A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can be devastating but it need not be hopeless.
Chinese medicine’s holistic approach is well suited to helping people manage this currently incurable disease and is a common choice of complementary therapy by MS patients themselves and, increasingly, their health-care provider(1). According to the World Health Organisation, acupuncture is chosen by over 86% of MS patients who choose complementary therapies(2).
At ben&biao we recommend a proactive approach to living with MS and safely managing common symptoms such as fatigue, depression and muscle weakness.
We look at the whole person, their diet and lifestyle, their state of mind as well as their physical symptoms and we use natural therapies including acupuncture, nutrition, exercise and stress management techniques to empower our patients on their road to a better quality of life.
Research is ongoing in the quest to understand acupuncture’s role in improving quality of life for people with MS, but indications are that acupuncture may specifically help to relieve symptoms of multiple sclerosis by stimulating the nervous system. This causes biochemical changes which influence the body’s own ability to return to a healthy state.
Specifically, researchers believe the key ways in which acupuncture may work are by:
- Reducing numbers of inflammatory and CD4 T cells. This accompanied improved paralytic symptoms in a rat model of MS(3);
- Promoting NT-3 (a protein growth factor that supports neuronal survival) expression, increasing the cell number and differentiation of endogenous oligodendrocyte precursor cells, and causing remyelination and functional improvement of the demyelinated spinal cord(4);
- Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry(5).
Sally Chilvers and Heidi Dunn are registered Chinese herbalists, acupuncturists and health directors at ben&biao in Sydney.
- Karpetkin, H., Napolione, D., Simonovich-Blok, B., 2014, ‘Acupuncture and multiple sclerosis: a review of the evidence’, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 972935. Published online 18 June 2014, Hindawi,
- Kochs, L., Wegener, S., Suhnel, A., Voigt, K., Zettl, U., 2013, ‘The use of complementary medicine in patients with multiple sclerosis: a longitudinal study’, Complimentary Therapies in Medicine, vol 22, 1, pp 166-172, Elsevier Science
- Kim KY et al. ‘Impact of acupuncture by using life-energy (qi) oriental needle on the paralysis of rats with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis’, Am J Chin Med. 2012;40(4):769-78.
- Huang SF et al. ‘An experimental electro-acupuncture study in treatment of the rat demyelinated spinal cord injury induced by ethidium bromide’, Neurosci Res. 2011;70(3):294-304
- Hui KK et al. ‘Acupuncture, the limbic system, and the anticorrelated networks of the brain’, Auton Neurosci.2010; 157: 81-90.