Original article| Volume 44, 102197, September 2020

Use of natural medicine and dietary supplements concomitant with conventional medicine among people with Multiple Sclerosis


      • A total of 85% of PwMS use NADS.
      • The most used products are vitamin D, fatty acids, multivitamins and calcium.
      • In total, 76% of PwMS use NADS concomitant with conventional MS-medicine.
      • Vitamins, minerals and fatty acids were often combined with conventional MS medicine.
      • Co-users was primarily young and newly diagnosed PwMS with higher education.



      The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are widespread among people with Multiple Sclerosis (PwMS) and are often used concomitant with conventional treatment. Natural medicine and dietary supplements (NADS) are the most frequently used CAM modality and among other patient groups use of NADS concomitant with conventional medicine has been reported as a potential risk to patients’ safety due to risk of drug interactions. The use of NADS concomitant with conventional medicine has, however, not been investigated among PwMS. This study's aim was to investigate the prevalence of NADS and conventional MS-related medicine use among PwMS, specific types of NADS and conventional MS-related medicine used, the prevalence of NADS used concomitant with conventional MS-related medicine, and to characterize PwMS who use NADS and PwMS who use NADS concomitant with conventional MS-related medicine in a Danish context.


      The study was a cross-sectional study conducted as an interviewer-administered survey via phone in April 2019. The questionnaire includes questions about the use of NADS and conventional MS medicine as well as sociodemographic and health-related factors. In total 384 PwMS answered the questionnaire. Both descriptive and logistic analyses were used to analyze the data.


      The results show that the majority of PwMS use conventional MS-related medicine. In total, 85 % (n=322) had used at least one NADS within the last 12 months including vitamin D. When excluding vitamin D, the use of NADS within the last 12 months was 78.4% (n=298). Beside vitamin D the most reported types of NADS used were fatty acids (37%), Multivitamins (37%), and Calcium (35%). A total of 75.8% (n=288) reported using NADS concomitant with conventional MS medicine, and the products most often combined with conventional MS medicine were Vitamin D, Multivitamin, Calcium, Magnesium, and fatty acids. The results suggest that PwMS using NADS concomitant with conventional MS-related medicine are characterized by a high prevalence of young and newly diagnosed patients with a high education level.


      The study contributes to a better understanding of NADS used among PwMS. The study shows that the majority of PwMS use NADS and that they use it concomitant with conventional MS-medicine. Furthermore, the detailed mapping of the specific types of NADS used gives a nuanced insight into the specific products of NADS used among PwMS, including different kinds of vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies.


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