HealthDay News – For people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS), there has been an increase in use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), according to a study published in the June issue of Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Elizabeth Silbermann, MD, from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues administered a survey in Oregon and Southwest Washington in 2018 to describe updated patterns of CAM use in pwMS and compare trends with those from a survey conducted in 2001.

The researchers found that in 2018, to treat their MS, 81% of the respondents used a CAM supplement (vitamins, minerals, or herbs), 39% used mind-body therapies, 41% used a specific diet, and 81% used exercise. There were increases in the use of supplements (65 to 81%), exercise (67 to 81%), and mind-body therapies (14 to 39%). There was also a ninefold increase in the likelihood of participants speaking to their neurologists about CAM use (6.7 to 55.4%). In 2018, female sex, progressive disease, and longer time since diagnosis of MS were factors associated with CAM use.

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“CAM use overall has increased and pwMS are communicating more with their MS providers about their CAM use,” the authors write. “Both pwMS and providers need high-quality evidence-based research to guide appropriate education regarding both safety and efficacy when CAM is in the MS treatment strategy.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text