What are the benefits of herbal medicine for multiple sclerosis?

Published May 30, 2024 • By Candice Salomé

Many patients with chronic illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), often seek out alternative or complementary medicine. Phytotherapy, one such option, focuses on the healing properties of plants to provide both preventive and therapeutic benefits.

So, which plants can be beneficial in managing multiple sclerosis (MS)? What are the recommendations and precautions to consider when opting for phytotherapy?

We cover all this and more in our detailed article!

What are the benefits of herbal medicine for multiple sclerosis?

Patients wishing to use medicinal plants should do so with caution. Phytotherapy should not exacerbate the disease, cause a relapse or complications, or interact with prescribed medications. Before using any medicinal plant, it is crucial to inform your doctor and/or pharmacist to avoid any potentially serious complications.

What is phytotherapy?

The word comes from the Greek "phytos," meaning plant, and "therapeuo," meaning to take care of. Phytotherapy involves using plants or plant-based medicines (powders, ampoule preparations, infusions, etc.) to naturally treat various ailments of the human body.

Plants provide the body with the necessary substances to maintain its vital balance.

It is impossible to pinpoint exactly when medicinal plants were first used, but it is likely that prehistoric humans already relied on them for healing, nourishment, and even hunting.

Complementary to traditional medical treatments, phytotherapy is increasingly popular, and its effectiveness is gaining recognition in the scientific community. Most plants contain “active ingredients” (phytochemicals). Consequently, these medicinal plants each have different biological effects on our bodies.

However, it is important to always consult with your doctor before including complementary treatments in your standard regimen. Phytotherapy can interact with conventional treatments.

Furthermore, just because something is natural does not mean it should be overused. It is important to strictly adhere to the recommended doses.

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease of the nervous system.

MS manifests through motor, sensory, visual, and balance disorders, which can lead to long-term disability. It often progresses through relapses, varying in intensity and frequency from one patient to another.

It is the leading cause of severe non-traumatic disability in young adults.

>> For more information on multiple sclerosis, check out our dedicated disease fact sheet <<

Which plants can be beneficial in managing Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Phytotherapy can help alleviate certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis, thereby improving patients' quality of life.

Alleviating Pain Related to Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

For inflammatory or joint pain, white willow (Salix alba) bark can be used in a decoction. Simply keep the water boiling for a few minutes and let the plant release its benefits.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is also recommended and should be used in an infusion. Once the water has boiled, stop boiling and let it steep for no more than 3–4 minutes.

These two plants have significant anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.

Reducing Anxiety and Sleep Disorders

According to an article in the medical journal Planta Medica, valerian aids sleep due to its anxiolytic effects. It also helps with mild nervous tension and sleep disorders, according to the European Medicines Agency. Passionflower is reported by the European Medicines Agency to have effects on both sleep and anxiety.

Easing Digestive Disorders

Lemon balm, which is antispasmodic, is indicated for functional digestive disorders. Additionally, for constipation, a gentle plant such as psyllium (also known as ispaghula) is recommended. It has limited effectiveness but few side effects.

Reducing Spasticity

According to a 2019 meta-analysis on phytotherapy in MS, Cannabis sativa may be effective against spasticity, while THC combined with cannabidiol may help with muscle spasms, some urinary symptoms, and improved sleep quality.


Was this article helpful to you?

Give it a "Like" and share your thoughts and questions with the community in the comments below! 

Take care!

avatar Candice Salomé

Author: Candice Salomé, Health Writer

Candice is a content creator at Carenity and specialzes in writing health articles. She has a particular interest in the fields of women's health, well-being and sports. 

Candice holds a master's degree in... >> Learn more


You will also like

MS and medical cannabis: Legal status and usage in France and Spain

Multiple sclerosis

MS and medical cannabis: Legal status and usage in France and Spain

Read the article
Are you interested in CBD oil to help manage your chronic condition?

Multiple sclerosis

Are you interested in CBD oil to help manage your chronic condition?

Read the article
MS, prickling sensations, treatments: my battle to walk again

Multiple sclerosis

MS, prickling sensations, treatments: my battle to walk again

See the testimonial
Nicolas' story: Pursuing athletic dreams despite MS

Multiple sclerosis

Nicolas' story: Pursuing athletic dreams despite MS

See the testimonial

Most commented discussions

Fact sheet