead me to believe, as many of you have stated, that MS is not initially an autoimmune disease. I think "neuro-endocrine disease" is a more apt description. A letter to the Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Autoimmune Disease Research (Noel Rose) even elicited this reply: "Your letter raises another possibility in suggesting that elevated levels of insulin may induce cell injury. Following damage to the cells, an autoimmune response may supervene and extend the illness." (He has written for AARDA that there seems to be a common thread in autoimmunity; I proposed that this is insulin.) Why do many (if not most) MS'ers go on to develop diabetes, another "autoimmune disease"--with an insulin connection?
In my own experience, I hear almost constant "gurgling" in the upper left quadrant (above the waist) of the abdomen (tho my internist who has not heard it thinks it must be my stomach. I think "pancreas."); CT scan shows no evidence of a tumor in the pancreas; fasting insulin level is 12 UU/ML (I've read that below 10 is best.), non-fasting insulin is 30 (Our lab lists 27 as the top end of normal.). (By the way, I 'll bet if you have MS and get an insulin test, your levels will be elevated, too!) Later edit: My latest insulin test result was 9 UU/ML. Optimal range is 4 to 7 UU/ML.My glucose level was 87 mg/dl. I am puzzled that the glucose and insulin could be at those levels when I eat so little and virtually NO carbs (sugar, starch). So now I search for a source of my glucose. Glucose triggers the pancreas to produce insulin (the amount which the pancreas secretes overcompensates for the glucose). 5/20/11 Update from Dr. Joseph Mercola's nutrition plan on that optimal range for the insulin level:
Your Fasting Blood Insulin Test
To find out your insulin levels, you need to get tested by your doctor. The test you need to ask for is a fasting blood insulin test, The test is done by just about every commercial laboratory and is relatively inexpensive.
Facts about Your Fasting Insulin Test:
• This test is profoundly useful. It's one of the least expensive tests in traditional medicine, yet it is one of the most powerful. A normal fasting blood insulin level is below 5, but ideally you'll want to be below 3.
• You can safely ignore the reference ranges from the lab as they are based on "normals" of a population that has highly-disturbed insulin levels.
• This is a great test to do BEFORE you start your program as you can use it to assess how well you are progressing in the program.
• If your level is above 5 you will want to consider significantly reducing most sugars and grains, even whole wheat grains, until you lower your level. Once you've normalized your insulin level you can reintroduce grains into your diet at a lower level to optimize your health.
• Exercise is of enormous benefit in improving the sensitivity of your insulin receptors, and help normalize your insulin level far more quickly.
Is there any other reason the pancreas would pump out lots of insulin? Aging, a diet with too much glucose-producing food, a "sick" pancreas (genes? bacteria? virus? disease or cancer?), or inflammation in the body (my situation, I believe, due to chronic sinusitis and mucus drainage--I think it becomes glucose and also triggers the pancreas.). (By the way, one friend with MS clears her throat constantly; another experiences exacerbations during allergy season, another has frequent(!) bouts of pancreatitis--the inflammation connection?) One page in the NIH Plan to Coordinate Autoimmune Research lists all kinds of suspected germ-caused illnesses--don't they all cause inflammation? To view the plan, go to this link http://www.niaid.nih.gov/dait/pdf/ADCC_Report.pdf
Why do statins and corticosteroids and tumeric often help some people?--They are anti-inflammatory! Salmon is naturally anti-inflammatory, too.11/25/10 – a search on Google, "chemistry of mucus," led me to the information that there is SUGAR in mucus!
It seems to start with high glucose, then excess insulin in my case.
I have read that excessive insulin is involved with diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity; why not autoimmunity as well--specifically, MS? Several researchers (at Brown, Harvard, Texas--probably more that I don't know about) think there is a connection between insulin and Alzheimer's, too! One source described insulin in the bloodstream as an irritant--"like lye in the pipes." Is this an explanation for peripheral neuropathy in diabetes,...vasculitis,...the tingling of MS?
Every odd fact I know about MS seems explainable with this excess-insulin theory: (Does it work for what you know, too?) Stress/MS link--stress causes the body first to produce more cortisol (a glucocorticoid, which then triggers more insulin). Vitamin D/sunshine/weight-bearing exercise cause the body to remove insulin. Pregnancy improves MS symptoms; there are frequently exacerbations after delivery--could the pregnant mother be producing excess insulin for development of the baby? After delivery, does excess production continue unopposed, unused, and "loose" in her system? (See General Discussion Forum, "Ms and the pill" posting by bromley, on Dec. 26, 2005) MS is practically non-existent among Eskimos (Lapps, too)--their diet has little carbohydrate or anything that changes to glucose; or do they have a stronger pancreas that just does NOT produce excess insulin? It is generally accepted that MS symptoms are better in the morning before eating--isn't this when insulin levels are lowest? Could Swank diet succcesses in many be attributable to the same principle?
I have asked 3 dietitians for a list of foods that will depress insulin production--no luck! One even stated that "with the aging...the pancreas, which makes insulin, doesn't work as well," and referred to "the natural tendency for insulin levels to increase with age." Any suggestions on this? My internist says there is no medication to depress production.
Honoring this website's disclaimer, of course, I am not promoting a regimen; I welcome your comments (Please be kind in critiquing my unconventional ideas.); I seek your help on diet suggestions; and if anyone has had an insulin (NOT glucose!) test (about $50 if insurance won't cover it), I am interested in the results. Or, as has been suggested with the Naltrexone poll, maybe a pattern will emerge!
I apologize for this long-winded posting. I can't resist one final comment to demonstrate my twisted sense of humor: You are saying, "Oh, sure, NOW I hear this, after eating all those Christmas cookies and candy!" I don't think the calories matter; I think the "sweetness" triggers the pancreas to produce insulin; therefore, artificial sweeteners, like Splenda and others, are no better than sugar, maybe worse since they are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar.