Research Complementary Medicines

Stoll, et al. Use of therapies other than disease-modifying agents, including complementary and alternative medicine, by patients with multiple sclerosis: a survey study. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2012;112:22-8.

CONTEXT: Many MS’ers use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to supplement their traditional treatment.


OBJECTIVE: To identify both the prevalence and frequency of use of therapies other than disease-modifying Drugs (DMD), including CAM, among patients with multiple sclerosis

DESIGN: The authors administered a 13-question survey regarding patients’ current use of non-DMD therapies-including dietary supplements, exercise, and “true” CAM (eg, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage)-and mainstream treatments, including physical therapy and osteopathic manipulative treatment. Patients rated their level of disability on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being most severe).

RESULTS: A total of 111 MS’ers completed the survey properly. All respondents used non-DMD therapies. Twenty-three patients (20.7%) used these therapies without concomitantly taking a DMD. A plurality (34.8%) of those patients reported a disability score of 7 or 8. Sixty-two of the 88 participants (70.5 %) who used DMD reported disability scores of 5 or less. Sixty-five patients (58.6.%) reported exercising on a weekly basis. Among those patients, 47 (72.3%) reported a disability score of 5 or less. Sixty-four patients (57.7%) used such CAM therapies as acupuncture and massage, or such other non-DMD treatments as osteopathic manipulative treatment and psychotherapy. Among those patients, 37 (64.9%) reported a disability score of 5 or less.



CONCLUSION: Many patients with multiple sclerosis are seeking more than traditional medical treatment. Physicians and other health care professionals must be aware of the extensive use of alternative modalities among these patients, and these professionals must provide guidance and monitoring in use of these therapies to improve outcomes.

“In contrast to our survey were 86% of respondents used non-DMD therapies, in this study 100% of people were using non-DMD therapies. The problem is that there is no evidence base for the use of the majority of non-DMD therapies in MS. How do we obtain evidence? It will be difficult as there is little money or motivation by the medical community, nor by the companies that produce and market these therapies, to do proper clinical trials.”


“Ben Goldacre, discusses the supplement industry in detail in his book bad science. It is worth a read.”

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