Lisa ... From Wheelchair to Walking

Lisa has been a patient of ours for over 12 years. She was diagnosed by a neurologist with a progressive idiopathic axonal neuropathy that has been causing her to lose strength throughout her body but especially in her legs. Over the course of two decades she went from walking with canes to being in a wheelchair anytime she left her home due to leg weakness. She used a service dog to help her as well.

As her nerve issues progressed Lisa started to have problems with breathing and lung function as her diaphragm started to get involved.  We controlled her nerve pain with prescription medications and helped her lung function somewhat with inhalers.  We improved her muscle strength by optimizing vitamin D. We got consults from neurology experts and pulmonologists but they did not feel there was anything that could be done to reverse or slow the progress. Then a few years ago, we changed her diet. Based on the literature of how gluten can be a nerve irritant in many people, and due to the inflammatory nature of many other grains such as corn, we eliminated gluten. We also put Lisa on a highly plant-based, less-inflammatory diet that is gluten free and lower in grains in general. She got some improvement and symptoms seemed to not be progressing anymore. He pain levels were lowered and she was able to reduce her Lyrica (medication for neuropathic pain) and other pain medications. Lisa even got back a little bit of her loss of restrictive lung function, however she still needed a wheelchair if she was walking more than a few yards at a time.

After coming back from an amazing integrative medicine conference where the role of mitochondria was highlighted with many hours of lectures, we spoke with Lisa about the latest research showing that chronic nerve dysfunction almost always has a mitochondrial component to it (mitochondria provide energy to nerves and muscles). Mitochondria have their own very long list of specific nutrients and co-factors that they need in order to survive. We started Lisa on a mitochondrial supplement with these factors in it. Six weeks later, Lisa walked into her doctor’s appointment leaving her service dog and wheelchair at home!  Equally impressive she is now, with the help of a special carrier rack, able to load her own kayak onto her car.

Lisa’s story is not over.  She still does not have all her energy back and notices particular fatigue the days after kayaking. We are now working to address these issues and are optimistic that we can further improve her strength and neurological function and optimize her energy.