Studies in MS and Other Conditions

Information about the effectiveness of Prokarin itself is limited. Elaine DeLack claims that her MS was dramatically improved by using Prokarin. Reports have been published of a study of Prokarin in 10 people with MS in Washington State. It is claimed that 8 of the 10 people in this study experienced improvement in MS symptoms that included bladder and bowel difficulties, incoordination, weakness, speech problems, walking unsteadiness, and fatigue.

One published study evaluated the effects of Prokarin use in 55 people with MS (1). It was found that 67 percent of people experienced improvement in MS symptoms after 6 weeks of treatment. Improvement was noted in a wide range of symptoms, including weakness, numbness, walking difficulties, pain, fatigue, and depression. This study is limited by the fact that neither caffeine alone nor a placebo treatment was used. Also, the effectiveness of the therapy was determined by self-assessment, an approach that is subject to inaccuracy.

A placebo-controlled study of Prokarin was reported in 2002 (2). This was a 12-week study of 29 people with MS. Prokarin was reported to improve fatigue. A question raised in the study was whether the fatigue-relieving effect was due to the caffeine in Prokarin. Blood caffeine levels were similar for the Prokarin- and placebo-treated groups. This suggests that caffeine was not the critical factor in decreasing fatigue, but the results of this relatively small study are not conclusive. Prokarin did not produce changes in brain chemistry (as measured by a technique known as MR spectroscopy) and did not improve thinking abilities, walking, or arm coordination.

At the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center, we conducted a web-based survey of Prokarin use among more than 1,300 people with MS. A relatively small fraction of the respondents (125 people, or 9.4 percent), had tried Prokarin. The majority (65 percent) of those who tried Prokarin had subsequently stopped using it. The most common reason (reported by 63 percent) for discontinuing Prokarin was lack of effectiveness. Of those who tried Prokarin, 49 percent reported beneficial effects. The symptoms that were most commonly reported to improve with Prokarin were fatigue, muscle stiffness, urination difficulties, and walking difficulties. The full results of the survey may be viewed on the CAM website of the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center, www.ms-cam.org.

Older reports of histamine treatment for MS, published in the late 1940s and the early 1950s, used intravenous histamine along with another medication (tubocurarine), physical therapy, and allergy testing. Beneficial effects of this multimodality treatment were noted. However, the significance of these findings for histamine treatment alone is not clear because several different therapies were used simultaneously, and strict clinical trial guidelines (such as the use of placebo-treated groups) were not followed.

In response to information about Prokarin's reported benefits, the Clinical Advisory Committee of the Greater Washington Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society released a statement in 1999. In this statement, physicians and nurses expressed the opinion that they did not believe that Prokarin was beneficial for their MS patients. They also had concerns that Prokarin was being used instead of prescription medications with established effectiveness for treating MS.

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