disease modifying drugs? use ’em!

20Oct13

While as this point, there is still no cure for MS, there are several disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) available. Most of them slow down the rate at which our immune system destroys our myelin (the protective layer around our nerves), as well as delay the onset of another exacerbation/flare-up. (Hence, most DMDs are targeted at the most common form of MS, which involves exacerbations, then return of the body mostly to baseline. Those with the rarer MS that continues to progress have been out of luck for quite some time. I hope, for their sake, that research gives them a hand soon.)

Here’s a list of current DMDs for relapsing-remitting MS. Some are stronger and have worse side effects (they all come with side effects), but if you show success with one of the milder first-line ones, that’s the place to stay. That’s where I’ve been, with Rebif.

There’s been some controversy in the MS community over whether these drugs do any good, or whether we should go strictly for alternative therapies–diet, exercise, meditation, acupunture, etc. Some people claim to have “reversed” their disease after ditching their prescription and eating very strict diets (no fat, no animal products–which, in the end, if you get that restrictive, you’re likely limiting key nutrients as well). I’m guessing these individuals didn’t have much damage to begin with, and yes, their symptoms may have reversed with healthier living. (I’m curious to look at their MRIs.)

I am also someone who firmly believes in complementary medicine. We are only hurting ourselves if we don’t take care of our bodies by nourishing them with proper food and exercise.

That said… my additional practices are complementary to my DMD. I take a DMD which has been proven to work. Yeah, it’s not fun injecting myself, but further disability wouldn’t be very fun, either. I’m not willing to perform that sort of experiment–that of taking away a preventive drug–when the consequences may be so grave.

And that’s what I think when I read about so many others who want to follow the trend of stopping their DMD against doctor’s orders. I have been relapse-free since starting Rebif almost a year ago–who knows if it would be the case without it–but I don’t want to take that chance.

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