12 Holistic and Integrative Treatments for MS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, pain, muscle weakness, and balance issues. While traditional medicine offers essential treatments, many individuals with MS seek complementary and alternative therapies to enhance their quality of life. This article explores 12 holistic approaches and integrative medicines for Multiple Sclerosis. 

The Importance of Traditional Medicine

Traditional medicine, including disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) and medications, plays a crucial role in managing MS. These treatments aim to slow disease progression, manage relapses, and alleviate specific symptoms. However, they often come with side effects and limitations, prompting many to explore alternative treatments for MS. 

Holistic Treatments as a Complementary Approach

Holistic treatments for MS focus on the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—rather than just the disease. Integrative medicine combines traditional treatments with alternative therapies to optimize overall health and well-being. 


The following sections delve into 12 holistic and integrative treatments that can support individuals with MS.

1. Massage and Bodywork

Man getting a massage and bodywork for MS

Massage therapy can significantly benefit individuals with MS by reducing muscle stiffness, improving circulation, and promoting relaxation. Techniques such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and myofascial release help alleviate pain and enhance mobility. Regular sessions with a skilled therapist can contribute to better overall physical and mental health.

2. Meditation and Mindfulness Exercises

Yoga and meditation for MS

Coping with MS is not just about the physical symptoms. Meditation and mindfulness practices are effective in managing stress, anxiety, and depression associated with MS. Techniques like guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation help in reducing symptom severity and improving emotional well-being. Incorporating daily mindfulness practices can lead to a calmer and more focused mind.

3. Phototherapy

 

Taopatch phototherapy patches for MS

 

A newer holistic treatment for MS involves light therapy in combination with nanotechnology.  Phototherapy, specifically red light therapy, has shown promise in reducing inflammation and pain in MS patients. 


Taopatch, a nanotechnology light therapy device, combines the benefits of red light therapy with acupressure to enhance nervous system function and alleviate symptoms. By wearing Taopatch on specific areas of the body, individuals with MS can experience improved posture, balance, reduced pain, and overall well-being. 

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture alternative natural treatment for MS

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice, involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow. For MS patients, acupuncture can help reduce pain, improve muscle function, and alleviate fatigue. Regular acupuncture sessions may lead to enhanced energy levels and a greater sense of well-being.

5. Exercise 

Two people practicing Tai Chi, a way of staying active while also practicing mindfulness for multiple sclerosis

Exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being for those struggling with MS. Regular physical activity, whether it's yoga, swimming, or Tai Chi, can help manage common symptoms such as MS fatigue, muscle stiffness, and coordination issues. 


Regular strength training exercises improve muscle strength, balance, and coordination. Programs tailored to individual abilities, such as resistance bands and weight training, can significantly enhance physical function and reduce the risk of falls.


Moreover, physical exercise is known to enhance mood and cognitive function, making it an essential component of an MS management plan.

Yoga for MS

Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine can have numerous benefits, and yoga stands as an excellent example. As a low-impact exercise, it encourages movement, flexibility, and mindfulness. The gentle stretches can help manage symptoms such as muscle stiffness and fatigue, while the meditative aspect promotes mental well-being, reducing stress and anxiety.


Yoga also improves balance and coordination, two areas often affected by MS. With many different styles, from the more gentle Hatha yoga to the more physically demanding Ashtanga, individuals with MS can choose a form that suits their needs and physical capability.

Swimming for MS

Water-based activities like swimming offer a fun, enjoyable exercise that engages the entire body. The buoyancy of the water reduces stress on joints and muscles, making it an ideal activity for those with mobility issues.


Swimming is also a versatile exercise that allows you to go at your own pace. Whether it's performing laps or participating in water aerobics, you can tailor your water workouts to your comfort and energy levels. Plus, the cooling effect of water can be particularly soothing for MS symptoms, as heat can sometimes exacerbate them.

Tai Chi for MS

Originating from ancient China, Tai Chi is a form of gentle exercise that emphasizes body awareness, balance, flexibility, and muscle strength. It's a mindful practice that integrates body, breath, and mind, and can be particularly beneficial for managing stress and enhancing mental well-being.


Tai Chi routines involve slow, flowing movements that can help improve balance—a common issue for individuals with MS. Moreover, the focus on deep breathing can assist in managing fatigue and cultivating a sense of inner calm.

6. Diet

Healthy food for ms.

A balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can positively impact MS symptoms. Diets such as the Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, are beneficial. 


Additionally, specific dietary approaches like the Wahls Protocol focus on nutrient-dense foods to support cellular health and reduce inflammation.

7. Reflexology

Reflexology for ms

Reflexology involves applying pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, and ears, corresponding to different body organs and systems. For individuals with MS, reflexology can help reduce pain, improve circulation, and enhance relaxation. Regular sessions can contribute to overall wellness and symptom management.

8. Herbal Medicine

herbal medicine for ms

Herbal medicine offers natural remedies that can support MS treatment. Some beneficial herbs and vitamins include:

  • Ginkgo Biloba: Improves cognitive function and reduces fatigue.
  • Turmeric: Has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Ashwagandha: Enhances energy levels and reduces stress.
  • Vitamin D: Supports immune function and bone health.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Reduces inflammation and supports brain health.

9. Cannabis

Cannabis, particularly cannabidiol (CBD), has gained attention for its potential in managing MS symptoms. CBD oil can help reduce pain, muscle spasticity, and inflammation. While research is ongoing, many MS patients report significant improvements in quality of life with controlled cannabis use.

10. Cryotherapy

Man standing in a cryotherapy chamber

Cryotherapy involves exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures for a short duration. This treatment can reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and improve muscle function. Regular cryotherapy sessions can enhance physical and mental well-being for individuals with MS.

11. Magnetic Therapy (Pulse Electromagnetic Fields - PEMF)

Magnetic therapy, specifically Pulse Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF), uses electromagnetic fields to stimulate cell repair and improve function. For MS patients, PEMF therapy can reduce pain, improve mobility, and enhance overall energy levels. Incorporating PEMF devices into daily routines can provide significant symptom relief.

12. Bee Venom Therapy (Apitherapy) 

Bee venom therapy, also called apitherapy,  involves controlled bee stings to stimulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. Besides controlled stings, apitherapy can use products that come directly from honeybees which can include honey, royal jelly, pollen, and bee venom. While controversial, some MS patients report reduced symptoms and improved function with this treatment. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any form of bee venom therapy.

Use and History of Bee Venom Therapy 

The use of multiple sclerosis bee venom therapy has long been around in traditional medicine in East Asia. Believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, it is administered at acupuncture points using the bee sting or injection. The process would normally take 10- 15 minutes during which the stingers are allowed to stay on the acupuncture point to penetrate the skin properly and administer the venom. Around 30-40 bees are used for the treatment.

What is in Bee Venom?

Bee venom contains a mixture of peptides, proteins, and vitamins believed to help stabilize various conditions, improve symptoms and relieve pain. Melittin, one of the peptides, is an important part of the immune system and fundamental in destroying bacteria. 

Apamin, another peptide, is able to inhibit the potassium permeability of some cells. This is comparable to an effect brought by an experimental drug that has been able to show improved results for MS symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty in walking, and weakness of the leg. Because of how it can affect the human body, it is now being experimented and used to treat many autoimmune and neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

FAQs about Holistic Treatments for MS

Can MS be treated naturally?

Yes, MS can be managed naturally with holistic treatments such as diet, exercise, and various alternative therapies that complement traditional medical approaches.

How effective are alternative treatments for Multiple Sclerosis?

Alternative treatments can be effective in managing symptoms, improving quality of life, and reducing stress, but they vary in effectiveness from person to person.

Do alternative treatments replace traditional treatments?

No, alternative treatments do not replace traditional treatments. They are used as complementary approaches to support overall health and symptom management.

 

Article Sources

  1. Acupuncture for MS: National MS Society
  2. Exercise for MS: National MS Society 
  3. PEMF (Magnetic Therapy): NIH 
  4. Cannabis for MS: NIH