2 local women 'liberate' themselves from MS symptoms

2 local women 'liberate' themselves from MS symptoms
Second part in a series on a possible new treatment for multiple sclerosis. View Part 1 of the series »

SEATTLE - The medical community is being turned upside down - because of a new treatment for multiple sclerosis.

It's called the "Liberation procedure" - but it's almost impossible to get. So two local women with the disease decided to take treatment into their own hands.

The two young women are deeply connected. Though you wouldn't know it by just looking at them, they both have multiple sclerosis.

"Eventually I had an MRI, and I had lesions, and they told me I had MS," says one of the women, Tarah Virgil.

While MS symptoms come and go, Tarah was disabled when her daughter Kaiya was born six years ago, suffering from migraines, vision, fatigue, pain, muscle spasms.

It was like a nightmare come true for her.

For Danielle Rheaume, an MS diagnosis in May helped explain the physical pain and emotional problems she'd been suffering.

"If anybody ever asked me what disease I feared the most, I would say MS," she explains.

The two met via Facebook, when they discovered a movement in the MS community for a treatment patients call "the Liberation."

Desperate to stop the disease's progression, Danielle and Tarah traveled to San Diego to take part in a study by neurologist David Hubbard. When his son, Devin, was diagnosed with MS, Hubbard learned of a possible connection between blocked veins and the disease.

Devin was treated for CCSVI, or narrowed veins in the neck and chest that take blood away from the brain.

"I don't have any symptoms - and so yes, I think it works," Devin now says.

When his symptoms disappeared, the Hubbards started testing other MS patients.

Hubbard says long time MS patients can't expect to have permanent neurological damage get better.

"But it does look to me like this could prevent the disease and stop the progression of the disease," he says.

Hubbard is one of the only neurologists in the country recommending the treatment for MS patients, with most saying there's no scientific evidence of a connection. These skeptics say the hundreds of before-and-after testimonials on the Internet could be caused by the placebo effect.

"Something like MS is one of the more placebo-related diseases out there because we can actually force our brains to do a little more by our attitude and the way we're feeling that day," says one skeptic, Dr. Bowen.

Seven weeks after the treatment, Tarah and Danielle say, placebo or not, they finally have hope.

I feel about 85 percent better," says Danielle. "So I'm ready to start working and doing the normal stuff I've been wanting to do."

"The main thing I feel so far is improved fatigue," says Tarah. "My energy level is greatly improved. I still have pain and cramping muscle spasms and headaches - I still have all of those symptoms."

Both women say MS patients need to have realistic expectations, but should be able to choose for themselves to be "liberated" now.

The whole treatment cost about $10,000, which was covered by insurance.