Monday, 8 April 2013

Research: Complementary/Alternative Medicines use is Common

Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate differences in socio-economic characteristics between CAM users and CAM non-users among people with MS in Denmark as well as differences in characteristics related to the use of CAM among CAM users and the use of conventional treatments among CAM non-users. 

Methods: An internet-based questionnaire was used to collect data from 3361 patient members of the Danish MS society. A letter with a personal code was sent to all respondents, asking them to fill out the questionnaire online. Reminders to non-respondents were sent twice and the final response rate was 55.5%. Statistical associations were presented as odds ratios and with respective 95% confidence intervals. 

Results: People with MS in Denmark use a wide range of CAM treatments for a variety of reasons. CAM users were more likely to be of female gender, 18-40 years of age, educated at degree level or above, and have a high income compared to CAM non-users (p < 0.05). CAM users more often addressed non-specific/preventive treatment purposes through their use of CAM treatments, they communicated less often with a medical doctor about the CAM treatments used, and they experienced less side effects as well as less positive effects from the CAM treatments used when compared with the use of conventional treatments among CAM non-users (p < 0.05). 

Conclusions: People with MS in Denmark reported use of a large range of CAM treatments. CAM users differed from CAN non-users in relation to socio-economic factors as well as treatment characteristics.

As people are not getting effective medicines it is not surprising that people turn to alternative medicines as a option.
This study from Denmark confirms what has been seen the world over....that MSers use CAM. This is facilitated by the internet, where ideas can be spread, and fads created, rapidly.
This study indicates that the more disposable income that you have, the more you experiment and the more educated you are the more likely you are to experiment with CAM, yet don't tell their doctors about what they are up to. 

Complementary alternative medicines caused less side effects than conventional treatments and is not surprising as many of the CAMS will be doing little except having a placebo effect and lightening the wallets of those that can afford to spend money. 

The problem with CAM is that the evidence base comes from loosely based ideas, without the class I evidence to show they do anything useful. Unfortunately no-one wants to do or fund these studies because they cost too much to do and there is no financial incentive to do the studies.


  1. Yet there are some clinical trials ongoing. Take the Green Tea or the Boswellia extract in the Charité hospital in Berlin, or the Curcumin extract combined with Rebif in the Rome hospital, this one financed by Merck (now interferons seem to have seen their best days). It takes longer to step from EAE level to phase II when CAM is to be tried in MS patients, in the meantime we have the right to throw our money away if other good effects can be expected and side effects are under control.

  2. where is nutrition and cams in our thinking? Every family affected will do what they can to minimise effects/symptoms and there is increasing evidence around the world that both can help.
    The 5 year study being undertaken by Bastyr university in Washington may help to move us forward?

  3. It is true that “class I evidence” is lacking. That is not, logically, the same thing as “CAMS will be doing little except having a placebo effect.” Lack of evidence does not support a position in either direction. It merely suggests that evidence should be developed.

  4. Point taken
    Lack of evidence does suggest that you cannot say anything from an totally informed stand point but if you can only focus on a few things at a time, which basket do you put your eggs in?

  5. So is vitamin d a CAMS or a medical treatment? The epidemiological evidence has been strong for a long time (since the 1940's for latitude, I believe), but as it is near impossible to do a double blind test except on the house bound, what is called class 1 evidence cannot be produced. There is no other situation in a double blind test where by simply entering or leaving the building at a different time of day or with a different level of clothing the dose for both the treatment and control arms can change significantly. It is also possible that it is the lowest level reached not the average that matters. This would be especially true if the trigger is a latent virus such as Epstein Barr, as I would expect it to trigger (assuming it is suppressed by high 25(OH)D) just as the vitamin d level start to rise from their lowest point.

  6. CAM...Doctor Ruth says both..they are doing trials to get class I evidence.

  7. I know they are carrying out the testing of vitamin d the same way you would a drug (see my comments about that), but what these trials are creating at the moment is noise because they are being poorly devised. We know that different people have different abilities to produce vitamin d (from sun) and different rates of consumption, because a plot of supplementation vs 25(OH)D produces a massive scatter and the effect of the supplementation on 25(OH)D varies from person to person. The known gene and immune system effects probably turn on and off at different 25(OH)D levels in different people. So unless the study is big enough and the dose high enough and for long enough, no sensible data will be gained. The other way would be, like smoking, were we trust the science and the epidemiology.

  8. This may be of interest Month of Birth and Thymic Output, Giulio Disanto, MD; Corey T. Watson, PhD; Ute C. Meier, DPhil; George C. Ebers, MD; Gavin Giovannoni, MD; Sreeram V. Ramagopalan, DPhil but if this is the cause of MS it would mean that the double blind test will require 20 years, while the babies grow up. Unless extra vitamin d later can shut down the over activity and that should be measurable in individuals before and after supplementation.

    1. Massive Interest I think , please check out names of membmers of Team G and I think you can see why I said that


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