Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
Also called oxygen therapy, this involves breathing oxygen through a mask in a pressurized chamber similar to a diving bell.
Anecdotal evidence suggests HBOT can be helpful for fatigue and bladder problems, but research into HBOT has found no evidence that it is effective.
HBOT can be found at many MS treatment centres and usually involves an initial, intensive course of 20 sessions over a month with follow up treatments at less frequent intervals.
I have HBOT treatment at my local treatment centre and I find it gives me a boost — but often the effort of getting there on a Saturday morning outweighs the benefits, and I think a good rest at home after a week at work makes me feel just as good!
This involves stimulating points on the soles of the feet to induce therapeutic effects on different parts of the body.
A number of studies found improvements in bladder problems, muscle strength and spasticity but it was unclear if the improvements were as a result of reflexology or massage.
Another study used a survey method to investigate CAMs in general and the results highlighted reflexology as one of the most popular therapies used by people with MS.
Finding What's Right For You
There are many more CAMs to choose from but the trouble with CAMs is that, compared with conventional medicine, there isn’t a lot of published research evidence into which might be of benefit. We all need to shop around and see what is most helpful for our specific symptoms. The cost of this can add up, but your local MS treatment centre may offer subsidized treatments.
Another thing to think about is safety. Just because a treatment is “natural” doesn’t mean it doesn’t have side effects and can’t interfere with mainstream treatments. It’s important to let your neurologist or other healthcare professional know what other treatments you’re having.
For me, the best CAM to investigate is diet. It’s the most important thing when trying to give yourself the best chance of maintaining good health. There are loads of diets tailored to MS, so investigate what you can realistically follow and make some changes. I cut out gluten and dairy a few years ago and the benefits for fatigue, weight loss and general health have been amazing.
None of these CAMs will cure MS but some will make you feel better, especially short-term, and they will all make you feel like you’re doing something proactive to manage your symptoms.