WHAT IS THE MYELIN SHEATH?
The myelin sheath is the insulating material, made up of myelin, around nerve cells in the central nervous system. It is most commonly determined to be damaged due to an autoimmune response in persons diagnosed with MS. In healthy people, the immune system recognizes that myelin is a component of the body itself, and so immune cells do not produce antibodies that attack myelin. Although the inflammation caused by the autoimmune response and resulting damage to the myelin has long been considered the root cause of MS; the exact cause is not known and there is speculation that several contributing environmental and genetic factors are involved. . When myelin is damaged, “demyelination”, the transmission of electrical signals along axons is impaired. If the sheath is severely damaged, the underlying nerve fiber can die.
WHAT HURTS YOUR MYELIN SHEATH?
Oxidative stress and damage are considered to be factors in the inflammatory and neurodegenerative processes. In adults, the myelin sheath can also be destroyed by stroke, inflammation, immune disorders, metabolic disorders, and nutritional deficiencies (such as a lack of vitamin B12), poisons and drugs (such as the antibiotic ethambutol). Myelin sheaths do not develop normally in children with certain rare hereditary diseases, such as Tay-Sachs disease, Niemann-Pick disease, Gaucher disease, and Hurler syndrome. These children may have permanent, often extensive, neurologic problems
Although all factors that interfere with the normal production and protection of myelin have not been determined, exposure to harmful pollutants, including neurotoxins is suspected. A neurotoxin is a toxin that acts specifically on nerve cells – neurons – usually by interacting or interfering with membrane proteins and ion channels, as well as necessary communication. Common examples of neurotoxins include lead, ethanol (drinking alcholhol), manganese, glutamate, nitric oxide, botulinum toxin (e.g. Botox), tetanus toxin and tetrodoxin. Foods, personal care, household, industrial, agricultural (pesticides) and lawn and garden products contain a vast array of neurotoxins.
“One in six children now has a developmental disability, most of which are linked to the nervous system. A team from the Harvard School of Public Health has identified 201 known neurotoxic chemicals in common use which have not been regulated to protect the developing brains of children. The chemicals include lead, methylmercury, solvents including toluene and benzene, and dozens of pesticides. Over half of the 201 chemicals are classified as high volume chemicals, meaning that over one million pounds a year a produced annually.” http://www.environmentalhealth.ca/fall08brain.html
One major effect of toxic inhalants (what you breathe in) is the destruction of the myelin sheath that surrounds neurons resulting in problems in the normal transmission of impulses through neurons and cell death. Inhalants not only damage the nervous system, but other organs such as the lungs, liver, heart and kidney can be injured permanently. How many toxic inhalants do you and your family inhale during an average week?
|Variety of Inhalants|
|Hair Spray||Fluorinated hydrocarbons; propane; isobutane|
|Nitrous Oxide||Nitrous Oxide|
|Cleaning Fluids||Chlorinated hydrocarbons; naphtha|
|Typewriter Correction Fluid||Trichloroethane; trichloroethylene|
|Nail Polish Remover||Acetone; aliphatic acetates; benzene|
|Gasoline||Hydrocarbons; tetraethyl lead|
|Glue; rubber cement||Toluene; acetone, benzene; xylene; ethanol; chloroform|
|Paint/Paint Thinner||Toluene; methylene chloride; benzene, ethanol|
|Room Deodorizers||Amyl, butyl and isobutyl nitrite|
|Marker pens||Toluene; xylene|
WHAT AREAS OF THE BRAIN ARE AFFECTED?
Long term effects of inhalants and other toxins on the nervous system vary:
- memory loss
- concentration problems
- visual disturbances; blindness
- motor problems
- peripheral nerve damage, tingling in hands and feet
Various areas of the brain and nervous system (including the myelin sheath) can be negatively affected by toxins:
- Cerebral cortex: damage can cause changes in personality, memory loss, hallucinations and learning problems.
- Cerebellum: damage can cause problems in balance and movement.
- Hippocampus: damage may result in the memory problems.
- Visual System: damage to the peripheral nerves may cause visual disturbances.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT AND REPAIR YOUR MYELIN SHEATH?
It is possible that the body can repair damaged myelin. This process is called “remyelination.” Most traditional treatments focus on suppressing the ‘skewed’ autoimmune response. It is possible to repair nervous system damage caused by neurotoxins – the body has an amazing ability to heal.
From a holistic approach there are a number of strategies to consider:
- Protect Your Blood Brain Barrier: A healthy, intact blood brain barrier (BBB) is one critical example of protection which prevents toxins and other adverse compounds from reaching the brain. You can read more about protecting and repairing your BBB in my post NATURAL CURES: Protecting and Repairing Your Blood Brain Barrier to Restore Mental Health – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=639
- Address Your Body Pollution: BODY POLLUTION: Who Is Responsible? – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=455
- Follow Lessons Learned by Others: The Path to Healthy Longevity and a Healthy Environment – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=2049
- Consider Adding a Holistic Protocol to in Your Pursuit of ‘Symptom Free Status: SYMPTOM RELIEF: How To Get To 100% Symptom Free Naturally – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=1155.
- Follow my holistic protocol (how to guide) for improved health found in my book THE WHOLE PERSON WELL-BEING EQUATION – http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/what_people_are_saying.htm . It includes my ‘stop, start and change’ recommendations for a healthier you.
Get started on your quest ‘a healthier you’ today!
Check with your regular healthcare provider before using the information in my book, blog and website. There may be contraindications.
Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca
Copyright © 2013, Elisabeth Hines
All rights reserved. No portion of this post may be copied and distributed in any manner without the written permission of the author or publisher and associates.