May 19, 2002
Complement Ther Med 2000 Jun;8(2):97-105
Complementary and alternative therapies for treating multiple sclerosis symptoms: a systematic review.
Huntley A, Ernst E
A report from the Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK investigated the role of complementary and alternative therapies for patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
Conventional medicine offers no cure for Multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease of the central nervous system. However, there is a great need for improved management of symptoms in palliative care and this is borne out by the popularity of complementary medical treatments amongst MS sufferers.
This report reviewed whether the popularity is supported by evidence of effectiveness from rigorous clinical trials. Database literature searches were performed and papers were extracted in a pre-defined manner. Twelve randomized controlled trials were located that investigated a particular complementary/alternative therapy for MS, including nutritional therapy (4), massage (1), Feldenkrais bodywork (1), reflexology (1), magnetic field therapy (2), neural therapy (1) and psychological counselling (2). The evidence was not found to be compelling for any of the therapies, with many trials suffering from what were considered to be significant methodological flaws. However, there was evidence to suggest that therapeutic benefit was offered by nutritional therapy for the physical symptoms of MS. Furthermore, magnetic field therapy and neural therapy both appeared to produce a short-term beneficial effect on the physical symptoms of MS. Massage/bodywork and psychological counselling were found to improve depression, anxiety and self-esteem.
The report concluded that there is a need for larger, controlled studies to investigate more closely how non-conventional therapies may be utilised to their best advantage for MS sufferers.