Multiple sclerosis is a condition in which the immune system attacks myelin, the sheath that wraps around nerve cells.
MS is more common in women than men and can strike at any age, although it is more commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. The symptoms of MS can vary widely, depending on the nerves that are affected. Some common MS symptoms are extreme fatigue, numbness and tingling, vision problems, and weakness or balance problems.
There is more than one way to control the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Here are some alternative therapies.
Here’s no question that managing multiple sclerosis (MS) is tricky, with a varying set of symptoms that can throw curveballs at both patient and doctor. While there’s no definitive evidence that complementary and alternative therapies will change the course of the disease, they may help you control symptoms and improve how you feel on a day-to-day basis, says neurologist Allen Bowling, MD, author of Optimal Health with Multiple Sclerosis: A Guide to Integrating Lifestyle, Alternative, and Conventional Medicine. Still, it’s important to proceed with caution and keep your doctor in the loop, because even so-called natural remedies can have negative side effects and may actually worsen your prognosis. The following are some of the unconventional approaches with real potential.
This ancient practice, part of traditional Chinese medicine, may help relieve pain as well as bowel and bladder issues, depression, fatigue, and anxiety, Dr. Bowling says. He notes that patients should be wary of acupuncturists who recommend using Chinese herbs, though: “Many of those herbs, in fact, activate the immune system, which could cause flare-ups or block the effects of your medications,” he explains.
Want to work those knots out? Getting a rubdown is worth a try, Dr. Bowling says: “Some research shows that it may help with relieving muscle stiffness and pain, and it also promotes relaxation.”
“Even just a half to one degree of increase in body temperature can cause difficulty in nerve functioning in MS patients,” Dr. Bowling notes. That’s why many people with MS have heat sensitivity. Cooling garments, like scarves or vests, can temporarily improve a variety of symptoms.
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