Multiple Sclerosis and the Microbiome

Multiple Sclerosis is on a rise. Since 1990 there is an increase of 2.4% annually in the MS cases in women and also in men it is rising with a steady pace.

Incidences of Multiple Sclerosis in the UK from 1990 to 2010 [1]

Incidences of Multiple Sclerosis in the UK from 1990 to 2010 [1]


Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune cells start to attack the insulating cover that protects the neurons. The myelin. Researchers still do not completely understand which factors play into developing Multiple Sclerosis and how the disease starts.

Case Study

However, in his book “Brain Maker”, Dr. David Perlmutter describes the case of Carlos, who developed Mutiple Sclerosis but could stop its progression through a reset of his microbiome.

Here is his story:
One morning, Carlos woke up feeling “drunk and dizzy”. He went to see a Neurologist and who performed a MRI on his brain but without any findings. Two weeks after that, while exercising, Carlos suddenly felt like ants crawling up his back. This time he went to see a Naturopath, who gave him nutritional supplements and Carlos health improved a little bit as the symptoms mostly disappeared. Three years later, he felt a numbness in both his legs. Again he was given a new round of supplementation but this time he improved only slowly with some kind of relapse two years later. In 2010, his health became worse when he suddenly got problems with his balance. This time no supplementation could show any improvement. And by 2014, he went through another round of test with Neurologist, including a MRI with the result that he got diagnosed with an onset of Multiple Sclerosis.

By the time Carlos met Dr. Perlmutter, he could barely walk anymore. After some initial examinations, Dr. Perlmutter gave Carlos a nutritional plan, high in fiber and good fats and also probiotics to re-introduce healthy microbes. Only two weeks later Carlos health already improved and started walking again. To further improve Carlos' health, Dr. Perlmutter suggested a “new” form a microbiome reset: a "fecal microbiota transplantation". It basically transfers the microbiome from a healthy person to a person with a disrupted microbiome. After the microbiome transplantations, Carlos' health improved drastically, and he could walk without assistance again.
Carlos case is far from extraordinary.
(In my series about the microbiome and the immune system, you can learn more about it.)

                Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

                Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

 Multiple Sclerosis is certainly a disease with strong genetic components. However, a study from 2013 found a clear correlation between breastfeeding as a baby and Multiple Sclerosis. In fact, they found that breastfeeding was associated with a reduction of more than 40% in the risk to develop MS

All these results point towards an involvement of the microbiome in the development of MS and I am excited about what the future holds in this regard!



  1. Mackenzie et al., Incidence and prevalence of multiple sclerosis in the UK 1990–2010: a descriptive study in the General Practice Research Database , BMJ, 2013
  2. Conradi et al., Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk for multiple sclerosis, MSJ, 2013