How to cure myasthenia gravis with yoga, and other myths

'Miracle cures' can do more harm than good, this columnist says

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by Shawna Barnes |

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“You should drink celery juice and cleanse your body. It will cure you!”

“I’m a distributor for this supplement company, and I know it will make you feel better and cure your autoimmune disease.”

“Have you tried yoga?”

These are the top three “cures” I’ve heard from usually well-meaning friends or acquaintances who comment on my myasthenia gravis (MG) awareness posts on social media. Who knew all I had to do was eat raw vegetables and drink celery juice and I’d be cured? Or take a supplement that might actually do me more harm than good because the distributor was just regurgitating a script and didn’t actually know what’s in the products they’re selling?

And I know that many of us in the chronic illness and myasthenia gravis communities have heard that exercise and yoga will make everything better. The unfortunate reality is that it could actually make us worse, if the uniqueness of our neuromuscular disease isn’t taken into consideration.

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Piss-poor planning makes for poor performance in life with MG

Myth No. 1: Celery juice and ‘clean’ eating will cure you!

There’s no doubt that eating whole foods that come straight out of the ground is generally better for us than eating processed foods. Much of our food contains pesticides, preservatives, and fillers to help make it taste better and last longer on shelves. I know that I feel bloated and my joints hurt when I eat more processed food.

My symptoms are better managed and I feel better overall when I eat higher-quality foods. Clean eating is not a cure, but it can aid in symptom management.

Myth No. 2: Supplements will cure you!

This idea falls under the same umbrella as eating less processed foods. Can supplements help provide specific nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that we could be deficient in? Absolutely. I take several. But the supplements that I take have been approved by my care team and cleared of adverse interactions with my medications.

Vitamins and supplements can be as tricky as processed foods because of the fillers and preservatives used. The supplement industry is only loosely regulated. As a result, the labels don’t always tell the full story. That’s especially true with direct marketing companies that offer proprietary blends. If it has a proprietary blend and the ingredient amounts are not disclosed, then I stay away from it.

Myth No. 3: Exercise and yoga will cure you!

Do we need to move more as we’re able? Yes. Is physical activity difficult because of the nature of myasthenia gravis? Also yes. Do we have to be careful of the duration and types of activity we engage in as a result? Again, yes.

Physical activity and exertion are possible when you have MG, but it helps to be guided by a professional who’s knowledgeable on the unique limitations our neuromuscular disease presents. I’m lucky to have a husband who is a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. We use me as a guinea pig to create mobility and activity programs for people like me.

My hips hurt because I’m sedentary. We know I feel better when I can move more. Through trial and error, we’ve discovered that mobility (stretching) and strength training programs are possible for me. The programs are just heavily modified with a reduced number of repetitions and lots of rest built in.

‘Miracle cures’ do more harm than good

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve heard these claims from friends and acquaintances. They usually mean well, but are clueless about what life with MG is actually like. So this year, for Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month, I’d like to encourage folks to pay attention to what they say and how they say it.

If we could cure MG by simply changing our eating habits or getting out and exercising more, trust me, we would. I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone. If you believe something might make a loved one with MG feel better, talk to them and find out what they’ve tried instead of assuming you’ve just stumbled upon some miracle cure.

Miracle cures hurt more than they help. And the fact is, they’re a myth.

Note: Myasthenia Gravis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Myasthenia Gravis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to myasthenia gravis.


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