Muscular dystrophy is a class of genetic autoimmune disorders marked by progressive weakness, wasting, and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement. There is no known cure for muscular dystrophy, and patients often turn to alternative medicine to help treat the disease.
Natural Remedies for Muscular Dystrophy
To date, few studies have tested the use of alternative medicine in treatment of muscular dystrophy. However, there’s some evidence that certain types of alternative medicine may offer some benefits to muscular dystrophy patients, although most of the studies are older. Here’s a look at several key study findings:
1) Dietary Supplements
Several small studies show that dietary supplements may benefit muscular dystrophy patients. For instance, a 2006 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that supplementation with amino acids helped inhibit whole-body protein degradation (a hallmark of Duchenne muscular dystrophy). The study involved 26 boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, each of whom was treated with amino acid supplements for 10 days.
Preliminary research also indicates that creatine (an amino acid that helps provide muscle cells with energy) may help treat muscular dystrophy as well. However, in a 2005 study of 50 boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (published in Annals of Neurology), scientists found that six months of treatment with creatine supplements failed to improve muscle strength in participants.
Qigong may improve well-being in people with muscular dystrophy, according to a 2004 study published in Disability and Rehabilitation. The study involved 28 patients with muscular dystrophy, some of whom reported improvements in mental, physical, and psychosocial well-being (in addition to a reduction in stress levels) after practicing qigong.
3) Green Tea
Green tea may be of some benefit to people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, according to preliminary research published in the American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology in 2006. In tests on mice, researchers found that epigallocatechin gallate (an antioxidant found in green tea) may help protect against muscle wasting caused by muscular dystrophy.
These nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
- Try to eliminate potential food allergens, including dairy, wheat (gluten), corn, soy, preservatives, and food additives. Your health care provider may want to test for food sensitivities.
- Eat antioxidant foods, including fruits (such as blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes) and vegetables (such as kale, spinach, and bell pepper).
- Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and sugar.
- Eat fewer red meats and more lean meats, cold water fish, tofu (soy, if no allergy), or beans for protein.
- Use healthy oils in foods, such as olive oil or coconut oil.
- Reduce or eliminate trans fatty acids, found in such commercially baked goods as cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine.
- Avoid coffee and other stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Drink 6 – 8 glasses of filtered water daily.
- Exercise lightly, if possible, 5 days a week.
Herbs are one way to strengthen and tone the body’s systems. You may use herbs as glycerites (glycerine extracts, alcohol free) or tinctures (alcohol extracts) for best results.
- Green tea – standardized extract, 6-12 drops 3x per day, for antioxidant and immune effects.
- Rhodiola – standardized extract, 6-12 drops 3 x per day, for antioxidant, antistress, and immune activity.
- Mushroom x3 – combination of red reishi, shitake, & maitake mushrooms with apple cider vinegar, for general muscular health. #1 herb to use with other herbs.
- Cramp bark – for muscle cramps (very effective).
- Nerves Formula-herbal combination to help relax nerves.
- Super green foods-combination of herbs that give you the nutritional value of eating 6-8 servings of fruits and veggies.
- MSM Powder– to help joints and muscle pain and stiffness.