Improved Outcomes in Multiple Sclerosis Using a Lifestyle Medicine Approach: A Case Study and Patient Perspective
Introduction: Although numerous pharmaceutical agents have been developed to treat multiple sclerosis (MS)
and have been shown to improve outcomes significantly, the use of lifestyle therapies has not been well understood or implemented.
Purpose: The current case study describes the course of a 48-year-old patient with relapsing-remitting MS who chose to use lifestyle measures to manage her condition.
Interventions and outcomes: The patient tried several medications without marked improvement. After 4 years, she decided she no longer wanted to risk medication side effects while still having regular relapses. She adopted a plant-based diet, started exercising as tolerated, and worked on improving her mental health through mindfulness and spiritual practices. During the 12 years after these changes, the patient experienced 5 exacerbations in total. In 2021, magnetic resonance imaging scans were compared with pre-lifestyle change scans; there was some increase in the size and number of T2 bright lesions but no significant lesion enhancement. The patient currently enjoys a quality of life equal to someone without MS.
Conclusions: Although pharmaceuticals are the mainstay of MS therapy, a full lifestyle approach in addition to, or instead of, traditional therapies warrant increased attention, especially in patients who are unable to tolerate medication side effects and are committed to making lifestyle changes.