There is no cure for multiple sclerosis (MS). So far, the only treatments proved
to affect the course of the disease are disease-modifying medicines, such as interferon beta. Other types of treatment should not replace these medicines if you are a candidate for
treatment with them.
Some people who have MS report that alternative treatments have worked for them. This may be in part due to the
placebo effect. The placebo effect means that you feel better after getting treatment, even though the treatment has not been proved to work. Some
complementary therapies may help relieve
stress, depression, fatigue, and muscle tension. And some may improve your overall
well-being and quality of life.
Some people think that certain things may increase the risk of having an attack of MS, including:
foods and environmental toxins (including mercury amalgam in dental
Sensitivity to stress and trauma.
while at a young age that causes a permanent, partial breakdown in the immune
Blockage in the veins that drain blood from the brain.
Many people who have MS also experiment with their diets, in part
because there are many claims about the effectiveness of certain diets and
nutritional supplements in the treatment of MS.
The Swank Diet recommends low intake of saturated
fat [maximum of 3 tsp (15 mL) a day] and high consumption of polyunsaturated fat [up to
10 tsp (49 mL) a day for
very active people].
Evening primrose oil, the most widely used
herbal supplement in MS, has not been shown to provide any significant benefit
in controlling the disease.
Many practitioners recommend dietary
supplements of large doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential
fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids).
Vitamin B12 has been
proposed as a key substance that should be injected (intravenously or
intramuscularly) in very large doses.
Magnesium supplements are
believed to reduce spasticity. But this theory has never been
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by a small gland
(pineal gland) in the brain. One theory suggests that MS may be associated
with dysfunction of the pineal gland and lower-than-normal levels of melatonin,
which may disrupt the immune system. It has been proposed that higher melatonin
levels (obtained by taking melatonin supplements) may protect against MS
relapses. But his theory has never been proved.
There is no evidence to show that any of these diets or supplements have any benefit in the treatment of MS. A
healthful, balanced diet will provide all the nutrients you need in most cases.
Good nutrition may also help you feel better and benefit your overall
Be careful about taking supplements. Some minerals and vitamins are
toxic if they are taken in large amounts.
Discuss your treatment options with your doctor before trying any type of alternative treatment for MS. You can also
get reliable advice from an MS treatment center or the National Multiple
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.