Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Alternative Treatments

Written by June Halper, MSN, APN-C, FAAN, MSCN | Published on July 28, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on July 28, 2014

Multiple Sclerosis Alternative Treatments

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) combines products and therapies outside conventional medicine. Complementary therapies are used along with medical treatments. Alternative therapies are used instead of medical treatments. In the United States, approximately 75 percent of MS patients use some form of CAM (NMSS).

CAM treatments have not been proven effective. Some may be helpful. Others may be harmful. Always talk to your doctor before trying any alternative treatments.

Categories of CAM

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) mentions various categories of CAM therapy:

  • natural products: diet, dietary supplements
  • mind-body medicine: meditation, hypnosis, spirituality
  • manipulative and body-based practices: massage, chiropractic medicine
  • alternative medical systems: traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda
  • energy therapies: magnets, therapeutic touch
  • movement therapies: Pilates, Rolfing, Feldenkrais
  • traditional healers

CAM in Treating MS

CAM treatments do not cure MS. Some may help relieve symptoms. The following have been reported to be of benefit:

  • exercise: regular exercise helps strengthen muscles and reduce spasticity
  • vitamins: vitamin D reduces the risk of osteoporosis and may reduce the risk of disease progression
  • relaxation techniques: stress may trigger or worsen your symptoms. Yoga, tai chi, meditation, massage, deep breathing, and listening to music can be beneficial in reducing stress
  • acupuncture and acupressure: acupuncture and acupressure may help reduce pain
  • cannabis: cannabis may help relieve pain

MS Symptoms That Benefit From CAM

CAM is widely used for the following symptoms:

  • pain management
  • fatigue
  • stress
  • sleep disturbance

Always talk to your doctor before beginning any CAM treatment. Some may not be right for you. Some can interact with your other medications or cause unpleasant or even dangerous side effects. 

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