The following is part one by guest author Dr. Nicole Apelian. She was among the first women selected for the History Channel’s hit TV show “Alone”. She has B.S and M.S. degrees in Biology from McGill University in Canada and the University of Oregon. She earned her Doctorate through Prescott College.
My Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
When I first received my multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis back in my early thirties, I was overwhelmed and scared. It was terrifying to watch the impacts of the disease rapidly deteriorate my health. I lost my eyesight in one eye, my balance was unstable, and I was experiencing crushing fatigue where it was difficult to even get out of bed in the morning.
But that was only the beginning.
As the disease progressed, I was unable to work at the job that I loved, needed a cane to walk during the day and a wheelchair in the evening, and my once razor-sharp memory was replaced with constant brain fog.
I followed my neurologist’s orders and began a regime of drugs in the hope it would slow the progression of the disease and manage symptoms. It didn’t. In fact, my health continued to worsen at an alarming rate.
I soon realized I couldn’t continue along this downward spiral — something needed to change. I wanted to regain my health and live life again. So I decided to take charge of my health. And a major aspect of my healing involved improving gut health.
The Link Between Gut Health and Autoimmunity
Throughout my journey of healing, one point has been made abundantly clear: If your gut and microbiome are impaired, it is impossible to have a healthy mind and body.
This is because intestinal inflammation and leaky gut are significant factors in autoimmunity, depression, and brain-fog.1
Time and again, a compromised gut has been shown to be associated with autoimmunity, neurologic disorders, and inflammation.2 Research has found that those with MS have an altered microbiome, where the bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms in the gut are different from that of a healthy person.3
Several studies have established that there is a direct correlation between multiple sclerosis and gut dysbiosis. Interestingly, those with MS have lower levels of the bacteria Prevotella histicola, which may explain why a compromised microbiome creates chronic inflammation and a tendency towards MS flares.4
Once I discovered the importance of gut health, I set out to heal any issues with microbiome dysbiosis and leaky gut. Of course, diet is key. I make sure to eat foods that are rich in prebiotics, probiotics, insoluble fiber, and resistant starch to support a robust microbiome and healthy gut. Through my research I discovered that leafy greens are particularly important as they are not only packed with vital nutrients and fiber, but also encourage the formation of butyrate, which is a compound that helps to reduce inflammation and improve gut immunity.
Healing leaky gut is another important consideration. This increasingly common health disorder develops through poor diet, parasites, diverticulitis, or exposure to environmental toxins. When harmful substances or microbes are able to pass through the gaps of a leaky gut into the bloodstream, it creates a cascade of inflammation throughout the body, which can trigger an autoimmune flare and aggravate other health issues. I think we all can agree that addressing a leaky gut should be a top priority if you are concerned about optimal health.
My favorite diet for managing multiple sclerosis and boosting gut health is gluten-free, anti-inflammatory, and many times ketogenic. To address inflammation I also practice intermittent fasting. Gratitude, spending time in nature, and yoga help me to manage stress. Importantly, I take these specific dual-extracted reishi, lion’s mane, turkey tail, and cordyceps mushrooms everyday to heal leaky gut, calm inflammation, soothe the stress response, boost energy, and improve cognitive function. And I use these botanicals to support overall gut health.
I hope this information has been a helpful introduction to the relationship between medicinal mushrooms, gut health, and multiple sclerosis. If you know of others who are struggling with autoimmunity or compromised gut health, please share this post.
All my best to you on your healing journey!
If you would like to learn more about natural herbs and remedies, Dr. Nicole Apelian’s book, The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies: The Healing Power of Plant Medicine, is available here.
For access to Nicole’s Apothecary at a discounted rate, please use the coupon WELCOME10 at checkout for 10% off your first order. To learn how Nicole manages her MS on a daily basis, please read her detailed blog on this subject. Thank you!
This is part one of a series by guest author Dr.Nicole Apelian. The second part of this series features mushrooms and herbs which are keys to maintaining a healthy gut.
- Reishi is a vasodilator, so it is contraindicated for those with a bleeding disorder or for use before surgery. **Masé, G. (2012). Medicinal mushrooms: A brief history and overview of principal species. Retrieved on 08/27/2016 from http://www.vtherbcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Medicinal-Mushrooms.pdf
Please note that the contents of this article are for informational purposes only, do not constitute medical advice, and are not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. In the event of a medical emergency, call a doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.
Nicole Apelian, Ph.D.
Dr. Nicole Apelian is an herbalist, a mother, a survival skills instructor, an anthropologist, and a biologist. She has B.S and M.S. degrees in Biology from McGill University in Canada and the University of Oregon. She earned her Doctorate through Prescott
College while working as an anthropologist and ethnobotanist in Botswana.
She has spent years living in nature with the San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, one of the last indigenous peoples who still live as hunter-gatherers. Developing strong relationships within the tribe helped Nicole learn many of the remedies and skills she practices and teaches today and she continues her work with the San through
her non-profit, “The Origins Project“.
An unexpected diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 2000 led Nicole to apply her research skills towards her own personal wellness. She focused on a healthy living strategy, including deep nature connection and gratitude practices. Through changes in her lifestyle, recognizing profound mind-body linkages, and making and using her own remedies, Nicole went from bedridden to being fully alive and from surviving to thriving.
She believes that there are many more people suffering who need to find their own remedy. This became her life’s mission and the main reason for writing her book The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies: The Healing Power of Plant Medicine. In it she poured over 28 years of plant knowledge and her first-hand experiences of making her own poultices, tinctures, decoctions, salves, infused oils, and other herbal remedies.
In 2015 she was among the first women ever selected for the History Channel’s hit TV show “Alone”. Despite having MS, she went on to survive solo for 57 days straight in a remote area of Vancouver Island with little more than her hunting knife and the wild foods and medicines she found there.
For more about Dr. Nicole Apelian please visit https://nicoleapelian.com/. https://www.instagram.com/nicole_apelian/ https://www.facebook.com/nicoleapeliansurvival/
- Philip, A., & White, N. D. (2022). Gluten, Inflammation, and Neurodegeneration. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 16(1), 32–35. https://doi.org/10.1177/15598276211049345
- Esmaeil Amini, M., Shomali, N., Bakhshi, A., Rezaei, S., Hemmatzadeh, M., Hosseinzadeh, R., Eslami, S., Babaie, F., Aslani, S., Torkamandi, S., & Mohammadi, H. (2020). Gut microbiome and multiple sclerosis: New insights and perspective. International immunopharmacology, 88, 107024. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intimp.2020.107024
- Jangi, S., Gandhi, R., Cox, L. et al. Alterations of the human gut microbiome in multiple sclerosis. Nat Commun 7, 12015 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms12015
- Shahi, S. K., Freedman, S. N., Murra, A. C., Zarei, K., Sompallae, R., Gibson-Corley, K. N., Karandikar, N. J., Murray, J. A., & Mangalam, A. K. (2019). Prevotella histicola, A Human Gut Commensal, Is as Potent as COPAXONE® in an Animal Model of Multiple Sclerosis. Frontiers in immunology, 10, 462. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.00462
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