Amantadine, papaverine, meclizine, hydroxyzine, interferon, tadalafil, ciprofloxacin, desmopressin, venlafaxine, methenamine, vardenafil, nitrofurantoin, prazosin, oxybutynin, paroxetine, alprostadil, fluoxetine, trospium chloride, carbamazepine, diazepam, sildenafil, bupropion and sertraline: these are just some of over seventy-five drugs many of us have been prescribed for our Multiple Sclerosis.
My drug of choice – dopamine – and I regularly self-medicate.
I’m not a doctor or a nurse, nor do I have a medical background. I am however a wee bit impatient and am tired of waiting for the cure. So for the time being I have taken my MS into my own hands.
About 7 years ago I could see the writing on the wall. It was clear: if I didn’t start moving I would stop moving – so I took up exercise. Within a few weeks my fatigue lessened and the tingles in my spine disappeared. Within a few more weeks I had energy and was ready to take on more exercise.
Eventually I stopped dropping stuff and walked into things far less often. I felt a cognitive clarity I hadn’t felt in years. I was no longer depressed and was able step outside and join the world.
I’ve thought a lot about why my MS has taken a turn for the better. My doctor calls it remission. But since I would rather lead than follow my disease, and I like to believe there IS something I have done to help myself. I like to think it’s in part the dope – the dopamine that is released every time I exercise.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with emotions, movement, and the brain’s pleasure and reward system.
It has been suggested that many of us with MS are dopamine deficient (People with multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, cocaine or alcohol abuse often have severe dopamine deficiencies1). Interestingly, about half of MS patients find partial relief of fatigue with amantadine, a drug that promotes release of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, within the brain2.
I read that in the mid-1980s high doses of L-DOPA (dopamine’s natural precursor, laevodihydroxyphenylalanine) were used to treat multiple sclerosis in a clinical trial in Linköping, Sweden3. 300 MS patients were treated with L-DOPA and tetracyclic antidepressants. After a few months, three quarters of the patients experienced substantial sensory, motor, and autonomic symptom improvements, some seeing the return of functions that had been lost for years.
I can’t say for certain that dopamine released through exercise is what is making me better. At the same time medical science can’t say that it isn’t. What we both can likely agree on is that exercise it isn’t making me worse.
So if you can, get exercising to get doped!
1. Birch Creek Medical Network. A network of innovative medical providers. http://bcmednet.com/brainmind/
2. New Model to Explain the Role of Dopamine in Immune Regulation Described
3. Berne-Fromell, K., Fromell, H., Lundkvist, S., and Lundkvist, P. (1987). Is multiple sclerosis the equivalent of Parkinson’s disease for noradrenaline? Medical Hypotheses, 23, 409-415.