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S1E2 The science behind Overcoming MS with Dr Jonathan White

Listen to S1E2: The science behind Overcoming MS with Dr Jonathan White

Welcome to episode 2 of the Living Well with MS podcast. In this episode, our host Geoff Allix has a lively discussion with Dr. Jonathan White, a practicing medical doctor in Coleraine, on the North Coast of Northern Ireland, who also works with Overcoming MS (OMS) as a medical consultant and event facilitator. You can learn more about Dr. White’s professional background here. In speaking with Dr. White, we dig into some of the research that supports and helps advance the Overcoming MS (OMS) 7-Step Recovery Program.



Episode transcript

Geoff Allix  00:03 

Welcome back to the Overcoming MS Living Well with Multiple Sclerosis podcast. Geoff Allix here, your host for this journey to explore the OMS seven step recovery program. Last time, we had an overview of the OMS approach from none other than Professor George Jellinek, and it was great to hear from the founder of OMS himself. In this episode, we’ll be looking at some of the science behind OMS, where the research is now and where it’s likely to go in the future. Joining me for this episode is Dr. Jonathan White. Jonathan assists OMS as the medical adviser and event facilitator and works a doctor in Northern Ireland as an obstetrician and gynecologist with interest in early pregnancy and recurrent miscarriage. Jonathan was diagnosed with MS in October 2015. And he’s been following the OMS recovery program ever since. Jonathan, who lives in Belfast is married to Jenny and as a father to 18 month old Angus. His interests include a great outdoors reading, cycling and running, including fundraising for OMS by running 10Ks and a half marathon. Now, as someone who’s run a marathon before but this was 10 years ago, prior to my diagnosis with MS, I realized quite how difficult that is. And running a half marathon after diagnosis with MS is something that truly does inspire me as what’s possible with the OMS approach. And so with that, I’d like to introduce Dr. Jonathan White. And hi, Jonathan, how are you?  


Dr. Jonathan White  01:28 

Hi Geoff. I’m very well, thank you. Thanks for inviting me along. 


Geoff Allix  01:32 

So to start off with can we go over a bit about your background, both your sort of work background, but also OMS and MS and lifestyle and so on? 


Dr. Jonathan White  01:42 

Yeah, absolutely. So I graduated as a doctor 10 years ago next week actually studied at University of Glasgow. I’m originally from Northern Ireland, and my sort of professional working life has always been back home around the hospitals of Northern Ireland. I was in the training program as an obstetrician and gynecologist and my membership from the society or the from the college and had finished five of my seven years of training before and three years ago this week, actually, I had my first symptoms of MS. So I was sitting in antenatal clinic, busy afternoon, lots of lots of patients. And I realized that my left eye was just quite sore and felt like it was bruised or someone had hit me or just as sort of a dull, aching sensation that was a bit sore to move. But my vision was okay. And I sort of ignored that and said, well, I must be tired or I’m dying or something. Fine, I’ll put that on the backburner. And over the course of about a week, it just it just didn’t get any better. And my vision was very, very slightly affected. But nothing major. And I went along to the opticians and they said oh your contact lense needs a bit more strengthening we’ll change that for you. And I, I sort of went away quite happy thinking, well, that’s that. But if I’m honest, I think in the back of my mind, I thought that’s not quite right, you know. You shouldn’t have a sore eye and all these sorts of things. And then two weeks later, I was at a friend’s wedding, sitting down on the shores in a very beautiful place. And all of a sudden, I felt like I had about 10 mobile phones buzzing in my pockets, you know from about, my belly button down to my feet, this constant vibrating and it was much worse when I moved my head. And I knew really straightaway that that was obviously not a normal thing. And I sort of pretended it wasn’t there for about 24 hours before I went down to my local emergency department said I think I need an MRI scan. I’m pretty sure I’ve got MS. So I was very fortunate, probably because I was a doctor and I’ve worked in the hospital. But I was able to get an MRI scan on my brain and spinal cord very quickly. That did show inflammatory lesions. And I then went to see a neurologist and was told, well, you’ve sort of got a 50/50 that may develop into MS. And we’ll scan you’re going to six weeks time and and if we find any more spots that that would entitle you to treatment. So I went away and had another scan came into her office six weeks later. And she said yes, there’s there’s two more lesions there. Rather than saying I’m sorry to tell you, Johnny that you have MS. I was told you have two more lesions in the same way that she be discussing another patient with me as professional so that was a fairly harrowing experience I have to say. 


Geoff Allix  04:20 

Yeah, it’s quite difficult being a doctor, you’re treated differently to whereas I was it was very different for me because obviously when you’re told it’s life changing, so they sort of cushion it somewhat that you were told 


Dr. Jonathan White  04:34 

There was no cushioning or you know, giving a warning shot which were taught at medical school when you’re going to break bad news. I was just told there are two more lesions on this scan. To which I then obviously said so I have MS. And she went yeah. So yeah, that was that’s something I would hope to to never do professionally but it certainly gave me the message. So again pretty quickly, I have to say At that stage, I was given my treatment options which included, you know, the, the oral medications or infusions and all the various information about that was given to me. And at that stage I said, well, is there anything I can do to prevent this getting worse or to make it better? And she said, no, I said, there’s no diet, exercise, no, there’s no evidence, any of that is of any benefit, go and live your life as normal. And hopefully, it won’t be that bad. This is I’m paraphrasing, but that’s generally what she said. And to me, that doesn’t make any sense at all. You know, this is a disease that 70 years ago, was barely even heard of, and in 70 years, your genes can’t change. You know, genetics can’t change evolution isn’t that quick. So what has happened in 70 years to make two and a half million people around the world have MS? And to me, it’s quite simple, the answer has got to be something we’re doing to ourselves, it’s got to be our lifestyle, or it’s got to be what we eat, or how we’re behaving. And I just thought it was completely it was wrong, you know, it’s all very well to treat this disease with some very fancy medication. And I’m very grateful that that is there. But at the same time, you could argue that that’s almost like a elastoplast or a bandaid for the problem, you know, why not solve, what’s actually fundamentally causing this. And that’s what led me to try and look elsewhere. And I was very, very fortunate that I can’t people have asked me before, and I can’t remember if it was a Google search, or Amazon, but I found Professor Jelinek, George’s book very, very quickly. And when I read that he was a doctor himself, and he’d been dying as long time ago. And treatment was terrible. And he’d done all this research, put it all together, I thought, I have got to read this book. And when it arrived, I was intimidated. Even as a doctor, I was intimidated by the size of this thing. And then like the references and the studies that recruited, but I read it from cover to cover over sort of the space of about a week. And it just made absolute sense. You know, as a, as a patient, as a doctor, somebody with MS. I thought this is, this is the right track, this has got to be the right way of doing things. 


Geoff Allix  07:07 

I found that really reassuring actually, all the references because I’ve seen other things sort of slightly different the way I came to OMS in that there were problems with my diagnosis, or crazy things I was I had the consultation to discuss my lumbar puncture, ended up being the day before the lumbar puncture, because it got delayed. So everything was all in the wrong order. And it ultimately took about four months to be done, fully diagnose. And so in that period, then obviously Google is out there. 


Dr. Jonathan White  07:40 

Yes, Dr. Google. 


Geoff Allix  07:42 

And, and you’ve found a lot of different things. You used to find things like paleo diet and stuff. And it was things with no science, really. But you know, there’s nothing backing some of these approaches up. People interested in taking quite a lot of money off you as well. And so it was finding the people actually, I will send you the book for free. Yeah. And then everything in it is backed up with references and evidence. And so it was quite refreshing. 


Dr. Jonathan White  08:14 

I think it’s I think it’s worth saying that as, as a doctor, I can, I can understand why some neurologists in the medical community are reluctant to bite lifestyle intervention, I can understand that. Because, as you quite rightly say, there are lots of people who claim that all sorts of things are magical cures for all sorts of diseases. And the evidence quite often is not there at all to back it up. But you know, in simple terms, the latest version of George’s book has over 1200 references, you know, from peer reviewed, international medical journals of very high standing. And that’s not the same, but unfortunately, I think superstition and tradition has really left the medical community, very skeptical about anything that, you know, they haven’t done themselves and fancy medications and treatments. And I find that personally a bit frustrating still, but I’d rather be down a coal mine with a little pickaxe, you know, Chip chip chipping away, rather than hammering at the doors of these people, because I don’t think that that’s necessarily going to change hearts and minds. I think we just have to continue to get better and better evidence more and more research and even bigger cohorts of people who are recovering who are living well here, feeling better and better. And they can’t ignore us forever. They and they won’t, because the evidence is is turning and it’s it is it is becoming even more in our favor. But I think what might happen is in five or 10 years time, the medical community will proclaim this evidence and say it was theirs. And that’s okay. You know, Gary and I have often talked about it and said, well, we’ll solve plastic in the oceans instead of MS. If you if someone else wants this credit, that’s okay. It doesn’t really matter. Who takes the credit, but I think it’s very worthwhile noting that George was about 20 years ahead of the curve. With so many aspects of this. 


Geoff Allix  10:00 

I think it is changing the official health service responses is a bit like the when they say the MS things like turning around an  oil tanker or something. It’s it’s a slow process. My neurologist is actually very positive. And he straightaway said you need to be on a Mediterranean diet.  


Dr. Jonathan White  10:19 

That’s brilliant. Actually, not many say that.  


Geoff Allix  10:21 

No, and  keep exercise and stress. And it wasn’t it was a lot of the OMS things. And then it turns out when I subsequently discovered OMS, and then said, and I brought it back in and said, what do you think? And and he said, so he could refer to it as the Jelinek approach. And he said, he said, Oh, no, I’m aware of the Jelinek approach. And he said, Yeah, he said, It’s not the official guidelines. So he can’t as someone in the health service can’t actually tell you anything that’s not official guidelines. So he hadn’t mentioned it, but basically, he was sort of steering me in that direction. And then said, he said, Well, yeah, it’s not official guidelines. But he said, ultimately, if you go down that approach, there’s nothing bad going to happen. Because worst case scenario, you’re going to reduce your risk of heart disease, of strokes of diabetes of cancers, and ultimately, all these Western illnesses. He said, worst case scenario is you’re going to miss out on eating cheese and things.  


Dr. Jonathan White  11:27 

And yeah, it will make you healthier.  


Geoff Allix  11:29 

There’s not there’s not a downside. Really.  


Dr. Jonathan White  11:32 

No, there’s no, there’s no negative side effects of it except that as you say, you don’t get the Western diseases. Which, personally I’m okay. But, you know, we sort of said that various things, you know, even if this were all placebo with regards to MS. Well, there’s huge amount of evidence now, behind the whole food plant based way of eating with regards to cardiovascular disease. I mean, absolutely huge bodies of evidence coming out, now all the time. And, you know, big, big things like the Canadian, recent Canadian nutritional guidelines are now advising to move towards, you know, and this is a huge country, and this is national level guidance that we need to be moving towards all the plant based eating. You know, it’s the tide is definitely turning, which is refreshing to see. But yeah, hopefully, hopefully soon, your neurologist my neurologist will be able to say this, this is what you should be doing what everybody with MS should be doing. 


Geoff Allix  12:31 

Yeah. Can we talk a bit about the history of OMS?  


Dr. Jonathan White  12:35 

Of course. 


Geoff Allix  12:35 

Where did it come? With the previous episode, we spoke to George Jelinek. But we didn’t really go into where all the research came from and where it’s going. 


Dr. Jonathan White  12:47 

Yeah, so well, as I’m sure George told you, he was diagnosed in 1999. And he sort of put together the research, I think very quickly, as he very humbly says, it was no problem for him, although it would be a huge problem for me. He, he had access, and he knew how to do research. And he basically trawled through the medical literature and put together the first edition of the book, but there wasn’t as such, you know, there was no Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis as a charity at that stage. Although he did start running in Melbourne and Victoria, the Gawler, five day residential retreat, which we have since replicated in the United Kingdom, and actually in Europe as well, and it’s still ongoing in Australia. And that was based around the initial, you know, the seven steps and the, I suppose, his his initial research yet saying this, this is how we should be managing MS. Where the research comes from primarily that suppose if anybody knows anything about OMS, that or the Jelinek program, as people call it, it’s the first thing they say is, oh, that’s that funny diet. And yes, that is the cornerstone to the program. It really, initially all came from a fellow called Professor Roy Swank, who was a neurologist in North America, who I think really, at the stage when he was practicing in the ’50s realized that well, there was no treatment for MS whatsoever. But when he himself was digging around, he found some really, really interesting literature and evidence coming out of Europe. And it went back to sort of the ’30s in Switzerland where he noticed that those in the north of Switzerland so north of Switzerland, borders on the Germany and they had a diet very high in in butter and animal fats. They had quite high rates of MS. But those in the west where it bordered on to France, and they had a sort of more mixed I guess they relied heavily on dairy and fats, but they had a more Mediterranean slant to their diet as well. They had lower rates of MS and In the south of Switzerland, the borders Italy. And they were they mainly a Mediterranean diet, they have much, much lower rates of MS. And he thought, well, there might be something into that I’m gonna look a bit further. So he and he did. And he finds that in Norway in the ’40s, there was a study that showed on a certain peninsula that those with MS who lived inland had higher relapse rates and worse disability than those that lived on the coast. The difference was that those are the coasts were eating primarily fish as their main source of protein. Fish, obviously being high in vitamin D, and also it omega 3 fatty acids. So that led him then to think perhaps I could do a study myself. And really, his study was absolutely phenomenal. He took 150 patients and their families, because in those days, doctors were quite paternalistic. And if the doctor told you to do something, you would hold it. So 150 people with MS and all their families. And he followed up for 34 years, which is just unbelievable, you know, a drug trial is good if it last 2-3-4 or five years. So this was 34 years of follow up. And basically what he said was, he wanted them to eat a diet very low in saturated fat, so under 16 grams per day. So it’s not quite what George then proposed in the Jelinek diet, but the the fat basis was very, very similar. And basically, what happened was approximately half the group. So 75 followed a very low fat diet, and 75 did not. He follow them for the course of the 34 years. What he found was that at the end of the study, which he published in 1990, in The Lancet, which is one of the most respected journals in the world, that those following the diet closely had significantly reduced disability accumulation and disease progression. I mean, 34 years later, 95% of them in the low fat group, we’re still well, and we’re still ambulant. He found a year into the diet, there was an 80% reduction in relapses. And five years later, there’s a 95% reduction, I mean, absolutely huge, huge, really massive effect on MS. But unfortunately, the medical community has largely ignored what what professors Swank found, and that is very, very frustrating. And if I could just explain why I think that happened. There’s a phenomenon called Evidence based medicine, but that only really came around in the ’90s so Swank was a victim of his own success, because his study went on for so long, he was being judged by standards from another time, you know, when he set up that study, there was no such thing as a randomized control trial, there was no such thing as blinding and,  all of the various technical things that go with it. So the criticism that’s leveled at him is that they’re there potentially, because there was no blinding. And because the people, the doctors taking the results knew which group of the patients were in. So they knew if they were in the low fat, or the high fat group, that if you knew which group the patients are in, you can you can record the results in a very biased way to try and skew the results that you get, if that makes sense. But and that, yes, that is that is a valid point as a technical point, that is that is correct. But the outcomes they were measuring those doctors were whether or not the patients were walking, wheelchair bound, bed bound or dead. So it’s rather difficult to fake whether or not somebody is dead, bed bound or walking, in my view. So I think that that, whilst is a valid point it is perhaps a bit arbitrary, given how significant the results are. And, you know, it’s been, it’s been quoted as recently as 2014. People were saying the results of its 34 year study published in The Lancet, remain the most effective treatment of multiple sclerosis ever reported. But yet, it’s not, you know, it’s not mainstream treatment. I think from a heartening and positive point of view for those in the OMS community, though, there was a very, very large study that was published in January this year in Neurology, which is the very, very large, well respected American Journal of Neurology, and they had taken 7000 patients with MS and they divided them into five groups based on diet quality, so not exactly following, you know, a Swank or OMS style diet specifically but following a diet you know, low in processed carbohydrates, low and in dairy and sugars and, processed meats and saturated fats, those sorts of things. And the people in the best diet group had a significantly less disability and depression had less cognitive impairment, they had less fatigue, they had less pain. And those results rolls statistically significant, which is the mark that that studies are always aiming for. And as a result of that, there’s an editorial written actually by a neurologist who’s based in Belfast saying that then anybody newly diagnosed with MS. You know, we need to get give them the healthy lifestyle message as the fundamental first thing we tell them. And that’s a huge sea change, even for the medical community to start to acknowledge this is yes, it’s a small step. But it’s a very big step in the right direction, I certainly believe. 


Geoff Allix  20:16 

So to play devil’s advocate if research is all accurate and sort of going back to the Swank research from many years ago, we’re now on to the third book by George Jelinek sort of, he had one book that he had the first OMS book, and it was second edition of that. So why is the sort of new books coming out? Updates to them?  


Dr. Jonathan White  20:41 

Well, so actually, when you look at, from the very first book to the latest edition, the actual recommendations of the seven step, there’s only one thing that has changed. And that is that instead of we used to say that you should probably use fish oil in the first year or two years of the program, and then switch to flaxseed oil as your as your primary supplemental source of Omega three. And the only thing that’s different now is that we say right from the start, you should just use flaxseed oil, 20 to 40 mils a day. Everything else has remained the same. The diet is whole food plant based plus or minus seafood, if you desire. And that is absolutely unchanged, as is the vitamin D, meditation medication if you need it. And that I think that is where the biggest update, if you like in the book is is that the medication is evolving so so rapidly. And when the books were first, when George wrote the first book, there really only were two options, which are the interferons or Copaxone. Neither of which were hugely effective and came with particularly the interferons came with a fairly significant side effect profile. And I think George would admit himself that he was wasn’t hugely swayed by the medication argument. It wasn’t particularly pro medication. So the focus really wasn’t so much on that. And I think the medical community distrusted OMS because of that, you know, it was felt that they were, it was either medication, or this crazy lifestyle idea. But with the latest edition of the book, there’s a much greater emphasis on the research by medication, the new treatments that are coming out the areas of research that are ongoing, and I think sort of a more balanced approach towards that. So I think it’s more it’s not that anything has been shown to be wrong. But it’s it’s a question of keeping up to date, and showing the research that is ongoing. But just to just to explain slightly about the flaxseed oil itself. The that came from George’s own work and the University of Melbourne at the Neuroepidemiology unit or the NEU, where they they have this study called the HOLISM study 2517 people in 57 countries around the world with MS that it’s the only independent database that is not collected by a drug company with a vested interest in the medication. It’s an independent database of, of health outcomes, and lifestyle interventions. And they find when they were analyzing the data that there was an approximately 60% relapse rate reduction with flaxseed oil supplementation, but not that there wasn’t a significant decrease if it was using fish oil. So that’s why that changed. And that’s completely right, that as a as a doctor, that’s that’s very reassuring and heartening that we’re finding out evidence changes, evidence, evidence is always moving forward. And as a result the program adjusted, and that’s that, I think, to all OMSers, should be a very positive step that we are always analyzing, and George and his team are always moving forward with the research as the evidence changes so does the program, but the program very hardly, hardly has not had to change, 


Geoff Allix  23:44 

So it’s just minor. 


Dr. Jonathan White  23:46 

Yes, it’s tweaking its tweaking. And it’s information, you know, that the book is a phenomenal piece of work on a textbook more than anything else. So yes, it’s only right that George, you know, striving for perfection and completeness, wants to show these are the new treatments that are coming, these are the new areas of research and potentially forward to the future. But no, the program itself is rock solid. And and the evidence that’s come in now from sources outside of OMS, is increasingly backing it up, which is very reassuring to see. 


Geoff Allix  24:16 

And what sort of latest updates to it. Is there any changes that have happened in the last year or two since the the latest edition of the book? 


Dr. Jonathan White  24:27 

So at the minute, there’s none, I will I hope they’re not because I’m not teaching. 


Geoff Allix  24:33 

But I saw so there was something on the OMS website about vitamin K two.  


Dr. Jonathan White  24:37 

That’s a really good, that’s a good point. So you’ll see that every so often on the OMS website, when research comes out, one of us will write a blog sort of putting it together and explaining it. So vitamin K2 is a really interesting point. I would say that at the minute. We haven’t added it into the program because the evidence for its benefit isn’t quite there but basically, that vitimin K2 is another one of the fat soluble vitamins like vitamin D, or vitamin D, as we call it here. And it’s in Australia, it was called vitamin. But that vitimin K2 has been shown to be lower in the blood of people with MS. And it has a role with works alongside vitamin D and controlls calcium levels in the bloodstream. And at the minute it no one’s done the research that says taking vitamin K two has a positive effect on MS. All we’ve seen at the minute is that there’s a link between the two. So it’s a sort of, at this stage, it’s a watch this space 


Geoff Allix  25:37 

So we don’t know if it’s a cause or effect. 


Dr. Jonathan White  25:39 

Absolutely, it’s yes, it’s the chicken and the egg argument at the minute. And until the research shows that there’s benefit from taking K2 we don’t advise it. And that really goes for lots of supplements, you know, the only supplements that we advocate using are obviously flaxseed oil, vitamin D. And if you don’t eat fish, and you’re purely vegan in your eating, then vitamin B 12, because vitamin B 12 comes from fish and animal sources. So those are the only supplements because all of those things have been shown to be of benefit. Whereas there are lots of other things that that are quoted, you know, magnesium and selenium and zinc and all sorts of of minerals.  


Geoff Allix  26:20 

There’s absolutely loads. I mean, it does come in the forum sometimes. Biotin is another one.  


Dr. Jonathan White  26:27 

Yeah. So and that’s that specifically is quite an interesting one, because there was research, there was a replications for a trial into a very, very high dose biotin. And like 7000 times the recommended daily intake of biotin. And which is one of the B vitamins. And actually, after the license was granted and they started the trial, they actually the company itself put a halt to it, they said the results so far are not bearing right on where we’re pulling back so that that trial has sort of ground to a halt at the minute. So yes, there are lots of supplements that, you know, people mention. And so this is the latest thing, and, and some of them may have some benefit in those small studies, but it’s to do with the quality of the evidence, you know, if you type in MS and supplements into Google, you’ll get and it would just be overwhelming and you physically can’t. If you take 40 supplements and you see benefit from. How do you know which of those supplements is doing any good? You know, it’s very, it’s sort of a it’s not a not an area that it’s common. It’s it makes things overly complicated until, you know, the supplements specifically are shown to be a specific benefit in MS. That I think is quite right, that we sort of hold judgment. So yeah, well, let’s wait and see. I think yeah, I think that’s just good. That is good medical practice. That’s exactly what your neurologist is doing. Unfortunately, they’re saying it about us. But that is what we should be doing. We should be cautious. And we should stand back and wait till there is really good quality evidence that says this is beneficial. And then absolutely, I believe the program should and would change 


Geoff Allix  28:06 

There if there was another OMSer, who actually used the phrase said to me when I was very early in, in the protocol, that local meeting and he said that he used the phrase chasing rainbows. He said some people are chasing rainbows. Basically, just thinking there is one the one tablet or supplement they could be taking. And that would be the cure.  


Dr. Jonathan White  28:34 

Unfortunately, at the minute there is not, you know, there is there is there’s no, we should always be chasing a rainbow. You should always be aiming for a cure. But no, unfortunately, I haven’t seen anything that says that was one supplement that is that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 


Geoff Allix  28:49 

Do you think that there’s likely to be changes to the OMS protocol, sort of largely, it would just be the sort of finessing? 


Dr. Jonathan White  28:56 

There will definitely be fine tuning. But well, I think there’s a couple of things that I’m not speaking, you know, specifically for George, but there are two aspects that I think probably are, may come into play here one would be with regards to fasting and intermittent fasting. That’s a really fascinating area of research. And it’s been shown, it was really in mice models, but it’s now starting to be tested in humans that this intermittent fasting, so you may have heard of this sort of the five two diet that became Yeah, and it’s this sort of modified version of intermittent fasting where, you know, there are lots of different protocols, but essentially involves involves really severe calorie restriction, so down to maybe 400 – 500 calories a day, for set periods of time. And you know, sometimes it’s for a few days within a cycle of every six weeks or something and I don’t have the specifics, but the evidence so far is very impressive with regards to the effect it has on the immune system. The new chemistry we’re always talking about The balance between Pro and anti inflammatory and in MS, there’s a very pro inflammatory balance to that seesaw, that what we call a Th1 response tends to be an overdrive. Certainly the research so far with regards to intermittent fasting shows that it can have a massive effect on those immune chemicals that that light up the inflammatory cascade. So you can turn that side off, and instead you get them as sort of the rest and repair or what we call the Th2 immune response instead. And that’s, that’s absolutely fascinating. And that is a huge area of research. And that’s definitely going to be something to watch over the next few years. The other thing that I think is really interesting is to do with the gut microbiome. To the probiotic therapies, there’s again, some evidence coming out study in Iran recently that showed whilst you’re taking the probiotic, so when you stop the benefit also stops, but why you’re taking it, there is a sort of a switch off of the pro inflammatory and attorney on of the anti inflammatory immune cascade again. And that’s it, there’s, there’s a huge amount of research going on into sort of gut health and the connection between the gut and the brain. And, you know, we know that there are more bacteria in your gut than there are cells in your body make trillions and trillions of bacteria. And those with inflammatory conditions, including MS tend to have an imbalance or an overgrowth of the pro inflammatory bacteria, rather than the sort of anti inflammatory. That’s got to be to do with your lifestyle and your diet. And you can show that by changing the way you eat, or by supplementing with the good bacteria, that that then in turn alters the immune chemistry. So those two things, I think, fasting, sort of probiotics in general and gut health are two really very interesting areas of MS research. And that’s something certainly that OMS are definitely watching. And there’s so many queries come in about that all the time. But again, there’s the sort of the word of caution is that, you know, we’re in the early stages of of that research on it’s, you know, it’s, it’s not 100% proven. 


Geoff Allix  32:11 

So if you’re just thinking, Okay, what else could I do? Something? Like, I mean, I take a probiotic tablets, yeah. And could because I, in my mind, I think well, okay, what’s the pros and cons of think, well, these things aren’t going to do me any harm. And they might do me some good. Is that the sort of approach that you’d use? I mean, I know what you’re saying with backbiting. Yeah, I don’t want to be taking 7000 times the amount of biotin, that might be do me some harm. 


Dr. Jonathan White  32:39 

No, no, absolutely. So yes, you know, taking a probiotic has lots of benefits, and lots of people take them. So no, it’s not going to do any harm. But again, you have to sort of say, is this categorically going to do me good with my OMS hat on, you know, if we’re going to add things into the seven step program, you have to be fairly cautious about what you open the gates to. So I have absolutely no problem, you know, I take a probiotic, especially if you have a course of antibiotics will always take probiotics, because your good bacteria are gonna be wiped out as the antibiotic treats your infections. So I have no problem taking a probiotic. But, you know, we can’t specifically include it in the program till the evidence says it’s there. And that’s, I think that’s good medical science, and that, that’s the way it should be done. But yeah, absolutely. If you want to take a probiotic it’s certainly not a bad thing. 


Geoff Allix  33:31 

Okay. With that, we’ve been talking for about half an hour. So I’d like to thank you very much for giving us some understanding of OMS, and how things are changing. And I know that you’re doing one of the retreats as well in in the autumn or fall, depending where you are. Yes. And so yeah, very much looking forward to hearing more from you then. And yeah, just like to say thank you very much. That’s Jonathan White. 


Dr. Jonathan White  34:01 

Thank you very much, Geoff. Thanks for having me. 


Geoff Allix  34:05 

Thanks for joining us and I hope you got some more useful information about OMS. Don’t forget, there’s a wealth of information at Once again, that’s with recipes, exercise tips, the ability to connect with other OMS is on the forum and in your local area via our OMS circles program. The website is a great place to learn about the latest research going on in the MS world generally and related to OMS. Specifically, I’d encourage you to register on the site and stay informed but latest news updates. Diet is not the only aspect of OMS is certainly a major component. So in our next episode, we’ll be discussing the OMS diet. We’ll have some information about the guidelines for the OMS diet, cooking tips, eating out we’re following on the OMS protocol and encourage you to subscribe to this podcast keep up to date with the episodes and please feel free to share the podcast with others who might find it useful. Thanks again for listening, and for joining me on this journey to Overcoming MS and living well with multiple sclerosis. I’m Geoff Allix I’ll catch up with you again next episode.


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