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Complimentary & Alternative Therapies

 

There are a variety of treatments available outside the mainstream of medicine. Therapies that are used in conjunction with conventional medicine are known as complementary medicine. Those used instead of conventional medicine are known as alternative medicine. Together they are usually referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

Some methods of CAM treatment may make you feel better, like a satisfying massage, yoga or a healthy or particular diet, but are not specifically aimed at curing MS or reducing disease activity. Any intervention of this type, which impacts on general health and promotes “wellness,” is considered “complementary” to the medical treatments prescribed by your doctor. In other words, these approaches need to be used along with prescribed medical treatments rather than as a replacement for them. Alternative therapies are offered by chiropractors, homoeopaths, naturopaths, herbalists, refl exologists and many others. These may seem very appealing to you, particularly when there is an abundance of favourable testimonies available, usually on the Internet or by word-of-mouth, from those who both experience and provide these therapies.

However, it is important to remain an informed and cautious consumer. Many of these treatments have not undergone rigorous clinical testing and their therapeutic claims may be scientifi cally unproven, even though people use them and say they benefit greatly from them.

The MS Society does not endorse any therapy, drug or treatment that has not been vigorously tested or peer reviewed and won US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) or equivalent approval in New Zealand. It is important to discuss complementary and alternative options with your neurologist or GP and educate yourself on the potential risks and benefits before commencing any alternative or complementary therapy.

You can get comprehensive and reliable information about CAM treatments from www.ms-cam.org —the MS Rocky Mountain Center, in Colorado, USA. This group is internationally recognised as a specialist in MS CAM treatments.