Functional medicine to heal auto-immune diseases

It’s another ‘lazy’ blog, re-blogging a great piece called ‘How to stop attacking yourself. 9 steps to heal automimmune disease’ by Dr. Mark Hyman. Brings together a lot of familiar themes; the gut, leaky gut and how to heal it, food intolerances, and calming inflammation.

http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/07/30/how-to-stop-attacking-yourself-9-steps-to-heal-autoimmune-disease/#close

When he talks about infectious agents, I agree, but I tend to use SOS-Advance as it blitzes most things without destroying your natural gut flora.

I hope that soon I’ll get a chance to write something fresh – I’ve been photographing my cooking, so expect a recipe section soon!

All the best

Miranda

Overcoming MS retreat, July 2013

Hello! the madness of the summer is over (which I thoroughly enjoyed!) and at last I manage to blog about this amazing experience.

So in July, I attended the first UK retreat run by the Overcoming MS UK (OMS) organisation,  (now a registered UK charity), who allowed me to go so that I can hopefully help them to run workshops etc in the UK, to help people with MS understand the effects of diet and lifestyle modification on MS.george Jelinek et al, breakfast OMS meeting

From left to right, this is Linda Bloom, patron & founder of OMS UK, who has MS herself and is very well, Sandra Neate, Prof Jelinek’s wife, an emergency medicine consultant in Australia, Professor Jelinek, professor of emergency medicine and author & founder of Overcoming MS ( & very fit & well with MS), Gary McMahon , head of OMS UK, all round top bloke, with a business management background, but utterly committed to health, having helped his wife recover form serious illness using dietary & lifestyle measures, Dr Craig Hassed, an Australian GP and  medical  university lecturer, author & international speaker on mindfulness, and me.

What did I expect?

Well, I expected that I’d already know it all ( how arrogant!) …. I expected that I’d enjoy meeting the Professor and crew, but might shy away from too much socialising, not wanting to feel different as an MS nurse…. I expected I’d be bored in the evenings and took lots of work to do…. and that I might get a bit hungry on the fully vegan diet provided, and took a big loaf of bread for my bedroom… and I expected that 90% of the focus would be on diet & supplements, with a sliver of meditation thrown in for good measure….

What actually happened?

a) I didn’t know it all… & I’ll share my new understandings here,                                             b) I enjoyed meeting every person on the retreat, was inspired by the company of so many intelligent, stimulating individuals and couples who dare to think differently and think for themselves,  had a lot of fun, was never once bored, never did any work (!), and am actively staying in touch with the group via an email group because I want to!                     c) Was absolutely stuffed, because  the food was tasty, vibrant, delicious and really ‘stuck to your ribs’.                                                                                                                             d) I got my focus back through meditation, and realised how powerful the effects of even a boring daily grind of meditation that you don’t even want to do can be !!

for this, it helped having a little cell, with no TV or internet connection….

launde abbey

So, first impressions happened the evening before the retreat, when I went out for a meal with the OMS staff/trainers. Firstly, the Professor is seriously fit and healthy looking, and runs or swims daily more than I do in a week ( if not 2), and comes across as genuinely lovely, thoughtful, intelligent, educated, and kind person. He is obviously ably supported by his wife Sandra, who shares his qualities, diet & lifestyle, and took on the sessions about the structure & role of different fats.

Prof Jelinek & his wife Sandra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the meal, in conversation, the Professor talked about how he would like to slow down his international work running the retreats ( he does already have his full time academic medical work), and I felt honoured to hear him relate this personal anecdote, with some emotion:

He said that he had recently experienced a relaxation of the drive to always be working to get his message out there, and that it had caused him to wonder and reflect. For some reason his age suddenly became very meaningful to him, but he couldn’t work out why — until he suddenly realised that he had now passed the age that his mother had been when she died, severely affected by MS (she took her own life). And so somehow, he had ‘made it’ , and proved to himself the value of the work he’s been doing all these years.

I’m not going to re-iterate all the points of the OMS approach here, as I’ve talked about it many times, and its all available for free on http://www.overcomingMS.org , there’s the books, and also a forum on the website where people can discuss points; I’m just going to go into some of the things I hadn’t quite nailed.

We sat in a circle around the outside of a large room, or on beanbags in the middle, and there were about 40 people. Most people had come with their partner, and some on their own. Teaching was very good quality, and we had lots of time to ask questions and discuss fine points.

prof jelinek teaching UK retreatHere’s the Prof teaching, and Linda in mid leap… she & Gary had organised and were running the show, she had her new baby in attendance, and during the week was constantly jumping up and physically running, fetching, carrying, leaping over boxes & beanbags, & looking radiant throughout.

Flax seed oil – in the most recent research carried out by OMS ,taking this trumped fish oil for having reduced disease activity. The best amount and way to take it is 2 dessert spoons drizzled over food ( or used to dip bread or in salad dressing) daily, and apparently, the best tasting is from http://www.flaxfarm.co.uk  I just got some, and can confirm, it looks like sunshine and tastes… nutty but fine. Going to see if I can get a discount for Bedford MS Therapy Centre….

Meditation

I’m no stranger to meditiation, having taken it up in my 20s, however, life had started getting on top of me, and when I attended the retreat, I was pretty stressed.

I was taken aback by the serious focus on meditation – every day, we started and finished the session with a half hour mindfulness meditation, led by Craig Hassed. I also did some of my meditation again in my room on a morning. It was hard! It is hard! But it is real – it has real, measurable mental and physical health benefits, and it’s worth doing every single day. By the end of the week I felt that I had met my real self again, and I was OK. Meditation  deserves a post of its own, which I’ll do some time, but for now, here’s some links to give a taste of the sort of thing we were doing. Scroll down to guided meditations, mindfulness meditation (1,2 or 3) with Craig Hassed.

http://www.calm.auckland.ac.nz/18.html 

It’s school run time!  but to stop this being delayed any further – TO BE CONTINUED!

OMS retreat and Second paper from the HOLISM study published: omega 3s associated with markedly better health

I’m really, really looking forward to getting away from it all ( apart from my MS learning) next week on the retreat for people with MS run by George Jelinek of Overcoming MS. Vegan food, peaceful and beautiful surroundings – just hope they have wiFi!!

Launde Abbey

The reason that I’m there, is  to learn, as OMS have asked me to help them run the one day courses which will be running in the UK, to educate people about the evidence for lifestyle measures that can help people with MS to remain well. I’m looking forward to it! As this is not an either/or choice – there’s a place for both types of medicine – I have never been afraid to stand up and promote this from the rooftops!  Going to take my yoga mat and meditation shawls….

And here’s just some of the research that OMS have been up to recently

Second paper from the HOLISM study published: omega 3s associated with markedly better healthOur research team at OMS is excited about the findings of our latest study from the HOLISM database, published online early at the International Journal of Neuroscience (http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/00207454.2013.803104). To refresh memories, this study recruited around two and a half thousand people with MS from Web 2.0 platforms like Facebook, Twitter and MS websites, from 57 countries around the globe. They completed a long survey about their lifestyles and the illness. We have been busy analysing the data ever since; the findings about one part of the lifestyle survey relating to fish and omega 3 consumption have just been published and add enormous weight to the OMS recovery program. Briefly, those consuming fish the most frequently (three or more times a week), and those taking omega 3 supplements, had better health in virtually all measured domains of disease activity, disability, and quality of life. Perhaps the most striking finding however of the research was that while people with MS taking regular fish oil supplements had 44% fewer relapses than those not taking omega 3s, those taking flaxseed oil regularly had 66% fewer relapses! This effect was independent of how frequently they were consuming fish. We have suggested flaxseed oil as the preferred omega 3 supplement in the OMS recovery program since its inception. These data provide strong support for that approach.
The take-home messages from the paper were that, in a real world setting, people with MS taking omega 3 supplements and eating fish regularly have much better health! They have less disability, fewer relapses and better quality of life. People looking to recover from MS everywhere who are incorporating these lifestyle changes into their lives can take great heart from these findings.
The full version of the paper is still not available for download from the journal website, so we have attached a pdf (above right) to enable people to read the full paper.

Get chugging back that Flax seed oil!