Running a marathon a day can keep multiple sclerosis (MS) at bay, says marathon woman Annette Fredskov, who was diagnosed with the chronic disease three years ago. Twenty-six miles a day and 20 pairs of running shoes later, the Danish woman has outrun MS by running a marathon daily; on her last day, she outdid herself and ran two — 52 miles in total. Fredskov expressed relief that she has no problems or symptoms of MS, and was without the need of medication, "Marathons are the best things that have happened to my body and soul," she said to The Copenhagen Post. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS affects more than 2.1 million people worldwide, with an estimated 200 new cases diagnosed weekly in the United States. The unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system is commonly diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 20 and 50, but can be found in individuals as young as two and as old as 75.

Risk Factors Of MS

While most people with MS have a normal life expectancy, the disease can cause severe disability, and in rare cases, result in fatalities. This disease causes the body's immune system to consume myelin — the protective sheath that covers the nerves — and causes an interference in communication between the brain, spinal cord, and various areas of the body, says Mayo Clinic. The cause of MS remains unknown, and why it affects the immune system the way it does is still being studied by the scientific community. Twice as many women are at higher risk of developing the disease as men, especially those that live in colder climates and are of Northern European descent. Fredskov, who describes herself on her blog as a "a normal woman, mother and wife," began to do her five-hour daily marathons to inspire other MS sufferers, like herself, to pursue their dreams despite the chronic condition. "Two years ago, I thought the same thing most people think: "Running a marathon isn't healthy. A marathon is damaging to the body and it takes a long time to recover," she said about her extraordinary challenge.

MS Treament

There has yet to be a cure for MS sufferers, but there are treatments that can aid an initial attack of MS, along with medications and therapies that can improve the conditions. These treatments are designed to modulate or suppress inflammatory reactions of the disease on the immune system. However, the effectiveness of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved therapies for MS tends to decline after 18 to 24 months of use, says the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

MS Symptoms

The course of MS remains unpredictable and can impact sufferers in a multitude of ways because of the location and extremity of the attack. Attacks or episodes of the disease can last for days, weeks, or even months; a patient of MS can experience reduced symptoms or remission throughout a series of episodes. As the nerves of the brain or spine cord may be withered away by the disease, symptoms of MS can occur in various parts of the body. According to Mayo Clinic, MS symptoms may include:

  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs
  • Partial or complete loss of central vision, usually in one eye, often with pain during eye movement (optic neuritis)
  • Double vision or blurring of vision
  • Tingling or pain in parts of your body
  • Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain head movements
  • Tremor, lack of coordination, or unsteady gait
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Fredskov ran for her health every day of the year and is now cured of MS. She credits marathons for her clean bill of health. "I believe that running marathons has played a large role in the fact that I am healthy today," she said on her blog.

But if you can't run a marathon like Danish woman Fredskov, there are natural ways to cope with MS in your everyday life.

Natural Ways To Cope With MS

Well-Balanced Diet

Nutrition and diet are key elements in helping you cope with MS. A balanced, low-fat, high-fiber diet is recommended for MS sufferers to promote healthy bowel function and well-maintained shape. The National MS Society suggests a diet that is supplemented by omega-3 and omega-6 because the fatty acids have anti-inflammatory and protective effects on MS. Patients with the chronic disease can lower their matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) levels — important blood proteins produced in the immune cell of MS sufferers — with the intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Control Stress Levels

Stress is common among those with MS and can trigger symptoms of the disease. The less stress an MS patient has, the less troubling and severe his symptoms are. In a study conducted at the University of New England in Australia, researchers did a two-year prospective study to determine the relationship between stress and MS relapse, among other factors. The sample size included 101 participants with MS, who were analyzed for stress levels during three-monthly intervals for two years. The results of the study showed that the number of stressors was highly significant in relation to a risk of MS relapse. MS patients should reduce the stress in their life by participating in yoga and practicing deep breathing meditation.

Keep Cool

MS symptoms can increase if the patient is exposed to excessive heat. The heat itself does not cause permanent damage to MS sufferers, but can increase disturbances with the frequent onset of symptoms. It is important to stick to moderate temperatures, says the National MS Society. Fans or air conditioners can provide relief in extreme heat and humidity, minimizing the symptoms of MS.