Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

Font Size

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 has not 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

MS and Your Diet: Is There a Link?

Many foods have been touted as helpful for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Do they work? "There are strong reasons to think that diet could affect MS symptoms and even help treat it," says neurologist Ellen Mowry, MD, of Johns Hopkins University. But although a healthy diet is always a good idea, there is no proof that any diet or food, on its own, treats MS. If you want to try changing your diet to see if it helps your MS, do your homework. Make sure you've got good information from a reliable...

Read the MS and Your Diet: Is There a Link? article > >

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.

There is no evidence to show that any of these diets or supplements have any benefit in the treatment of MS. A healthful, balanced diet will provide all the nutrients you need in most cases. Good nutrition may also help you feel better and benefit your overall health.

Be careful about taking supplements. Some minerals and vitamins are toxic if they are taken in large amounts.

Discuss your treatment options with your doctor before trying any type of alternative treatment for MS. You can also get reliable advice from an MS treatment center or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 05, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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
illustration of human spine
ARTICLE
 
muscle spasm
ARTICLE
green eyed woman with glasses
ARTICLE
 

WebMD Special Sections