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Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

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Alternative and Complementary Therapies for MS

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If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), there are many medical treatments you can use to treat your disease, like medications or physical therapy. But many people look for other ways to feel better, such as acupuncture, yoga, relaxation, herbal remedies, and massage. They’re called alternative and complementary therapies.

These therapies won’t cure your disease. But there’s evidence that some of them are helpful when you use them along with your regular treatment. For others, the science isn’t as clear. When you’re deciding if you want to try something new, it’s important to know what might help you and what could be harmful.

Recommended Related to Multiple Sclerosis

Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis

If you have progressive relapsing multiple sclerosis (PRMS), you’ll have distinct attacks of symptoms, called relapses. You may or may not fully recover after these flares. Between relapses, the disease continues to get worse slowly. PRMS is the least common type of multiple sclerosis. It affects about 5% of people with the condition. You may not be able to reverse the disease, but there are treatments that can ease your symptoms and make your relapses less severe and happen less often.

Read the Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis article > >

Your best bet is to stick with your treatment plan and to talk with your doctor before you start any new therapy. Together you can decide what will help you feel your best.

Alternative Therapies Recommended for Multiple Sclerosis

Positive Attitude. A positive outlook cannot cure your condition, but it can ease your stress and help you feel better.

Exercise. Some types, such as tai chi and yoga, can lower stress, help you relax, and increase your energy, balance, and flexibility. As with any fitness program, check with your doctor before you start.

Diet. It’s important for people with MS to eat the right amounts of nutritious foods. Ask your doctor what kind of diet is right for you.

Other Alternative/Complementary Options

Massage. Many people with MS get regular massage therapy to help them relax and reduce stress and depression. There is no evidence that massage changes the course of the disease. It’s usually safe for people with MS to have a massage, but you should tell your therapist if you have osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor first.

Acupuncture . Some people report that acupuncture, a practice that places needles at specific points in the body, relieves symptoms like pain, muscle spasms, or bladder control problems. But scientific studies haven’t found for sure that it works for people with MS.

Evening primrose oil (linoleic acid). You can find linoleic acid in sunflower seeds and safflower oil. There is some evidence that taking it as a supplement may slightly improve MS symptoms.

Marijuana . Some people with MS say that smoking or ingesting it helps relieve muscle spasms and other MS-related symptoms. But scientists aren’t clear on how it works and who should use it. If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, check with your doctor.

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