Alternative Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
To date there is no cure for multiple sclerosis but there is certainly no shortage of alternative therapies to help people cope with the disease.
These are usually non-traditional and non-medical treatments which can't boast any scientific basis. But the mainstream medical profession supports quite a few of these alternative therapies to complement the conventional treatment of MS. They may not cure the disease but many sufferers say they give them a better quality of life both mentally and physically.
These alternative therapies include:
Acupuncture - balancing the body's energy points by inserting needles into particular areas. While western science can't explain how this ancient Chinese form of medicine works people have reported its usefulness in combating muscle weakness, pain, balance and coordination problems, tremors and associated emotional problems. Others have had mixed results with bladder and bowel problems and memory loss.
Massage - soothes the skin and relaxes the muscles. Many MS sufferers find it brings about a general feeling of wellbeing.
Yoga - can relieve stress and the gentle stretching can improve posture, increase flexibility and reduce stiffness.
Meditation – a powerful stress reliever which can relax the entire nervous system.
Homeopathy - which basically means treating like with like. This is a holistic approach based on the premise that if you give someone a medicine which evokes similar symptoms it can help relieve them. Some clinical trials have shown it can be very useful for spasms, bladder problems and vision.
When it comes to experimenting with alternative treatments, it doesn't hurt to be bold and imaginative, but also be warned. There are plenty of quack therapies out there that are a waste of time and money. Almost every day there seems to another headline screaming that a miracle cure for Multiple Sclerosis has been found - one of the latest was in the stomach of a fish off some obscure island in the South Pacific!
Then there was the one about replacing mercury dental fillings. Mercury has been blamed for causing MS, basically because mercury poisoning affects the brain and causes similar symptoms to MS. This claim has remained unsubstantiated.
Back in the 1980s the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy was all the rage. This very expensive treatment (favored by Michael Jackson but more commonly used for divers with the bends) saw those with MS inhaling oxygen under increased pressure in a hyperbaric recompression chamber in a bid to halt or improve the symptoms. Since then separate trials carried out in Holland , the USA , Canada and the UK have concluded that this therapy has no effect on the disease.
There is also no scientific proof as yet that taking large doses of vitamins such as calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D or megavitamin therapy (in which you blast the body with a variety of vitamins in one go) have any effect on the disease.
A number of clinical trials have shown that food supplements with polyunsaturated fats such as evening primrose oil and the fatty acids of fish oil do have a moderate effect in slowing down or reducing the severity of relapses. However these supplements don't appear to have any effect on the frequency of the attacks.
It's advisable never to rely solely on wonder claims you hear about in the media. Doctors advise MS patients not to take any herbal medicines without consulting a health professional first as they might have a significant impact on the effect of conventional drugs.