A Look at the Complementary Treatment Options for Cancer

Complementary Treatment Options For Cancer

Bonnie Coberly is a Certified Health Counselor at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers.

Most people diagnosed with cancer are aware of the standard medicine options — chemotherapy, radiation therapy and so on — but they unfortunately don’t hear as much about the other side of complementary treatments. The thing is, cancer treatment is aggressive and powerful; it has to be, in order to successfully combat the disease. But because it is so intense, traditional cancer treatment often comes with side effects. These side effects, which range from pain and nausea to fatigue and discouragement, are tough to face, too. That’s where complementary treatments and therapies come into play. By engaging in activities like yoga or acupuncture, for example, or by making certain diet and lifestyle changes, patients often find relief and help in the midst of cancer care.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the leading complementary treatment options for cancer, along with what advantages they offer:

Traditional Chinese Medicine: A major part of Chinese medicine is Chinese herbal medicine, a discipline that focuses on restoring the natural balances of energy to the body and spirit. This treatment can help alleviate patient complaints and symptoms associated with medical care. According to most Chinese herbalists, “[H]erbal remedies can help ease the side effects of standard cancer treatments, control pain, improve quality of life, strengthen the immune system, and in some cases, stop tumor growth and spread,” says the American Cancer Society®. Herbs are available in various teas, tinctures, powders, pills, syrups, etc., and may be purchased at health food stories as well as from traditional Chinese practitioners.

Acupuncture: A form of ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture offers several benefits for cancer patients. “It’s been shown that acupuncture reduces nausea and vomiting after surgery and chemotherapy,” says Cancer Treatment Centers of America®. “In addition, research has shown that it can relieve pain, possibly by triggering the body’s pain-killing chemicals and by inducing the release of chemicals that regulate blood pressure and flow.”

Hypnosis: Because hypnotherapy moves a person into a deeply relaxed, trance-like state, it can be helpful in managing pain and stress in a patient’s life. “A report from the American National Institute for Health in 1996 stated that hypnosis can help to reduce some kinds of cancer pain,” says Cancer Research U.K. What’s more, “in 2012, researchers in Spain again reviewed studies of children with cancer and found that hypnosis appeared to help reduce pain and distress from cancer or from medical procedures.”

Yoga: Long known as a relaxing, meditative form of exercise, yoga also offers distinct advantages to cancer patients. “Research has shown that yoga can be used to control physical functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, metabolism, body temperature, brain waves, and skin resistance,” says the American Cancer Society. It can relieve stress, improve sleep and fight feelings of anxiety and/or depression.

Balanced Diet: While there are many different diets and eating plans recommended for cancer patients, if you are undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment, the most important thing to remember is to give your body support. To do this, the American Cancer Society recommends “eating a balanced diet that includes five or more servings a day of vegetables and fruit, choosing whole grains over processed and refined foods, and limiting meats and animal fats.” It goes on to suggest that it “is best to choose foods from a variety of fruits, vegetables and other plant sources such as nuts, seeds, whole grain cereals, and beans to take in all needed nutrients.” By supporting your body through a balanced diet that minimizes processed food and junk, you give it fuel to heal during treatment.

Art or Music Therapy: Designed to reduce stress, anxiety and fear in a patient, both art and music therapy can be helpful outlets for patients who are undergoing the often emotionally taxing and physically draining cancer treatment process. In music therapy, patients enjoy musical experiences that are designed to relieve pain, nausea, depression, stress, etc. In art therapy, they get a chance to creatively use materials to both express themselves and work out their feelings. In both types of therapy, sessions can be catered to the individual needs of the patient. Plus, “researchers have found that music therapy, when used with anti-nausea drugs for patients receiving high-dose chemotherapy, can help ease nausea and vomiting,” says the American Cancer Society. Likewise, “numerous case studies have reported that art therapy benefits patients with both emotional and physical illnesses,” it also states.

Wherever a patient is in his or her cancer journey, turning to complementary treatment options can be a wonderful resource. These supportive therapies offer assistance and help outside standard medical care, as well as a tangible way to move toward better quality of life.

Bonnie Coberly At Natural Horizons Wellness CenterAuthor Bio: Bonnie Coberly is a Certified Health Counselor and a holistic health counselor. Bonnie uses her knowledge and experience to educate her clients at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers to reach their wellness goals.

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  1. Yes, Bonnie this was excellent, clear and doable! It can be so overwhelming and you made it so doable!


  2. Awesome post, Very informative ❤


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