We have seen how seasons affect our bodies. From seasonal affective disorder – a depression that affects most people from the months of late autumn to early spring, and other conditions like arthritis, rheumatism and various respiratory illnesses, how we feel from summer to winter can vary quite dramatically. Often times we find that the winter months are hardest on our condition (ignoring allergy season!) but for those with multiple sclerosis, winter can be a time of less pain, fewer symptoms and better all-around health.
Doctors and researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston conducted a study of 44 people over a period of two years who were not receiving treatment for their MS, and were living in Massachusetts. Of the 44 people studied, 31 showed an increase of lesions (13 did not). Researchers monitored the amount of rain, sun and daily temperatures to gauge the connection between seasons and MS symptoms, flares and the advancement of the condition.
The results showed that the brains lesions caused by MS significantly increased during the warmer and lighter months of the year. The study found no such link during the winter months where precipitation was more common (rain/snow).
Dr. Dominik Meier, one of the co-authors of the study, stated that “Our results showed that the appearance of lesions on brain scans was two to three times higher in the months of March to August, compared to other months of the year."
Additionally, he said the results of the study showed that “The observed seasonality in MS disease activity has implications for trial design and therapy assessment. The observed activity pattern is suggestive of a modulating role of seasonally changing environmental factors or season-dependent metabolic activity."
Researchers also pointed out that since the people in the study were not being treated at the time, nor were they put on more/different drugs when their lesions appeared, that drugs cannot for any decreases in the condition's advances. Nature may be a natural treatment for some people with MS. By living in climates with less heat and sun, MS sufferers may experience better health.