Symptom Management

Five Proven CAM Treatments for MS Symptoms

By MS Focus Staff

Yoga for fatigue

Fatigue is arguably the most common symptom of multiple sclerosis, occurring in 75 – 95 percent of those diagnosed. Doctors say exercise decreases fatigue, but the idea of engaging in exercise may seem counterintuitive when you are feeling exhausted. But you don’t have to work out at the gym or train for a marathon to get benefits. Gentle yoga can be an easy and effective way to experience the fatigue-busting benefits of exercise without the strain. It also has the advantage of being adaptable to anyone, anywhere. Yoga is for every body.

Relaxation techniques for depression

Depression is another common symptom of MS. While medication and mental health therapy are the gold standard of care, many mental health professionals are taking an integrative approach and incorporating different types of meditation that have proven to be effective complements. Mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep relaxing breathing exercises all decrease depression severity in studies.

Pilates for walking

Many people with MS experience decreased walking speed and stability. Physical therapy can be effective for these symptoms, but not everyone has access to physical therapy, or their insurance may place limits on the number of visits available. Pilates can be a helpful alternative you can do at home, or there may be affordable adaptive classes in your community. Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility. In studies, it has improved performance for people with MS on timed walking tests.

Massage for bowel dysfunction

MS can affect the nerves controlling bowel function, causing constipation or fecal incontinence. Several types of massage have been explored to help with this troubling symptom. While research is ongoing, abdominal massage has proven to improve problems due to neurogenic bowel dysfunction. Reflexology foot massage has been shown in small studies to help with constipation.

Cannabis for spasticity

Spasticity can be a particularly troubling symptom, one that is difficult to treat successfully. Antispastic medications can be sedating, and may offer decreasing effects over time. But studies of oral cannabis extract show oral cannabis extracts can be effective for spasticity, pain, and in some cases incontinence associated with MS.

Talk to your doctor about integrating these science-backed techniques into your MS care.