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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fighting Early MS Symptoms with Natural Remedies

Fighting Early MS Symptoms with Natural Remedies - 
written by:  Katie Brind’Amour, is a Certified Health Education Specialist
March 2013

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, some of the earliest signs and symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are fairly common: fatigue, coordination or dizziness problems, memory lapses, depression or anxiety, vision problems, numbness or tingling, and pain. As there is no cure for MS, many see the appeal of herbal remedies or natural supplements that may treat some of the condition’s symptoms. According to Healthline, a variety of potentially effective herbs and supplements may exist, but many natural remedies still need to be studied more closely for their impact on MS.

Herbs and supplements have strong medicinal properties. They may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications, and should not be taken without consultation with a physician or pharmacist.

Fighting Fatigue

MS-related fatigue can be a burden. The weakness and lack of energy associated with MS may be alleviated, however, by supplements such as ginseng or vitamin B1. A recent randomized trial studied ginseng supplements and found a significant positive effect of the herb on fatigue and quality of life in MS patients. In addition, dandelion root or leaf has also been used for anti-fatigue properties.

Keeping Your Balance

Dizziness, balance, and coordination problems are also common symptoms in the early stages of MS. Although many herbs have been used for these symptoms historically, few have strong research supporting them. Gingko biloba is promising, however, for a reduction in dizziness and balance problems. In addition, physical therapy and exercise therapy offer the newly diagnosed (and more advanced individuals!) the perks of better muscle control and coordination.

Just Remember

The race is on to find effective drugs—natural or otherwise—to slow or reverse neurodegeneration. Although more research is needed, chyawanprash, CoQ10, and sage all show promise in early studies for their potential to boost memory ability and increase mental acuity.

Stay Positive
Beyond the MS community, millions of people around the world would love a natural treatment for anxiety and depression. The ever-popular St. John’s Wort offers assistance to many. Valerian, however, is a newer and promising entry to the mental health herb market; it may also improve insomnia (another frequent MS problem).

Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

Vision problems, such as macular degeneration, often occur over time in individuals with MS. Bilberry leaf may protect vision, and gingko biloba is under study for similar protective effects. Common supplements, such as vitamin A and zinc, are also essential for healthy vision—some trials suggest there is a general protective effect from a regular multivitamin.

Going Numb
Although numbness and tingling in the extremities is a common symptom of MS, it is difficult to treat. It is usually caused by nerve degeneration. Initial research has found a link between magnesium deficiencies and this symptom. Some studies suggest that taking magnesium supplements may help people avoid the numbness and tingling associated with MS.

Pain Aplenty
Pain is clearly not a symptom specific to MS. A wide variety of options exist for over-the-counter, prescription, herbal, physical therapy, and homeopathic pain relief remedies exist. Two herbal options that show some efficacy for pain management include catnip and ginger. Both of these herbs also have other properties that may prove useful to individuals with MS. Ginger, for instance, is also being widely studied for its anti-inflammatory ability.

Whatever you choose to manage your early MS symptoms, always be sure to discuss your options and potential interaction effects with a health professional. Each person’s health needs and symptoms differ, and some herbal solutions may be better understood after additional research.

Katie Brind’Amour, MS, is a Certified Health Education Specialist and freelance health science writer for sites such as and She enjoys learning about practical ways to live well while chipping away at her PhD in Health Services Management and Policy.


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