An inherited disease that causes the progressive destruction of muscular tissue replacing it by fatty tissue, and appearing in both mild and severe forms is gathered under the umbrella term of muscular dystrophy. Every form of the disease is not serious or necessarily incapacitating, though some forms of the disease can be extremely disruptive to the person life and activity, the disorder as such usually makes an appearance in early childhood.
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The most severe form of the various types of muscular dystrophy is the Duchenne muscular dystrophy (see more below) that makes an appearance in early childhood; affecting young boys between the ages of three and seven, first symptoms begin with muscle weakness. The dystrophy becomes evident when the child's shows a waddling gait, along with this are seen an extreme clumsiness and a greater tendency to fall repeatedly. The child also finds it difficult to stay erect as the back or the spinal cord curves. There is the presence of abnormally large calves. All such affected children die in young adulthood and most do not live beyond twenty years of age because of the concomitant development of heart and respiratory weaknesses and the majority of Duchenne muscular dystrophy affected children become wheelchair bound before attaining twelve years of age.
While capable of bringing along some forms of debilitation, a milder form of muscular dystrophy is the Becker type (see more below). Some forms of muscular dystrophy have no evident influence on life expectancy as such. Because of the fact some these forms of muscular dystrophy only affect the muscles in a specific muscle group and not the entire musculature of the body.
Boys are the only victims of Duchenne muscular dystrophy as well as Becker muscular dystrophy and they are both inherited disorders. Insufficient nourishment or disordered nerve supply to the muscle may be the reason behind the fact that fatty tissue seems to replace muscles in these conditions. Their origin and probable cause is as yet unidentified even if possible genetic were stated before. These have not been proven.
Types of muscular dystrophy
- Becker's muscular dystrophy
- The type of muscular dystrophy called Becker's muscular dystrophy or BMD is comparatively less serious compared to Duchenne muscular dystrophy and is attributed to production of dystrophin that is reduced as well as partly effective.
People suffering from this condition generally have a short life and survive up to their middle age.
- Congenital muscular dystrophy
- As the name suggests, this variety of muscular dystrophy begins at birth and the symptoms associated with this condition usually include debility of muscles and probable deformities of the joints. The disease advances bit by bit and results in a reduced life span.
Congenital muscular dystrophy comprises many problems having a variety of symptoms. In this case, the deterioration of the muscles may be both - insignificant or serious. The problems endured by the patient are likely to be confined to the skeletal muscle. In some incidences, the muscle degeneration may occur along with adverse consequences on the brain as well as different other organs/ systems. Some types of congenital muscular dystrophies are attributed to flaws in protein that are considered to have some kind of association with the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex and also to the linkage between the cells of the muscles and the cellular structure surrounding them. A number of types of congenital muscular dystrophy also demonstrate acute malformations in the brain, for instance, hydrocephalus and lissencephaly.
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy
- The most widespread variety of muscular dystrophy that occurs during childhood is known as Duchenne muscular dystrophy or DMD, which generally begins to manifest clinically at the time when a child just beings to walk. By the time these patients are 10 to 12 years old they need a wheelchair for movement and breathe their last either as grown up teenagers or in their early 20s. During the early part of the 1990s, scientists discovered the gene responsible for the protein called dystrophin, whose absence results in DMD. In fact, the dystrophin gene happens to be the largest gene identified in humans so far. As this gene is found on the X-chromosome, DMD mainly afflicts the males. However, females who are carriers of this gene also have insignificant symptoms related to this condition. In at least 33 per cent incidences, this gene mutates sporadically and quite often. In the other cases, this gene is actually inherited in a receding pattern. This disease strikes the patients, when they are about two years to six years old and they seldom survive for more than 20 years. The major symptoms related to DMD may comprise overall debility of the muscles as well as wasting and these may have an effect on the upper arms, pelvis, and upper legs; and ultimately entail each and every one of the voluntary muscles.
The gene dystrophin forms an element of a compound structure, known as the 'dystrophin-glycoprotein complex' entailing many additional protein sections. In effect, this complex structure aids in anchoring the basic skeleton inside the muscle cells, by means of the external membrane of every cell, to the tissue structure that encircles all the cells. Muscle contractions result in the disturbance of the muscle cells' external membrane owing to the flaws in this kind of assemblage and this eventually leads to muscle weakness as well as degeneration of the muscles.
- Distal muscular dystrophy
- Unlike the conditions discussed above, the variety of muscular dystrophy known as distal muscular dystrophy afflicts people in the age group of 40 years to 60 years. The symptoms related to this condition may include muscle weakness and deterioration of the muscles of the forearms, hands and the lower portions of the legs. This condition progresses gradually and is not considered to be severe.
One type of distal muscular dystrophy is known as miyoshi myopathy and the patient experiences debility in the muscles of the calf in the initial stages of this disease. A flaw in the gene that is liable for one variety of Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy or LGMD is also responsible for the occurrence of this condition.
- Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy
- This form of muscular dystrophy initially afflicts a patient any time between his/ her childhood days and early teens. The symptoms related to Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy include debility as well as the degeneration of the muscles of the upper arm, shoulder and shin. In this case, patients frequently suffer from joint deformities. Although this disease advances very slowly, patients may die suddenly owing to problems related to the cardiac system.
- Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy
- In the initial stage, this form of muscular dystrophy, also called FSHD, has an effect on the face, the upper arms and shoulder and is accompanied by increasing weakness. Generally, the symptoms related to facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy occur during the teenage years and a number of people enduring this condition may be disabled severely. FSHD may be inherited and the pattern is generally autosomal (also called euchromosome) dominat. However, the basic genetic flaw is understood poorly. It has been found that nearly all incidences of FSHD are related to a sort of obliteration close to the last part of chromosome 4.
- Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy
- This form of muscular dystrophy is also known as LGMD and all incidences of this disease demonstrate the same kind of muscle debility distribution that have an effect on the upper part of the arms as well as the legs. Scientists have identified several types of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, which show dissimilar inheritance patterns (autosomal dominant vs. autosomal recessive). The affected person receives two facsimiles of the flawed gene from both parents in the case of inheritance of the autosomal recessive prototype. In fact, compared to the autosomal dominant forms, incidences of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy are more frequent and it generally first afflicts an individual during his/ her childhood or teenage years. On the other hand, the autosomal dominant form of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy generally afflicts adult people. It may be noted that a number of autosomal recessive inheritance types of the disease have been related to flaws in the proteins that compose the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex.
People suffering from limb-girdle muscular dystrophy generally die owing to complications in their cardiopulmonary system.
- Myotonic muscular dystrophy
- This form of muscular dystrophy first occurs in people in the age group of 20 years and 40 years and is known to be the most widespread type of this disease in adults. Myotonic muscular dystrophy is distinguished by means of myotonia and also the debility and degeneration of the muscles. The seriousness as well as manifestations of myotonic muscular dystrophy differs and, besides the skeletal system, it can have an effect on several systems of the body, including the eyes, heart, gastrointestinal tract and the endocrine organs. In this case, the gene inheritance pattern is autosomal dominant.
Development of short repeat within the DNA series (for instance, CCTG in one gene, or CTG in another) is responsible for the occurrence of myotonic dystrophy. Precisely speaking, the flaw in the gene is actually an exceptionally long replication of either a three-letter or a four-letter 'word' within the genome. Even as the precise mode of action is yet to be ascertained, any molecular change of this type may possibly slow down the manufacture of vital proteins for the muscles.
- Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy
- The form of muscular dystrophy known as oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy usually occurs in people belonging to the age group of 40 years to 70 years. The symptoms related to this type of muscular dystrophy have an effect on the face, eyelids and throat and subsequently, results in debility of the shoulder and pelvic muscles. Short recurring expansion within the genome that controls the conversion of a number of genes into useful proteins is said to be responsible for oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy.
Supplements and herbs
Because deficiency in some nutrients seem to aggravate the symptoms of the disorder, it can be said that nutrient supplements may offer some beneficial effects to the alleviation of the symptoms in a large part of the cases of muscular dystrophy. Symptoms similar to those in muscular dystrophy may become evident in cases where there is a deficiency of vitamin-E in the body. Using vitamins and trace minerals, selenium and the vitamin E in a well balanced form can alleviate the symptoms of the disease according to certain studies done on patients with muscular dystrophy. The progression of the disease has been hampered in a group of patients while in others the condition has significantly improved in several cases when supplements using these vitamins were used.
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All essential nutrients that can be used as supplements include the minerals like calcium, the mineral phosphorus, a mineral essential to muscular coordination like manganese, the mineral essential for protein like sulphur, essential substances like iodine and the vitamin B12. Use of amino acids like glutamine and glycine, biocatalyst like coenzyme Q10 and bromelain and fatty acids enzymes like lipase and pancreatin can improve muscle health in the body so many studies suggest. For other important reasons substances such as the B vitamin, the mineral selenium and the compound inositol are actively suggested in this regard. For optimal effect and results supplementation using these substances should be carried out for a couple of months. As a supplement the use of phosphatidylcholine, is also suggested, this is an essential component of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is an important brain chemical vitally important to the transmission of messages in the brain. Phosphatidylcholine is found in abundance in the substance lecithin and the lecithin from soy or soy lecithin is the most suitable form to consume it in.
Relief can be obtained from certain symptoms of muscular dystrophy using herbs or herbal-based supplements.
Wasting and weakening diseases can be treated using the saw palmetto herb. Dosage can be of 3-12 mg taken in standard form thrice a day during the period of supplementation.
Thus far, very few researches have been undertaken to examine the usefulness of particular homeopathic remedies for curing muscular dystrophy. Nevertheless, professional homeopaths may possibly suggest one or several of the remedies mentioned below for treating muscular dystrophy depending on the physician's understanding of the disease as well as his/ her clinical knowledge. Prior to recommending any remedy, practitioners of homeopathic remedies bear in mind the constitutional type of the patient. In terms of homeopathy, the constitution of an individual basically refers to his/ her physical, intellectual and emotional composition. All qualified and knowledgeable homeopaths evaluate all these aspects while deciding on the remedy that suits a particular person most.
- This homeopathic remedy is prescribed to ease spasms and muscle aches due to muscular dystrophy.
- Calcarea carbonica
- This homeopathic remedy is particularly given to patients for alleviating spasms in the lower extremities, especially for people who are obese and get chilled easily.
- Magnesia phos.
- This homeopathic remedy is also prescribed for providing relief from spasms and muscle aches accompanied by cramps as well as acute shooting pains.
Additional things you may do
It would help greatly to follow regular and routine timing as far as moving the bowels is concerned. This is important because of the fact that an accumulation of toxins can accrue from constipation.
In addition, taking a wholesome diet complete with supplements containing amino acids, necessary vitamins, and herbs will facilitate in dealing with or lessening the symptoms of muscular dystrophy, such as weakening and wasting muscles. At the same time, ensure that you stay away from all types of processed foods, counting sugar, white bread as well as pasta. You should also avoid onion rings, French fries, cookies, cakes, crackers. Also lessen the intake of red meat as well as trans-fatty acids. Preferably, you should get rid of them completely.
It is advisable that you incorporate proteins from good sources, for instance, beans, lean meats and cold-water fish, into your diet. Also consume lots of vegetables and fruits that contain high levels of antioxidants, such as dark green vegetables (spinach, collard greens, kale and green peppers), tomatoes, cherries and blueberries. Consumption of whole grains as well as dried fruits is also an excellent source of fiber, which should be essentially included in your diet.
You need to ensure that you cook all your foods using unsaturated oils, for instance, olive oil and canola oil.
At the same time, drink lots of water and your daily routine should include drinking no less than eight to ten glasses of water. Drinking sufficient amounts of water is helpful in getting rid of the toxic substances from the body.
Avoiding stimulants, such as coffee, tobacco and alcohol will also help in reducing the symptoms of muscular dystrophy. You need to especially avoid or give up smoking, because it augments the respiratory problems.
People suffering from muscular dystrophy should also practice meditation as well as deep breathing on a regular basis with a view to enhance the utility of oxygen at the level of the cells, especially inside the muscle tissues. In addition, practicing meditation makes you stronger internally and more competent to combat the problems confronted by you.
It is also essential to maintain a good body weight and try to steer clear of obesity, especially if you are enduring muscular dystrophy. People suffering from muscular dystrophy will find it very difficult to cope with their condition when they are overweight, as it means putting additional pressure on the muscles that are feeble from before.
Practicing yoga may prove to be beneficial for those with muscular dystrophy, as it helps in dealing with the symptoms related to the disease as well as enhancing the life quality. In addition, practicing yoga on a regular basis also helps in enhancing blood circulation, besides strengthening the failing muscles.
It is worth mentioning here that occupational therapy can help people suffering from muscular dystrophy to engage in their routine activities related to living (for instance, self-care, self-feeding and other activities) as well as relaxation activities at the maximum self-determining level possible. One is able to achieve this by employing made to order equipment or by utilizing energy conservation methods. In addition, occupational therapy is also likely to bring about modifications in the environment an individual is in, at his/ her home as well as place of work in order to augment the person's purpose and convenience. You should know that occupational therapists also deal with psychosocial alterations as well as intellectual decline, which may occur simultaneously with muscular dystrophy. They also offer support as well as learning regarding the malady to the suffering individual and his/ her family members.
- Vitamin B complex, age 3 to 6, 15 mg; age 7 to 11, 25 mg
- Vitamin E, with mixed tocopherols, age 3 to 6, 200 IU; age 7 to 11, 250 IU
- Amino complex, age 3 to 6, 250 mg 2 times a day; age 7 to 11, 500 mg 2 times a day
- Digestive enzymes, 1 capsule with meal
- Lecithin, age 3 to 6, 1 tbsp. a day; age 7 to 11, 1 tbsp. 3 times a day
- Coenzyme Q10, 30 mg
- Multimineral - as directed on label
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