Acupuncture Aids Patients with Multiple
by Carrie Elizabeth Sklar
Though there is no known cure for multiple sclerosis (MS),
studies show that when used in conjunction with other modalities,
acupuncture can provide effective relief for many MS symptoms.
Because MS damages myelin in the central nervous system, the
disease interferes with messages between the body and the brain.
Acupuncture can mediate the effects of this disease because it
releases endorphins and peptides in the brain, which modulate
sensory information between the brain and body. Acupuncture has
been cited by the World Health Organization to treat over 43 conditions,
including symptoms commonly associated with MS, such as fatigue,
pain, blurred vision, weak limbs, spasm, constipation and urinary
In a survey conducted by the MS Clinic at the University of British
Columbia, 566 patients with definite MS reported using alternative
therapies, with acupuncture being the most common method used.
The rest of the questionnaire focused on the reported effects
of acupuncture,; those that used acupuncture cited reduced pain,
decreased spasticity, improved bladder and bowel dysfunction,
and alleviated tingling and numbness, among others.
Acupuncture interns from the New York campus of Pacific College
of Oriental Medicine have the opportunity to work with MS patients
at the Initiative for Women with Disabilities (IWD) Elly and Steve
Hammerman Health and Wellness Center. According to licensed acupuncturist
Frances Goodwin, who helped organize Pacific's internship program
at IWD, "Oriental medicine looks at the disease a little
differently than Western medicine," Goodwin said. "With
Western medicine, they tend to treat [MS] by suppressing the immune
system, so there's usually a lot of chemotherapy. But with Oriental
medicine, it's about finding a balance rather than suppressing."
At IWD, Goodwin has seen firsthand the benefits of acupuncture
for MS. "One of our women came to us with really bad spasticity,
and after one treatment, she said she could sleep better,"