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Alternative and Complimentary Therapies for Multiple Sclerosis

July 17, 2017

The term alternative therapy is used to describe any medical treatment or intervention that has not been scientifically documented or identified as safe or effective for a specific condition. Different types of alternative therapies include diet, exercise, mental conditioning, and lifestyle changes. More specific examples are acupuncture, yoga, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbal remedies, and massage. On the other hand, complementary therapies are alternative therapies used in addition to traditional treatments, like having weekly massages to complement a drug treatment.
For MS specifically, it is recommended to:

  • Have a positive attitude: this can help reduce stress
  • Exercise: exercises like tai chi and yoga can lower stress, increase relaxation, and increase energy, balance, and flexibility.
  • Diet: it is important for MS patients to follow a healthy diet.

Alternative / Complementary Therapy Options for MS:

  • Massage: massages can help reduce stress and depression, but it can exacerbate the disease in some cases. It is usually safe for MS patients to receive massages, but if you have bone-thinning osteoporosis, massages may be dangerous. Talk to your doctor first.
  • Acupuncture: acupuncture can provide some relief of symptoms, such as pain, muscle spasms, or bladder control problems. There is no scientific proof that acupuncture is safe for MS patients, and there is always risks when a procedure involves puncturing the body with needles, such as infection.
  • Evening primrose oil (linoleic acid): There is some evidence that taking an oral supplement of linoleic acid may slightly improve MS symptoms.
  • Diet: A healthy diet can keep MS patients as healthy as possible. It’s important to discuss any dietary concerns with a doctor.
  • Marijuana: a controversial topic, but there are some MS patients who claim that marijuana helps relieve spasticity and other MS-related symptoms. But because research is still ongoing, doctors don’t recommend it, since the drug is associated with serious long-term side effects.