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There isn't a natural cure for muscular dystrophy.

But there absolutely are natural methods that reduce the severity of symptoms and improve quality of life.

Diet makes a difference in the course of muscular dystrophy:

  • Eliminating wheat, soy, or food additives won't cure muscular dystrophy, but sometimes it greatly reduces symptoms (and sometimes it does not).
  • Sometimes the muscular dystrophy is linked to a genetic inability to use the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine to make the muscle component creatine. A "high protein diet" can ensure that the problem isn't a deficiency of the right amino acids. Vast amounts of protein aren't necessary, getting a single serving of protein at every meal is enough.
  • Creatine supplements relieve muscle deterioration in laboratory experiments with animals that have conditions similar to muscular dystrophy. The thing that most people don't know about creatine is that you have to be adequately hydrated, you can't be dehydrated, for it to work. Creatine combines with water once it is inside the muscle. Always take creatine with a glass of water. These are a good option when it's hard to swallow protein foods.
  • Avoiding excessive calories and especially excessive sugar is also a must in muscular dystrophy. Sugar and fat are "burned" by the body, and the process of using them to make energy releases carbon dioxide. If the muscles that power the lungs are not powerful enough to expel the carbon dioxide through exhalation, it can build up in the bloodstream. It's not unheard up for people who have muscular dystrophy to eat a large holiday meal and then develop hypercapnia, which produces symptoms of even worse muscle weakness than usual, broken blood vessels in the eyes, headache, and possibly seizures.
  • Vegan diets help you cut back on calories, but make sure you get enough protein (and despite what vegan diet gurus say, there isn't enough protein in salads and green vegetables to support someone who has muscular dystrophy).
  • Supplemental coenzyme Q10 (also known as uniquinone and CoQ10) improves muscle performance in most people with muscular dystrophy who use it. Coenzyme Q10 acts like a rechargeable battery in the muscle, helping it store energy. It is not necessary to take more than 200 mg a day, and as little as 30 mg a day may make a noticeable difference. This supplement can interact with the blood thinning agent warfarin (Coumadin), but it is usually OK with more modern anticoagulants such as Plavix, Brilinta, and Xarelto, which operate in the bloodstream in a different way. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to make sure there are no harmful drug interactions with this usually very useful supplement.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, reduce inflammation. It's not necessary to take more than 1 or 2 capsules a day, and you should not take them at the same meal you consume either high-fructose corn syrup (a soft drink or off-the-shelf dessert) or alcohol.
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid (usually available in the same supplement) help fight the oxidative stress that breaks down muscle tissue. A single capsule a day is usually enough.
  • N-acetyl-cysteine, up to 200 mg a day, helps break up phlegm.
  • Magnesium helps relax muscle tension. Don't take more than 400 mg a day. It's a laxative in high doses.
  • The herb rhodiola helps the immune system fight bacterial infections and also to fend off colds. Echinacea has the same effects, but may interact with common prescription medications.
  • Green tea can reduce muscle soreness, but you have to take a supplement to get enough of the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate that does this. Drinking green tea is fine, but usually not enough for symptom relief.

Massage is very useful for relieving tension in overworked muscles. And many people get symptomatic relief from over-the-counter homeopathic products:

  • Arnica is a standard homeopathic remedy for muscle pain. It's easy to find online and in health products stores.
  • Calcarea carbonica relieves cramps.
  • Magnesia phos relieves shooting pain.

Always work with your doctor. Your experience may give your doctor the insight to help many other people.

Separately or even altogether, these natural remedies don't cure muscular dystrophy. But they can improve quality of life and relieve pain.

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