Hope for MS Sufferers: Resistance Training May Slow Brain Atrophy

Doctors usually advise people with multiple sclerosis (MS) not to exercise for fear that it could exacerbate the illness, but a recent study out of Denmark suggests that resistance training may slow down the progression of MS by slowing brain atrophy and, in some cases, enhancing brain volume. [1] [2]

More recent studies have shown that physical training can relieve many of the symptoms of MS, including 2 of the most telltale symptoms: fatigue and hindered mobility. [2]

Ulrik Dalgas, the study’s lead investigator and an associate professor in the department of public health at Aarhus University, said:

“Over the past six years, we have been pursuing the idea that physical training has effects on more than just the symptoms, and this study provides the first indications that physical exercise may protect the nervous system against the disease.

For the past 15 years, we have known that physical exercise does not harm people with multiple sclerosis, but instead often has a positive impact on, for example, their ability to walk, their levels of fatigue, their muscle strength and their aerobic capacity, which has otherwise often deteriorated. But the fact that physical training also seems to have a protective effect on the brain in people with multiple sclerosis is new and important knowledge.”

For the study, Dalgas and a team of researchers followed 35 people with MS for 6 months. Half of the group engaged in resistance training, while the other half served as a control group, continuing to live their lives as they always had.

Participants underwent brain scans both before and at the conclusion of the study. Through these tests, the researchers observed that the volunteers who engaged in resistance training – including leg presses, knee extensions, and hamstring curls – had less brain shrinkage, compared with those in the control group. [3]

Some patients’ scans even showed an increase in the volume of certain brain regions.

Dalgas explained:

“Among persons with multiple sclerosis, the brain shrinks markedly faster than normal. Drugs can counter this development, but we saw a tendency that training further minimizes brain shrinkage in patients already receiving medication. In addition, we saw that several smaller brain areas actually started to grow in response to training.” [2]

A larger, more in-depth study is necessary to investigate how resistance training positively affects the brain in people with multiple sclerosis. At the moment, the connection has researchers puzzled. One possibility is that the controlled movements increase blood flow to the brain, or they trigger an increase in brain activity. [3]

Moreover, it’s not clear whether or not such training would help everyone with MS. That’s why Dalgas and his team isn’t ready to recommend such exercise for patients just yet. But he said that regardless of the outcome of future studies, patients shouldn’t expect to be able to stop taking their medication, at least not entirely. [2]

Dalgas said:

“Phasing out drugs in favor of training is not realistic. On the other hand, the study indicates that systematic physical training can be a far more important supplement during treatment than has so far been assumed. This aspect needs to be thoroughly explored.”

That’s not to say there aren’t umpteen natural treatments for MS, including dietary changes such as the addition of omega-3 fatty acids and herbs, as well as medical marijuana, particularly THC, the plant’s psychoactive compound.


[1] Medical News Today

[2] Science Daily

[3] Healthline

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Gov. Scott’s Signature Makes Medical Marijuana Officially Legal in Florida

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law on June 24, 2017 officially making medical marijuana legal for patients with certain debilitating diseases. [1]

Ben Pollara, the executive director of Florida for Care, said:

“This is a good day for sick and suffering Floridians. The signing of this law provides a framework for the future of our state’s medical marijuana system and while it is far from perfect, it will begin providing access to patients.”

The legislation formalizes an amendment to the state constitution approved by 71% voters last fall that legalized medical marijuana, and establishes regulations for the new industry. [2]

Scott himself voted against the amendment and did not issue a statement upon signing the bill. He had earlier indicated that he would sign the legislation.

Under the bill, medical marijuana will be available with a doctor’s prescription to Florida residents with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, or any other debilitating conditions.

In order to prescribe medical marijuana, doctors must first go through 2-hour training to become certified by the state. The state will set up a registry of eligible patients, which doctors must check before prescribing cannabis.

Seventeen growers have been licensed in Florida, and each license holder may have up to 25 dispensaries. The state will make another license available with each 100,000 new eligible patients added to the registry.

The bill also clears the way for 10 more medical marijuana treatment centers by October 3, 2017, which is the deadline for the rule to be enacted. There are already 7 treatment centers operating.

Medical marijuana products can be sold as edibles, vapes, sprays, and tinctures. Smoking marijuana is prohibited under the law. The law allows patients to receive an order of three 70-day supplies before having to be re-examined by a doctor.

The ban on smoking riles John Morgan, the Orlando trial lawyer who financed the constitutional amendment’s campaign, and he has promised to sue. Tampa strip club magnate Joe Rednerk has also promised to sue, but over patients not being allowed to grow their own plants. [3]

Morgan said June 23:

“Great Scott, it’s a no-brainer. Gov. Scott wants to run for U.S. Senate. If he didn’t sign this bill, he couldn’t run for dog catcher. It’s not perfect. I’m going to sue for the smoking but I know there are sick people who will see relief starting in July.”


[1] Associated Press

[2] Orlando Sentinel

[3] Miami Herald

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