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Jack Osbourne Doesn’t Want MS to Be a Guessing Game

Share on PinterestPhoto Credit: Teva Pharmaceuticals

Picture this: reality stars Jack Osbourne and his sister, Kelly, trying to escape from a self-destructing alien space ship. To do it, they’ll need to correctly answer questions about multiple sclerosis.

“It’s easy to tell if someone has MS,” reads one question. True or false? “False,” answers Jack, and the pair move on.

“How many people in the world have MS?” reads another. “2.3 million,” answers Kelly, correctly.

But why is the Osbourne family trying to escape from a spaceship, one might wonder?

No, they haven’t been kidnapped by aliens. Jack has teamed up with an escape room in Los Angeles to create the latest webisode for his You Don’t Know Jack About MS (YDKJ) campaign. Created in partnership with Teva Pharmaceuticals four years ago, the campaign aims to provide information to those who are newly diagnosed or living with MS.

“We wanted to make the campaign educational and fun and lighthearted,” says Jack. “Not doom-and-gloom, the-end-is-near kind of stuff.”

“We keep the vibe positive and uplifting and we sprinkle in education through entertainment.”

A need to connect and empower

Share on PinterestPhoto Credit: Teva Pharmaceuticals

Osbourne was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in 2012 after seeing a doctor for optic neuritis, or an inflamed optic nerve. Before the eye symptoms occurred, he had been experiencing pinching and numbness in his leg for three months straight.

“I ignored the pinching in my leg because I thought I just pinched a nerve,” says Jack. “Even when I got diagnosed, I thought, ‘Aren’t I too young to get this?’ Now, I know the average age of diagnosis is between 20 and 40.”

Osbourne says he wished he would have known more about MS before being diagnosed. “When the doctors told me, ‘I think you have MS’, I kind of freaked out and thought: ‘The game is over.’ But that may have been the case 20 years ago. It’s just not the case anymore.”

Soon after learning he had MS, Osbourne tried to connect with anyone he knew with the disease to get firsthand, personal accounts of living with MS. He reached out to his family’s close friend Nancy Davis, who founded Race to Erase MS, as well as Montel Williams.

“It’s one thing to read online, but another to reach out and hear it from someone who’s been living with the disease for a while to get a good understanding of what the day-to-day looks like,” Osbourne said. “That’s been the most helpful.”

To pay it forward, Osbourne wanted to be that person and place for other people living with MS.

On YDKJ, Jack posts a range of webisodes—sometimes featuring appearances from his parents, Ozzy and Sharon—as well as blog posts and links to MS resources. He says his goal is for it to become the go-to resource for people who are recently diagnosed with MS, or simply curious about the condition.

“When I was diagnosed, I spent a lot of time on the internet and going to websites and blogs and found there wasn’t really a quick one-stop shop on MS,” he recalls. “I wanted to create a platform for people to go to and learn about MS.”

Living a great life with MS

Jack recalls a time when a friend — who also has MS — was told by a doctor to take Advil, go to bed, and start watching daytime talk shows, because that was all her life would be.

“That is just not true. The fact that there are so many amazing advances out there and knowledge about the disease, that they can continue on especially if they are on the right treatment plan,” explains Jack. Despite the real challenges MS presents, he says he wants to inspire and provide hope that “you can live a great life with MS.”

That’s not to say that there aren’t daily challenges, and that he does not worry about the future. Indeed, Jack’s diagnosis came just three weeks before the birth of his first daughter, Pearl.

“The inherent concern with not being able to be physically active or totally present for everything in my kids’ lives is scary,” he says. “I exercise regularly and watch my diet, and have tried to minimize stress—but that’s nearly impossible when you have kids and work.”

“Still, I haven’t felt limited since being diagnosed. Other people have felt I’ve been limited, but that’s their opinion.”

Jack certainly hasn’t been limited in sharing his story and living life to the fullest. Since being diagnosed, he’s participated in “Dancing with the Stars,” expanded his family, and used his celebrity to spread awareness, share information, and connect with others living with MS.

“I get messages through social media, and people on the street come up to me all the time, whether they have MS or a family member or friend does. MS has definitely connected me with people I never thought I would. It’s cool, actually.”

On the five-year anniversary of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Jack Osbourne has reached a positive conclusion.

“MS is not a death sentence, ultimately,” Osbourne, 31, told TODAY. “Not anymore. There’s hope, there’s absolutely hope.”

One of Jack Osbourne’s biggest challenges with MS has been mental rather than physical, he says.Getty Images

The reality television star and son of rock legend Ozzy Osbourne has become an advocate for the MS community with his “You Don’t Know Jack About MS” campaign in conjunction with Teva Neuroscience. It features information about the disease and webisodes giving people a glimpse into his life of living with MS.

The newest webisode, released on Tuesday, shows Osbourne reflecting on his life since being diagnosed in 2012 when he was 26.

“I kind of look at the diagnosis as a huge silver lining to be honest with you,” said Osbourne, who has two daughters, Pearl, 5, and Andy, 2, with wife Lisa Stelly.

“Before this, I would just be a typical 20-something-year-old and lounge around and just kind of kick it when I could. I don’t do that anymore,” he said. “I hate wasting days. I’m always doing something and trying to accomplish something, whether it’s work, something social or doing something active. So for that, I’m appreciative of it.”

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease that can cause a variety of symptoms, from mobility and walking issues to numbness and speech difficulties, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America.

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Osbourne’s MS journey began when he was paying for gas after coming home from a movie and noticed a black dot in the center of his vision in his right eye. He soon developed optic neuritis, an inflammation of a nerve in his eye that is a potential symptom of MS, and became about 90 percent blind.

He was put on intravenous steroids, which restored the vision in his right eye, but said it has never fully come back.

Osbourne researched MS online and spoke with a family friend who ran an MS charity in order to learn about the disorder.

“Initially, friends were kind of walking on eggshells,” he said. “They were more worried than I was. They were almost overly sensitive to it.”

One of Osbourne’s biggest challenges with MS has been mental rather than physical.

“Depression is the most common symptom among people with multiple sclerosis,” he said. “For me, depression is one of those things where I have had these little slumps, and I have to pull myself out of it.”

When the blues hit, he forces himself to get active.

“I choose to combat it with contrary action. When I’m feeling like I don’t want to go out of bed and I don’t want to do anything and want to shut the world out, I just kind of force myself to go do something.”

Osbourne has not suffered from any severe physical symptoms in the five years since being diagnosed. He follows a three-times-a-week treatment plan, goes to the gym three to four times a week, and focuses on a healthy diet. He also has competed in multiple endurance races.

While advocating for MS, he’s met many others with much more debilitating physical symptoms.

“(You think) that sucks, your heart breaks, and then selfishly you kind of go, ‘Is that’s what’s going to happen to me?”’ he said. “It’s a bit of a roller coaster. I try and stay positive. The thing about the MS community that I’ve learned is that everyone has such an amazing outlook on things.”

Living with MS has ultimately transformed Osbourne’s outlook on life.

“I feel more of an urgency,” he said. “The doctors don’t know how specifically it’s going to affect me in the long term. It took me a while to figure out my baseline, and I really came to the conclusion that I kind of have to seize every opportunity I can because I don’t know what next year’s going to look like, two years, three years.”

“That’s probably the most frustrating thing to me,” he added. “I kind of flip it on its head and I pound that frustration into many opportunities to do things that I want because I can right now.”

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

Jack, you’re doing great work getting what MS is, out to the public. I thank you very much for what you do. Problem is YOU JACK, don’t know jack! Yes it is great giving out information about MS and symptoms. Yet the symptoms are varied. For every person diagnosed who has current (GOOD and responsible) insurance or the ability to pay out of pocket for the tests needed to confirm the diagnosis and then get treatment, there are thousands who can’t overcome that hurdle. As the mother of a son just one year older than you I know the battle getting the diagnosis was and continues to be. You got the diagnosis early enough that yes it has its effects, but you didn’t have to go through being days from dying before finally the tests were done. Then for the run of the mill person you get that diagnosis and breathe a sigh of relief that there is a reason behind your body’s revolt. You are then faced with the real nightmare. Getting treatment seems a breeze. I fought like no other b!t*h can do. It still took 5 months to get in to see ANY neurologist. Even then it is not assured you will get treatment. Tim was informed at 4:30 pm the day before he was to receive his first infusion of tysabri that a nurse practitioner that oversaw all the drugs for medicaid in our state was going to review if the neurologist knew what he was doing and if treatment was needed. I bet your own mother would have gone to battle like I did. Long story short the first treatment was only delayed an hour and the Governor called and apologized to my son. Yes I moved a mountain. That brings up what about the other spouses/parents/care givers that run headlong into this crevasse of endless road blocks? I won for now, but others are stuck just trying to get that diagnosis. I look back and the first time Tim had symptoms that !most likely were the beginnings of an exacerbation was when he was 9 years old. The major episodes didn’t hit until he was about 21. At age 30 he was fighting for his life. Today he is mostly out of his wheelchair and can walk about a city block with a cane. His brain is totally covered with the lesions and a golfball sized black hole from the advancement of the disease. Yet he volunteers in the inpatient rehab department (those with neurological tramas) at the hospital he was in. He is there to encourage and be an example of what can be accomplished. He is also a moderator for one of the online MS boards. He is giving back what he can.

So when I say you don’t know Jack! I mean it from the perspective of one who is constantly battling in ways you have been fortunate not to have encountered. More needs to be done. There are noe over 400K diagnosised in this country alone with MS. That is diagnosised! How many more are just fighting to find out what is happening to them? Even if a Doctor knows what it is, they are hampered for the vast majority of patients by insurance. Its not about ObamaCare, it is the insurance companies themselves and their denials. Read erisa laws and find out what most people have to battle before they can battle MS. Then if you get (big if there) medicaid and eventually medicare, you face news road blocks and denials. What happens is the system takes a vital person and reduces them to an invalid.that is the real battle front for people with MS. The system that denies them.

Sorry I get long winded. Again you are doing a good job for the area you cover.

Jack Osbourne: ‘MS Is Different for Everyone’

“The eye doctor sent me to the ER, and the ER was like, ‘We need an MRI,’ and then spinal taps, and blood work, and talking with neurologists,” Osbourne says. “Come to find out, that wasn’t my first exacerbation. About 18 months prior, my legs had gone numb, and it was all connected to the same thing.”

‘I Felt a Weird Obligation to Speak Out’

While many celebrities and noncelebrities alike choose to keep a diagnosis of MS private, Osbourne decided to go public about it very soon afterward.

“I felt a weird obligation,” says Osbourne. “I’m in the public eye, and I thought it would really benefit people” if multiple sclerosis were talked about a bit more.

After all, he continues, “MS is very common and a lot more common than people think,” but “a lot of people who are younger are nervous to let people know about it because of the stigma that comes along with it. I know a few people who keep it on the DL.”

‘Don’t Lump Everyone Under the Same Umbrella’

In reflecting on what he’s learned in his eight-plus years of living with MS, Osbourne says, “The thing that stands out to me the most is how quickly things are progressing, in the sense of what they told me the first day I got diagnosed to where we are now. It’s almost a different landscape.”

Included among the things that have changed are, “I was told there’s no real value to diet change, and now we know that there is,” Osbourne says. “I was told there’s no significant benefit to exerting yourself through exercise, and now a lot of people will say the opposite, that having an exercise routine is really beneficial.”

But in spite of the advances that scientists are making in understanding how best to treat MS, public perception of the disease remains mired in old ideas.

“The most common misconception is that people think you’re not so able-bodied when you have MS,” says Osbourne. “Either that, or they’ll assume you’re fine because you’re not in a wheelchair.

“I like to say that MS is as unique to the individual as their own fingerprint,” he says, adding, “The biggest thing is: Don’t just lump everyone under the umbrella of ‘This is MS’ because it really is so different for everyone.”

‘You’ve Got to Experiment to Find Out What Your New Baseline Is’

One of the television appearances for which Osbourne is remembered is his turn on Dancing With the Stars in 2013. Although he’d never danced previously, he and partner Cheryl Burke managed to place third.

The effort came at a cost, however.

“I actually got really pretty symptomatic during Dancing With the Stars,” he says. “I hid it well, but I was having really bad problems with fatigue and balance, and I started getting tingling up my arms and legs.”

Still, it gave him a chance to show the people who said he couldn’t do it — and there were some — that he could.

These days, for Osbourne, “Most days are good.” He is able to do high-intensity CrossFit workouts, “and for me it works and makes me feel good.”

Fatigue is his biggest enemy. “There have been times I’ve had to pull my car over and take a nap in a parking lot. And I still get the occasional tingling in my arms and legs. But by and large I’m doing okay,” he says.

Based on his own experience, Osbourne offers this advice those more recently diagnosed: “You’ve got to experiment to find out what your new baseline is. There’s going to be trial and error at first. It’s going to take a bit of time to figure out what you can do and what you can’t do, and to determine how to do the things you want to do.”

RELATED: Can’t vs. Cannot: Defining Your Limits With MS

‘It’s the Least Sexy Thing to Get Spoken About With Regard to MS’

Although Osbourne is doing well physically, he is not immune to the anxiety that often accompanies living with MS. “A lot of the challenge of living with MS is fear, the mental health aspect of it — worrying if a symptom is being caused by MS,” he says.

He shares this example: “I had this thing the other day where I lost a bit of hearing in my ear for three days. It turns out I just slept funny, but I was completely sweating it, wondering, Is MS affecting the nerves in my ear now? Am I going to lose my hearing? What is this going to mean?”

Osbourne adds, “The most commonly shared symptom of MS is depression; that is the through line of most people living with the disease. It’s the least sexy thing to get spoken about with regard to MS, but in my experience, it’s probably the most important.”

That’s why, he says, “It’s really important to have a system in place to combat it the best you can, because that takes more people out of the picture than anything these days.”

Jack Osbourne Reflects on His Last 5 Years Living With MS: ‘The Emotional Side Is the Toughest Part’

When Jack Osbourne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 26, he thought to himself, How do I make lemonade out of this? How do I turn this into something good? His answer: partnering with the pharmaceutical company Teva Neuroscience to launch You Don’t Know Jack About MS, an online platform that provides insight and resources for people living with the disease and their family members. (Check out the latest webisode here.) Now at his five-year milestone with multiple sclerosis, Osbourne is still working to raise awareness about the disease. He spoke with Health about how he keeps his symptoms under control, his go-to stress relievers, and why it’s so important to live in the moment.

How has your condition changed in the years since you were diagnosed?

I’m doing really well right now—knock on wood. You can’t put a price on that. I’m healthy and haven’t had any significant flare-ups in a long time. I have relapsing-remitting MS, which means you get flare-ups and they go away.

What does a flare-up look like for you?

I’ve had two major ones, which led to my diagnosis. The first flare-up I had, and I had no idea what it was at the time, but my legs went numb for three or four months. They were very sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. If my belt buckle touched my leg it felt like fire. But then when I went and stood in a warm bath my legs would feel freezing. That went away after four months. And then about 18 months later I developed optic neuritis , and that’s what prompted me to go to the doctor.

Did you write off the numbness in your legs as an odd symptom that would go away?

I totally wrote it off as, “Oh, this is just some weird thing. I just pinched a nerve; I’ll be okay.” I was 24 at the time, I think. When I couldn’t see very well, I thought this is a problem I should probably get checked out. But I had no idea the symptoms were connected.

RELATED: Could You Have MS? 16 Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

How is your vision now?

It’s restored, but my right eye never went back to fully normal. I like to say that my left eye is a 4K TV and my right eye is like a TV from the 80s.

Are there any other symptoms you notice day to day?

It’s not every day, but I sometimes experience what a lot of people call “zaps.” It feels like an electric current is shooting up and down your arms and legs, like you touched a hot wire. I used to get them more frequently, like I was getting them every couple of weeks, but now I might go a month or two without.

What is your diet and exercise regimen?

It’s funny, when you get diagnosed with MS the advice doctors give you is to get on a treatment plan, eat sensibly, exercise regularly, and minimize stress. Well, isn’t that kind of a recipe for good living anyway? I do as much as possible to keep my immune system healthy. I do that through eating right—I try and stay away from inflammatory food—and very rigorous exercise. I go to the gym three or four times a week. I go hard. I do CrossFit and endurance events.

RELATED: 6 People Explain What It’s Really Like to Live With MS

What sorts of endurance events?

I’ve done everything from biking, to 10Ks, to Gold Rush challenges, which are like 10 to 20 miles carrying 30 pounds of weight in a backpack. I’m doing a 24-hour adventure race this summer. I like to get after it. But I also don’t like to rub that in anyone’s face.

Do you mean others diagnosed with MS who might not be able to be so active?

Exactly. I have to remember that I am able to do this stuff right now, and I’m proud that I can do it. But there are a lot of people out there with MS who can’t. That’s the really frustrating part about this disease; it’s so different for everyone.

Does stress affect you?

Stress is probably the thing that makes me feel the most MS-ey, so to speak. I feel a physical pull from stress. It makes me feel spacey. I think times where I do suffer from MS-induced depression, it’s in times of stress.

RELATED: 10 Celebrities with Multiple Sclerosis

What has the emotional toll been like?

The emotional side of MS is the toughest part. Depression is one of the most common symptoms that people with MS share. It’s kind of like the elephant in the room. I even had it the week leading up to my wedding, and I certainly had nothing to be depressed about. I look at my two daughters and, not to get overly sappy, but there is that notion where if they get married, I might not be able to walk them down the aisle. I can get kind of heavy with it. There are times it just comes out of nowhere and really kicks me in the ass.

What are your coping strategies?

I’m a huge proponent of play. I have lots of hobbies I really commit to, and I use that as an outlet to de-stress, which helps with the depression. I’m also a fan of talk therapy. I’ve been going for a few years. I also think it’s important to have a social life.

Have you felt depressed recently?

I’ve actually been doing really well. Lately I’ve just experienced the human element of getting down in the dumps every now and then, but I haven’t had a really altering state of depression in a while.

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How have your relationships shifted?

My family and friends are starting to realize, “OK well, he’s okay. It seems like he’s got a handle on this.” Initially it was like all hands on deck, people asking, “What do you need, what do you want?” Everyone was being very nurturing. My wife is from Louisiana, and I was pretty much raised in England. The cultural differences when you’re British and you’re sick and you’re from the South and you’re sick are like night and day. When I get sick, it’s like, “Leave me alone, don’t talk to me, I’ll let you know if I need anything.” If my wife is sick, it’s like, “Rub my feet! Do this, do that! I need water!” I take the stiff upper-lip approach. I always have. I don’t require a lot of hand-holding. But it might not be this way forever. So I don’t want to piss off the people around me that might be holding my hand one day!

Do you have any insight into how your MS could progress?

My doctors give me broad strokes; they lay out what can happen. It’s not to say relapsing-remitting MS can’t turn into progressive—which means you’re in a constant state of flair-ups and your body just deteriorates as a result—if it’s not properly treated or handled. What I do know is that it’s a bit of a role of the dice. I could be great, great, great for years and then it could hit me like a ton of bricks. I have to psychologically prepare myself for that. And, as terrible as it is, you go to bed every night thinking, “Is tomorrow the day? And if it is, what’s the plan?”

What’s the most frustrating misconception about MS?

The one thing I get is, “You look great!” I’m like, “Are you saying that because I have MS? What does someone look like that has MS?” That was kind of the reason behind starting You Don’t Know Jack.

RELATED: Top 10 Myths About Multiple Sclerosis

Your daughters are young. How do you talk to them about it?

My 5-year-old sees me take my medication. I have an injectable I take three times a week, so she sees me inject myself and she’ll be like, “What is that? What does that do?” She loves playing doctor so she gets all excited. I think it’s fun for her. But when I explain that Daddy is kind of sick, she’s like, “Oh, OK.” I think as they get older they’ll be able to comprehend it a little bit more. But I’m very active with my kids. We’re always doing stuff, whether it’s going to the beach or park or camping. I try to be as active as possible because there is no guarantee that’s it’s going to be like that forever.

Have they inherited your adventurous side?

Pearl is like a fish, loves the water. I surf a lot so I’m hoping that in the next year or two I’ll get her on a surfboard. Andy is 2 but she is like my little climber buddy. We might get some camping trips in. I’ve been thinking about pulling the trigger and getting an RV. I want to do the whole Pacific Coast with them, go up to Washington. Oh, and they also like cats and unicorns too.

Do you want more kids?

I want like a whole baseball team.

Jack Osbourne feeling good about MS treatment

Jack Osbourne is “feeling good” about his multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment plan.

The 30-year-old television personality was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2012, a disease which targets the nerve cells in the brain and spine, and disrupts the functionality of the nervous system.

Now, ‘The Osbournes’ star has said he’s “doing really well” now that he’s on a treatment plan that he can stick to.

He said: “I’m doing really well right now, which is awesome, always good news. That’s all I can really ask for at the moment. I’m feeling good, I’m taking care of myself, I’m sticking to my treatment plan, so things are good.”

And the star – who has two daughters, four-year-old Pearl and 16-month-old Andy, with wife Lisa – says the birth of Pearl helped him deal with his diagnosis.

He added: “It’s weird, because I got diagnosed with MS three weeks before my oldest daughter was born. So there was a huge lifestyle change anyway and then you add to it. shifted the focus, which I think is good.”

Since being diagnosed with the disease, Jack – who is currently starring in travel show ‘Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour’ with his father Ozzy Osbourne – has set up a website called ‘You Don’t Know Jack About MS’, in which he aims to give people “a better understanding” about the disease.

Speaking to People magazine, he explained: “The whole point of ‘You Don’t Know Jack About MS’ was to create a destination website for people to go and just learn the broad strokes about MS. What is it, how does it affect people, and cut through a lot of the noise that the internet tends to be full of. Here’s the facts, it’s easy to digest.

“But I don’t want the focus to be on me. I know it’s called that, and I’m hosting it, but I want the focus to be about the disease and kind of giving people a little bit of hope, and a better understanding about what it is.”

Watch Jack Osbourne Cover 150 Years of MS History in 5 Minutes

If ‘you don’t know jack about MS,’ Jack Osbourne is here to help.

In a recent video, reality star Jack Osbourne sits on a comfy brown chair inside in a dimly lit room accented with a burning fireplace. Classical music plays in the background.

“Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there,” he says, before explaining, “we’re going to be taking a journey to the origins of MS research. Jump aboard and let’s go travel time.”

The video is one of the latest in a series of webisodes created by Osbourne for his You Don’t Know Jack About MS campaign.

Now in its fifth year, the campaign was created along with Teva Pharmaceuticals and focuses on sharing information with people who have a new diagnosis or are living with MS.

“We try to humanize the experience for people,” Osbourne told Healthline. “We don’t root ourselves in research. We take the research and hard fact-based evidence that others have done and have proven to be true and we put a human face to it, whether it’s through my story or other people’s stories or educational videos that are easy to understand.”

That’s exactly what he does in the 5-minute long webisode, The 150 Year History of MS with Jack Osbourne. In the video, Osbourne looks back at how our understanding of MS has changed since 1868 when the disease was officially classified by professor Jean-Martin Charcot, who Osbourne notes was also the first to diagnose the condition in people.

Throughout the video, Osbourne talks about other developments of MS throughout history, including those of Dr. James Dawson, who in 1916 released a detailed description of MS as well as changes in lesions caused by the condition.

But why does he present the information in the form of a history lesson? Osbourne’s personal journey with MS sparked the idea.

In 2012, after experiencing optic neuritis (an inflamed optic nerve) and several months of pinching and numbness in his legs, Osbourne was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). While he experienced permanent damage to his right eye, he currently lives symptom-free.

He said understanding how MS treatment has evolved over time strikes a chord with him — and he’s a bit of a history buff as well.

“History is the only subject in school that I was any good at,” said Osbourne. “I love telling stories. I think it’s really important. Stories give you an idea of where we’re going to go from where we’ve been and I’ve never really seen anything that was breaking down the history of research into MS, especially as it pertains to the last hundred years or so.”

With his campaign team, Osbourne came up with a concise explanation of what the last hundred years plus have looked like “in an easy to digest, somewhat lighthearted way to tell something that is kind of intense,” he said.

Share on Pinterest“I think keeping it light makes me and others feel better about what we’re going through and leaves people with a little hope,” Osbourne said. Photo via You Don’t Know Jack About MS

Jack Osbourne Goes Public With Multiple Sclerosis

During spring of last year, Jack Osbourne began experiencing puzzling symptoms. On location in Utah to film Haunted Highway, his television series about the paranormal, the 27-year-old television star (and son of legendary rocker Ozzy and media personality Sharon) was shooting a scene that required him to scuba dive into a cold lake at night. He emerged from the water with a migraine-like headache. The next day, he awoke to find his eyesight blurry.

As his vision became progressively worse, Osbourne made an appointment with his doctor, who referred him to a neurologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. After extensive testing—including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and lumbar puncture (spinal tap)—Osbourne was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS)—the most common form of the degenerative, neurologic condition.

Multiple Sclerosis: The Basics

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord. MS damages the material that surrounds and protects nerve fibers, called the myelin sheath. This damage slows down or blocks messages between the brain and the body.

What are the four types of MS? Relapsing-remitting MS is the most common. It is characterized by periods of relapse (symptom flare-up) followed by periods of remission (recovery). More than 80 percent of people who have MS begin with relapsing-remitting cycles. Many patients with relapsing remitting MS go on to develop secondary-progressive MS. This type involves relapses and partial recoveries, but the disability doesn’t fade away between cycles; instead, it worsens until a steady progression of disability replaces the cycles of attacks. Primary-progressive MS progresses slowly and steadily from its onset. There are no periods of remission and symptoms generally do not decrease in intensity. Progressive-relapsing MS is a relatively rare type of MS in which people experience both steadily worsening symptoms and attacks during periods of remission.

What are the symptoms of MS? Symptoms can include tingling, numbness, loss of balance, blurred or double vision, and weakness in one or more limbs. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include muscle stiffness, pain, incontinence, and cognitive problems such as trouble finding words and loss of short-term memory.

How is MS diagnosed? In order to make a diagnosis of MS, a physician must:

  • find evidence of damage in at least two separate areas of the central nervous system AND
  • find evidence that the damage occurred at least one month apart AND
  • rule out all other possible diagnoses

The diagnostic tests most commonly used to determine if someone has MS include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and spinal cord, lumbar puncture (spinal tap), and tests to determine whether nerve pathways have been affected.

How is MS treated? Ten drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to slow disease progression: beta-interferons (Avonex, Betaseron, Extavia, and Rebif); glatiramer acetate (Copaxone); natalizumab (Tysabri); mitoxantrone (Novantrone); and the oral drugs fingolimod (Gilenya), teriflunomide (Aubagio), and dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera). In addition, short courses of steroids are used for symptom flare-ups. All of the treatments can have significant side effects.

What research is being conducted? The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (ninds.nih.gov ) conducts and supports research. More than a dozen clinical trials in humans are underway.

For more articles on MS, go to http://bit.ly/x4E6Fb

The news came as a shock to Osbourne, who was introduced to audiences in The Osbournes. This hugely popular MTV reality series ran from 2002 to 2005 and featured the domestic life of his family. Engaged last year to his longtime girlfriend, Lisa Stelly, Osbourne had been anticipating one of the happiest years of his life. Two weeks prior to his diagnosis, he and Lisa had celebrated the birth of their daughter, Pearl, and were busy planning their wedding. Suddenly, Osbourne faced an uncertain future.

“When I was diagnosed, I immediately thought of comedian Richard Pryor, who had MS,” Osbourne says. “I envisioned being in a wheelchair a couple of years down the road and thought that was it-game over.”

It’s not uncommon for people who are diagnosed with MS to initially fear the worst, says neurologist Barbara Giesser, M.D., Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and professor of clinical neurology and clinical director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

During the past 20 years, however, the disease has become highly treatable. While researchers still have not found a cure, many medications can help reduce symptoms and sometimes even slow the progression of the disease. Advances in treatment options, including oral medications—as well as a new understanding about the genetics of the disease—have given both doctors and patients more reason to be hopeful.

“While MS is a complex neurologic condition that requires ongoing care, many people can live a full life with appropriate treatment,” Dr. Giesser emphasizes.

Until recently, only injectable drugs had been available to treat MS. In September 2010, the first oral medication for MS, fingolimod (brand name Gilenya) was introduced, followed by the launch two years later of teriflunomide (Aubagio), a once-daily oral medication for patients with relapsing forms of MS. This past March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved another oral medication, dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera).

In addition, researchers are working to pinpoint genetic markers that will help determine which medications will be most effective in particular patients. This would allow doctors to customize treatments for individuals, opening the door to genetically personalized medicine.

A Crash Course in MS

ERASE MS! Osbourne at the 20th Annual Race To Erase MS Gala with mother, Sharon, and sister, Kelly. Left: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images; above: Larry Busacca/Getty Images LEAN ON ME Jack and his father, Ozzy, have leaned on each other for support.

Before his diagnosis, Osbourne admits MS wasn’t on his radar. After learning he had the disease, which affects more than 2.1 million people worldwide, Osbourne wanted to learn everything he could about how the disease is managed.

“I didn’t want to rush into any treatment decisions until I’d done some research and talked with my neurologist,” Osbourne says. “Also, I realized in retrospect that I had been having symptoms for quite some time. In 2010, I experienced numbness in my legs for about two months and just assumed it was a pinched nerve.”

Neurologist Bruce Cohen, M.D., Fellow of the AAN, professor of neurology and director of the MS Clinic at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, says it may take time for MS patients to get a definitive diagnosis. “Symptoms also may come and go, often disappearing for months or years,” he says.

Dr. Cohen encourages his recently diagnosed patients to discuss the risks and benefits of various therapies before beginning a course of treatment. The goal is to suppress the disease as completely as possible early on, he says.

“We look for a treatment that is effective for each individual patient and presents an acceptable level of risk to that patient in terms of potential side effects such as fatigue, flu-like symptoms, infections, injection-site reactions, and gastrointestinal problems,” Dr. Cohen says. “This can be different for different people. And some patients may have other medical conditions—such as depression, diabetes, or heart disease—that affect how well they can tolerate treatment.”

Dr. Cohen says patients should talk to their neurologist about their lifestyle, family, and employment to consider how the disease may impact their life.

“Newly diagnosed patients may be concerned that they will have to change major life plans or activities, but often this is not the case,” Dr. Cohen says.

Six weeks after his diagnosis, after reading about the disease and exploring his treatment options, Osbourne decided to start nightly glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) injections. Used to treat cases of remitting-relapsing MS, the drug has been shown to reduce the number of relapses and to slow the progression of the disease.

“Since starting medication, my vision slowly returned, and I haven’t experienced any side effects,” says Osbourne, who had lost 80 percent of the vision in his right eye.

Being diagnosed at 26 posed a unique set of challenges for Osbourne. Although MS is typically diagnosed in people ages 20 to 40—with twice as many women as men—the English media personality didn’t know anyone his own age who had MS.

“I’ve learned there are so many misconceptions about MS,” Osbourne says. “It’s not a disease that only affects older people or women.”

Shortly after discovering he had MS, mutual friends introduced Osbourne to talk show host Montel Williams, who was diagnosed with MS in 1999 at the age of 42. At the time, Williams’ prognosis was bleak. Doctors told him he would be using a wheelchair within four years, which turned out not to be the case.

“Montel has provided me with a wealth of information,” Osbourne says. “He’s talked to me about how he adjusted his diet and stays healthy by exercising.”

Osbourne also found support through Nancy Davis, a Los Angeles-based jewelry designer and founder of the Nancy Davis Foundation, who was diagnosed with MS in 1991 at the age of 34. In April, Davis honored Osbourne and his mother, Sharon, at her Race to Erase MS benefit in Los Angeles. Davis presented the two with her organization’s Medal of Hope award, given annually to those who promote awareness of MS.

Mentors can help newly diagnosed patients learn to manage a chronic condition such as MS. But finding a good mentor or a support group requires diligence and judgment.

“There’s value in finding someone with similar health challenges that you can connect with, but you want to select your mentors or support group carefully,” Dr. Cohen says. “You want to find a person or group who has a situation or an outlook that is similar to your own, but you also need to find someone you can trust. If you talk to the wrong person and get erroneous information, it can make your condition seem more frightening and possibly lead you away from effective disease management.”

This is especially true for MS patients, since symptoms can vary dramatically from one individual to the next, and even in the same individual from one period of time to another.

“The National MS Society has a great program where they match individuals with peer counselors,” Dr. Cohen says. “They pair people with others who are at the same stage in their disease and help them navigate issues such as family stress or concerns about their diagnosis.”

Support can also benefit family members who have a loved one that has been diagnosed with MS. “Jack’s diagnosis was a complete shock to us,” Sharon says. “Ozzy and I started reading everything we could about MS. I did the same thing after I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I think it’s empowering to know what you’re up against and to realize that having a serious illness isn’t a death sentence.”

Sharon is proud of her son’s resilience. “He’s extremely strong. He’s taking his health seriously, and he has a positive attitude,” she says.

Workplace Rights

While Jack Osbourne has chosen to live publicly with MS, others feel the need to hide their disease over worries that it might hurt their careers.

In August, Osbourne and his mom, Sharon, found themselves at the center of controversy after Osbourne was reportedly let go from the NBC reality series Stars Earn Stripes, featuring celebrities competing in military-style challenges. The television network denied this, saying that while Osbourne was being considered for the show, a contract had not been signed. But the incident shed light on the stigma of workplace discrimination and its effect on employees who have chronic illnesses.

The National MS Society has developed a valuable worksheet entitled Should I Tell? (Download at nationalmssociety.org .) The worksheet encourages employees to consider long-term implications and to weigh their decision carefully.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, which covers employers with 15 or more employees, prohibits on-the-job discrimination against individuals with disabilities. If you believe your rights in the workplace have been violated because of having MS, you can file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

For more information on your workplace rights while living with a chronic health condition, visit eeoc.gov.

Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle

In the summer of 2005, Osbourne shed a whopping 70 pounds and completely overhauled his life. He got treatment for his substance abuse problems, trading in alcohol, cigarettes, and junk food for a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Today, Osbourne continues to stay active and eat healthy. He takes a multivitamin and vitamin D supplement.

GROWING UP OSBOURNE Left to right: Jack with father Ozzy in 1986; with family during a guest appearance on the set of MTV’s The Real World in 2004; with buddy Elton John in 2011; and with wife Lisa Stelly at the 2013 Grammy Awards. Left to Right: Terry Smith/Getty Images; Dave Hogan/Getty Images; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images; Christopher Polk/Getty Images

“Some data show a link between low vitamin D levels early in life and subsequent increased risk of developing MS,” Dr. Giesser says. “Also, some studies show that low vitamin D levels in people who already have MS are linked to a higher risk of relapse.”

However, this research is not considered conclusive. A number of large, ongoing studies should help determine with more confidence whether vitamin D can prevent or treat MS, what blood levels of this vitamin are appropriate, how much should be consumed through diet or supplements, and how much vitamin D is safe to take. But before supplementing their diet with vitamin D, patients should talk to their doctors.

Osbourne also recently joined his parents as they embarked on a weight-loss plan. While there is no particular diet recommended for MS patients, Dr. Giesser says a healthy diet—with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and polyunsaturated fats—will promote general good health and help to prevent conditions such as hypertension and diabetes that make MS more difficult to manage. Regular exercise also benefits MS patients by improving mood as well as muscle strength, flexibility, and balance.

“Not only does exercise have the same benefits for people with MS as it does for people in general, it also has been shown to lessen some MS symptoms such as fatigue and depression,” Dr. Giesser says. “Research also suggests that exercise may have some anti-inflammatory effects. This is an active area of investigation.”

Osbourne tries to exercise three to four times a week through hiking or weigh training. Patients should talk to their neurologist before starting an exercise program, embarking on a new diet, or taking vitamins and supplements, especially because some supplements can interfere with prescribed medications. Follow your neurologist’s suggestions on dosage—not just of medications, but also vitamins or supplements.

Osbourne also has learned to make downtime a priority, as stress seems to exacerbate MS symptoms for many people.

“After a hectic day, I often retreat to my man cave and play Xbox for an hour,” Osbourne says with a smile. “My wife, Lisa, has also gotten very good at helping me learn to say no to professional requests. It’s easy to believe that I constantly need to be on the go. Lisa encourages me to take breaks.”

Today, Osbourne—who continues to work on Haunted Highway and produce other television shows, including Alpha Dogs, the National Geographic series about an elite force of dogs that works with the police and military—says he’s committed to raising awareness about MS.

“I struggled at first as to whether I should tell people I had MS, but I felt as if I almost had an obligation to go public,” Osbourne says. “MS is a part of my life, but it’s not controlling my life, and I hope that bringing attention to my condition will help the global cause.”

After growing up in full view of the public thanks to reality TV show The Osbournes, it’s fair to say that Jack Osbourne’s childhood wasn’t exactly conventional. Highly privileged, sure. But being raised the son of heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne and rock manager Sharon Osbourne must have come with its challenges.

A battle with drug addiction in the 2000s saw Jack come out on top but, cruelly, his toughest challenge was yet to come. In May 2012, he was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. Now 32, Jack isn’t the type to easily throw in the towel, and he is facing the disease head-on, in real life and online as well.

Despite personal obstacles in the public eye and challenges of the disease, Osbourne is thriving after his diagnosis with MS.; Credit: James Branaman

“I was filming a show at the time and we were in Utah, in the middle of nowhere,” Osbourne tells L.A. Weekly. “I’d just gone to see a movie, and on the way home from the theater I was at a gas station and this little black dot appeared in the middle of my vision. I thought it must be a migraine or something. I took some Advil and went to bed, and the next morning, the dot was bigger. The next day it got even bigger, to the point where I completely lost vision in my right eye. I had about 10 percent of my peripheral vision left. I came back, and I went to the doctor. They took me to the hospital, and I had an MRI, and that’s when the notion that it could be MS first came up. It was about two weeks later when all the results came back that I was given the full confirmation.”

Viewers of shows like Adrenaline Junkie and Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour know that Osbourne is charismatic on-screen. So it makes sense that he would use those skills to educate the public about MS, a disease that is still widely misunderstood, with his brilliantly titled web series called You Don’t Know Jack About MS. Importantly, Osbourne himself knew very little about the disease when he was initially diagnosed.

“I knew about Richard Pryor having it, and Montel Williams,” he says. “My parents had gone to a couple of MS fundraiser events, but I didn’t know anything about the disease. I didn’t know what it did, I didn’t know what it affected, so it was kind of a shock to me.”

Richard Pryor is probably the most high-profile celebrity to have been diagnosed with MS, and that was in the mid-1980s. Yet still very little is known about it.

“It was a thing where I didn’t really plan on telling anyone about it for a while, and then I had an incident where I got let go from a job because they said that I wasn’t physically able to do it, and it really pissed me off because, ‘How dare you tell me what I can and cannot do, based on an ailment you know nothing about,’” Osbourne says. “It just proved to me that people don’t understand what it is. That’s why I decided to be vocal about it. During this time period, I was spending a lot of time on the internet researching things, and I didn’t really ever come across that one website that gave me all the info I needed in a really easy-to-digest way. That was the inspiration behind You Don’t Know Jack About MS.”

Osbourne takes to the streets of Los Angeles to question and educate passers-by about MS. It’s a funny and poignant strategy.; Credit: You Don’t Know Jack About MS

It’s a fascinating, important project. The webisodes, covering everything from symptoms to exercise, myths and, most recently, parenting, clock in at around five minutes each, and the 17th one has just landed online.

“I think the biggest thing to me is growing it to a place of where we’re constantly reaching out to other people and having them weigh in on things or tell their story,” Osbourne says. “Talk to different doctors and scientists in the field. Because it’s an ever-evolving landscape. Every couple of months, there’s some new and interesting breakthrough as it pertains to MS. The way I look at it, until this is a curable disease, there’s always going to be a desire to have information around it.”

MS is a particularly cruel disease, not least because it can be invisible. Those diagnosed with it can have good days and bad days, which leads to uncomfortable situations with an ill-informed public.

“I’m pretty good in the sense that those around me — if I say, ‘Hey, I’m not doing good right now,’ people will say ‘OK,’” Osbourne says. “It’s almost like people are overly aware of things. If I’m squinting my eye because my contact is dry, my mom’s like, ‘It’s the MS.’ No, it’s a dry contact lens. People in my life are so overly concerned that anything is MS. But it’s such a diverse disease and all the things it affects, it can be confusing to people.”

MS is also exacerbated by stress, which can make the trials of everyday life difficult to deal with, even when you’re not living in the public eye. Osbourne has been going through a much-publicized divorce, naturally a very stressful time. He has his own ways of dealing with it all.

“I love going to the gym, I love surfing, spending time outdoors, spending time with the kids — to me, that’s the best stress reliever,” he says. “I try and surf at least once a week, go to the gym at least three times a week, and so that to me is my little outlet. It’s my way of unwinding. When I post stuff about being physically active, some people are like, ‘That’s good but I can’t do that.’ But for me, right now I can and so I absolutely will take advantage of every opportunity that I can do right now.”

Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour, season 3, is airing now on A&E, and Osbourne has more You Don’t Know Jack About MS webisodes on the way.

“I’m just busy right now, which is good,” he says. “Getting tired and being a father, I just have to go to bed when I put the kids to bed, because if I’m up late and have to get up early, it just rocks me.”

To watch the webisodes, visit youdontknowjackaboutms.com.

Additional Links

Jack Osbourne, the son of Sharon Osbourne, has told the Dr Oz Show that he follows a strict paleo diet to reduce the effects of his multiple sclerosis.

Jack was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2012 when he went to see a doctor after noticing that his eye sight was worsening.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic illness, which causes the body to attack the myelin sheaths, which protect nerves. Those with multiple sclerosis therefore suffer from numbness, tingling, and sight loss.

Jack turned to the paleo diet in an attempt to stop his body from deteriorating.

Diet is a big thing. I am a firm believer in you are what you eat. I juice a lot, I try and stick to a Paleo Diet. – Jack Osbourne

Jack cuts out foods that cause inflammation, including dairy, gluten, and grains. Indeed, a number of doctors and nutritionists have weighed in on the discussion, explaining that following a low carb ketogenic diet and eliminating grains can help treat and prevent a number of conditions, from depression to dementia.

For more information about this, read the story on Independent or on Examiner.

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VN:F please wait… Rating: 9.5/10 (2 votes cast) Jack Osbourne Eats Paleo To Battle His Multiple Sclerosis, 9.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings 0 Shares

In 2012, Jack Osbourne went to the eye doctor for vision loss in one eye and came back with news that he had multiple sclerosis.

But this wasn’t the first time the son of rock legend Ozzy Osbourne had been faced with a life-threatening challenge. Jack overcame addictions to pills and alcohol 10 years ago, and in 2005 faced his next challenge: his weight. In 2006, Jack told MF that his TV show Adrenaline Junkie helped him drop from 210 to 160 pounds. And he didn’t stop there.

Watch our interview with Jack to learn what he does to stay fit and how his MS diagnosis is affecting his life. And be sure to catch Jack on Fuse News, which airs weeknights at 8/7c.

Read on to learn more about the Osbournes and Jack’s path to a healthier life>>>

MF: Congratulations on being 10 years sober. What advice would you give someone else who’s battling an addiction?

JO: Advice in this realm is always tricky. If you are an individual suffering from addiction, sometimes advice isn’t what you really want. But what I would suggest is to really think about what you want, and if what you’re doing is actually going to get you what you want. If it’s not, there are plenty of options out there for getting help, and I highly recommend it.

A few of your family members went through similar transformations before you did. Is there any connection there or did you learn anything from them?

I think having issues with weight is clearly a universal problem these days. We weren’t designed to sit in cars and sit behind desks for 9 to 15 hours a day. We have two legs, we’re natural hunter-gatherers, and we’re meant to be on our feet all day. So it’s something a lot of people have to battle in some aspects. As far as getting advice from each other, it’s not like we sit around like, “You know what you really need to do, Kelly?” It never really comes up.

Since you have such a busy lifestyle, what tips do you have in terms of staying in shape while juggling a job, a family, etc.?

Probably the best advice is to do everything in moderation. I’m not the kind of person who’s like, “Oh, it has to be macrobiotic.” I’m not always in a place where I can eat as healthy as I want, but there’s always a healthier option on the menu. So I’ll try to practice as much restraint as possible, although it’s not always mission: accomplished. But I eat right, I juice a lot. I usually drink my breakfast. And I just remain active. I have one of those fitness bands that tells you how you’re doing in your day. I set my goal on that and try and hit it at least four or five times a week.

At 26, you’ve overcome obstacles that some people don’t overcome in a lifetime. Where do you find the motivation to keep going?

I’m good at problem solving, which is why I got hooked on rock climbing. All rock climbing is is problem solving. You’re literally solving a problem fighting against gravity. So it really helped program my brain to think, OK, so I’m looking at this giant, 1,000-foot cliff in front of me. How can I get to the top? So I apply that mindset to everything that’s come up since then. It’s working, so I’m not going to go against it.

How has your life changed since you’ve been diagnosed with MS?

In relation to my MS diagnosis, my life hasn’t changed that much. Only because I have a newborn baby that I have to take care of. Taking care of my child is top priority, and then I take care of me. I’m really fortunate that my MS was found early enough. I take daily injections and it has kept things good so far. And I do whatever I have to do to stay as healthy as I can. So it’s all good.

You were doing a show called Adrenaline Junkie for a while. Do you still consider yourself an adrenaline junkie?

There are definite adrenaline junkie aspects. I’ve had to hang up the motorcycle helmet since having a kid though. I had to stop participating in activities that have uncontrollable risks. But I think at heart I still have my adrenaline junkie roots.

How do you feed that craving now?

I haven’t climbed in a while, but that’s still kind of my passion. My need for adventure has driven me to a lot of work. I do a show on Syfy called Haunted Highway where I basically run around in the dark with my friend trying to find ghosts. That gets pretty scary at times when you’re like literally in the middle of the woods and there’s supposedly something weird out there. So that definitely gets the blood pumping.

We have to ask, what’s Ozzie like as a grandpa?

Wow. Let’s see. My dad as a grandpa. It’s pretty funny actually. My daughter has this weird thing. If you have long hair and glasses, she freaks out. Doesn’t matter who it is. But if you have glasses and your hair pulled back, she’s fine. Or if you have long hair with no glasses, she’s fine. So whenever my dad comes over, I’m like, “OK, either hair up and glasses or hair down and no glasses,” and she’s fine. He’s been on the road so I send him a bunch of videos all the time and he cracks up. He’s pretty good with her.

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Jack and Chad both manage their multiple sclerosis with the Paleo diet.

This article was originally published in Examiner. Copyright© 2014

Singer Chad Vaccarino of the duo A Great Big World is treating his multiple sclerosis with the Paleo diet, saying the low-carb, gluten-free eating plan has reversed most of his symptoms.

Vaccarino began following the Paleo diet after seeing a TEDTalk by Dr. Terry Wahls, a physician who dramatically improved her progressive MS with the Paleo diet.

Dr. Wahls, who was diagnosed with MS in 2000, developed her own personalized Paleo plan, and has effectively been managing her multiple sclerosis for the past seven years. She detailed her remarkable story in her bestseller, The Wahls Protocol.

Vaccarino is grateful for the relief he has found after following the Wahl’s Protocol Paleo plan. “ went away completely,” Chad told ABC News (see video). “It was all the diet.

“I’m sharing my story today in the hopes that it might inspire you the way Dr. Wahls’ story inspired me. I don’t know if it will work for everyone, but it did for me and I’m grateful.”

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic degenerative disease of the nervous system. Sufferers often experience a loss of vision in the early stages, numbness in their extremities, and tingling.

Chad said he suffered from all these symptoms before finding relief with the Paleo diet, which emphasizes high-quality animal proteins, healthy fats, low-starch vegetables and fruits, and excludes gluten, sugar, dairy, legumes, alcohol and processed foods.

Vaccarino, 28, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007, when he was a senior at New York University. He said he decided to go public with his illness to bring more awareness to the disease.

“It’s just a big thing to put out there into the universe, into the world,” said Vaccarino. “It’s one step at a time. This is just the start of the conversation.”

Jack Osbourne Uses Paleo Diet to Manage Multiple Sclerosis

Like Vaccarino, TV star Jack Osbourne is treating his MS with the Paleo diet.

Jack was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis just two weeks after his daughter Pearl was born in 2012. Osbourne said the Paleo diet effectively manages his multiple sclerosis because it reduces inflammation — a major driver of chronic disease as well as weight gain.

“I look at MS as inflammation, so I try and eliminate foods that cause inflammation, like dairy, gluten and grains,” Osbourne said.

Jack, 28, also credited the Paleo diet for his stunning 70-pound weight loss. The 5-foot-10 Jack, who has struggled with weight his entire life, slimmed down from 260 pounds to 190 pounds following the gluten-free eating plan.

He said the low-carb Paleo diet helps him stay thin without experiencing chronic hunger and pro-inflammatory blood sugar spikes.

Osbourne’s and Vaccarino’s success treating their MS with the Paleo diet is not surprising at all to Dr. Wahls, a professor at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

Dr. Wahls said her MS improved dramatically, without drugs, after she switched to The Wahls Protocol Paleo plan.

“The results stunned my physician, my family, and me: within a year, I was able to walk through the hospital without a cane and even complete an 18-mile bicycle tour,” she said.

Paleo Diet Fuels Weight Loss and Prevents Disease

The Paleo diet is the most popular diet around, and has a large celebrity following, including Tim McGraw (who credits it for his jaw-dropping 40-lb weight loss), Joe Manganiello and Megan Fox, who lost all her baby weight on the Paleo plan.

Research suggests the Paleo diet accelerates weight loss, reduces blood pressure, prevents and manages cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, depression, and even Alzheimer’s.

A recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates the Paleo diet is twice as effective as other diets for promoting weight loss and reducing belly fat.

While press reports tend to focus on the Paleo diet’s efficacy at fueling weight loss, the diet’s founder, Dr. Loren Cordain, said the plan’s major health benefit lies in its capacity to prevent and cure chronic disease.

“Clinical trials have shown the Paleo diet is the optimum diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, help with weight loss, reduce acne, promote optimum health and athletic performance,” said Dr. Cordain, author of The Paleo Diet for Athletes and The Paleo Diet Cookbook.

Courtesy James BranamanWhen Jack Osbourne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) five years ago this month, he says it was his family, including his parents, Ozzy and Sharon, who bolstered him up and kept him strong. Diagnosing the condition is tricky, which is why it’s important to know these silent MS symptoms.

“My dad was around a lot, he asked a lot of questions and was with me through my entire diagnosis process,” he says. “My mom, too—and to have them in my corner is crucial: To hear your parents say ‘hey listen we’ll figure this out as a family’ made me feel like I wasn’t alone. My heart breaks when I hear about people who have MS and don’t have that support and they’re in a bad way. It makes me feel very fortunate.”

For the last few years, Osbourne—a married father of two daughters—has become more than a MS patient. He’s now an advocate for MS awareness with You Don’t Know Jack About MS, a campaign in partnership with Teva Neuroscience, that aims to be a resource that educates people about the disease in a way that’s easy to understand and shows that you can live a fulfilling life with MS.

“I have a hard time connecting when watching videos featuring an expert wearing a white lab coat and standing in an immaculate set,” he says. “I wanted to create a destination website that would answer my questions in a really simple form but I also wanted to dispel the myths about MS,” he says. Designed for people living with or curious about MS, the site contains educational content, downloadable patient resources, a series of webisodes about life with MS, and blog posts from Jack, his friends, and family members.

The site’s latest webisode, How I Told My Family About My MS Diagnosis, was inspired by Osbourne’s own experience as well as by a note he received through social media.

“A professional athlete who has been living with MS but hadn’t told anyone about the disease sent me a message,” Osbourne says. “It dawned on me that there are a lot of people out there who don’t have the confidence to have that conversation.” (Read about actress Terri Garr’s take on dealing with her MS diagnosis.)

Osbourne also uses the episode to offer tips.

“My family’s initial reaction was worry and they kept saying ‘do you need anything, do you want anything,’” he says. “I kept saying ‘I’ll let you know.’ And I think that’s why in this webisode, I bring up that point. I advise people to tell your family the way you want to be helped. It took a minute to draw those lines out with my family, to say you don’t need to do that and I’ll let you know if I need anything. It was more like I’d say, ‘My shoulder hurts’ and their immediate reaction would be, ‘Is it the MS?’ I’d say ‘No, my shoulder just hurts.’”

A journey fulfilled

Courtesy James BranamanOsbourne’s MS journey began five years ago when he was paying for gas after coming home from a movie and noticed a black dot in the center of his vision in his right eye. He soon developed optic neuritis, an inflammation of a nerve in his eye that is a potential symptom of MS, and became about 90 percent blind. (MS is one of several conditions eye doctors are often the first to detect.)

“Next thing you know, I feel like I’m an episode of House, and they give me the news that I have MS,” he said. “I had no idea what MS is, so it was really quite freaky to be honest.”

He was put on intravenous steroids, which restored the vision in his right eye, but he says it has never fully come back.

To find out more about MS, Osbourne researched the condition online and spoke with a family friend who runs an MS charity. These days, Osbourne is doing well and manages his disease with an injectable treatment three times a week. “I inject myself which was a big adjustment,” he says. “There are a dozen treatments out there, but I wanted to find one that allowed me to live the way I wanted to live. I thought if an injection would be my best bet to meet those goals than that would be something I’d do.”

Emotionally, the disease can be very challenging, says Osbourne. “The most common side effect of MS that most people will experience at some point is depression or having some kind of mental health issues as a result, he says. “There are times where I do slip into a funk. It could be that I’m predisposed to having depression, or it could be MS.”

Regardless, Osbourne says he handles it the same way he does anything.

“I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep an end goal in sight,” he says. “My daughters help for sure. Having the responsibility of taking care of them, being married and producing and hosting TV shows helps so I can’t just lay in bed—I have to keep things moving along.”

In the end, he hopes You Don’t Know Jack About MS becomes an immediate go-to to newly diagnosed patients.

“My ultimate goal is to create a website where when someone gets diagnosed, the doctor suggests he or she visit our website,” he says. “That’s my goal. I want this to be the MS one-stop-shop.”

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that can hit young people out of the blue, because the symptoms are variable and it does not tend to run in families. The diagnosis, though, can be a massive shock, because it can become a very disabling condition and there is no cure.

Jack Osbourne, like many others before him, was angry and distressed at his diagnosis. His reaction is not at all uncommon, according to the UK-based MS Society.

“MS is most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s,” said Simon Gillespie, the chief executive of the MS Society. “There’s no cure for MS, so dealing with a diagnosis can be tough – but there is lots of help and support out there for people like Jack, including help from the MS Society, which means many people with the condition go on to live full lives.”

MS is a neurological condition, affecting 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million worldwide. It is a disease of the central nervous system, affecting the brain and spine and optic nerves (which is why eye problems can be, as in Osbourne’s case, early symptoms).

It is thought to be an auto-immune disease, which means the person’s own immune system causes the damage by attacking healthy nerve tissue.

Why some people get MS but others do not is still a mystery, but likely to be a combination of genetic factors and environment. Some genes have been implicated in the disease, but there is no single over-riding mutation which predisposes people to it.

MS is much more common in northern than in southern climes – in fact, incidence soars the further away from the equator you get. Scotland has a particularly high incidence rate and some scientists are convinced the underlying issue is a lack of vitamin D – the so-called sunshine vitamin, which is necessary for our development and is made by the interaction of sunlight on skin. Scotland has such weak sunshine that even in the summer months, human beings struggle to make enough vitamin D.

In 85% of people, MS begins in what is known as the relapsing, remitting form – symptoms, which can include balance problems, dizziness and spasms, come and then go either partially or completely. Later that can turn into secondary progressive disease, where there is no respite from the build-up of disability. A minority go straight into primary progressive disease, skipping the remission phase.

Drug treatments for MS can help alleviate the symptoms but are as yet unable to halt the disease or cure it. There is hope that stem cell therapies may one day be the answer, because it may be possible to “re-grow” the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves of the brain and spinal cord that is scarred and damaged in the course of the disease. But that could be a long way off.

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