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Complement Ther Med. 2014 Feb;22(1):166-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.11.006. Epub 2013 Nov 28.

The use of complementary and alternative medicine in patients with multiple sclerosis: a longitudinal study.

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HELIOS Hanseklinikum Stralsund, Gynaecology, Große Parower Straße 47-53, 18435 Stralsund, Germany. Electronic address:
Neurological Hospital and Outpatient Department, University Medicine Rostock, Germany.



Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in chronic progressive diseases, like multiple sclerosis (MS), is highly prevalent. Up to now there are no satisfying longitudinal analysis about changes in using of CAM accompanied by influencing parameters like disease duration, stage of impairment or socioeconomic factors. This study captured the using of CAM of MS patients in combination with disease progression.


119 Patients with MS were asked about CAM utilization, sociodemographic and disease factors within the context of a semistructured interview at an interval of seven years. The depressive status was ascertained with the Beck's Depression Inventory (BDI). Differences of users and non-users were checked with diverse statistical tests.


Comparing both isolated measurements at second point less patients used CAM accompanied by worse socioeconomic situation and progression of the disease. Patients use CAM in a stage of illness, characterized by the Established Disability Status Scale (EDSS) between 3.5 and 4.0 points, signifying a transition from moderate to severe impairment, and a shorter duration of illness in comparison to non-users. Types of used CAM have been changed over seven years. Relaxation techniques and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are the favorite therapies at second measurement.


As the key result of the study patients use CAM in an early stage of the disease. Their EDSS lies between 3.5 and 4.0 points and they suffer medial two years shorter from MS than non-users. CAM could be an important appliance to cope with the disease.


BDI; Complementary and alternative medicine; EDSS; Longitudinal study; Multiple sclerosis

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