Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is high in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), yet there are limited reports on safety and effectiveness of CAM in MS. Naturopathic medicine encompasses a broad range of CAM modalities and may improve quality of life in patients with MS.
To assess quality of life in MS subjects who received interventions designed to “model” the “whole practice” of naturopathy.
A pilot, randomized, controlled study with a 6-month intervention period.
Participants who met criteria for clinically definite MS.
The 3 intervention arms were usual care, naturopathic medicine plus usual care, and MS education plus usual care.
The primary outcome measure was quality of life (36-item short form health survey [SF-36]). Secondary outcome measures included fatigue (Modified Fatigue Impact Scale); depression (Beck Depression Inventory); cognition battery (Stroop test and Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test 3), and neurologic impairment (Expanded Disability Status Scale [EDSS] and Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite). Adverse event reporting and laboratory measures were used to assess safety.
Forty-five (45) participants (15 per group) were randomized and all completed the 6-month intervention. There were no significant differences between groups on any outcome measure. There was a trend in favoring the naturopathic group in the General Health subscale of the SF-36 (p=0.11), Timed Walk (p=0.11), and neurologic impairment (EDSS) (p=0.07). There was a trend favoring the Education group in the Stroop attention test (p=0.07). There was no difference between groups in adverse events or laboratory changes.
Naturopathic medicine combined with usual care for MS showed a trend in improvement in the General Health subscale of the SF-36, Timed Walk, and neurologic impairment. Evaluation of naturopathic medicine, as a multimodality regimen, warrants further investigation.