Choosing the complementary medicine best suited for your type of cancer can be a daunting and overwhelming decision. My opinion is a true integrative program of science based protocols that are done outside of the United States. However, many people are unable to travel outside of the US. There is some helpful information on integrative treatments that have the best evidence behind them or are the most widely used. This is not a replacement for traditional medical care but to be used alongside your chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. Talk with your doctor about any of the therapies you are thinking of trying. Some natural therapies can have side effects and interactions just like the conventional treatments.
Some treatments are:
· Acupuncture & Acupressure to relieve pain and other symptoms. This can reduce nausea associated with chemotherapy and reduce cancer pain. Adverse effects are rare. If you are prone to bleeding, make sure acupuncture is safe for you.
· Biofeedback is instruction in how to control some of your body’s automatic responses like heart rate and using monitors. This can reduce stress, chronic pain and insomnia. There are no risks involved.
· Chiropractic Care is a manipulation of the joints and skeletal system. There is evidence it reduces back pain and headaches and is relatively safe. It can occasionally cause injury and those prone to bleeding, have weak bones, nerve damage or other health issues should check first with their doctor.
· Fitness includes classes designed for those in cancer treatment or recovering from it. Hypnosis can reduce stress, improve mood, reduce cancer pain and reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy. There are no risks
· Massage is kneading and rubbing of muscles and soft tissues that can reduce stress and anxiety and possibly cancer pain. Risks are low but those prone to bleeding, have weak bones, nerve damage or other health issues should check with their doctor.
· Meditation & guided imagery will help you to calm yourself using breathing exercises, repeating a word or imagining yourself in relaxing places. It can reduce pain, stress and anxiety. Imagery may reduce the side effects from chemotherapy and there are no risks.
· Nutritional counseling is guidance on eating a healthy diet that can make you feel better and maintain relaxation while easing pain. There are low risks but avoid extreme diets that restrict food groups.
· Reiki, Tai Chi and energy therapies realign energy in your body using movement or pressure that reduces stress and improves quality of life. Typically a low risk except for those with health conditions like arthritis and heart disease.
· Supplements and alternative medicines is the use of vitamins and alternative medicines extracted from plants. Some may ease symptoms from cancer and its treatment and others for their effect on cancer. Risks in this category greatly vary depending on the drug. Never take a supplement, herb or botanical without your doctor’s approval as some can be dangerous and cause drug interactions.
Hopefully, the above listing will help your decision making go a bit easier. If in doubt you should always consult with your physician. You can always Google the alternative methods to learn more about them.
Dr Fredda Branyon