The Spiritual Approach
Some types of CAM tap into the spiritual side of life, with prayer and meditation as the backdrop. Spiritual-based CAM approaches include:
Prayer. According to some surveys, prayer is the most frequently used form of CAM in the United States. Scientists are increasingly attempting to measure the effect of prayer on patients' health. Additional studies are needed, with clear descriptions of prayer techniques and well-defined health outcomes.
Yoga. There are limited studies of yoga's effects on MS. One large, well-designed study found that yoga was helpful for decreasing fatigue. Limited reports indicate that it may also help relieve pain and anxiety. In the Hindu tradition, yoga is said to increase the stores of vital energy.
Tai chi. This therapy is a component of traditional Chinese medicine and combines meditation with physical exercise. Tai chi is said to create emotional balance by uniting the two life-energy forces of yin and yang. In one small study, symptom improvement in people with MS was noted, particularly in muscle stiffness.
Aromatherapy. This therapy involves treating conditions by the use of essential oils that are purported to promote an increase of energy and relaxation. It may be beneficial for anxiety and depression, but further study is needed.
When used to complement traditional treatment, the thoughtful use of CAM can be an important part of MS management. Since research and regulation on CAM therapies is still somewhat lax, it is important to choose wisely and be cautious. Remember to discuss your ideas with your MS specialist before trying something new.