In 2009, Dr. Michaël Friedman was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). In his recently published book There’s No Pill for This: A Naturopathic Physician’s Personal Prescription for Managing Multiple Sclerosis, he refers to that time as the start of his “official” journey with MS. As with many people who receive this diagnosis, he had experienced inexplicable, sometimes frightening symptoms for several decades beforehand. He reflects on difficult times before diagnosis, subsequent attempts to find answers, and the eventual formulation of a combination of tools and therapies that have helped him respond with resilience in lockstep to whatever MS has brought. The result is a compelling, inspirational, and thoroughly researched book full of actionable steps for managing the symptoms of MS and flourishing while living with it.
Dr. Friedman’s personal experiences are woven throughout the book to edifying effect, but the first chapter in particular goes into detail about his initial struggles following diagnosis. The challenges faced and encouragement to persevere that are conveyed through his personal story reach out to the reader like a warm embrace of solidarity and hope. In a world where a serious medical diagnosis can diminish a person’s sense of agency, this in itself is powerful medicine. As a physician as well as a patient, Dr. Friedman brings a uniquely valuable perspective. He has learned firsthand from both the benefits and pitfalls of conventional medical and naturopathic approaches, and he recommends integrating the best that each has to offer.
The core of this book centers on ways to achieve and sustain neuroprotection and neuro-restoration. It is systematically organized to explain the role of neuroinflammation in MS symptoms, and lays out therapeutic recommendations for quenching the inflammatory process and repairing neuronal damage. Chapters explore neuroinflammatory triggers, such as environmental toxins, infections, psychological stress, and oxidative stress, and provide evidence-informed approaches for halting damage, supporting repair, and modulating neurotransmitter production. These approaches include using botanical medicines, nutritional supplements, hormone therapy, detoxification protocols, exercise, and mind-body medicine.
Dr. Friedman emphasizes the importance of gastrointestinal health to the foundation of health overall. To that end, he presents the science behind the influence of the gut microbiome and gut-brain axis on neuroinflammation. In addition, he suggests how best to heal gut dysbiosis and support gastrointestinal health by using a combination of prebiotics derived from food sources, nutritional supplements, and diet. Other sections cover the benefits and drawbacks of major dietary approaches for MS including intermittent fasting, and the Swank, ketogenic, and paleo diets. The book also evaluates numerous potentially supportive therapies for MS, such as neuropeptides, hyperbaric oxygen, fecal microbial transplants, helminth therapy, stem cell therapy, and venous angioplasty. Throughout, Dr. Friedman outlines protocols he personally follows to address specific areas, for example, managing cognitive symptoms or supporting remyelination. This information is also consolidated in a chapter about daily management of MS, in which he includes his own everyday practices, as well as answering questions pertinent to female patients regarding MS and women’s health.
As befits the founder of the Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine (AARM), which he launched shortly after his diagnosis, Dr. Friedman never loses sight of the interconnectedness of all physiological systems. His deep understanding that neurological health is an aspect of the complex relationships among the endocrine system, immune system, and gut microbiome enables him to offer practical strategies to address a wide array of effects that imbalances in these systems can have on sleep, digestion, energy levels, cognition, and even sense of self.
There’s No Pill for This is a masterful blend of personal journey, science, and therapeutic strategies to optimize health and improve quality of life while living with an unpredictable and progressive health condition. As such, it is an indispensable guide for patients, their loved ones, and healthcare professionals alike. An underlying current of Dr. Friedman’s guidance pertains to living with a sense of wholeness: how to find it when it feels lost; how to reclaim it when all may feel lost; how to live as an ally to oneself in partnership with MS. As well as providing profoundly practical tools, this book is about navigating the path between acceptance, which leads to empowerment, and resignation, which is deadly. It is in this context that Dr. Friedman’s maxim “expect nothing, accept everything” has the power to be transformational.