New Pathways MS Magazine Inclined Bed Therapy Article in "July/August 2010"
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Voice Audio of Inclined Bed Therapy Article in "July/August 2010" issue of New Pathways Magazine
Andrew K Fletcher aged 53 is an inventor from a mechanical engineering background who applied density changes in sap from evaporation at the leaves of trees to show how a downward gravity flow can induce a returned less dense flow back to the leaves. He applied the same logic to the circulation of all fluids in the body and has researched a radical new approach to medical conditions including MS, “by thinking outside the box”. His new postural approach to illnesses is called “Inclined Bed Therapy” (I.B.T) this is where people raise their beds starting at 4 inches raising after a few weeks 6 to 8 inches at the “head end” aiming for an angle of around 5 degrees. Andrew explains why.
For the past 17 years I have been working on a theory about circulation and how posture – particularly our habitual horizontal sleeping posture at night and poor sitting posture, compromises our circulation – and is a very important and frequently overlooked factor in MS. The first pilot study was conducted with the help of the Kingskerswell M.S. Society Branch, after initial success with Roger Kirk who was the first person with ms to test I.B.T and was featured in the Daily Mail standing by his wheelchair. The pilot results exceeded our expectations that were independently analysed and reported by the MSRC in a paper titled Raised Bed Survey.
A second larger Internet based ms study was conducted online and ran for just over a year confirming the previous pilot study results to be both reliable and repeatable. A third online ms study is ongoing and producing even more astonishing results and we are looking for many more people with ms to join us and keep a progress journal. Reports can be found on the IBT Forum at inclinedbedtherapy.com
I.B.T was mostly being overlooked and ignored as the years ticked by But for those who decided to investigate this simple non-invasive postural therapy reported significant improvements. All that changed last year when the debate about CCSVI focussed attention on Paolo Zamboni’s paper about poor drainage of blood from the brain caused by a stenosis (narrowing / kink) in the main veins of the neck could lead to lesions forming from blood reflux (two directional - flow) to the brain in MS.
It is wrong to consider blood draining from the brain or rushing to our feet or head without considering the return flow. Blood flow is by nature circular - hence it is called circulation. A restriction in a vein or artery can undoubtedly slow down circulation and cause backpressure and reflux. The question is what causes the veins to constrict and twist? To understand this we need to look at how varicose veins and choric venous insufficiency CVI, respond to IBT. After all these superficial veins are part of the same venous return and must be subjected to identical postural pressure changes as those in the neck.
Varicose veins in people using IBT were the first important observations reported showing long established swollen twisted veins restored to normal looking veins in as little as 4 weeks of avoiding flat bed rest for some and longer periods of IBT for people with more severe CVI. When this happened, I knew that the theory had merit because we had shown that the pressure inside the veins had been reduced and this fitted precisely with theory.
How could something as simple and benign as changing our sleeping and sitting habits alter circulation? For this to happen there needs to be a slight density imbalance between the blood flowing down in the arteries and the blood flowing back towards the heart and brain in the veins. When we exhale water is distilled away from the lungs, each breath we take must alter the density of the blood in the capillaries of the lungs and gravity must act upon any density changes, no matter how insignificant we might think the inevitable density changes are.
My thinking about posture and MS is as follows: Humans like most animals have evolved to stand upright. Like the tree, the circulatory tubes are predominantly arranged vertically so logically we need to be upright or on an incline to keep the flow of blood, cerebrospinal fluid and lymph going to maintain our muscles and nerves. It is not just the heart that achieves this, the heart for example does not govern the nervous system and lymph. We know from the literature that posture and respiration play an important roll in their circulation. Gravity obviously assists fluids to move downwards and surprisingly gravity also assists bodily fluids to move upwards in the opposite direction. In a closed / semi closed system - like blood CSF or lymph.
We all lose water with each breath, this water is distilled away from fluids that contain dissolved salts and sugars. Exhaling together with the constant evaporation from the eyes and skin inevitably alters the density of residual fluids making them slightly denser than the , concentrating residual salts and sugars in our blood, CSF and lymph fluid at the lungs. Gravity acts on this denser liquid pulling it downwards. But, for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction! In other words when the body is at an angle around 5 degrees or more the improved downward flowing arterial blood is under a slightly increased positive pressure and the blood inside the veins is placed under tension by the falling pulses of denser blood released into the arteries after breathing out evaporated water. Think of these pulses of denser blood behaving like a liquid syringe plunger pushing the blood molecules in front of it and dragging on the molecules behind it affecting every single molecule of blood in the circulation. Providing our posture is aligned with the direction of gravity running from head to toe gravity can assist both the arterial flow and the venous return flow.
Of course we have a heart to pump blood around the body and indeed when we are horizontal we rely totally on the hearts ability to keep the blood flowing. However, without gravity to assist the circulation the heart, which is after all a muscle pump, will apply positive pressure to both the arteries and the veins. The arteries are capable of withstanding the pressure but the veins are much softer and will not resist the increased pressure well, giving rise to varicosity in susceptible people, while the kidneys are unable to filter and clear excess salts efficiently as was shown with urine density measurements using a hydrometer while horizontal, 5 degree inclined and head down tilt. Head down tilt produced urine density near water values. I.E. no salts / toxins were being excreted, while IBT produced stronger, denser urine, which means that renal filtration was improved. This simple supplementary flow and return was used to great effect while my dad was in hospital. We were told that he had multiple organ failure and would not come out of a coma. His urine while horizontal was brown and tar like; his legs had ballooned with oedema. Within a few hours, after a long battle to get his bed tilted, his urine began to flow clear and yellow and he came out of the coma, over several days his legs returned to normal size and enjoyed 8 more months of life before succumbing to his cancer and infections.
Posture and MS is that lying flat at night means gravity can no longer help circulate the blood meaning that we have to rely solely on our hearts. At night bodily fluids flow less well – they are more saturated with minerals which may be what is "eating away" at the myelin causing the MS symptoms. Perhaps sleeping with the body inclined slightly increases the body's own circulatory system washing away the minerals that are at fault, in this way preventing reflux of fluids.
Brief History Of Sleeping Inclined
There are some interesting lessons from history. We know that around 4,000 years ago the Ancient Egyptians slept on inclined beds raised by 6 inches at the head end. We know this because inclined beds were found in their tombs.
In the Tudor period people were afraid to lay down due to the “sweating sickness,” which would almost certainly mean death by morning when a flat posture was adopted. Guards were posted at the bedside of those affected by the sweating sickness to prevent them from sleeping flat. Tudors felt that sitting in a chair would prolong life as we know from the death of Elizabeth 1st who spent three days sitting refusing to go to bed. She was eventually convinced by her physicians to lie down and died the same night.
More recently I read that a Napoleonic Fort in Canada was found to have two large beds capable of sleeping 12 people. These beds were made permanently inclined.
Inclined bed therapy is certainly by no means an overnight cure. You need to have some patience as some symptoms take time to respond. But some do change quickly - you will find you have higher energy levels and no longer having cold feet in bed (you will find this because of better circulation) Although it’s no miracle cure inclined bed therapy could be the next best thing!.
In 1997 a survey was carried out into inclined bed therapy with help from the MSRC The survey was of nine people with MS and four people with other conditions who slept in raised beds for many months. What was found was at least “generally encouraging”. Overall the survey reported that people who slept in inclined beds believed there were benefits, many of them substantial, to be gained from using the raised beds. This can be found on my website under My Research tab at http://www.andrewkfletcher.com
Swollen twisted veins in the legs or varicose veins as we call them can be returned to normal looking veins by controlling posture alone. Surgery at best provides a temporary fix with varicose veins, because the surgery does not address the internal pressure and tension that causes them to become varicose veins. More superficial veins will become varicose veins to take the diverted blood flow and it’s inherent high pressure. The swollen veins inside the neck and close to the spine are not disconnected from the same venous that supplies the legs, so there should be no doubt that these abnormal veins in the neck and next to the spine are undergoing the same reconditioning that the chronic venous insufficiency undergoes in the legs using I.T.
I truly have had a wonderful experience sleeping inclined since February 1998 when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At that time I was looking for information and ran into someone with similar experiences to mine - I found someone who had some pain and other symptoms. She was recommending sleeping inclined and put me in touch with Andrew Fletcher.
What Andrew offered involved no pain or money (my kind of therapy!!) I used a couple of large books to prop on the frame of my bed (how easy!!) The very first night, the symptoms subsided. That was amazing - but my husband complained about sliding down. I thought - no problem, it worked. I removed the books and slept flat again. The pain came right back! I suggested my husband could sleep on the couch or get over it.
We have both been sleeping inclined ever since. My neurologist asks me during my annual visit how I'm doing. I've had subsequent MRI's and there is no sign that I'm progressing negatively. The doctor reminds me that MS isn't supposed to get better (but I appear to be!)
Beginning in a few days I'm going to start toward a degree in nursing. My doctor is encouraging my studies - he doesn't foresee any problems with this rather serious endeavour. The MS is not a problem for me. I try to stay in touch with my body and take it seriously if it tells me I'm tired or too hot or cold. The best thing for these "problems" is to go to bed and get some rest. It has never failed to restore me to where I was before I was ever diagnosed with this "debilitating" disease!
Christian Hag (40 ) is a computer programmer who lives in Denmark, with his wife Ane, and two lovely children - Magnus (2) and Emilie (6). Christian has relapsing remitting MS and was diagnosed in June 2009. His symptoms have included walking and balance problems optic neuritis, and Lhermittes sign He is on Avonex.
I have been following the CCSVI discussions on thisisms.com for quite a while. I immediately thought that this was a pretty important discovery. I have since often wondered why all of my MS symptoms always presented themselves in the morning, when I woke up. I asked the question on thisisms.com and I immediately got the answer "try Inclined Bed Therapy". So I did.
At first my wife wasn't too thrilled with the idea, but she quickly discovered that it didn't matter to her. We sleep in a double bed and I started in November 2009. I raised the bed with some wooden blocks, which I added extra boards to, as needed. Initially I raised the bed about 10 cm. After about a month I added another 2 cm, and then finally the last 3 cm. We are now on 15 cm.
The first morning I noticed that the dizziness I used to have in the mornings was gone! I was able to stand up, and walk straight right away - without holding on to walls. Other improvements are as follows: The L’hermittes sign is almost gone. Only when I'm tired can I feel some of the symptoms. My vision has improved, I'm not so tired anymore - I have no need for a nap during the daytime anymore. My left leg is not so annoying anymore. Only when I'm tired do I get the weird left leg. All the weird skin-sensations on my legs are gone. I'm not feeling so awful during the day anymore
I really feel that doing the IBT is making me well again - something that I thought could never happen.
How to raise your bed safely
All you have to do is raise the head end of your bed by 6 inches!(15cm)
thats it! Just go find some bricks or blocks of wood out the garden and
stick them under your bed!