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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Alternative Treatments

Complementary and alternative medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) combines products and therapies that are outside of conventional medicine. Complementary therapies should be used along with medical treatments. On the other hand, alternative therapies are used instead of medical treatments. In the Unites States, an estimated 70 percent of people with MS have used alternative treatments.

CAM treatments have not been proved effective. Some may be helpful, while others may be harmful. Always talk to your doctor before trying any alternative or complementary treatments.

Categories of CAM

There are various categories of CAM, but most approaches involve either natural products or mind-body practices. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the most popular complementary health approaches among adults in the Unites States are:

  • natural products, such as dietary supplements
  • deep breathing and meditation
  • combined physical and breathing exercises, like yoga, qi gong, and tai chi
  • massage, chiropractic medicine, and osteopathic manipulation

CAM in treating MS

CAM treatments do not cure MS, but some may help relieve symptoms. CAM is widely used to manage:

  • pain
  • fatigue
  • stress
  • sleep disturbance

The following treatments have been reported to possibly 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 help reduce stress.
  • Acupuncture and acupressure. These techniques may reduce pain.
  • Cannabis. Using cannabis may help relieve pain.

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.