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Book Review: 'Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis'

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Updated June 30, 2008

Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis

Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis


The Bottom Line

Whenever I see something about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the context of multiple sclerosis (MS), I brace myself for either wildly fantastic claims of miraculous cures or academic disdain for any therapy that is not the result of an enormous multisite clinical trial. Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis (2nd ed.) by Allen C. Bowling is neither.

This is an excellent reference book for anyone with MS. I urge you to get this book - you’ll find yourself reaching for it often and wonder what you did without it.

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  • Covers most CAM modalities in a well-organized format
  • Cites (gives references to) actual studies and scientific articles
  • Provides a balanced approach, mentioning good, bad and unclear aspects
  • Has information that is interesting to both CAM novices and experts


  • None


  • Comprehensive reference guide to both common and unusual CAM approaches used by people with MS
  • Overview of CAM, including the controversies and how to evaluate and approach the different therapies
  • Guide to an overall approach of wellness and MS - how to integrate conventional medicine, lifestyle factors and CAM

Guide Review - Book Review: 'Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis'

Dr. Bowling clearly has years of interacting with (and listening to!) people with MS. This is obvious not only because of his balanced approach, but also because of his inclusion and discussion of nonconventional therapies that many physicians would never consider or immediately dismiss, such as “Dental Amalgam Removal” and “Low Dose Naltrexone” – I originally had the impression that these things were only really discussed in the “MS underground.”

Bowling acknowledges that most people with MS have tried some form of CAM – some “dabbling” and some embracing it wholeheartedly in lieu of prescription medications. I am impressed with the way that Dr. Bowling is able to cite studies, many with negative findings, yet never make the reader feel silly or condescended to if they are considering such a therapy. By respecting people with MS who are simply looking for answers, the author gets his point across solidly and allows his opinion to shine through in a way that I am positive has helped countless readers, including myself.

In my opinion, the most important and interesting part of the book is the chapter at the very end, entitled “A Five-Step Approach: Integrating Conventional and Unconventional Medicine.” In these few pages, Bowling manages to broaden one’s thinking about health, mention current medical approaches and list those CAM approaches worth considering for a variety of symptoms and overall well-being.

In the end, Bowling gives us a look at CAM, warts and all, to be considered in a rational way by each individual. While it is ultimately each person’s decision how he or she is going to proceed in regard to the therapies, Bowling can rest assured that he has done his job in being the “voice of reason” amidst those that are either urging us to try something or scoffing at our curiosity about CAM.

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