Steps to Overcoming MS but MS Society warns diet is unproven

Overcoming MS (OMS) is a popular, yet unproven, diet and lifestyle programme for people with MS. And in just under two weeks, on Sunday October 22, you can learn more about it at an OMS conference in Brighton, UK.


Professor George Jelinek (Pic: Overcoming MS).

Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis claims to promote the integration of diet and lifestyle changes into standard medical management to improve the health and lives of people with multiple sclerosis”. Professor George Jelinek, of Melbourne, Australia, developed the OMS Recovery Programme more than 15 years ago. He received a diagnosis of MS in 1999.

OMS started in Australia and New Zealand. It is a non-profit organization and accepts no funding from the pharmaceutical industry. In 2011, it formed a charity in the UK to with the aim of making the OMS programme available worldwide.

omsThe one-day conference is to include a number of presentations These are to focus on the seven steps of the recovery programme: diet, sunlight and vitamin D, exercise, meditation, medication, preventing family members from getting MS, and doing whatever it takes to overcome MS.

Organisers say the event will be of value to anyone, whether newly diagnosed, new to OMS or someone who has already been on the recovery programme for some time.

OMS step by step

So, what’s in the OMS recovery programme? To summarise:

  • Diet and supplements
    • A plant-based wholefood diet plus seafood, with no saturated fat, as far as is practical
    • Omega-3 fatty acid supplements: Take 20-40mls of flaxseed oil daily; fish oil can be used instead if desired
    • Optional B group vitamins or B12 supplement if needed
  • Vitamin D

    • Sunlight 15 minutes daily 3-5 times a week as close to all over as practical
    • Vitamin D3 supplement of at least 5000IU daily, adjusted to blood level
    • Aim to keep blood level of vitamin D high, that is between 150-225nmol/L (may require up to 10,000IU daily)
  • Meditation

    • 30 minutes daily
  • Exercise

    • 20-30 minutes around five times a week, preferably outdoors
  • Medication

    • In consultation with your doctor, if a wait and see approach is not appropriate, take one of the disease-modifying drugs (many may not need a drug, and drug selection should be carefully weighed against side effects)
    • Steroids for any acute relapse that is distressing
    • One of the more potent drugs if the disease is rapidly progressive

The MS Society, on its website, has expressed a note of caution. It says there is no conclusive evidence of the benefits of the proposed diet, a key component of the programme. It warns that the diet may not provide enough protein and may be too low in energy.

omsThe society says: “The OMS diet recommendations are similar to the Swank diet. It advocates cutting out dairy and meat, and reducing fat intake – particularly saturated fat. It also recommends supplementation, particularly with omega 3 (in the form of fish oil or flaxseed oil) and vitamin D if your exposure to sunlight is limited.

“Research into this diet has not provided conclusive evidence of its benefits. However, as with the Swank diet, following the OMS programme is not likely to be considered bad for you.

“You should make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet, through eating plenty of fish, beans or pulses. Likewise, the diet may be low in energy, so it may not be suitable for you if you have high energy needs or you are already underweight,” says the society.

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* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

4 thoughts on “Steps to Overcoming MS but MS Society warns diet is unproven

  1. So much of what you have described makes a lot of sense. We all (MSers) know inflammation takes place in our brain forming lesions and that is why steroids are given whether by hospital drip or prescription prednisone to treat exacerbations. That is why the Paleo diet is the latest recommended approach…it reduces inflammation. Large amounts of vitamin D is also a trend. Many people with MS are negatively affected by heat (as high as 80% of people with MS)…I am one of them. I am also affected by sunlight; it paralyzes me. I also pass out doing aerobic exercising as it raises my internal temperature. Since I need to avoid the sun, it only makes sense to take vitamin D. But keep in mind, recently have found when studying the brains of those with MS(that have been donated to research) large deposits of vitamin D. I guess even a good thing can be taken too far. We have all heard of CCSVI and anyone who has the privilege of MRI venous study, has become aware of restricted blood flow in the brain for people with MS. When blood flow is restricted, deposits of vitamin D would take place. We need to open blood flow and the CSF flow…as well as open the micro lymphatic flow in order to make the brain healthy…and allow it to heal. There is little doubt that a diet that reduces inflammation, and taking vitamins (vitamin D) which may be deficient would improve or at least minimize MS symptoms. I encourage this research.


  2. Thought as much myself Ian: dubious money spinner that OMS, and the condition itself may become in unsafe/the wrong hands…/

    Thanks for confirming….., and have a great day!


  3. I’ve been following the swank diet on and off since diagnosis in 1991 as it was the only “ holistic” piece of research I could find at the time. When Prof Swank submitted his research the pharmaceutical companies saw to discredit him because a few people dropped out of his research and because there was no profit to be made in it through the selling of drugs.
    The OMS program makes no profit, sells no drugs and just promotes a healthy lifestyle. I’ve been following it myself for the past 5 years.
    Ok…I have just been rediagnosed as SPMS and have mobility and cognitive issues therefore my neuro will not give me anymore DMT however I feel that if I had not kept myself healthy, exercising regularly and meditating which OMS recommends my ability to cope with the changes mentally would have been dire and my disability may have been much worse. Who knows? Everyone’s MS is different…but taking care of the box we’ve been given to live in is OUR responsibility alone not the NHS nore the medics. They are there to support us on our journey and we have a responsibility to keep our side of the bargain.


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