Alternative Therapy to Treat Multiple Sclerosis
How Can I Tell Which Therapies Are Worth Taking?
Alternative therapy can be helpful in some cases, but many treatments are ineffective, costly, and even dangerous. The best way to evaluate your options is to become educated and discuss any changes with your doctor. MS is complicated enough without taking unproven therapies. Always ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the treatment?
- What does it involve?
- How and why does it work?
- Are there any risks?
- What are the side effects?
- Is it effective? (Ask for evidence or proof!)
- How much does it cost?
Once you answer these questions, weigh your options and decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks. MS is a serious disease, so your decisions should always be made with your doctor.
If you do decide to try an alternative or complementary treatment, make sure your health and pocketbook are protected. Here are some tips.
Discuss the therapy with your doctor. Make sure your doctor knows what therapy you are considering so he or she can discuss possible interactions or side effects with your current treatment. Your doctor can also provide you with information on other patients who may have tried the same therapy.
Talk to others who have used the therapy. Ask them what their experiences have been. Do not go solely on testimonials from the care provider or product manufacturer. Track down your own references and get their opinions.
Research provider's background. Contact the Better Business Bureau and thoroughly research the background of the therapy provider. Determine how long they have been providing this therapy, what credentials they have, and what their philosophy of treatment is.
Avoid providers who refuse or are reluctant to work with your doctor. Be sure that the provider is willing to refer patients to a conventional doctor when necessary.
Make sure you know the total cost of the treatment up front. Most of these therapies are not covered by your insurance.
What Red Flags Should I Watch Out For?
Promotion: Be cautious if products or providers are promoted through telemarketers, direct mailings, infomercials, ads disguised as valid news articles, or ads in the back of magazines.
Big claims: If a provider or product claims to be a "cure" for MS or makes other too-good-to-be-true claims, be cautious.
Source: Be wary if the product is only being offered through one manufacturer or is only available through a television infomercial and 800 number.
Ingredients: Make sure all of the active ingredients are listed. Do not trust "secret formulas."
Testimonials: Testimonials are only given by those who are satisfied with the product, so beware, especially if the term "paid endorsement" is used. Also, be cautious if testimonials are given by people who are only listed by initials, locations, or first names.
There are many medications that are effective in managing multiple sclerosis. The time is past when a person needs to desperately seek out unproven treatments. As a result, proceed with great caution when you consider the use of alternative and complementary therapies.