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Complementary, Alternative Medicine Use Increasing for MS

Ninefold increase observed in likelihood of patients speaking to their neurologist about CAM use

TUESDAY, July 7, 2020 (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, M.D., 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 percent of the respondents used a CAM supplement (vitamins, minerals, or herbs), 39 percent used mind-body therapies, 41 percent used a specific diet, and 81 percent used exercise. There were increases in the use of supplements (65 to 81 percent), exercise (67 to 81 percent), and mind-body therapies (14 to 39 percent). There was also a ninefold increase in the likelihood of participants speaking to their neurologists about CAM use (6.7 to 55.4 percent). In 2018, female sex, progressive disease, and longer time since diagnosis of MS were factors associated with CAM use.

“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.

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