How does Multiple Sclerosis develop, what are the causes?
Basically, the molecular triggers of multiple sclerosis have so far been poorly researched. Many risk factors and causes are known to favor and support the disease. There is no one central cause.
There are genetic predispositions that favor the development of the disease and other factors that can trigger the illness. These factors are referred to as direct causes (strong), triggers and risk factors (medium), and indicate how much they contribute to the onset of the disease.
When the disease first breaks out can be described with the barrel theory:
According to this, all stressors and unhealthy factors in your life flow from the top into a barrel. Water flows out from below, which symbolizes all healthy and stress-reducing factors in your life.
The genetics also show how big the barrel is. If there are excessive stress factors for the body and immune system, the barrel overflows at some point.
This can be a traumatic event, a stressful situation such as moving to another house, a divorce or illness. If the barrel overflows, the first episode of illness occurs. Knowing the causes and triggers of the disease is important because it is very individual what causes and exacerbates the disease.
For sustained improvement or even remission, it is absolutely necessary to know which triggers apply to you. The next step will be to eliminate these causes and risk factors and thus regenerate the body and immune system. Below is a list of various triggers for multiple sclerosis:
Genetics make up about 20 to 30% of the disease. This means that the majority of the triggers of the disease are not based on genetics, but on lifestyle.
Genetics make you more susceptible to the disease, but don’t trigger it. They include mutations in areas that are important for the central nervous system or the immune system.
The best-described risk factors so far include mutations in the HLA-DRB1, TNFR genes and for the ATP potassium channel KIR4.168. Identical twins who are genetically completely identical are 25 to 35% likely to have multiple sclerosis.
This shows that overall, nutrition and lifestyle are more important than genetics. You also see that it is wrong to blame everything on genetics. The “genetics” or “predisposition” excuse is often used to distract from other factors.
Infections can promote autoimmune diseases through a process called molecular mimicry. Some pathogens have been associated with autoimmune diseases particularly frequently.
The background behind molecular mimicry is that surface protein on the pathogens resembles the body’s own proteins. So it can happen that the immune system produces antibodies that are bispecific, i.e. bind against pathogens and against the body’s own cells.
Then “accidentally” autoimmune reactions occur. Multiple sclerosis has been associated with infections with Epstein-Barr virus, HVV4, chlamydia and Staphylococcus aureus.
In 90% of all MS sufferers, antibodies against measles, rubella and varicella-zoster viruses are detected intrathecally. However, it is not known here whether molecular mimicry occurs or whether it is a correlation. This is currently being discussed in science.
A major injury to the central nervous system, such as an accident or a stroke injury, could mark the beginning of multiple sclerosis. If there is a major lesion and inflammation in an affected area, this inflammatory response could spread and eventually cause autoimmune disease.
This would make sense because a lesion injures parts of the central nervous system and immune cells break down dead cells. To do this, they may use autoantibodies to “collect” the dead cells.
Due to an imbalance in the immune system (too few regulatory T cells45, too many TH17 cells64,69) this temporary autoimmune reaction persists and MS develops.
The hygiene hypothesis states that children today grow up under sterile conditions. In early childhood development, it is important that children come into contact with microorganisms in nature and that the immune system can adapt to them.
If these microorganisms, i.e. time in nature, are missing, the children’s immune system cannot develop properly and this increases the risk of autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin D deficiency
There is hardly an autoimmune disease that is so closely related to vitamin D deficiency as with multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for developing a functional intestine and an active immune system. 85% of all Americans suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, which also favors autoimmune diseases.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Those affected by multiple sclerosis suffer above-average from bowel problems and especially from Leaky Gut Syndrome. Here small lesions and micro bleeding in the intestine develop.
Small holes can cause pathogens, toxins, undigested proteins and allergens to enter the body and cause systemic inflammation. Leaky Gut Syndrome is also closely related to autoimmune diseases.
Mitochondria are the power plants in every single cell that produce energy. Scientists currently discuss whether mitochondrial dysfunction precedes multiple sclerosis or is only an accompanying factor.
In any case, the mitochondria in the nerve cells and myelin sheaths of people with MS no longer function 100%, which results in oxidative stress and inflammation.
Likewise, the nerve cells can no longer work without restriction, ignite and this promotes an autoimmune reaction.
There are different immune cells, all have their own tasks. They must be in a natural balance to control all of the tasks and processes in the body. If this natural balance is lost, chronic diseases and especially autoimmune diseases can develop.
In multiple sclerosis, there is a lack of regulatory T cells that suppress autoimmune diseases. At the same time, there are too many TH17 cells that are known to actively attack the blood-brain barrier and myelin sheaths and to penetrate the underlying tissue.
According to a study, smoking increases the likelihood of developing MS by over 50%. Smoking promotes inflammation in the body, nutrient deficiencies and irritates the immune system.
Being overweight also increases the risk of autoimmune diseases and MS. Obesity is also a chronic inflammation in the body, which misdirects immune cells.
Not immune cells, but also the bacteria in the intestine have to correspond to a reasonably natural balance.
They are important for regulating the immune system and influencing metabolism. They also produce many healthy substances that the body needs.
An unhealthy intestinal flora as a result of an unhealthy diet or chronic infections tends to have the opposite effect: inflammation, nutrient deficiency and an irritated immune system. Autoimmune diseases such as MS can result.
70% of people with MS are women, so sex hormones seem to play an important role. Exact relationships have not yet been confirmed and are currently being discussed in science.
Sex hormone imbalance seems to play an important role. Both estrogen deficiency and estrogen dominance are currently being scrutinized.
The human metabolism is subject to a 24-hour rhythm, to which the immune system adapts – the “inner clock”. If this gets out of order, immune processes also get out of control, which greatly favors autoimmune diseases and especially multiple sclerosis.
Artificial light in the evening (TV, cell phone, laptop, LED) and shift work ensure that the internal clock gets out of step. Too much caffeine too.
The connection between a salt-rich diet and multiple sclerosis is brand new. Because too much salt seems to increase the formation of TH17 cells and suppress the formation of regulatory T cells.
It is not known whether it is the salt itself or unhealthy food, like fast food, that goes with a diet that is too high in salt.
Some medications are known to irritate and inflame the immune system, the intestine, or the nervous system, and to cause nutritional deficiencies.
The following drugs and types of medication have been associated with exacerbation of MS symptoms: statins, beta-blockers, diuretics, metformin, antibiotics, antacids, contraceptives such as the pill and pain reliever (NSAID).
If you suffer from MS and are taking one or more of these drugs, please talk to your doctor. Discuss possible alternatives and a negative impact on MS.
The factors mentioned can cause or worsen multiple sclerosis. They balance the body and immune system in various ways and promote autoimmune diseases.
Several of these factors are always responsible for the cause of MS. This varies depending on individual diet, genetics and the environment.
For most of these causes and triggers, you will find posts with us that you can use to find out more and take action if problems arise.
The good thing is, and studies also suggest that if you identify these factors and eliminate them from your life, you can have a very positive impact on Multiple Sclerosis.
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