Alternative Treatment for MS (Complementary and Alternative Medicine or CAM for MS)

  • Medical Author:
    Danette C. Taylor, DO, MS, FACN

    Dr. Taylor has a passion for treating patients as individuals. In practice since 1994, she has a wide range of experience in treating patients with many types of movement disorders and dementias. In addition to patient care, she is actively involved in the training of residents and medical students, and has been both primary and secondary investigator in numerous research studies through the years. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine (Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology). She graduated with a BS degree from Alma College, and an MS (biomechanics) from Michigan State University. She received her medical degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her internship and residency were completed at Botsford General Hospital. Additionally, she completed a fellowship in movement disorders with Dr. Peter LeWitt. She has been named a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychiatrists. She is board-certified in neurology by the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry. She has authored several articles and lectured extensively; she continues to write questions for two national medical boards. Dr. Taylor is a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council (MSAC) of the Alzheimer's Association of Michigan, and is a reviewer for the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms

Multiple sclerosis symptoms vary widely, and a description of "typical" symptoms is difficult. Some signs and symptoms of MS may include:

  • Visual disturbances (for example, blurred vision or loss of vision in one eye) that may be accompanied by eye pain.
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms and legs or face
  • Difficulties with speech
  • Tremors
  • Heat intolerance
  • Bowel or bladder problems
  • Sexual problems

Alternative treatment (CAM) for MS facts

  • Fatigue and muscle spasticity are the symptoms of MS that are best addressed by complementary or alternative treatment or medicine (CAM).
  • Complementary or alternative treatments or therapies that have been shown to be helpful in helping reduce fatigue include:
  • Massage therapy and acupuncture have been reported by some to provide relief for spasticity.
  • Ongoing studies are being conducted to look at the potential benefits of medical marijuana on MS symptoms; to include chronic pain and spasticity. Marinol and Sativex, two FDA approved forms of medical marijuana (medical cannabis) may be beneficial in improving spasticity or bladder frequency.
  • People who desire CAM therapies generally feel that conventional treatments are not effective in controlling their symptoms or that the side effects are not acceptable.
  • Most CAM therapies are not covered by insurance.
  • It is important to discuss the use of CAM therapies with your health-care professional, since some CAM therapies may interact adversely with medications.
  • CAM has not been shown to have significant effects on the progression of MS over time.

What is complementary or alternative treatment or CAM?

CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) is care provided in addition (integrative medicine) to or instead of traditional or standard medical practices. This group of therapies is wide-ranging, and includes:

Some people who seek out alternative medicine feel that conventional therapy has not successfully controlled their symptoms, or that the potential side effects associated with traditional therapy aren't acceptable. Others find that adding complementary medicine to their program allows improved control of symptoms. When complementary medicine is added to traditional routes, it is referred to as integrative medicine.

Recent studies through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), specifically the National Health Interview Survey, suggest that as many as 38% of residents within the United States seek out CAM.

Many therapies that are considered within the group of complementary and alternative medicines haven't been studied extensively or investigated in comparison to conventional treatment options.

What is of multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that causes demyelination of the brain and spinal cord, or a loss of the covering around axons. When this occurs, the axons (the parts of the nerve cells that transmit impulses to other cells) don't work well. As more areas of the central nervous system are affected by the loss of myelin, different symptoms develop.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/13/2016
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