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Multiple Sclerosis : Definition
Western Medicine Chinese Medicine

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neural disorder with an unknown triggering mechanism. This chronic, slowly progressive autoimmune disease is where the body's immune system attacks the myelin sheaths around nerve cells mainly in the brain and spinal cord (a process called demyelination), resulting in the damaged areas failure to transmit nerve impulses. Because the lesions can partially heal, it goes through characteristic phases of remission and relapse.

Initial symptoms of MS are often vague, such as blurred or double vision, fatigue and muscular weakness. Individuals are usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40, when they present with symptoms like muscular weakness, numbness, incoordination, paralysis, convulsions, visual problems, bladder or bowel disturbances, mood swings, cognitive problems and difficulty in speaking. Symptoms vary greatly from patient to patient since almost every system of the body can be affected.

A MS nerve cell

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disorder of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), which is characterized by patchy, degenerative changes in the myelin sheaths surrounding nerve cells, resulting in scar formation. It is a common neurological disorder in the northern hemisphere.

This debilitating disease is rare in China, and no specific details have been recorded in TCM history. However, reports about it are on the rise. Due to a great variety in clinical presentations, modern TCM places MS in different syndrome categories and takes the individual's condition as reference.

When symptoms are marked with muscular weakness or paralysis syndrome, it is classified as flaccidity syndrome. This is a morbid condition that is mostly due to a lack of nourishment in the muscles.

When individuals present with difficulty in speaking, limb weakness or paralysis, TCM classifies their conditions as aphasia and paralysis syndrome, which is believed to be mainly due to consumption of kidney essence or obstruction of the meridians by wind and phlegm.

When dizziness, vertigo and unsteadiness predominate, TCM classifies it as vertigo syndrome. This usually caused by exogenous evils invasion (especially wind-fire or phlegm-dampness), impairment of qi (vital energy) or blood flow or organ dysfunction (deficiency of heart, spleen or kidney.)

In the late stages that present with limb spasms, delirium or mental deterioration, physicians usually put this condition under epilepsy or dementia syndromes.

While Western medicine has a number of drugs to slow down progress of this disease and reduce the frequency of attacks, there is still no cure for MS. Based on integrated immune modulation effects to the body, TCM therapies can assist individuals in recovery from attacks, reducing the number of relapses and preventing further progression of the MS.