ECTRIMS (European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis) is an annual international conference that is comprised of basic and clinical research on Multiple Sclerosis. It took place this year from October 10th-12th in Berlin, Germany. In February, ACTRIMS (American Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis) will take place in Texas. Almost 1600 abstracts were submitted, over 1000 posters were on view and hundreds of presentations given. Obviously I can’t look at everything, that would take forever! And I think my brain would explode. But, I’ve picked a few to share with you. If you want to check it out for yourself, head here. Just create a free account, and you’re all set.
File this under, #duh. The study: “Vitamin D, smoking, EBV and long-term cognitive performance among CIS patients: 11-year follow-up of BENEFIT” showed that supplementing with higher doses of Vitamin D, or having high levels of vitamin D in CIS patients predicted better long term cognitive function. Shockingly, smoking predicted worse cognitive function. Cognitive function was positively correlated with vitamin D status as well. The higher the vitamin D levels, the higher the chance the patient had of scoring positively on the cognitive tests after 11 years. Similar results were found with smoking as well. The heavier the smoker, the worse the patient scored on the cognitive testing. Epstein Barr Virus was not found to be correlated with cognition.
An interesting side note about this wording used in this study. This study was looking at several “modifiable factors”, and if they have any impact on symptoms. Modifiable factors as you might guess, are things we have control over. They were listed out as environmental factors, like smoking, vitamin d status, sun exposure, obesity, viral/bacterial infections and geographical location. NOT listed was our food intake. One could argue this was listed under obesity, but I disagree. Our daily food intake is one of the BIGGEST “modifiable factors” that we have control over, and one that has the BIGGEST implications on our disease progression. Unfortunate it is not listed.
Several trials were discussed about the efficacy of Sativex in relieving symptoms in patients. Sativex is an oral CBD spray with a 1:1 CBD THC ratio. In these trials, researchers were looking directly at the symptoms of spasticity and bladder urgency. In one of the trials, the largest of Sativex to date, 1650 patients were involved and 80% had progressive MS. After one month of use, most saw a 20% improvement in their symptoms and some even saw a 30% improvement in their symptoms. Although less patients were evaluated after 6 months, they continued to see improvements.
Similar conclusions were found when looking at bladder urgency. Although this study was significantly smaller (14 subjects) 50% of them had improvements in bladder urgency after one month of treatment, and 75% had improvements after two months of treatment.
Unfortunately, Sativex is only available in two dozen countries, mostly in Europe, Canada, Israel and Australia.
This is also kind of a #duh. However, I did want to share it with you as a reminder. In the study “The impact of psychological resilience on cognitive and physical measures of disability in multiple sclerosis” resilience and its effect on disability were measured. Resilience was defined as “a dynamic process of positive adaptation to notable adversity” which the study states results in “psychophysical stability and higher quality of life”. I tend to wholeheartedly agree. As does this study. The results state that higher resilience were positively correlated with higher functioning in cognitive and motor tests, however not memory tests.
Obviously the study states they don’t know why and that further testing is needed. But I’ll take a stab at it. The more resilient you are, the more positive you are, and the more willing you are to keep trying when life kinda sucks. To me, that equals a highly resilient individual, and one that won’t stop when life hands you lemons. Which also means, someone who won’t give up on themselves.
The converse was also seen. Depression or Bipolar disorder was linked to faster disease progression in the study “The effect of depression and bipolar disorder on multiple sclerosis disability worsening”. In fact, it was more highly correlated with disease progression than resilience was correlated with positive improvements. Your mind is a powerful thing.
What do you think about the studies I shared? Agree, disagree? Did you catch any others from ECTRIMS that you also thought were cool? Let me know in the comments below!