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Are Complementary and Alternative Treatments Effective for Multiple Sclerosis?

Cannabis extract, physical activity, and cognitive behavioral therapy are complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) with the strongest evidence of efficacy for multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a systematic review published in Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry . However, there is little class I and class II evidence to support the effect of CAMs.

“We found little evidence for CAM treatments of MS, and class I evidence was almost universally lacking,” said Suzi B. Claflin, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia, and colleagues.

There is an in interest in CAM treatments among the MS community, possibly due to perceived and actual shortcomings of available pharmacologic treatments, said the researchers. Cross-sectional studies have found that 37% to 100% of patients with MS have used CAMs at some point in their lives, and up to 51.8% of these patients have used CAMs in the past year. Despite the common use of CAMs, there is a lack of understanding of their efficacy.

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