Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Multiple Sclerosis: Alternative Treatments - Topic Overview

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis (MS). So far, the only treatments proved to affect the course of the disease are disease-modifying medicines, such as interferon beta. Other types of treatment should not replace these medicines if you are a candidate for treatment with them.

Some people who have MS report that alternative treatments have worked for them. This may be in part due to the placebo effect. The placebo effect means that you feel better after getting treatment, even though the treatment may not have been proved to work. Some complementary therapies may help relieve stress, depression, fatigue, and muscle tension. And some may improve your overall well-being and quality of life.

Recommended Related to Multiple Sclerosis

Riskier Alternative Treatments for MS

Bee stings, cobra venom, and hookworms are things you usually avoid -- unless you have multiple sclerosis. Then, you may be willing to try them to help ease your symptoms. But do they work? Are these alternative treatments safe? Let's separate the science from the wishful thinking. Some lifestyle treatments, such as exercise, have been proven to help with fatigue, depression, memory, and bladder control. Others, such as supplements and minerals, are still being tested. Acupuncture, a centuries-old...

Read the Riskier Alternative Treatments for MS article > >

A summary of evidence on complementary and alternative therapies suggests that some treatments may help relieve symptoms. For example:1

  • Some forms of natural or man-made substances related to marijuana may help with muscle stiffness (spasticity) and pain.
  • Ginkgo biloba or magnetic therapy may help relieve fatigue for some people.
  • Reflexology, where a therapist applies pressure to certain points on the feet, may help relieve skin feelings such as tingling and numbness.

The summary showed that several other complementary and alternative treatments are not likely to help. For example:1

  • Natural or man-made substances related to marijuana are unlikely to help relieve tremor.
  • Ginkgo biloba does not help people who have MS think more clearly.
  • The Cari Loder regimen (lofepramine plus phenylalanine with vitamin B12) is not likely to help improve general quality of life or to relieve depression or disability.
  • Magnetic therapy is unlikely to help relieve depression.

Some people think that certain things may increase the risk of having an attack of MS, including:

  • Dietary deficiencies.
  • Sensitivity to foods and environmental toxins (including mercury amalgam in dental work).
  • Sensitivity to stress and trauma.
  • Viral infection while at a young age that causes a permanent, partial breakdown in the immune system.
  • Blockage in the veins that drain blood from the brain.

Many people who have MS also experiment with their diets, in part because there are many claims about the effectiveness of certain diets and nutritional supplements in the treatment of MS.

  • The Swank Diet recommends low intake of saturated fat [maximum of 3 tsp (15 mL) a day] and high consumption of polyunsaturated fat [up to 10 tsp (49 mL) a day for very active people].
  • Evening primrose oil, the most widely used herbal supplement in MS, has not been shown to provide any significant benefit in controlling the disease.
  • Many practitioners recommend dietary supplements of large doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids).
  • Vitamin B12 has been proposed as a key substance that should be injected (intravenously or intramuscularly) in very large doses.
  • Magnesium supplements are believed to reduce spasticity. But this theory has never been proved.
  • Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by a small gland (pineal gland) in the brain. One theory suggests that MS may be associated with dysfunction of the pineal gland and lower-than-normal levels of melatonin, which may disrupt the immune system. It has been proposed that higher melatonin levels (obtained by taking melatonin supplements) may protect against MS relapses. But his theory has never been proved.
1 | 2
Next Article:

Multiple Sclerosis: Alternative Treatments Topics

Today on WebMD

nerve damage
Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
woman applying lotion
Ideas on how to boost your mood and self-esteem.
 
woman pondering
Get personalized treatment options.
man with hand over eye
Be on the lookout for these symptoms.
 
brain scan
ARTICLE
worried woman
ARTICLE
 
neural fiber
ARTICLE
white blood cells
VIDEO
 
sunlight in hands
ARTICLE
marijuana plant
ARTICLE
 
muscle spasm
ARTICLE
Neuron
ARTICLE