Complementary & alternative therapies

Complementary and alternative therapies are a diverse group of health care practices and products that are not considered to be part of conventional or traditional medicine.

Complementary therapies are used alongside traditional medicines — for example, using a combination of massage and pain specific medication. Alternative therapies are used instead of traditional medicine — for example, using massage alone for the treatment of pain.

Many people living with multiple sclerosis use complementary and alternative therapies to improve their quality of life.

It is very important to be thorough when investigating complementary and alternative therapies. Some people who provide this information may have biases, financial incentives, or limitations in their knowledge base that lead them to provide inaccurate information. They may not have any specific knowledge about multiple sclerosis and treatment.

Potentially beneficial therapies

Several complementary and alternative therapies may provide relief from some multiple sclerosis symptoms and some may also have disease-modifying effects. Yoga may provide relief from fatigue, while various mind/body approaches may relieve symptoms like anxiety, depression and pain.

Harmful or ineffective therapies

Dietary supplements considered to be potentially harmful therapies for people living with multiple sclerosis include:

  • skullcap
  • germanium
  • chaparral
  • comfrey
  • kava kava
  • echinacea
  • ashwagandha
  • alfalfa
  • astragalus
  • cat’s claw
  • garlic
  • Asian and Siberian ginseng

Complementary and alternative therapies found to be ineffective include hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) and bee venon therapy.

The MS International Federation has a publication called MS in focus — Complementary and alternative therapies which can provide more information.  

Nature Connection & Mindfulness 

Mindfully connecting with nature is increasingly being shown to have beneficial effects on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Join Louise from Centennial Parklands NSW for a unique wellbeing program and experience the power of (re)connecting with yourself and the natural world. Before the program collect some natural items such as leaves, feathers, pebbles, bark and have them ready to use in art activity. Also if possible have paper, glue and pencils or crayons ready to use to make your art.

Forest Bathing is being called "The New Yoga", but actually connecting to nature in meaningful ways has been a way of life for humans in different cultures around the world for thousands of years. In our modern world we’ve lost touch with this way of being and our intuitive knowledge of how to heal and restore our general health. 
What is Forest Bathing? Rest assured no nudity is required! Forest Bathing is an immersive, sensory experience where we let nature soak in through all our senses. We use mindfulness meditation and slow movement to reawaken our innate and intuitive connection to the natural world, and to ourselves. (Recorded 7 May 2021)

Minimising Stress and Maximising Mindfulness

MS Education and Wellbeing Programs Coordinator, Nicola Graham will discuss the negative impact stress can have and encourage you to consider ways of minimising stress. She will introduce mindfulness as a way of helping to manage stress and lead a short session which we're sure you'll enjoy. (Recorded 24 Februrary 2021)

Handouts: Minimising Stress and Maximising Mindfulness

Mindfulness, Meditation and Relaxation

Exploring mindfulness, meditation and relaxation techniques and how they can benefit us on a daily basis to help cope with the effects of daily life stress and anxiety. Lynne Morrison, Mindfulness, Meditation teacher will explain the benefits of learning techniques to assist in minimising stress and maximum rest breaks. (Recorded March 2016)

Webinar handouts : Mindfulness, Meditation and Relaxation 


Complementary Approaches – Tai Chi

Jane Monk - Tai Chi Instructor with Art of Harmony Tai Chi Centre explains the origins and benefits of Tai Chi. This recording includes demonstrations by Jane.

For more information please email MS Connect™ or call 1800 042 138 (← Freecall).

You can also learn more from our MS Living Well Education sessions.

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