Multiple Sclerosis

The “Spicy” Exercise That Helps MS

November 10, 2023

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This Spicy Exercise Helps MS Depression

Imagine a spice so valuable it’s often referred to as ‘red gold.’ And what if I told you that same spice held the potential to help you better manage Multiple Sclerosis. It turns out, recent studies showed that when taking a supplement form of this spice and doing corrective exercises it may ease depression in women with MS. 

About the Study

Have you heard of saffron before?

It’s one of the most expensive spices in the world but it turns out it might be priceless when it comes to those of us living with multiple sclerosis and depression.

A recent study looked at how saffron (a spice) and corrective exercises can help women with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 

Researchers studied 80 women with MS for 12 weeks. 

They divided them into four groups: 

  • one group did saffron, 
  • another group did corrective exercises, 
  • a third group did both, and 
  • a fourth group did neither (control group). 

They used tests to measure depression and the quality of life at the beginning of the study and after six and twelve weeks.

The results showed that at the end of the twelve weeks, all the groups that did something (saffron, exercises, or both) had less depression and better quality of life compared to the group that did nothing. 

And the group that did both saffron and exercises had the best results.

So, this study suggests that using saffron and doing exercises together can help women with MS feel less depressed and have a better quality of life. 

It sounds enticing right? 

Well this study certainly sparked a lot of interest in both saffron and corrective exercise, so here’s what I discovered. 

About Saffron 

Saffron is definitely one of the most expensive spices in the world.

The high cost of saffron is because it’s such a labor-intensive process to harvest it. 

Saffron threads are hand-picked, and it takes thousands of flowers to produce just a small amount of saffron. 

In cooking, saffron is known for its vibrant red-orange color and unique flavor. 

It’s commonly used in dishes to add color, aroma, and a subtle floral taste to dishes. 

You may have seen or tasted it in… 

  • Paella: Saffron is a key ingredient in the famous Spanish dish, paella, where it infuses the rice with its color and flavor.
  • Risotto: Saffron is often used to flavor and color Italian risotto dishes, such as saffron risotto (risotto alla milanese).
  • Indian cuisine: Saffron is used in Indian cooking, particularly in biryanis, desserts like kheer, and various curries.
  • Middle Eastern cuisine: It’s used in dishes like Persian saffron rice and saffron-infused sweets.
  • Desserts: Saffron is also used in desserts like ice cream, cakes, and pastries to add both flavor and color.

Outside of its culinary uses, saffron has some potential health benefits:

  • Antioxidant Properties: Antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
  • Mood Enhancement: Some studies suggest that saffron may have mood-enhancing effects and could help alleviate symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: Saffron may help to reduce inflammation in the body – something we could all use a little help with!
  • Improved Cognitive Function: There is some research indicating that saffron may have a positive impact on cognitive function and memory.
  • Weight Management: Saffron extract has been studied for its potential role in appetite control and weight management.

That’s quite an enticing list, but remember that when it comes to herbs and spices, to get therapeutic benefits, you often need to take therapeutic doses – in other words, not just sprinkling it in a dish but actually taking a supplement form of it. 

Purchasing Saffron Supplements

You can find saffron supplements in both capsules and tablets in health food stores and from various supplement companies. 

Just keep in mind that the quality and authenticity of saffron supplements can vary, so it’s essential to choose reputable brands – this is true for any supplement but especially saffron given it’s high cost, you may find that some companies try to entice you with a reduced price but it comes with reduce quality and therefore reduce benefits, if any at all.

And of course, it’s always important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement – I find pharmacists to be especially helpful here.

Okay now, let’s shift over to the other aspect of this study… 

Corrective Exercise

Corrective exercise refers to exercises designed to 

  • Address musculoskeletal imbalances, 
  • Improve movement patterns, and 
  • Alleviate pain or discomfort caused by postural problems, muscle weaknesses, or movement dysfunctions. 

The goal of corrective exercise is to improve the body’s functional movements, promote better posture, and reduce the risk of injuries.

To learn corrective exercise, you could work with 

  • Certified Personal Trainers
  • Physical Therapists
  • Certified Corrective Exercise Specialists.
  • Rehabilitation Centers

Setting Up Your Program

And when working with them, they take you through a process starting with… 

An Assessment: to understand your specific movement patterns, posture, joint mobility, and muscle imbalances are evaluated to identify areas of concern. They want to get a baseline of where you’re at and understand what needs to be addressed. 

Individualized Programs: Based on the assessment, they’ll develop a personalized exercise program to address specific weaknesses, imbalances, or movement dysfunctions. These exercises are tailored to your individual needs.

Functional Movements: Many corrective exercises focus on functional movements that mimic activities of daily life. The goal is to improve your body’s ability to move better throughout your day with less pain and being less prone to falls and injuries.

Progression: Corrective exercise programs are typically progressive, meaning they start with basic exercises and gradually advance to more challenging ones as your strength and stability improve.

Consistency: As with an exercise, but especially with corrective exercises, consistency is key to seeing improvements. To get the best results, it’s ideal to incorporate the exercises into your daily or at least weekly routine.

Benefits of Corrective Exercise

But it’s worth it because the benefits that you can experience from corrective exercise includes:

  • Improved Posture
  • Pain Reduction
  • Enhanced Functional Movement
  • Injury Prevention
  • Increased Strength and Stability

In the context of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), corrective exercise can be particularly beneficial. Because MS can lead to muscle weakness, balance problems, and it can alter our movement patterns. 

And circling back to this study when combined with saffron, corrective exercise may also help to reduce the risk of depression when living with MS. 

And that’s today’s MS in the News!

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I'm Alene, your MS Sister.

When I was diagnosed with MS in 2016, I was scared and felt alone. But as a Nutrition Coach, I knew there was more to healing than what I was being told. I took action and within six months the lesions I had on my brain shrunk and went inactive. Now, seven years later there has been no new lesions and no new activity. As a nutritionist specializing in multiple sclerosis, I help women take back control of their future.

That’s my story, but I’m not alone. It's your turn to start Thriving with MS. I’m here to show you the way. 

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