Lifestyle and Alternative Medicine

Authors: Nathaniel C. Bowling, MD, and Allen C. Bowling, MD, PhD
Complementary and Alternative Medicine information and services offered by Dr. Allen Bowling

DISCLAIMER: Multiple Sclerosis is a serious medical condition. Multiple Sclerosis should not be diagnosed or treated on one's own. The information on this site is for informational purposes only. This information should not be viewed as a substitute for visiting your health care provider or for using conventional medications. Before considering lifestyle or unconventional therapies, one should read about Precautions. It is highly recommended that you contact your health professional before using any of these therapies.

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Important Precautions This website provides detailed information about many different forms of lifestyle and alternative medicine. This information is meant to assist people in evaluating these therapies. Several ideas and precautions must be kept in mind when reviewing this information: 1. The information on this website is not meant to “convert” anyone to use these […]


5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that is very similar to tryptophan, another common amino acid. Both compounds have been marketed for treating depression. However, batches of tryptophan contaminated with peak Xand other compounds have caused eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. 5-HTP preparations may contain similar contaminants, so until further evidence is available, it may be best to avoid this […]


Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) has been studied as a possible treatment for memory issues and fatigue. (Note: Acetyl-L-carnitine is not the same as L-carnitine.) Acetyl-L-carnitine has been studied in MS due to its potential effects on fatigue. One small-scale study found that acetyl-L-carnitine significantly decreased fatigue as indicated by the Fatigue Severity Scale. Amantadine (Symmetrel), a standard MS-associated […]


Acupuncture is one component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), a healing method that has been practiced for more than two millennia. It is practiced by approximately 25 percent of the world’s population and growing in popularity in the United States. In contrast to Western medicine, which uses a biological approach to treatment, acupuncture is based […]

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid is present in mitochondria, which produce energy within cells. It is an antioxidant, and as such it acts to reduce damage done by free radicals. Studies conducted at the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) have found that alpha-lipoic acid may decrease the severity of EAE, an animal model of MS. It is hypothesized that […]

Antioxidant Vitamins

Antioxidant vitamins are among the dietary supplements that are most used by people with MS. Antioxidants act on free radicals, which are chemicals known to damage cells. Antioxidants can affect both the immune and nervous systems. By decreasing the impact of harmful free radicals, cell damage may be reduced. Free radicals play a key role in […]


Aromatherapy is a healing method based on the use of plant-derived aromatic substances. Its use dates back to ancient China and ancient Egypt. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist, originally developed the form of aromatherapy that is currently practiced in the United States. Treatment Approach Essential oils, the basis of aromatherapy, are highly purified oils which […]

Asian Herbal Medicine

Asian herbal medicine is one component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It involves the therapeutic use of specific herbal preparations. These preparations are often complex combinations of different raw herbs and herb extracts. Treatment Approach Treatment can be administered alone, but is often done in combination with acupuncture. Administration methods include pills, powders, tablets, capsules, […]


Many have suggested that aspartame, an artificial sweetener often used in diet soft drinks, causes MS or exacerbates its symptoms. Treatment Approach It is sometimes stated that people with MS should avoid all food and drink products that contain aspartame. Furthermore, it is sometimes claimed that people with MS should use stevia, or sweetleaf, a […]


Ayurveda, meaning “knowledge (or science) of life,” is the oldest known medical system still practiced today. It was developed in India thousands of years ago, and, although it has been modified over the years, it is still widely practiced there. It has been popularized in the United States as a result of the work of […]

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