Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that damages the protective covering around the nerve fibers of the central nervous system. Doctors are still researching the causes of MS, but despite medical advances over recent years, a cure remains elusive. Those who develop MS usually notice the first symptoms in their 20s or 30s. Women are twice as likely to develop this disease as men, and the level of disability MS causes varies between individuals. People with this diagnosis are faced with a challenging disease, but some treatments for MS and lifestyle changes make it easier to manage the condition.
MS is characterized by symptoms that flare up, which means they come and go. People with MS may experience long periods of remission with few or no symptoms. Steroid tablets or injections are a popular treatment for flare-ups. Depending on the individual situation, it might be sufficient to treat the symptoms with a course of tablets to take at home over five days. Alternatively, the doctor might decide that steroids need to be given through injections in a hospital over a similar length of time or a shorter period. Taking steroids over long periods does pose hazards, however, such as lower bone density.
While a specific diet does not cure or even truly treat MS, eating a well-balanced and healthy diet on a regular basis can help reduce some symptoms or the likelihood that someone might deal with other health issues. Typically, it is recommended that that those with MS eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet and limit their alcohol consumption. This is not a particularly special diet recommendation; it is actually the type of diet that is recommended for much of the general public. People with MS may want to limit animal-based fats and get fats from sources such as nut butters, healthy oils, and fish instead.
It's been considered that those who follow a balanced diet do not need any vitamin or mineral supplements, but this is not always the case. For an individual living with MS, much depends on their lifestyle and eating habits. For example, if their lifestyle requires a relatively small amount of energy output, they might eat sparingly. That can create a situation where they lack sufficient nutrients. Even though supplements help in these situations, a cautious approach is usually recommended. Overdosing on vitamins can cause health problems, and certain energy-boosting supplements contain large amounts of sugar, which can worsen fatigue in people with MS.
A well-planned exercise routine helps everyone stay healthy, but this takes on extra importance for those who endure the challenges of MS. Their condition makes it harder to lead fully active lives, and the medications they take often lead to weight gain. Research shows that regular exercise helps keep some MS symptoms under control. It also helps people stay mobile and reduces the risks of developing heart disease. Research gives no backing to rumors that exercise can aggravate MS symptoms, but someone experiencing a flare-up may want to take a break from regular workout programs.
Even though people with MS can play sports, go walking, swim and do all kinds of exercises, their condition also requires specially designed therapies to improve mobility and help them better address pain, chronic exhaustion, and other common symptoms. It is worth consulting a physiotherapist who is especially qualified to assess the condition of MS and prescribe activities that motivate individuals to move and socialize.
The Alexander Technique aims to help people achieve a new level of coordination between mind and body by teaching them to use energy more efficiently. Adherents claim it increases their mobility and improves their sense of balance as they go about regular activities. Medical experts are uncertain if the Alexander Technique can alleviate MS symptoms.
Homeopathy is a holistic approach to personal health. Enthusiasts believe that physical and emotional problems are interlinked and need to be treated in unison. Homeopaths tend to favor treatments with natural medicines. For MS, as with other illnesses, they try to adjust dosages in line with that individual's health challenges and their body's ability to heal itself. They claim that the natural medicines prescribed rarely have side-effects. Some people find a homeopathic treatment helpful, but there is no conclusive evidence from internationally accepted MS research to support claims of success. Plus, some homeopathic therapies may be harmful as the Food and Drug Administration doesn't evaluate them for safety and effectiveness.
Some people with MS believe that hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps, but reports show that its benefits vary. The therapy can only be done in a purpose-built hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber in a hospital. This room contains a machine that steadily increases the pressure to supply more oxygen to blood and body tissues. Serious side effects are uncommon, but some patients report feeling pain in the ears or dizziness after treatment.
Hemp or CBD oil is another natural treatment that's used to manage MS symptoms and flare-ups. These oils contain cannabinoids that some people find help reduce pain or mitigate inflammation in certain tissues. When someone experiences pain due to inflammation related to MS, they might massage their muscles with these oils. Some people report that this reduces pain or discomfort. However, more research is needed.
This alternative medicine approach uses massage to lessen bodily tensions and fight sickness. Reflexologists claim that individual zones are found in the body that they can identify. When they massage these areas in a particular way, they say it brings health benefits. Again, the theory lacks supporting scientific evidence. So far, scientific research has failed to find any links between reflexology and healing. However, some people with MS believe it brings them some relief, and if it helps even psychologically, that could make it worthwhile.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.