Use of herbal remedies by multiple sclerosis patients: a nation-wide survey in Italy

Anna Loraschi, Paolo Bellantonio, F. Bortolon, R. Capra, P. Cavalla, G. F. Costantino, Alessandra Lugaresi, Vittorio Martinelli, M. G. Marrosu, Francesco Patti, M. Rottoli, Marco Salvetti, Patrizia Sola, Claudio Solaro, Catherine Klersy, F. Marino, M. Zaffaroni, M. Cosentino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Though recent progress in multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment is remarkable, numerous unmet needs remain to be addressed often inducing patients to look for complementary and alternative medicines (CAM), especially herbal remedies (HR). HR use, scarcely investigated in MS, may cause adverse reactions (AR) and interfere with conventional treatment. We performed a survey aimed at evaluating use and attitudes towards HR and factor associated to HR use. Other CAM use and attitudes have been investigated as well. Multiple-choice questionnaires were distributed to MS out patients attending 14 Italian referral Centers. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify HR use determinants. Present/past HR use for either MS or other diseases was reported in 35.6 % of 2419 cases (95 % CI 36.0–40.0 %). CAM use was reported in 42.5 % of cases. Independent predictors of HR use were represented by higher education, geographic area, dissatisfaction with conventional treatment of diseases other than MS and benefit perception from CAM use. Both HR and CAM use were not always disclosed to the healthcare professional. In conclusion, HR and other CAM appear to be popular among MS patients. The involvement of the healthcare professionals appears to be scarce with potential risk of AR or interference with conventional treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalNeurological Sciences
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 19 2016


  • Complementary alternative medicine
  • Herbal remedies
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nation-wide survey
  • Questionnaire
  • Unmet needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Dermatology


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