Chapter 11: Multiple Sclerosis

My Research:
When I was completing my research on Alzheimer's disease, I also did a similar study of Multiple Sclerosis. I did this research on MS, since MS follows a similar statistic to that of Alzheimer's Disease, whereby it affects more women than men. Perhaps there is a connection. The study was to determine whether there is any relationship between MS and the practice of sleeping with the head under the covers. This study was to examine whether through rebreathing (breathing the same air over and over) while under the covers in this microenvironment, oxygen becomes depleted while carbon dioxide accumulates.   
Depleted Rebreathing:This can occur when a person sleeps with the head and breathing under the covers, but can also occur to babies who accidentally have their breathing restricted by a soft toy, bedding, or sleeping face down into a soft blanket resulting in a SIDS tragedy or other outcome. 

Do I believe that depleted rebreathing, while sleeping with the head covered, can cause Multiple Sclerosis?

Initially, I said no, but after more consideration, I am starting to believe that depleted rebreathing may be a significant factor in causing symptoms that mimic MS.  
I believe, as others do, that MS is strictly an autoimmune reaction. 

I believe that depleted rebreathing, if a person practices it consistently, can cause symptoms that are similar to those of MS, but are not MS. In other words, some individuals may be loosely diagnosed with MS, when in fact they don't have MS. They are just practicing a behaviour that results in symptoms that mimic the disease (balance and dizziness, fatigue, numbness, cognitive impairment, tingling, weakness). I had found that, while about 20% - 25% of the general population practices full or partial sleeping with the head under the covers (with about 10 % fully under the covers), the percentage of those whose age was in their 40's and who were diagnosed with MS (RRMS, and SPMS) and who practiced some level of sleeping with head covered was about 50% (double the general population). Also, another statistic in my study was that about 45% of those who had indicated that they had MS, but didn't know what type, practiced some level of covering their head. Is this significant? I believe so.

Initially, the fact that this related only to those in their 40's was unclear to me. I was being blinded by my other studies that expect the occurrence to be higher the older one gets, which is the case with other disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Unlike these other disorders, MS is more often diagnosed for persons from their 20's to their 40's. Why is it seldom diagnosed for individuals in their 50's and beyond? Possibly, many of the symptoms of MS are too similar to those of aging. Just guessing here.
Therefore there appears to be some connection between head covering while sleeping and that of MS, or symptoms that mimic those of MS. The percentage of all those who have MS and practice some level of head covering is about 34.2%, almost as high as those in the Alzheimer's Disease survey, or those who took the learning disability survey. But I repeat, I don't believe that rebreathing due to sleeping with the head under the covers causes MS, but possibly causes symptoms that are similar to those with MS. But I'm not sure. I'm starting to believe that depleted rebreathing may be related to MS in two ways, the first at birth through accidental depleted rebreathing, and later through continuous depleted rebreathing by sleeping under the covers.

Did I discover any other relationship to MS?

Yes, but this is related to sleeping position, rather than to head covering.
In a number of studies, I also queried the position that they usually slept, be it on their back, side, or front.
My research noticed that there are higher levels of MS sufferers who practice sleeping on their side and on their stomach.
For this comparison, I focussed on female participants to the surveys. 
On average 38.9% of those in the other studies (ALS, AD, PD)  usually slept on their sides. However, 63.6% of MS sufferers stated that they usually slept on their sides, which is an increase of about 63%. 
On average 6% of those in the other studies (ALS, AD, PD)  usually slept on their stomach, face down. However, 8.2% of MS sufferers stated that they usually slept on their stomach, which is an increase of about 36%. 
Do these differences mean anything, or is it just differences due to the normal variation which can be found in a small sample size?  My sample size for MS was about 350 participants.

How can this relate to MS?

My theory here is that many individuals kink their neck, or kink and twist their neck during sleep, due to their sleeping positions and perhaps the thickness of their pillows. When they continually kink or twist their necks during sleep, restricted veins can occur, the same restricted veins that Dr. Zamboni discovered in his studies of MS. He called this "chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency” or CCSVI, which he theorized was due to iron in the blood. He may be correct (many think not), but I believe that any sleeping positions that increase the possibility of a kinked or twisted neck during extended and repeated periods of sleep can also lead to these restricted veins.

While CCSVI due to iron deficiency has been discounted as a cause of MS by a large segment of the medical profession, there still remains the fact that restricted veins do occur, and the question of what caused them. I believe that habitual sleeping practices can lead to these restricted veins, and it is these restricted veins which result in symptoms that are similar to MS, but are not true MS.

His cure is to complete an operation that unclogs the veins. This procedure is a form of angioplasty, in which a catheter is threaded into the groin and up into the veins, where a balloon is inflated to clear the blockages. This procedure is very controversial, and dangerous since this practice has lead to some deaths. 

My cure is much simpler. Just change your sleeping position such that your neck and spine are as straight as possible during sleep, avoiding any kinking or twisting. Make it your personal scientific research project, maybe even graphing the results. It may lead to better health for you, and if you share your overall results with the MS community, you may add to the overall understanding of how to face the disease.

How might this information be used?

Whether you suffer MS or not, and you sleep with your head covered at times, I suggest that you avoid this practice altogether. If it doesn't avoid or improve on any symptoms that are similar to MS, you will at least potentially avoid Alzheimer's Disease, which you can read about on here.   It will also improve your wellbeing and performance which you can read about how this practice affects cognitive performance here.

If you suffer MS and find that you generally do sleep with your neck twisted or kinked (bent), you may try making changes to your sleeping position, such that you start sleeping with a straight neck (in line with your spine) at all times. You may find that your conditions improve, and perhaps you can avoid the liberation procedure should you be considering going that route, which is not recommended by most if not all of the medical profession.

Vitamin D deficiencyDo I believe the theory that vitamin D deficiency is a major cause or contributor to MS? Vitamin D deficiency is considered to contribute to many symptoms and illnesses including MS. It is often cited that being north of the equator, we get less sunshine, and this causes MS. I'm not convinced that location on the globe is the issue. This is often cited because there appears to be an increase in the occurrence of MS the further north one lives away from the equator. The theory is the less sunshine, the less vitamin D, the less vitamin D, the higher occurrence of MS. Consequently, Canada has the highest rates of MS in the world, so the theory goes. It is easy to notice on any atlas, the higher rates of MS on the globe in the north, noticeably the difference between USA and Canada (theirs being a lower incidence). It's easy to make the assumption that Canada's lack of sunlight is a significant factor in MS, but that is just an assumption.  But you may also notice on any atlas that Japan is at about the same latitude as the USA, and you may also notice that the northern part of Japan is at about the same latitude as the southern part of Ontario (matching a significant percentage of Canadians), Canada. When you consider that the occurrence of MS in Japan is almost nonexistent and that Canada suffers MS (highest in the world) at about 200 times their rate, it becomes easy to conclude that latitude on a globe is not a significant issue. It may be more to do with the temperature and weather, as we stay indoors and cover our skin when we go outdoors. But there's more. India is even further south than Japan. 

India has one of the lowest rates of MS, less than 20/100,000, or less than a tenth of the rate in Canada. Despite having more sun, they have a vitamin D deficiency epidemic of more than 6 in 10 overall, and as much as 80% of the population in New Delhi. Despite all the sun they get, they have one of the highest vitamin D deficiencies, but one of the lowest rates of MS. Why? Because of these statistics, I don't give much credence to vitamin D deficiency being the cause of MS, or taking Vitamin D supplements as the cure. However, India has a history of eating nuts and peanuts, unlike Japan. Perhaps it's their aversion to eating beef. The search goes on. Perhaps their low rate of diagnosis is due to the overall lack of wealth of the population, so it just goes undiagnosed.

But I believe most important is diet!  Are fish the answer, as an alternative way to get your vitamin D?  Maybe so. Think about it. Not only is MS almost non-existent in Japan, they are a population that thrives on a fish diet. I've upped my consumption of fish to twice (and more) per week, squeezing out red meat, and I still want to improve that.

And there's one more thing. The consumption of nuts and peanuts is almost nonexistent in Japan. Is Japan's nut free diet what is enabling them to avoid MS? Their diets either prevent MS by avoiding the allergy that causes it, or the fish dominant diet is a cure for the disease. 

Could it be something else in a person's diet, such as milk products, shellfish, onions or garlic?  Each individual will have to do their own research on themselves by themselves to ascertain what might be causing their symptoms. You don't need a doctor. Make yourself a small personal study that tracks the occurrence or severity of symptoms on a daily basis against what you are withdrawing. Do it as part of a daily journal, It'll be your bit of scientific research. Make a small graph of the data, and try to determine if the avoidance of the product in your diet has had any effect over time, say 3 to 6 months. Even if you show no change, at least you will be able to eliminate a potential cause and be able to resume consumption. And share your results with the MS community, please.

I know you're saying that the cause or cure can't be something as simple as diet, but consider that despite the hundreds of millions spent on cancer research, as of yet the most significant factor for cancer reduction across all types is still the reduction in smoking by the population. Don't be waiting for the miracle pharmaceutical cure, which may or may not come eventually. Hopefully, they will and there are already some good drugs, but in the meantime do your part to achieve the best health possible by learning the most from your diet and sleeping practices.

MS and DNA: It has been declared by the medical profession that MS is not genetically inherited. Even if it is, a secondary trigger is considered necessary for it to manifest itself. They have considered that there may be some mild relationship to genetics in that identical twins are more likely to both suffer MS than that of fraternal twins; fraternal twins are more likely to both have MS than other siblings, etc. But being a twin, either identical or fraternal, doesn't guarantee that both will or won't suffer MS. In the vast majority of cases, they don't follow the same outcomes. Most never suffer MS. 

There is another statistic about MS about which I wish to reflect. This is about those who suffer MS but who had moved from one location to another. It has been shown that individuals suffer MS at the same rate as the area from which they left, not picking up the frequency of the area to which they moved. From that information, researchers have come to the conclusion that there is little correlation to the environment. I believe that they have come to the wrong conclusion: I believe that MS may have little to do with the environment, but that it is more due in part to a neurological accident at birth. This has not been researched, but I believe that if the same research only included those who moved at about one year of age, they would get the same results, even though the infants wouldn't have had enough time to interact with their initial environment.

What do I mean by an accident at birth? Just read in my other chapters about my theory concerning the cause of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and learning disabilities. Again it is depleted rebreathing, from accidentally having an infant's breathing restricted while in the crib, such as what might happen when they breathe into a fluffy toy or bedding. The result, if the episode doesn't last long enough for a SIDS death to occur, is a certain amount of neurological damage, and this damage often results in learning disabilities, including autism, but may also include neurological damage that leads to MS and/or Alzheimer's disease, which will not show up until later in life. It is this initial neurological damage that may be the link of why a great number of MS sufferers also had learning disabilities early in life, and also have a high frequency of suffering Alzheimer's disease later in life. These learning difficulties had been considered as a consequence of MS, but rather, I believe that both are more likely to be the consequence of neurological damage early in life. 

Considering the environment, two countries that have a low incidence of MS are China and India. However, these have a significantly high level of pollution. Considering that, I suspect that MS has little or no relevance to the environment.

However, the supply of oxygen to an infant can be compromised before birth or during a difficult birth. The result of this may lead to such significant outcomes as cerebral palsy or autism. This neurological damage may also lead to other outcomes, such as learning disabilities, autism, MS, and Alzheimer's. One quick way to look for those conditions that lead to this disruption of oxygen supply is the disruption of blood supply which are often the reasons for having a cesarean section birth. Many of the reasons for a c-section birth relate to complications where blood supply may be compromised, such as placental abruption (the placenta separates from the uterine wall), situations when pressure can be put on the umbilical cord, and other like complications. My suggestion here is that this initial neurological damage leads to a vulnerability to an autoimmune reaction by some secondary trigger, such as diet.

Thinking back on the experience of identical twins: if one identical twin has MS, there is a very small 25% (34% for females) chance the other twin will also suffer MS. There is a similar statistic: if an identical twin is autistic, there is a 75% chance that the other identical twin will also be autistic. If MS has any genetic factor, this data shows that it is very insignificant compared to autism, and plays little in determining who gets MS. This is a bit troubling, as many think that MS has a link or has its origin in northern Europe. If this is true, then MS is significantly genetic, not that knowing this helps with any cure.

Why might the incidence of MS or autism be higher for identical twins than for fraternal twins? One important fact to consider is that about 75% of identical twins share the same placenta. If that placenta becomes compromised in any way, both fetuses may have their supply of oxygen compromised, and it is this loss of oxygen to both twins that may result in autism, MS, or other outcomes to both. Also, about 1% of identical twins share the same amniotic sac. Any complication of this amniotic sac could also be shared by both identical twins. Therefore I believe that outcomes, such as MS, are more likely caused by complications of pregnancy, rather than due to genetics. These complications may lead to neurological vulnerability, but that it also requires a secondary trigger to manifest.

You may wish to read more about this issue in my chapter, The Twins Misdirection.

Anyway, that's my take on the issue. A great deal of research still needs to be undertaken to prove my theory as valid or invalid, whether the twins studies prove a genetic cause or a neurological damage cause. In my opinion, it is probably both, but more so neurological damage.  If you are a researcher, I believe I've opened up a few more avenues for your next study.

In any case, whether it is genetics or neurological damage, is there anything we can do about it? Both are done in the past, and we can't redo that. For genetics, not much can help us now. For neurological damage, we can research what types of outcomes match particular complications of pregnancy. We may learn what drugs, food, physical activities, etc., that should be avoided before and during pregnancy. That may help in the future. As for those who are already experiencing autoimmune reactions, we should try to discover the triggers, so that they can be avoided. And of course, continue to discover drugs that prevent these autoimmune reactions. I'm confident that much can be done to improve the health of those that have MS now, and I also believe that looking for a genetic cause and considering vitamin D deficiency won't likely be very fruitful. Just to go a little further, diet might not be the issue totally, but our gut microbiome. How we digest or fail to digest properly, our food may ultimately be most consequential to MS. That's where I believe research dollars will be most effective. I'm just saying. 

If anything here is valuable to you, please share with a friend who it could help. Thanks.
I have nothing to sell other than to offer some easy advice and perhaps some hope:
1. Always sleep with continual access to fresh air, never sleeping with the head under the covers.
2. Check that you are sleeping with your neck straight, never kinked awkwardly.
3. Experiment with different diets, seeking that which will give you the most relief from your symptoms.
4. And of course, continue to fundraise, as some drugs are making a difference. Research will continue to make inroads against MS.

Please let me know whether this information was useful to you. Thanks.

Is there anything else?

I have more to say, so stick with me while I indulge an anecdotal personal narrative.

About 20 years ago, I used to suffer what could be considered as MS like symptoms. I could be sitting quietly and suffer unexplained spasm or tremors (or twitching might be a better description, but that even doesn't do it, as it is usually a one-time movement). Every now and then my arm might jerk unexpectedly for no reason. It was something like what sometimes happens just when someone falls asleep, as a sudden compulsive movement. Sometime now I think it was more like Tourette's, as I could somehow feel it coming on.  But I considered it more like MS, or at least what I considered to be MS at the time. Let me be clear, I was never diagnosed with MS. Also at that time I probably suffered what is known as fibromyalgia, at least that's what my doctor thought it might be. Even a kitten walking across my chest while I was lying down resulted in severe chest pain. If someone accidentally bumped into me, the pain across my chest was significant. And, of course, I feared sneezing. 

What did I do?  I came up with the theory that if it was an autoimmune reaction, all I had to do was figure out what was causing it, and then avoid it. Certainly too simple to be true, right? What I suspected was that it was a reaction to nuts and/or peanuts, particularly peanut butter. As a teacher, I was aware of anaphylactic shock which could be suffered by students who were allergic to peanuts. Obviously, I had never suffered anaphylactic shock. However, I learned that not everyone who is allergic to peanuts suffers that allergy equally. The most severe can suffer an anaphylactic shock incident, while others who are only mildly allergic may only suffer mildly, such as hives or other outcomes. What I surmised was that perhaps some may be so mildly allergic that they are unaware of the allergy because they have no immediate reaction, but that over time the accumulation of the reaction results in the damage which is MS. Just a theory.

Anyhow, not related to this I was being tested for allergies and discovered that I was allergic to dust mites, which is quite common. At that time I mentioned my theory about MS being related peanut/nuts to the allergist. He quickly and decisively stated that there is absolutely no relationship between peanuts and MS. That was that! But I'm not one to abandon a theory so quickly, as you may have seen from my other theories, some of which are starting to ring true. 

Anyhow, I decided to run my own test. No harm in it. I just stopped eating peanuts and all nuts. It wasn't easy. I love peanut butter, and just about any nut. Who can turn down a cashew! The result? I don't remember how many months it took, but eventually, all the symptoms that I considered MS or fibromyalgia disappeared. Maybe I never had these ailments, or maybe the improvement was due to something else. I'll never know. But I stuck to the diet limit for years until...

When I did my research on Alzheimer's Disease, I did a side study (if I could call it that) of MS, ALS, and Parkinson's. In the MS survey, I included questioning about their consumption of peanuts and nuts to satisfy my own personal curiosity. I was curious as to whether there was any relationship. Some respondents seem annoyed by the question and didn't answer that part of the survey. But most did. And when I looked at the data, I couldn't really see any relationship. Most of my research was focussed on AD, so the survey for MS was rather limited, thinking I might return to it at a later date, but as of now, I haven't. Anyhow, I considered that I would be an idiot if I didn't believe my own research, so I started eating nuts again, and very occasionally peanuts. Then what. My unexplained compulsive jerking movements returned. Sadly I gave up nuts and peanuts again, and the symptoms pretty much are nonexistent now. The pains I had suffered which were considered related to fibromyalgia never returned (or at least not enough to notice) but maybe they would have occurred had I continued nut and peanut consumption. Or maybe I do have MS, and just don't know it.