Common Anti-Oxidant May Help Slow MS Progression

Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating condition that currently has no cure available. The best that most medications can do is slow down or halt is progression temporarily. But researchers are trying to know more about the disease and how to battle it from different fronts. They are also discovering other ways to halt its progression. One of the recent discoveries made concerns the beneficial effect of a common over-the-counter anti-oxidant.

Researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University found out that patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis or SPMS showed a reduced incidence of whole brain atrophy when taking a igh dose of lipoic acid daily for a period of two  years. Lipoic acid is a naturally occurring anti-oxidant that is commonly available as an over-the-counter supplement. The study shows that it can become an effective treatment for SPMS.

Multiple Sclerosis in general is a disease characterized by an impaired immune system that begins to attack myelin, which is the protective covering of nerve fibers in the central nervous system. It is characterized by impaired nerve and brain communication which can lead to different symptoms such as weakness, walking difficulties, numbness as well as tingling sensations in the face, limbs or body along with other symptoms. Relapsing-Remising Multiple Sclerosis or RRMS is the most common type of the disease characterized by flare-ups of the disease followed by a period of remission of the symptoms in a cycle.  Many patients who have RRMS eventually progress to SPMS, which is characterized by worsening nerve damage and loss, with symptoms becoming even worse and with remissions becoming less frequent. This stage of the disease also has no cure, although there are some therapies available that can help in slowing down its progression.

The randomized, double-blind study, led by Dr. Rebecca Spain of the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine in Portland, involved 51 adults with ages ranging from 40 to 70 years old. All of the patients had been diagnosed with SPMS. In the said study, 27 participants were randomly receiving 1,200mg of lipoic acid daily for a period of two years. The remaining 21 subjects were given a placebo for the same period. In order to determine the effects, each participant was assessed by taking MRI scans of their brain volume at study baseline and each year thereafter in order to take note of any changes in brain volume for each of the participants.

The researchers have found out that those who were given lipoic acid experienced a 68 percent reduction in the average rate of while brain atrophy as compared to those who took a placebo. In addition, the researchers noted that participants who were taking lipoic acid experienced fewer incidences of falling as well as better walking times as compared to those who took the placebo. Not only that, the researchers also found that lipoic acid is considered as generally safe and tolerable for common use, the most common side effect of which is having gastrointestinal upset.

While the study shows great promise and provides hope to patients with SPMS, further clinical trials may be needed with a greater number of participants before this antioxidant can be recommended as a safe but effective treatment for MS. Results of the said study was recently reported in the journal Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation.

Source: Medical News Today

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