People struggling with cancer are interested in any kind of help, including complementary and alternative cancer treatments. They may research traditional Eastern medicine or perhaps jump on the latest food craze for help. If cancer makes you feel as if you have no control over health, alternative cancer treatments may relieve some cancer treatment symptoms. However, many alternative cancer treatments are not approved and some may even be dangerous.
To help you figure out the good from the bad, here are some alternative cancer treatments that are considered safe. Moreover, there is growing evidence that these alternative treatments may provide some benefit.
How can alternative medicine help cancer patients?
Alternative cancer treatments may not play a direct role in curing cancer, but they can help the patient to cope with symptoms caused by cancer and chemical treatments. Commons symptoms can include anxiety, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, pain, insomnia.
A cancer patient should work closely with his doctor to determine the right balance between traditional medicine and alternative cancer treatments. While alternative cancer treatments, such as acupuncture, may reduce nausea or pain, they generally are not powerful enough to replace cancer medications prescribed by the doctor.
Which alternative cancer treatments are worth trying?
Here are 10 alternative cancer treatments that may help cancer patients. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in trying:
- Acupuncture. During acupuncture treatment, a practitioner inserts thin needles into your skin at precise points. Acupuncture is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine. Studies had shown that acupuncture may be helpful in relieving nausea caused by chemotherapy. Acupuncture may also help relieve pain (including headache) in different regions of the body.
Acupuncture is safe if it is performed by a licensed practitioner who uses sterile needles. If you are interested in this therapy, ask your doctor for names of trusted practitioners. Keep in mind that acupuncture is not safe if you are taking blood thinners or if you have low blood counts, so consult with your doctor first.
- Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy uses fragrant plant oils, including essential oils and other aroma compounds to provide a calming sensation. Oils, infused with scents such as lavender, can be applied to your skin during a massage, or they can also be added to bath water. You can also heat the fragrant oils to release their scents into the air. Aromatherapy may be helpful in relieving nausea, pain and stress.
Aromatherapy can be performed by a practitioner, or you can also do it on your own. While aromatherapy is safe, oils applied to your skin can cause allergic reactions. Patients with cancer that is estrogen sensitive, such as breast cancer, should avoid applying large amounts of lavender oil and tea tree oil to the skin.
- Exercise. Physical activity may help you manage symptoms during and after cancer treatment. Light exercise may help relieve fatigue and stress and help you sleep better. Many studies had shown that a special exercise program may help people with cancer live longer an improved their overall quality of life.
If you haven’t been exercising regularly previously, check with your doctor before you begin an exercise program. Start slowly, adding more exercise as you go. Aim to work your way up to at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.
- Hypnosis. Hypnosis is a deep state of human consciousness. During a hypnotherapy session, a therapist may hypnotize you by talking in a gentle voice and helping you to relax. It can help you focus on controlling your pain and reducing stress.
Hypnotherapy may help cancer patients to relieve anxiety, pain, and stress. It may also help prevent anticipatory nausea and vomiting that can occur during chemotherapy. While hypnosis is safe when performed by a certified therapist, make sure to mention if you have a history of mental illness.
- Massage. During a massage, your practitioner kneads your muscles and tendons to relieve tension and stress and promote relaxation. Several message methods exist. Massage can be light and gentle, or it can be deep with more pressure.
Studies have found that message can help cancer patients to relieve pain as well as fatigue and anxiety.
Message sessions are safe if you work with a knowledgeable massage therapist. Many cancer centers have them on staff, or your doctor can refer you to a massage therapist who regularly works with cancer patients.
Avoid massage if your blood counts are very low. Ask the massage therapist to avoid messaging surgical scars, radiation treatment areas or tumors. If you have bone cancer or another bone disease, such as osteoporosis, ask your therapist to use light pressure, rather than deep massage.
- Meditation. Meditation is a practice of deep concentration during which you focus your mind on the positive image or idea. When meditating, you might also do deep-breathing or relaxation exercise. Mediation may help cancer patients to relieve anxiety and stress.
Meditation is completely safe. You can meditate on your own as often as you want or you can attend a class with a certified instructor.
Alternative cancer treatments may not play a direct role in curing the disease, but they may help the patient to cope with signs and symptoms caused by cancer and cancer treatments. If you are interested in alternative medicine, consider Synergy Lifestyle Medicine takes an individual approach with every patient. Doctors at Synergy use a variety of specific lab results and genetic biomarkers to help guide optimal treatment for cancer and all chronic disease state.
Synergy uses a wide range of complementary therapies to enhance your immune system to more effectively and efficiently fight cancer and chronic disease. They also offer Fractionated Chemotherapy with Biological Modifiers, a low-dose chemotherapy protocol designed to target cancer cells better while leaving healthy cells intact.
For more information, visit Synergy Lifestyle Medicine's website.