Natural Pain Relief for Breast Cancer Patients

Natural Pain Relief For Breast Cancer With Acupuncture

By Jenni Hewster.

For people suffering from breast cancer, experiencing pain on some level is usually sadly inevitable. This is often due to the cancer itself but treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery can also come with unpleasant and painful side effects. Your oncologist or healthcare provider will be able to prescribe pain relief medication, but at a time when many cancer patients feel as though their body is already being pumped full of chemicals, some prefer to use natural, holistic methods of pain relief instead. These can range from herbal treatments to mental and physical exercises or even simple diet and lifestyle changes – all of which can improve your health, prognosis and offer some relief from pain. Here are some of the most commonly used natural pain relief remedies for people suffering from breast cancer.

Acupuncture
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapy where thin, sterile needles are inserted into specific pressure points on the body. The aim of acupuncture is to improve the flow of vital energy (or Qi) through the body and encourage the production of the body’s natural pain relief hormones through the nervous system. These include endorphins and brain chemicals such as serotonin – when released this helps have a calming effect on the body and increases a sense of happiness and wellbeing. Cancer patients mainly use acupuncture to help reduce anxiety which makes pain worse. Another form of acupuncture (and one that might be preferable for those who don’t like needles) is wearing acubands – or ‘sea bands’. These wristbands have a small button on the inside which, when positioned around the wrist correctly, help stabilize the pulse, apply pressure to certain points and reduce feelings of nausea that can be brought on by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. They get their name from their ability to also help relieve motion, travel and seasickness.

Diet
A healthy, well balanced diet is important to anyone but for those fighting cancer it is vital to provide the body with the nutrients that it needs to keep energy levels high and fight off the disease. Studies show that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can have a direct impact on fighting breast cancer whilst green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale can help speed up liver and kidney function and detoxification which means emitting chemotherapy quickly so that they cause as little disruption as possible in the way of painful side effects. Fruits full of antioxidants such as berries and citrus fruits also have great immune system boosting qualities which are much needed to fend off colds and other bugs at a time when your body’s natural resources are fighting off the cancer. Comforting wholegrains such as brown pasta, bread and cereal are a good way to keep energy levels high and blood sugar levels stable which will help reduce symptoms of nausea and fatigue. Many experts also agree that organic produce is preferable for cancer patients as other produce may contain traces of pesticides and chemicals that can encourage tumor growth.

Yoga and meditation
Yoga can have benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing in cancer patients but it is important to discuss your diagnosis and treatment with a qualified yoga instructor before beginning as certain types of yoga can be strenuous on the body. On a physical level, yoga is exercise and can help improve posture and allow the body to generally build itself back up to stability following surgery. The deep breathing exercises associated with yoga and meditation also increase oxygen flow to the muscles and joints which helps relieve aches and pains. Mentally, meditation is thought to take the individual to a higher, more spiritual consciousness where your anxiety levels are lowered and the production of stress busting hormones are once again released. Some experts advise that using Guided Imagery during meditation and deep relaxation can help improve pain; this involves using visual imagery and thought techniques to almost self hypnotise oneself into believing that they are able to take control of their pain and rid themselves of the harmful cells in their body.

Herbal treatments
Certain herbal remedies have been known to decrease the pain caused by chemotherapy and even slow down the spread of cancer cells in the body. Turmeric, a spice used commonly in Asian cuisine, contains a compound called curcumin which is an anti flammatory and also has been shown to interfere with cancer cell reproduction. St Johns Wort is also a herbal, yellow plant that can be taken in capsule, powder or liquid form and is thought to help ease fatigue, anxiety and stomach upsets. However some evidence does suggest that this and other herbal remedies can interfere with cancer treatment and medication so do always check with a professional before taking any herbal treatments. The benefits of herbal rememdies is that they are generally made from natural substances rather than chemical ones and are less addictive than some perscription medication.

Massage
Massage is a great way to unwind and relax and it can also help ease pain from muscles and joints. But aside from that some experts believe that stimulating certain areas of the body can improve blood flow and encourage the production of the bodies natural pain relievers (in a similar way to acupuncture) whilst also boosting immune system health. Although it is a good tool in healing, you should wait a while before having a massage around the area where you have had surgery to avoid damaging or bruising the area and take special care if you have had radiotherapy as the skin will already be sensitive so massive oils may irritate it further.

References
“Acupuncture” – Breastcancer.org – Accessed 20th May 2014.
“Sea Bands” – Sea-Band.com homepage – Accessed 20th May 2014.
“Healthy Bites: The benefits of dark, leafy green vegetables” – Brain Balance Achievement Centres – Accedded 20th May 2014.
“Imagery” – American Cancer Society – Accessed 20th May 2014
“Turmeric for Breast Cancer Prevention?” – Dr Andrew Weil – Accessed 20th May 2014
“Other treatments for pain” – National Cancer Institute – Accessed 20th May 2014.
“Tracey Walton: Cancer and Massage Therapies” – Tracey Walton and Associates – Accessed 20th May 2014.
“Painkiller Addiction Treatment Program” – Addiction-Treatment.com – Accessed 23rd May 2014

Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Exercises, Diet and Supplements

Breast Cancer Chemotherapy ExercisesContributed by Jenni Hewster for Breast Cancer Authority Blog.

Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Exercises, Diet and Supplements for Maintaining Bone Health
Women who undergo certain types of chemotherapy have an increased risk of losing significant amounts of bone mass, for several reasons. One is that some chemotherapy drugs directly decrease the body’s calcium levels. In other cases, steroid treatments interfere with bone formation processes in the bone marrow. Another factor is that many women experience early menopause as a long-term consequence of chemotherapy; therefore osteoporosis may develop in some women at a relatively young age, because the likelihood of developing osteoporosis increases after menopause.

Exercising for Bone Health
Weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, and dancing are generally considered to be the best exercises for maintaining bone density, but exercises like yoga can provide a significant benefit too. Even though yoga isn’t considered a weight-bearing exercise, it improves muscle strength and flexibility, as well as balance and posture, and all of these things help support and stabilize the body, and make falls less likely. As well as this, improved general health and body strength makes weight-bearing exercise easier and more effective. Therefore, even if weight-bearing exercise isn’t always possible, gentler forms of movement like yoga still provide important benefits that help maintain bone health and density.

Diet and Supplements for Maintaining Bone Health
Conventional wisdom states that dairy products are the best way to get essential minerals like calcium, which is essential for bone health and maintaining bone density in the long term. This, of course, isn’t an option for vegans, and in fact there are many excellent vegan sources of all the nutrients that bones need to stay healthy, including magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K, in addition to calcium.

All three minerals—calcium, potassium, and magnesium—can be obtained from many plant sources. Green leafy vegetables are high in potassium and calcium, as are many varieties of beans, legumes, and nuts. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, and brown rice, nuts (almonds in particular), oats, and beans all contain magnesium. Aim for 1000-1300 mg of calcium, 400 mg of magnesium, and 4,700 mg of potassium daily. Vitamin K is an easy nutrient for vegans, as it’s present in virtually all plants, but vitamin D is more difficult, as almost all dietary sources of this vitamin are animal-based. Mushrooms contain small amounts of vitamin D; apart from this, sun exposure and supplements are the best sources.

There are plenty of vegan supplements available, in the event that you decide you need some extra help in getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. When choosing supplements, it’s important to make sure you’re getting them in the right combination. In the case of calcium supplements, for example, one that also includes vitamin D is typically more effective, because the body needs it to absorb and use the calcium. However, many sources of vitamin D are not vegan so it’s typically better to choose separate supplements, and take them at the same time to get the same effect.

Sources
Andrew Weil. “Supplements for Bone and Joints.” Accessed May 3, 2014. Dietary supplements.
Kwikmed. “Complete Video Guide to Osteoporosis and Bone Health.” Accessed May 6, 2014. Science and research.
NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. “What Breast Cancer Survivors Need to Know about Osteoporosis.” Accessed May 6, 2014. Osteoporosis after breast cancer.
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Possible Side Effects of Cancer Treatment.” Accessed May 6, 2014. How chemotherapy affects bones.
The Surgeon General. “Bone Health and Osteoporosis.” Accessed May 6, 2014. Bone density testing.
The Synergy Company. “Bone Renewal.” Accessed May 3, 2014. Dietary supplements for bones.

Maintaining Bone Health During and After Chemotherapy

Core Minerals For Bone Density For Breast CancerContributed by Jenni Hewster for Breast Cancer Authority Blog.

Maintaining Bone Health During and After Chemotherapy
One long-term effect of chemotherapy on the body is the effect it can have on bone density. People who undergo this treatment for certain cancers—including leukemia and lymphoma, as well as breast cancer—have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis later in life, for a variety of reasons relating to the treatment and its side effects. Paying special attention to bone health, and maintaining bone density, is of particular important both in the short term and the long term, to keep bones healthy and strong throughout life.

Chemotherapy and Bone Health
Everyone loses bone mass as they age, but for some people the loss of bone mass is more severe, typically due to inadequate dietary intake of minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are essential for bone formation. People with severely low bone density develop osteoporosis, a disease characterized by weak and brittle bones, and a high risk of bone fractures and breakages.

Women who undergo certain types of chemotherapy have an increased risk of losing significant amounts of bone mass, for several reasons. One is that some chemotherapy drugs directly decrease the body’s calcium levels. In other cases, steroid treatments interfere with bone formation processes in the bone marrow. Another factor is that many women experience early menopause as a long-term consequence of chemotherapy; therefore osteoporosis may develop in some women at a relatively young age, because the likelihood of developing osteoporosis increases after menopause.

Exercising for Bone Health
Weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, and dancing are generally considered to be the best exercises for maintaining bone density, but exercises like yoga can provide a significant benefit too. Even though yoga isn’t considered a weight-bearing exercise, it improves muscle strength and flexibility, as well as balance and posture, and all of these things help support and stabilize the body, and make falls less likely. As well as this, improved general health and body strength makes weight-bearing exercise easier and more effective. Therefore, even if weight-bearing exercise isn’t always possible, gentler forms of movement like yoga still provide important benefits that help maintain bone health and density.

Diet and Supplements for Maintaining Bone Health
Conventional wisdom states that dairy products are the best way to get essential minerals like calcium, which is essential for bone health and maintaining bone density in the long term. This, of course, isn’t an option for vegans, and in fact there are many excellent vegan sources of all the nutrients that bones need to stay healthy, including magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K, in addition to calcium.

All three minerals—calcium, potassium, and magnesium—can be obtained from many plant sources. Green leafy vegetables are high in potassium and calcium, as are many varieties of beans, legumes, and nuts. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, and brown rice, nuts (almonds in particular), oats, and beans all contain magnesium. Aim for 1000-1300 mg of calcium, 400 mg of magnesium, and 4,700 mg of potassium daily. Vitamin K is an easy nutrient for vegans, as it’s present in virtually all plants, but vitamin D is more difficult, as almost all dietary sources of this vitamin are animal-based. Mushrooms contain small amounts of vitamin D; apart from this, sun exposure and supplements are the best sources.

There are plenty of vegan supplements available, in the event that you decide you need some extra help in getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. When choosing supplements, it’s important to make sure you’re getting them in the right combination. In the case of calcium supplements, for example, one that also includes vitamin D is typically more effective, because the body needs it to absorb and use the calcium. However, many sources of vitamin D are not vegan so it’s typically better to choose separate supplements, and take them at the same time to get the same effect.

Bone Density Tests
The Surgeon General suggests that all women over 65 should have a bone density test to screen for osteoporosis, and also that women under 65 should have the test if they have an increase risk of developing the disease. The test measures bone density and is used to diagnose of osteoporosis; it can also predict whether a woman might develop the disease in the future, so it can be useful for prevention purposes too.

Sources
Andrew Weil. “Supplements for Bone and Joints.” Accessed May 3, 2014. Dietary supplements.
Kwikmed. “Complete Video Guide to Osteoporosis and Bone Health.” Accessed May 6, 2014. Science and research.
NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. “What Breast Cancer Survivors Need to Know about Osteoporosis.” Accessed May 6, 2014. Osteoporosis after breast cancer.
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Possible Side Effects of Cancer Treatment.” Accessed May 6, 2014. How chemotherapy affects bones.
The Surgeon General. “Bone Health and Osteoporosis.” Accessed May 6, 2014. Bone density testing.
The Synergy Company. “Bone Renewal.” Accessed May 3, 2014. Dietary supplements for bones.

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