What Are Five Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer?

A Guest Post by Ralph Coleman

Cancer TherapyAccording to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, complementary and alternative medicine is a healthcare system with medicines, practices, treatments and products that are not part of conventional medicine. It is important to note that complementary medicine is used along with conventional medicine whereas alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. Many cancer patients are advised by doctors to undertake an integrative approach that includes conventional medicines along with complementary and alternative therapies that are safe as well as effective.

Use of Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer

Complementary and alternative therapies are widely used according to a survey conducted by the National Health Interview Survey in 2010. The survey showed that one-third of American adults use CAM therapies. Furthermore, 40% of cancer survivors have used complementary and alternative practices while fighting cancer. However, studies have also revealed that cancer patients who use these therapies do not expect it to cure cancer but instead boost the immune system in order to help the body fight against cancer. Also, cancer patients use complementary and alternative therapies to relieve pain and help manage the side effects associated with cancer cure treatments. The therapies that are most used by cancer patients are relaxation (41%), spiritual healing (43%), spiritual healing (60%) and nutritional supplements (40%).

Although there is widespread use of these therapies, there continues to be skepticism in the scientific circle. There is no scientific proof to show that complementary and alternative therapies are indeed helpful in curing cancer. Complementary and alternative therapies help manage symptoms as well as side effects of cancer and cancer treatments. Many studies are being carried out every year to establish the effectiveness of complementary and alternative therapies.

5 Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Managing Pain Symptoms in Cancer

The following 5 complementary and alternative treatment options have shown to be effective in managing pain and side effects of cancer and cancer treatment.

  1. Acupuncture: A licensed acupuncture practitioner inserts tiny needles through the skin, at the exact pressure points. This helps relieve pain and nausea caused due to chemotherapy.  Remember that acupuncture is not advisable if you are taking blood thinners.
  2. Biofeedback: This treatment uses an electronic device that monitors specific functions of the body such as the heart rate. You are required to use your mind to control the bodily functions during a biofeedback session. The device beeps as a cue that there is a difference in your heart rate. Your biofeedback therapist helps you learn how to control these body functions according to the cues. Biofeedback is useful in relieving pain.
  3. Aromatherapy: Under this therapy, fragrant oils are used to help calm the senses. The oils are infused with scents like lavender and rose and can be used as massage oil or in the bath. Aromatherapy helps relieve pain and nausea, and it also calms the mind.
  4. Massage Therapy: A massage therapist applies pressure on the skin, muscles and tendons in order to relieve pain and muscle tension which aids relaxation. There are different types of massage, each one with its own unique relaxing properties. A massage can be light and gentle, or a deep tissue massage. An experienced massage therapist can help relieve stress and pain associated with cancer treatment. It is also said to help overcome nausea and anxiety.
  5. Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of deep concentration induced by a therapist using techniques such as talking in low, gentle voice. By inducing hypnosis the therapist helps you to concentrate on controlling your pain to reduce stress. Hypnosis is extremely helpful for patients suffering from cancer to control their symptoms of anxiety, stress and nausea.

So you can see that although complementary and alternative therapies do not cure cancer, they are quite helpful in managing pain symptoms and side effects of cancer and cancer treatment.

Author Bio: Ralph Coleman is a medical writer who writes well researched, in-depth cancer articles that provide relevant information to help patients combat the deadly disease. Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) prides in providing the best cancer treatment solutions to patients who have endured to various cancer types. With cancer centers in Philadelphia, Tulsa, Chicago, Newnan etc., CTCA aims at providing the best treatment options to cancer patients. Read more.


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