Multiple Sclerosis: A Complementary Medicine Approach
A Report on a Research/Treatment Program Based on the Edgar Cayce Readings
Nine participants took part in a research project to explore the effectiveness of the Edgar Cayce treatment recommendations for multiple sclerosis. They spent 10 days in a live-in treatment and training program in September, 1996, then went home to continue the treatment protocol. Of the original nine, seven returned six months later in March, 1997, for a follow-up weekend to assess progress. Of the two who did not return, one person never began the protocol, due to illness immediately following the initial program. The other partially followed the protocol, reporting some success, but was unable to return for the follow-up. One of the seven people who did return had been unable to begin with the protocol until two months before the follow-up.
The treatment protocol included daily use of the wet cell electrical appliance with gold and Atomidine, massage, diet, and work with ideals, attitudes and emotions, meditation, and breathwork.
Physical symptoms were assessed both by physiological measurements of the autonomic nervous system (galvanic skin response and heart rate variability) and by subjective questionnaires. Mental/emotional/spiritual states were assessed by subjective questionnaires.
Subjects who followed the protocol consistently (but none completely or perfectly) averaged moderate improvement in MS symptoms over six months, on both subjective symptom checklists and questionnaires, and objective measurement of GSR. Three out of the seven reported major improvement. This rate of improvement was consistent with the typical Cayce prognosis. Continuation for a full year and attention to complete compliance with the protocol should produce even stronger results. This will require substantial logistic and emotional support for the patients.
Multiple sclerosis is a disorder involving the inflammation and degeneration of the myelin (a fatty material that insulates nerves) in the brain and spinal cord. The loss of myelin is accompanied by a disruption in the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain. This results in symptoms including balance and coordination problems, weakness (especially in the legs), visual disturbances, fatigue, bladder and bowel problems, and cognitive and emotional disturbances. In conventional medicine, multiple sclerosis is thought to be an “auto-immune” disease, in which the body attacks its own cells and tissues. Heredity, infectious, and environmental factors may all play a role.
The Edgar Cayce readings take a very different approach. They say that the primary cause of multiple sclerosis is a glandular imbalance, caused by improper assimilation of gold, and particularly involving the liver. The purpose of this research project was to explore the efficacy of Cayce’s recommendations for treatment. It was a project in complementary medicine, meaning that it supplements conventional treatments, but was not intended to replace them. (Generally, however, the participants were not receiving specific treatment for MS, though some were receiving treatment for associated conditions such as depression.) The Cayce regimen is based primarily on diet, use of a low-voltage appliance known as the wet cell, and massage.
The project included the following components:
(1) Attendance at a 10 day, live-in program in Virginia Beach, with the following activities:
- an initial evaluation of multiple sclerosis symptoms, including thermographicphotography of the skin of the back and abdomen, and non-invasive measurements of autonomic nervous system functioning;
- introduction to the diet recommended by Cayce for treatment of multiple sclerosis, and following that diet during the program;
- spinal adjustments by a chiropractor;
- abdominal castor oil packs;
- massage and training in home massage by a massage therapist
- colonic irrigation by a colonic therapist;
- using a personal Cayce wet cell appliance;
- attending lectures on physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of healing.
(2) Following a treatment program at home for 6 months, which included:
- daily adherence to the diet introduced at the program;
- regular use of the wet cell appliance followed by massage, according to the instructions given at the program;
- attention to the mental/spiritual aspects of healing;
- keeping a daily log of treatments and treatment-related events.
(3) Returning for a 3-day follow-up assessment after 6 months, which included:
- a repeat of the non-invasive autonomic nervous system assessments;
- filling out symptom and mental/emotional/spiritual questionnaires and evaluations;
- group discussions of treatment and support issues;
- planning for long-term treatment and support.
The Cayce Approach
Multiple sclerosis is one of the few diseases for which we have a Cayce reading given on the disease itself, for a doctor, rather than for an individual patient. Reading 907-1 states, “This condition of the spinal cord and of the brain is…the result of conditions which arise in the assimilating system from the lack of a balance in the hormones of the blood supply.” It is described as produced by both, “an unbalanced diet and functional failure of the glands.” Specifically, the glands involved are “those about the liver and the gall duct.” In response to the question, what should be added, Cayce replied, “This depends on the progress of it… but, it is the effect of gold – the atomic effect of gold that should be added to the system.” Cayce recommended that the gold be delivered “vibratorially,” that is, with the wet cell battery, and also mentions silver and iron. Several of the MS readings given for individual patients also mention the importance of iodine for the glands. McMillin and Richards (1994) give details on the wet cell and its use with these solutions. Regarding diet, Cayce generally suggested a low-fat, high fresh vegetable, no fried food diet. For MS and other conditions requiring nerve rebuilding, the raw vegetables carrots, lettuce, celery and watercress were particularly recommended. The treatment protocol for this project is based on analysis of numerous Cayce readings for MS.
Notably in the MS readings, Cayce had a strong spiritual emphasis, and invoked karma as a causal factor. For example, “While we are working against karma, and there needs to be the renewing of faith in the divine, (the body once had it) we find that if the body will use what abilities it has to help others, there may be the quicker response…” (3626-1). Or, “In regard to the karmic condition…hence the first lesson spiritually is patience” (3779-1). Other spiritual advice included, “Add to the body first, then, brotherly love, patience, consistence; and whatever the disturbance, do not lose the sense of humor, but be patient. Do show brotherly love and kindness” (4005-1).
It is clear from the readings that healing MS is a long-term process. For example, “While the conditions may be aided, it will require patience, persistence and a great deal of determination on the part of the body and mind to attain to a control or a usefulness, or to use properly the limbs” (3695-1). Or, “As to whether there will be recuperative forces will depend a great deal upon how consistent and how persistent the body is in carrying out these applications…For…there has been an accumulation of almost a cycle, or five to six years of the general deterioration. To check and then build may require a complete cycle (seven years)” (3907-1)”
It was also clear, from reading the reports of many of the readings, that support for the patient is essential. It is likely that few people who received MS readings from Cayce actually carried out the treatments for the required length of time. One of our priorities was to make this material practical by focusing on support issues.
Although the Cayce approach is outside the mainstream medical perspective, there is some medical literature pointing to its possible validity in regard to the involvement both of gold and of the liver. There is very little literature on the role of gold in the human body. It is generally thought to be inert, although gold compounds have been useful for their anti-inflammatory properties in the treatment of arthritis. Only one researcher has explored the relationship of gold to pathology in the nervous system. El-Yazigi et al. (1984, 1990) looked at both silver and gold, as well as a variety of other trace elements, in cerebrospinal fluid of patients with cerebral neoplasms (brain tumors). (Silver is another important element in nervous system regeneration, according to Cayce.) The malignant tumor/control patient concentration ratio was 2.31 for silver. They state that the biochemical mechanism for this increased concentration is unknown. Although there was no consistent relationship between gold and tumor vs. control subjects, for the single patient with pinealblastoma the concentration of gold was about twice the concentration for the controls or other tumor types. The pineal has an important role in the Cayce model of the human system, so this is a relationship worth further exploration (e.g., see reading 3612-1, which mentions the pineal gland in connection with MS). El-Yazigi’s group did not look specifically at MS patients. In personal correspondence with Douglas Richards (January, 1997), El-Yazigi stated that he was unaware of anyone else studying the role of gold in the nervous system, and was no longer pursuing this research himself.
There are also reports of involvement of the liver in MS. Taub et al. (1989), Noseworthy and Evers (1989) and Pontecorvo et al. (1992) all report co-morbidity of MS and primary biliary cirrhosis, a chronic disease with progressive destruction of the bile ducts in the liver leading to cirrhosis and, in some instance, progressive liver failure. The authors tend to see both the MS and the liver problems as results of an autoimmune process. But it is certainly possible that a problem in the liver is the cause of the MS, although in most people that problem may be subtle and not detected with current medical tests.
Subject Recruitment, Selection, and Informed Consent
MS subjects were recruited through announcements in Venture Inward magazine. Potential subjects were given medical history and information forms to fill out. From among the completed forms, Meridian Institute personnel selected those people deemed most likely to benefit from the project. Only adult subjects were allowed to participate; there are otherwise no restrictions on age, sex, or race. Nine participants were finally selected and attended.
Subjects were not financially compensated for participating in the study. All research and treatment costs were paid by the Barden/Beltone grant to the A.R.E. Conference costs related to housing, food, and transportation were paid by the subjects.
At the beginning of the conference, the project was explained in detail by the investigators, and the subjects signed informed consent forms. The forms emphasized that the project did not include discontinuation of any conventional therapy or medication. Subjects were informed that there are no known significant risks from proper application of castor oil packs, massage, or the wet cell and that there is a slight risk of some abdominal discomfort from colonic irrigations. Subjects were also informed that all subject medical records would be kept at Meridian Institute, under the supervision of Dr. Eric Mein, and that confidentiality would be protected according to accepted medical standards.
Assessment and Data Collection
The initial assessment and data collection took place the first morning of the conference. The goal was to establish a baseline for evaluation of treatment efficacy. The assessment included:
- Subjective symptom and lifestyle questionnaire
- Autonomic nervous system assessment
- Chiropractic assessment and thermographic photography
- Brief medical physical exam
The final assessment of subjective symptoms and lifestyle impacts was conducted 6 months later in a follow-up weekend.
Chiropractic and Thermographic Assessment
Dr. Carl Nelson conducted the chiropractic evaluation. Thermographic pictures were taken of the thoracic spine and abdomen with a Flexi-Therm liquid crystal thermographic camera.
Dr. Eric Mein briefly evaluated the severity of the MS symptoms, confirming the subjective symptom questionnaire..
Subjective Symptom and Lifestyle Assessment
David McMillin administered questionnaires on symptoms and lifestyle, and conducted interviews to determine what other conditions might be co-existent with MS. The questionnaires can be divided into ones exploring MS symptoms and quality of life, and ones exploring mental/emotional/spiritual issues.
Symptom/Quality of Life Questionnaires
Symptom Checklist. This is a 26-item list of symptoms, with 5 response alternatives ranging from “None” to “Extreme.” This questionnaire was filled out by the subject at the beginning of the project, at monthly intervals during home treatment, and at the follow-up weekend.
Activity Assessment. This is a 23-item list of activities, such as “Driving,” “Shopping,” “Having sex,” and “Going to religious services.” It is intended as a measure of quality of life, without regard to specific symptoms. There are 6 levels of response for each item, from “No limitation,” to “Great limitation.” The score is a sum of the responses, from a low of 0 (no limitation on any activity) to 115 (great limitation on all activities). This questionnaire was filled out by the subject at the beginning of the project, at monthly intervals during home treatment, and at the follow-up weekend.
Daily Functioning Assessment. This is an 11-item questionnaire which is intended to assess the impact of the disease on daily functioning. It has items such as “My ability to write and/or speak…,” and “My ability to think clearly and remember things…,” with response choices such as “is unaffected,” and “is moderately affected.” There is also a single item at the end, “Since beginning the Cayce therapy regimen, I feel my symptoms…,” with response alternatives such as “are very much improved,” and “are very much worse.” Possible scores on this scale range from 11 (no functioning affected) to 47 (all functioning strongly affected). This questionnaire was filled out by the subject at the beginning of the project, at monthly intervals during home treatment, and at the follow-up weekend.
Assessment of Medication Side Effects. This is a 21-item list of typical side effects of medications used to treat neurological and psychological disorders. There are 6 levels of response for each item, ranging from “None, to “Very severe.” The score is a sum of the responses, from a low of 0 (no side effects) to 105 (many very severe side effects). This questionnaire was filled out by the subject at the beginning of the project, at monthly intervals during home treatment, and at the follow-up weekend.
Attitudes and Emotions Assessment. This is a 15-item questionnaire based on issues often raised by Edgar Cayce, developed by David McMillin. It has items such as “I am a very cooperative person, ” and “I find it difficult to trust people.” Possible scores range from 15 (very negative attitudes) to 60 (very positive attitudes). This questionnaire was filled out at the beginning of the project, at monthly intervals during home treatment, and at the follow-up weekend. It was filled out by the subject for him/her self, and by the support person to independently rate the subject.
Beck Depression Inventory. This is the standard assessment of depression symptoms developed by Beck et al. (1961). It has 21 items, such as “I feel blue or sad,” and “I cry more than I used to.” Possible scores range from 0 (no symptoms of depression) to around 70 (more than one response level can be marked for some items, but for others only one would typically be marked). This questionnaire was filled out at the beginning of the project, at monthly intervals during home treatment, and at the follow-up weekend, by both the subject and the support person.
Spiritual Well-Being Scale. This is a 20-item assessment of “spiritual well-being.” (Paloutzian & Ellison, 1982; Ellison & Smith, 1991). The items are of 2 types. One type looks at general (“existential”) well being and sense of purpose, e.g., “I feel that life is a positive experience,” or “Life doesn’t have much meaning.” The other type assesses religious well-being, based on a Christian concept of relationship to God, e.g., “I have a personally meaningful relationship to God.” Possible scores range from 20 (meaningless life) to 120 (high existential and spiritual well-being). Ellison & Smith cite positive correlations between this scale and physical well-being and positive adjustment to physical illness. This questionnaire was filled out at the beginning of the project, at monthly intervals during home treatment, and at the follow-up weekend, by both the subject and the support person.
Index of Spiritual Experience. This is a 7-item questionnaire concerning spiritual practices, beliefs and experiences (Kass et al., 1991). Since the questions tap a diversity of spiritual aspects, we did not combine the items into a single score. When scored according to the Kass et al. system, all our subjects scored in a high, narrow range of spiritual experience. To further discriminate the intensity/diversity of experiences, we have added together the responses to the seventh question, which is a checklist of 13 possible spiritual experiences on a 1 to 4 scale of how much they have strengthened belief in God, for a low score of 13 (no spiritual experiences) to a high score of 52 (all profound spiritual experiences). This questionnaire was filled out at the beginning of the project, at monthly intervals during home treatment, and at the follow-up weekend, by both the subject and the support person.
Healing Questionnaire. This is a 6-item questionnaire developed by David McMillin, covering the 6 forms of healing discussed by Wayne Jonas and others (Schneider, 1994). They include cure, care, quality of life, empowerment, enlightenment, and soul development. It was used to evaluate the priority assigned by each subject to each of the six forms of healing, and the degree to which they felt that each form of healing was occurring. The ratings are not intended to be combined into a single scale.
Autonomic Nervous System Assessment
Several aspects of autonomic nervous system functioning were assessed by Douglas Richards using computerized equipment (Biopac Instruments MPS100). We measured heart rate with an ECG, finger and toe pulse with a photoplethysmograph, skin conductance (galvanic skin response), breathing, and finger temperature (see protocol, Appendix B). Our goal was to explore the forms of nervous system incoordination present in multiple sclerosis. We expected abnormalities in both heart rate variability and in galvanic skin response, based on the MS literature (e.g., Caminero et al., 1995; Drory et al., 1995; Elie & Louboutin, 1995).
Home Treatment Protocol and Monitoring
The initial conference was a training experience to enable participants to carry out the treatments at home. A notebook was provided with detailed instructions for home treatment, with a single page summary treatment protocol (Appendix A). Log sheets (Appendix C) were provided for recording compliance with the protocol, changes in symptoms, and any adverse effects. During the course of home treatment, subjects were asked to submit their progress logs on a monthly basis. It was emphasized to the subjects that they should not modify their current medical treatments for their condition, including medications, without specifically consulting their physicians. Any such modifications were to be noted in the daily logs.
Results and Discussion
Analysis of questionnaires and physiological measurements
The symptom and quality of life questionnaires, together with the physical exams, revealed a wide range of disability. Similarly, the mental/emotional/spiritual questionnaires varied widely as well. Table 1 gives the questionnaire results and Table 2 gives the correlations among the questionnaires. These are most useful for seeing general patterns, since the small sample size (9) means that a very high correlation is needed for statistical significance. The various questionnaires measured similar aspects of the effects of MS, but the correlations among the scores show that they were not measuring identical effects.
Thermographic assessment revealed consistent “hot spots” over the 6th and 7th thoracic spine centers in each of the subjects. This finding may be relevant to upper digestive system dysfunction (i.e., liver/gall bladder/gall duct). Consistent with this finding was the presence of a “cold spot” in the upper right abdominal quadrant.
Galvanic skin response and heart rate variability were the two autonomic system measurements expected to correlate with MS symptoms. Galvanic skin response (as measured by summing the baseline skin conductance and the responses to 4 autonomic tests) was rather low in most of the subjects, and virtually absent in four of the subjects with severe MS symptoms. This result is consistent with that of many other MS researchers, e.g., Caminero et al. (1995), who said, “SSR [Sympathetic skin response, a similar measurement to GSR] is a simple test for a dynamic evaluation of MS, well correlated with the degree of disability.” Table 3 gives the means and standard deviations for the GSR and heart rate variability measurements (HRV). The GSR report gives the baseline, the responses to the 4 autonomic tests, and the sum of these measurements (in microsiemens). The HRV report gives the range of heart rate during deep breathing at 6 breaths per minute, and the ratio of spectral power (from an FFT) at .1 and .2 Hz) during deep breathing at 6 breaths per minute and 12 breaths per minute. The latter two measurements are intended to show sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, respectively. Table 4 gives the correlations of GSR and HRV with the subjective questionnaires. Many of the correlations of these autonomic variables with symptoms are not significant, due to the small sample size. Nevertheless, patterns are apparent, e.g., a clear cluster of high correlations of HRV with most of the questionnaires, and of GSR with Spiritual Well Being and Daily Functioning.
Progress from daily log sheets
Log sheets of compliance with the treatment protocol and subjective perception of improvement were submitted by the subjects at monthly intervals. Figure 1 graphs the perceived improvement in symptoms for the six subjects who consistently followed the protocol over the six months. The trend is clearly upward, but it is also apparent that in some people several months of following the treatments are necessary before significant improvement is noticed.
Analysis of questionnaires and physiological measurements
Summary Questionnaire. The summary questionnaire asked the subjects to rate their compliance with the various elements of the protocol, and then to rate the changes in their MS symptoms and in their attitudes and emotions. All subjects reported roughly the same level of compliance (“most of the time”). Wet cell compliance was consistent, but subjects varied widely in their ability to obtain the post-wet-cell massage. Some had continually available support, while others had no support at all and had to try self-massages or did not do massages. Subjects rated improvement on a 7-point scale, with 1=much improvement, 4=no change, and 7=much worse. All subjects reported some improvement, both in attitudes/emotions and in MS symptoms. The average score for MS symptom improvement was 2, “moderately improved.” Three out of the 7 were “much improved.” For attitudes/emotions improvement, the average score was also 2, “moderately improved.” Two of the 7 were “much improved.” All had at least slight improvement.
Follow-up Questionnaires and Physiological Measurements. Table 5 gives the results of the follow-up questionnaires. Note that the questionnaires for support people are not included because only 2 support people attended both the baseline and follow-up parts of the project. Table 6 gives the results of the follow-up physiological measurements. Table 7 gives the correlations among the follow-up questionnaires. The pattern – that the questionnaires are all measuring somewhat different aspects of MS – is similar to that of the baseline questionnaires. Table 8 gives the correlations of the follow-up questionnaires with the physiological measurements. The pattern is again similar to the baseline – there is a cluster of high correlations with HRV, and Daily Functioning has a relatively high correlation with GSR. Due the small sample size (6), not much meaning should be attached to the exact numerical values of the correlations.
Before/After Comparison of Questionnaires. The improvements documented in the summary questionnaire were also reflected in the individual questionnaires on both symptoms and attitudes/emotions. The difference in these two types of measurements is that the summary questionnaire required a retrospective comparison with the baseline 6 months previously. The before/after comparison was a simple subtraction of the numerical scores on the same questionnaires administered at the baseline and follow-up. Thus, no memory for the previous symptoms was required. The symptom checklist, activity assessment, daily functioning assessment, Beck depression inventory, and spiritual well-being scale all showed improvements. The very small sample size (6 subjects) makes statistical tests difficult to interpret (i.e., only extremely strong relationships would reach statistical significance). The attitudes and emotions assessment and the number of spiritual experiences did not change. The attitudes and emotions assessment questions are similar to those used in social desirability scales, and the lack of change may reflect more a stability in the response set for socially desirable items. See Table 9. The GSR and HRV measurements show only very slight (and statistically non-significant) changes (Table 10). Very interesting, however, are the correlations of the changes in GSR and HRV with the changes in the subjective questionnaires. There were a number of strong correlations, particularly with HRV and with the GSR baseline.
Overall, then, despite the difficulty of obtaining statistical significance with only 6 subjects, there are patterns that suggest changes in GSR and HRV are related to changes in subjective assessment of both symptoms and mental/emotional/spiritual states.
Personal experiences from interviews and questionnaires
At the six-month stage of the project, the most interesting results are not from the questionnaires or statistical analysis, but from the written comments and personal interviews with the participants. They were all very positive about the project itself, but some had to grapple with major personal issues. As discussed in the Introduction, Cayce saw MS as a condition in which much karma was involved. Translated into practical terms, this means that major mental/emotional/spiritual issues in relationships are prominent in the disease and in the response to treatment.
Here are some example of comments and observations. More complete case studies of the individuals are also available.
D.A.: “I am strengthening and healing, slowly and steadily. I cannot say that there are many noticeable effects yet to the outside world; I still stumble, lose balance, and move awkwardly sometimes, for instance. But I feel a whole lot stronger and better. I figure the nerves and muscles will catch up with me shortly….I am noticing some very pleasant “minor” changes…I am taking fewer and shorter naps lately (no longer the 3-4 hour daily requirements they once were). I look rested and my skin coloring is not as splotchy. [My husband] has noticed this. I feel more motivated (I’ve begun taking some home repair projects and am developing a list for the future). Last week while doing some raking, I even perspired (who would have thought that I’d be pleased to mop my brow, but it means I am regaining more normal reactions. I was so happy!). These may not be big changes to some, but I’m pleased as punch.”
In the six-month period covered by this report, there was a substantial improvement in subjective MS symptoms and in attitudes/emotions, correlated with autonomic measurements. This result is impressive, since the Cayce readings and some anecdotal reports from people with MS who have applied them, suggest that the healing of this disease is a very long-term process.
The physical therapies – diet, the wet cell, massage – are straightforward, but require “consistency and persistency,” as the Cayce readings would say. There is a great need for a reliable support person or network for success with this program. With MS, the emotional issues often complicate the support situation, although there are great opportunities for personal growth.
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