Muscular Dystrophy: Types, Symptoms & Treatment
Muscular dystrophy is a terrible muscle disease that can severely affect quality of life, and while there are no cures for the condition, it is important to understand the symptoms and types, as well as possible treatments and management remedies, such as selenium, vitamin E, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, vitamin D, exercise, physical therapy and fish oil, among others.
You have likely heard of muscular dystrophy in the past, or perhaps you or a loved one even struggle with this condition. If so, you know that muscular dystrophy is actually a wider term for a group of muscle diseases that can ravage your musculature and development. The primary cause of this is gene mutation in those genes that control muscle protein production, thereby resulting in progressively less and less muscle power over time. This group of diseases can be characterized into a number of different types, with the most common being Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy (roughly 50% of cases), along with Becker, myotonic, congenital and limb-girdle. Muscular dystrophy, as a genetic disorder, is typically inherited from an autosomal recessive gene from one parent (98% of cases), but it can also occur due to a gene mutation early in life. The symptoms of muscular dystrophy begin to show themselves around the age of four, and possibly later in those rare cases that don’t inherit the mutation from their parents.
The symptoms of muscular dystrophy can vary between different types, both in severity and manifestation, but there are some general qualities. Without muscle support to help the body operate, many different organ systems are affected, from skeletal strength and balance to mobility, respiratory ability and heart health. At a young age, between 2 and 3, early symptoms include frequent, unexplained falling, difficulty running, trouble standing up, large calf muscles, learning disabilities, waddling when you walk, scoliosis, muscle spasms, limited range of motion/movement, and a progressive inability to walk unaided. If you see any of these signs, you should take your child to a doctor for DNA testing and a muscle biopsy, which can show if the key muscle protein commonly affected by this mutation, dystrophin, is missing. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for any type of muscular dystrophy, but ongoing human trials into gene replacement therapy are promising. However, without a cure, many people have turned to natural treatments, behaviors and lifestyle changes that can slow or ever reverse the progression of muscular dystrophy.
Treatments and Remedies for Muscular Dystrophy
Vitamin E: There have been a significant number of studies that have shown a vitamin E deficiency to be a major correlating factor in muscular dystrophy, and those same studies have shown that an increased supplementation of this vitamin could actually improve grip strength and muscle development in many patients. Vitamin E can be taken in supplement form or it can be acquired through various foods, such as almonds, avocados and sunflower seeds.
Selenium: When used in conjunction with vitamin E, particularly in high quantities, selenium has proven to be extremely effective in slowing down or even reversing the advance of muscular dystrophy is test subjects. Selenium is a trace mineral that many people are deficient in, and it is seen that many muscular dystrophy patients lack this essential nutrient. Some of the best places to find selenium, aside from direct supplementation, include Brazil nuts, turkey, chicken, sardines and tuna.
Exercise: Since this particular group of muscle diseases causes a gradual weakening of the muscle structure, a lack of balance and eventual bone degradation and an inability to walk, one great way to stave off the symptoms is through exercise. By naturally building muscle whenever possible, patients can slow the progression of the disease. Regular stretching and activity, particularly when you are young and more able to move freely, can be a good way to stimulate the body and slow the onset of serious symptoms.
No Smoking: Any additional toxins put into the body can weaken the immune system further and cause the condition of muscular dystrophy to advance at a more rapid pace. While some types of muscular dystrophy can advance slowly, allowing for a long life, adult habits like alcohol consumption and smoking should be strictly avoided, as this can compromise your respiratory system even sooner that the condition would naturally do so.
Vitamin D: Osteoporosis symptoms and a lack of muscle mass around bones can make it very difficult to stand, walk or hold yourself up if you suffer from long-term muscular dystrophy. This can result in scoliosis and many other skeletal disorders, so strengthening your bones as much as possible is highly recommended. Vitamin D is an essential component of bone mineral density, and supplementation of vitamin D has shown positive results in patients of these muscle diseases.
Baking Soda: Although this is a simple remedy, it can be highly effective, due to its alkaline nature. This substance can help protect muscles and also remove the aches, pains and inflammation so often associated with this condition. While this isn’t a cure, by any means, it is a popular and pain-relieving remedy.
Fish Oil: It seems as though fish oil, with its rich content of omega-3 fatty acids, has made it onto almost every health list, and the remedies for muscular dystrophy is no exception. Omega-3 fatty acids work to reduce inflammation and protect the integrity of the heart, which is essential, given that the heart is technically the largest muscular organ in the body. You want your cardiovascular system to be protected, which can slow the onset of dystrophic symptoms in the heart
Physical Therapy: While stretching and regular exercise is important in the early stages of muscular dystrophy, professional counsel in terms of movement and mobility is highly recommended. Physical therapists are specifically trained and know how to help with muscle lengthening and preventative practices to slow the progression of symptoms, since there is no cure for this disease.
Reishi Mushrooms: Although the testing is still relatively new, there has been very positive results from the intra-muscular use of reishi mushroom spores. The studies have found that muscle strength increased measurably, as did posture and the ability to raise the subjects’ heads. The complex organic compounds and antioxidants found in reishi mushrooms are believed to counter or even reverse, in some cases, the breakdown of muscle protein-promoting genes.
Final Word of Warning: These natural remedies and lifestyle changes are merely treatments and remedies to minimize the symptoms of slow their progression. There is no known cure for any muscular dystrophy varieties, and formal medical attention should be sought if you or your child begins to demonstrate any symptoms of this disease. All natural or herbal remedies should be cleared with your doctor to avoid negative interactions.