Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system without a known cure. Because of this, people with MS often seek complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) to manage their disease symptoms. The goal of this review article was to describe the use of CAM by individuals diagnosed with MS. Evidence was obtained by searching Medline (1950-2007), EBSCOhost and PubMed for studies relating CAM to MS. Results from the literature showed that people with MS reported that they used CAM from 27 to 100%. The major reasons for choosing CAM were as follows: conventional treatment was not effective, anecdotal reports of CAM's help, and doctor referral. The types of CAM reported by people with MS included exercise, vitamins, herbal and mineral supplements, relaxation techniques, acupuncture, cannabis and massage. The major symptoms treated by CAM as noted in the literature were pain, fatigue and stress. There is a need for further research to evaluate the effectiveness of CAM with MS patients and their application by occupational therapists. The limitation of this literature review was the low response rate in many of the surveys reported.
2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd