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Complement Ther Med. 2009 Aug;17(4):216-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2009.03.001. Epub 2009 Apr 21.

Complementary and alternative medicines and dietary interventions in multiple sclerosis: what is being used in South Australia and why?

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Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre, Sansom Institute, University of South Australia, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.



To investigate the usage patterns of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs), as well as dietary interventions, by South Australian people with multiple sclerosis (MS).


Self-administered postal survey.


Questionnaire mailed to recipients of the South Australian (SA) MS Society newsletter (n=1230).


Patterns of CAMs use and dietary interventions, reasons for using/not using CAMs in MS, sources of CAMs information and monthly expenditure on CAMs/dietary interventions.


A total of 428 surveys were returned (response rate 34.8%) of which 416 met the inclusion criteria for analysis. The majority of SA people with MS who responded reported using CAMs/dietary interventions (64.7%). Respondents with tertiary education and those with mild and moderate disease reported highest CAM use. The most frequently used CAM product categories were vitamins (81.8%), essential fatty acids (80.7%) and minerals (62.5%). Commonly used herbal products included Ginkgo biloba (18.2%) and valerian (16.4%). Popular diets were the low fat (39.8%), low/no sugar (23.8%) and gluten-free (16.4%) diets. The majority of those using CAMs/dietary interventions did so concurrently with conventional treatments (72.1%). Reasons for use included: general health and well-being; to alleviate 'general' as well as specific MS symptoms such as muscle weakness, urinary or memory problems and mobility. Conventional health professionals, and friends/family, were the most common sources of information. Monthly expenditure was most commonly AUD$20-49/month.


This study reports frequent use of CAM/dietary intervention amongst SA people with MS. The majority of users did so in conjunction with conventional treatments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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