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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - Other Treatment

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.

Complementary therapies

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

Experimental 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.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 15, 2012
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.
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