The unpredictability and
variety of symptoms caused by
multiple sclerosis (MS) make it a disease that people
have tried to treat in many different ways.
Many complementary therapies have been proposed as
treatments for MS. None of these treatments have been shown to modify the
course of the disease. Some of those most commonly used are:
Although clinical research has not shown any of these
complementary therapies to be effective, a person with MS may benefit from safe
nontraditional therapies along with conventional medical treatment. Some
complementary therapies may help relieve
stress, depression, fatigue, and muscle tension. And some may improve your overall
well-being and quality of life. Talk to your doctor if you are
interested in trying any of these complementary therapies or alternative medical approaches to MS treatment.
Clinical research also has been
unable to show that treatments such as "liberation" angioplasty for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), bee venom therapy, Prokarin (a caffeine
and histamine combination),
removal of mercury fillings (dental amalgams), and
hyperbaric oxygen therapy have any benefits for people
who have MS. Some of these therapies may be harmful as well as expensive and are not recommended by most experts.
Experimental medical treatments
treatments for MS involve reducing the activity of the
immune system. This may be done with
medicines and biological chemicals or through methods such as
total lymphoid irradiation, in which the entire lymph
node system is exposed to radiation. While these methods have been used with success in
the treatment of certain other medical conditions, they have failed to produce
significant benefits when tested in controlled clinical trials. They remain
experimental treatments for MS.
Stem cell transplant, which uses immature cells from the bone marrow, has been studied. Early results suggest that stem cell transplant may delay disability, especially in people with relapsing-remitting MS.4 Stem cell transplant may be an option for people who have very aggressive or malignant forms of MS.5 It remains unproved and isn't recommended for treating relapsing-remitting MS.
What to think about
There is no cure for MS. So far, the only treatments proved
to affect the course of the disease are approved disease-modifying therapies. 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 complementary therapies 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. And even if some complementary
therapies don't treat the disease itself, they may affect a person's sense of well-being and help the person feel better and healthier.