6 Complementary and Alternative Treatment Options for MS
Jacqueline Ho | Jan 16th 2014
Sometimes people with MS are interested in therapies that fall outside of conventional or mainstream medicine – this is referred to as complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM. Complementary therapies usually refer to those that are used in conjunction with conventional medicine, while alternative therapies are used instead of conventional medicine. Here are some common forms of CAM.
People with MS are often prescribed an exercise program according to their abilities and needs. Studies have shown exercise to help people with MS increase strength and improve balance and coordination. Exercises commonly recommended include water exercises, strength training with weights or resistance bands and exercises to help build core strength.
Some people have reported that MS has helped ease some physical symptoms, as well as reduce stress and improve their emotional outlook. The combination of breathing techniques and stretching can teach people with MS how to better focus their mind and be in tune with how their body feels. Like any other exercise, yoga should be eased into and be done on a regular basis.
It is important for people with MS to eat a well-balanced diet. While people with MS should strive to get their vitamins and minerals through foods, some people take dietary supplements such as fish oil, calcium and vitamin D. However, studies are conflicting about whether supplements actually help manage MS symptoms, so patients should speak with their doctor before trying any supplements.
Herbal medicine includes those made from a part of a plant that can interact with the body’s cells in different ways. Sometimes herbal medicine is beneficial, and other times it may have side effects. People with MS who are interested in herbal medicine might want to speak with their doctor about the following herbs: Ginkgo, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Echinacea and Valerian.
Many studies have examined the connection between stress and MS. When a person experiences stress, there is activity that occurs between mental processes, the nervous system and the immune system. In order to reduce stress in all areas of the body, people with MS can try the following mind-body practices for MS: Deep muscle relaxation, meditation, cognitive reframing and guided imagery or visualization.
Evidence has not proven whether acupuncture improves MS symptoms. However, some people with MS have reported that acupuncture has helped provide relief from some symptoms, such as pain, muscle spasms and bladder control problems. People with MS should consult with their doctor before trying acupuncture.