Staying Well With Multiple Sclerosis (MS) (cont.)
Some people with multiple sclerosis look into alternative forms of therapy, including many who are already on medications. Because most people who have multiple sclerosis should be using prescription medication under the supervision of their doctor, alternative therapies are usually used as complementary therapies, meaning that these therapies complement the traditional therapy.
Although no definitive studies exist showing that vitamin supplements help multiple sclerosis, their use is not contraindicated unless they are taken in excess. Before taking any vitamin supplement, however, be sure to check with the doctor. Certain supplements are not recommended for people with multiple sclerosis. For example, a supplement that is supposed to boost immune function may be dangerous for people with multiple sclerosis because an overactive immune system is likely the cause of symptoms in multiple sclerosis. A brief overview of some supplements that may, in theory, be beneficial in multiple sclerosis follows:
- Vitamin D: It has been questioned if multiple sclerosis is more prevalent in the most northern latitudes because of decreased exposure to sunlight, which is necessary for the body's production of vitamin D. This vitamin may help maintain bone density. Some people with multiple sclerosis have low bone density as a side effect of corticosteroid treatment and are at an increased risk for osteoporosis; vitamin D helps strengthen bones.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E could, in theory, help decrease the damage caused by substances called oxidants that may be involved in the multiple sclerosis disease process.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is necessary for vision, and people with multiple sclerosis often experience visual problems. Intake of vitamin A likely helps people with multiple sclerosis that also have a vitamin A deficiency.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C can reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Because people with multiple sclerosis who also have bladder problems tend to have an increased risk of UTIs, vitamin C may be beneficial.
- Ginkgo biloba: This herb claims to boost memory, but it may also cause clotting problems. Ginkgo biloba should be used in caution or not at all if the person with multiple sclerosis is also taking aspirin-containing drugs or other blood thinners.
- Vitamin B-12: Vitamin B-12 is required for the proper function of the nervous system and the production of red blood cells. People with B-12 deficiency may have signs and symptoms that may resemble multiple sclerosis. For people with multiple sclerosis who do not have a low B-12 level, no strong evidence exists that shows taking vitamin B-12 supplements is beneficial.
Some people claim that acupuncture may help reduce the severity of their multiple sclerosis symptoms, including pain, numbness, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/4/2014
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