We often post new research on the OMS site as it comes along. Our preference of course is to post research papers that provide hope and positivity, although we certainly don’t shy away from telling it like it is if there are negative issues or things that people with MS (PwMS) should avoid. But this time, the news is so positive and so affirming, we really need to blow the trumpets!
Where else in all the MS literature will you find an intervention that is shown to result in improvements in mental and physical health and overall quality of life that continue to grow over at least five years? Surely this would be a new wonder drug that would be heading every TV station’s evening news? Or some new surgical procedure, like stem cell transplantation, where the great outcomes outweighed the serious risk of the procedure? Isn’t it remarkable that our new research, published in the international journal Neurological Sciences (download the paper above right), shows that, actually, such an outcome comes from a one-week live-in retreat where PwMS learn how to live well? No drug, no surgery, no risk. Just mainstream good health from an optimal diet free of saturated fat, optimal vitamin D levels, exercise and meditation.
This research outlines our follow up of the longitudinal cohort of PwMS attending OMS residential retreats at the Gawler Foundation since 2002. We started these retreats keen to observe the outcomes of people adopting the OMS approach, by asking them to complete a standard, well-validated 54-item questionnaire, the MSQOL-54. We then asked them to complete the questionnaire again at the one and five year marks after the retreat. The only intervention provided was the five day retreat. Nothing else. No other follow up or ongoing care, although each group had group support, as they kept in touch by regular email after the retreat. What is recommended on this website is basically what we recommended at the retreat, although there was much more detail provided so that PwMS could judge for themselves the science behind the recommendations and whether they were prepared to commit to these changes for life.
As reported in the paper, the results were remarkable! Not only did this group of PwMS stop deteriorating, they rapidly began to get better! And the improvement continued to the five year mark, the last time point for which we had data. The study is ongoing of course, and it will be very interesting to see how this group is going at the ten year mark and beyond. But for now we know that the group had highly significant (p<0.001) improvements at one year in mental health of about 12%, physical health 19%, and quality of life 11%. At five years the benefit continued to accrue, with highly significant (p<0.001) improvements in mental health of about 23%, physical health 18%, and quality of life 20%. The graph below (Figure 1 in the paper) shows this well.
This result is quite staggering! We do not know of any other study of any other intervention in MS that shows such improvements; nor has any other study using the MSQOL-54 in a comparable cohort shown any improvement at all, let alone such a large benefit. For those who have had doubts about embarking on the OMS program, or those who have had trouble sticking with it, this research should provide the necessary impetus to seriously get involved with this lifestyle. There is much to celebrate for the nearly 300 people overcoming MS (PoMS) in this study, and in general for people committed to this lifestyle approach. If someone said to you at diagnosis that you would be roughly 20% better overall in five years time, most people would be overjoyed. We know now, after the publication of this research, that this is what you can expect on average. Some people may not do as well; others will do correspondingly better. But on average, you can expect very significant improvement. Now that is something to blow the trumpets about!