The OMS Program
The OMS Program
1. Firstly, start taking daily supplements of vitamin D and flaxseed oil (you can find more details here)
2. Start doing as much exercise as you can and build up to 30 mins a day, three to five days per week
3. If you have little experience meditating, start with 10 minutes and build up to 30 mins daily. You can use guided meditations from our website or elsewhere such as meditation apps.
There are lots of resources available to help you:
OMS wants to reach everyone in the world with MS. We have OMS Circles in over 20 countries to provide support in following the program.
MS is relatively common in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and southern Australia. MS is generally rare in equatorial regions and on the Asian continent. This is why there is more of a focus on these areas, many of which are English speaking.
Our website is currently only in English, but leaflets are available to download in English, Spanish, German, Dutch and French. The Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis book is available in English, Bulgarian and German.
The free book scheme in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. We are working to make these resources more widely accessible.
The Overcoming MS program including diet, supplements, sunlight, meditation and stress management is very anti-inflammatory. Therefore, it is helpful not only for MS but also for most immune-based conditions. These include SLE (lupus), Sjogren's syndrome, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The program is also anti-degenerative, and you would expect to get some benefit in degenerative conditions like Parkinson's disease, dementia, macular degeneration and so on.
It is never too late to follow the Overcoming MS program. We know that the earlier you start the better, in terms of reducing relapses and preventing disability progression, but it has been shown to be beneficial at all stages of the condition.
It would be inappropriate and irresponsible to say that Overcoming MS will allow everyone to live free of their MS symptoms, but no medical treatment should promise that at the present moment either.
The data from Prof. Jelinek’s work show very clear benefits in terms of physical, mental and overall quality of life in the years after starting the Overcoming MS program. On average, there is a 20% improvement in measures of physical quality of life, regardless of type of MS, or level of disability after 5 years on the program, with the greatest overall improvement in all measures seen in the first twelve months. The study deliberately includes all forms of MS, aiming to be more representative of the MS community as a whole.
Prof. Swank’s original study also gives great reason for hope. It found that the best long-term outcomes where achieved in those who started his diet early in the disease, but there was a very clear change in the “trajectory” of the disease course in those who started on his protocol at a later stage too.
Looking at the graph below, the black line at the top represents those that started the Swank diet at an early stage. It clearly shows a very stable disease course over time, with almost no disability progression in the 34 years of his study.
The second black line below shows those in the study that did not follow the diet, and their disease course was generally of disability accumulation over time; the common natural history of MS.
The hashed lines are extremely interesting. The “flat” hashed line represents those pwMS who started to follow the Swank diet when they had already developed some level of disability. It clearly demonstrates exactly the same trend as for those that started at an early stage – almost no further disease progression over time.
We know from very many OMSers around the world that not only have they stabilised their disease, but that they are actually seeing noticeable improvements in their abilities and feeling really well.
There is very real hope that the Overcoming MS program can help at any stage of MS, and whilst we cannot promise you a particular outcome, what have you got to lose by trying it?!
For inflammatory arthritis there is actually a good deal of evidence that all the measures of the OMS Program are likely to be helpful. Most of the research has been in rheumatoid arthritis where there is good evidence for the effects of a vegan diet, omega-3 and intermittent fasting (which has an anti-inflammatory effect). Studies in other forms have inflammatory arthritis have also shown benefit.
Links to a few interesting papers below:
There is a lot of evidence that suggests the OMS approach would be helpful in Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Like MS, PD is a degenerative neurological condition with features of inflammation.
There is much interest in the benefit of a plant-based diet, a 2016 paper states:
"A whole food, plant-based diet contains many compounds that fight oxidative stress and inflammation. Evidence from animal models show that various phytochemicals may alter the mechanisms contributing to PD pathophysiology. Epidemiological studies show a relationship between reduced risk of PD and diet. We hypothesize that phytochemicals in plant-based foods may contribute to neuroprotection in PD and that adopting a plant-based diet may provide symptomatic improvement and alter disease progression in PD."
Read full report Again intake of 'bad' fats and dairy is strongly implicated in PD while a diet rich in 'good fats' is protective. There is also evidence that Mindfulness interventions, supplementing with omega-3, and vitamin D is helpful. We have linked to some interesting papers below:
Evidence on meditation/mindfulness
- The effects of a mindfulness-based lifestyle program for adults with Parkinson's disease
- Mindfulness based intervention in Parkinson's disease leads to structural brain changes on MRI
Evidence for exercise
- Comparative Effect of Power Training and High-Speed Yoga on Motor Function in Older Patients With Parkinson Disease
- The best medicine? The influence of physical activity and inactivity on Parkinson's disease
- Physical activity and exercise attenuate neuroinflammation in neurological diseases
Evidence on fats
- This report concludes polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFAs) intake was consistently associated with lower PD risk, and dietary fats modified the association of PD risk with pesticide exposure. If confirmed, these findings suggest that a diet high in PUFAs and low in saturated fats might reduce risk of PD.
- This review states: n-3 PUFAs are inexpensive, readily transferable to the clinical setting and their use could represent a neuroprotective strategy or a disease-modifying option to delay the appearance of symptoms. It could also be beneficial as a symptomatology treatment or serve as an add-on therapy to current pharmacological approaches.
- Omega 3 Supplementation has been shown to be beneficial for depression in PD. View report here
Evidence on dairy
- Dairy foods intake and risk of Parkinson's disease
- Dietary and lifestyle variables in relation to incidence of Parkinson's disease in Greece
Evidence on vitamin D
In this video, Dr Jonathan White explains the differences between the latest version of the OMS book, Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis: The Evidence-based 7-Step Recovery Program and the previous version, Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis: An Evidence-based Guide to Recovery.
Although positive changes can be seen at microscopic level within six weeks, in practice the benefits may not be fully felt until after three to five years. This is not a constantly-improving process as there will be minor setbacks, but in the long-term, symptoms and quality of life should improve with time.