A woman practicing mind body exercise, one of complementary and alternative medicine for cancer

Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Guide for Cancer Patients

When you get diagnosed with cancer, you are faced with endless questions. One of the most impactful is how you plan on approaching your treatment.

Do you sit back and hesitantly leave your fate in the hands of doctors, or do you steer your journey and help support your body with additional treatment outside of traditional medicine? 

If you decided on the latter, you may have discovered complementary and alternative medicine cancer treatments.

I personally strongly believe that the power to heal lies within us. Taking full responsibility for our health, body, and life is a crucial step in the healing process. When you fully commit to this ownership, deep healing becomes possible. Without this responsibility and action, true healing cannot occur; at best, you may only experience temporary remission.

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed or you’re in the thick of your battle with cancer, incorporating alternative medicine cancer treatments can help detox your body, speed up recovery, and get you back to living a healthy, vibrant life. Plus, making informed choices about treatment, refusing those that don’t resonate with you, and staying open to possibilities you haven’t yet considered are the actions that define being the true actor of your own life.

Below, I’ll be discussing different complementary and alternative cancer treatment options so you can start navigating your health journey and taking back the power of your own story. 

What is Alternative Medicine?

First off, what does “alternative” mean in the context of medicine? Simply put, alternative medicine includes a variety of therapeutic approaches that fall outside the realm of conventional Western medicine. These can range from herbal remedies and acupuncture to yoga and meditation. While these methods may not replace standard treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy, they can complement them, enhancing overall well-being while alleviating certain side effects.

Types of Alternative Cancer Treatments

When it comes to alternative and complementary cancer treatments, the options are as diverse as they are intriguing. Below are a few of the most popular approaches for cancer patients today.

Herbal Medicine

Many cultures have long relied on plants and herbs for their healing properties. In cancer care, certain herbs are believed to support the immune system and reduce treatment-related side effects. For instance, turmeric, with its active compound curcumin, is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Acupuncture

An ancient practice rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. It’s known for relieving pain, reducing nausea, and improving overall energy levels in cancer patients. Whether you’re looking to regain your strength after chemo or want to find ways to clear negative energy, acupuncture is an excellent option for those seeking a more natural form of treatment.

Mind-Body Practices

Did you know that stress can lead to cancer? That’s why it’s imperative you address your stress if you want to not only heal your body but also learn how to prevent cancer in the first place. It’s important to clarify that I’m not referring to general stress. Instead, I’m talking about the unresolved resentments, anger, frustrations, humiliations, and fears that you’ve internalized and buried over the years. While you can’t fully control your stress levels, it’s crucial to become aware of your emotional state, accept responsibility for your life, and choose to change and transform anything that makes you unhappy or disconnected from your core values and true self.

Nutritional Therapy

Proper nutrition plays a pivotal role in treatment. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can bolster the body’s defenses and aid in recovery. Some patients taking this complementary approach also explore specific dietary regimens like juicing or raw food diets.

Massage Therapy

Looking for a complementary health approach that helps to reduce pain and relax the body? Regular massage can help alleviate pain, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep. It’s a soothing way to ease the physical and emotional burdens of cancer, which makes it a great complementary therapy choice for any patient.

Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient Indian system that uses a holistic approach to treat illness, including diet, herbal treatments, and yogic breathing techniques. It seeks to balance the body’s doshas, promoting harmony and wellness from within.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a holistic approach to health, focusing on balancing the body’s energy systems. TCM treatments, which encompass acupuncture, herbal medicine, and qigong, can be excellent complementary therapies for cancer patients. These practices help manage symptoms, reduce side effects of conventional treatments, and improve overall well-being by addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of health.

Metal Detoxes

This type of detox technique is designed to remove heavy metals from the body, which can help improve overall health and potentially enhance the effectiveness of cancer treatments. This process often involves dietary adjustments and specific supplements to facilitate detoxification.

Energy Healing

Energy healing involves practices like Reiki or Healing Touch that focus on balancing the body’s energy fields to promote healing and well-being. These therapies can help reduce stress, enhance relaxation, and support the body’s innate healing abilities.

Cancer Coaching

What is a cancer coach exactly? Cancer Coaching offers personalized guidance to help navigate treatment choices, lifestyle changes, and emotional support throughout your cancer journey. By addressing both the physical and emotional aspects, cancer coaching aims to improve your overall quality of life and serve as a support system as you navigate this challenging chapter of your life.

The Science Behind CAM Therapy

You might be wondering, “Is there any real science backing these complementary and alternative treatments?” The answer is a resounding yes! While more research is always beneficial, numerous studies have shown that CAM therapies can positively impact cancer patients.

For instance, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that acupuncture significantly reduced chronic pain in cancer patients. Another research piece from the National Cancer Institute highlighted that patients who practiced yoga experienced less fatigue and better sleep quality during chemotherapy. Plus, by supporting your conventional treatment with CAM therapy, you work on healing your body naturally, which won’t leave you suffering from negative side effects.

What Is Integrative Medicine & Why Does it Matter?

Integrative medicine is an approach that combines conventional Western medical treatments with complementary and alternative therapies. This holistic model emphasizes the patient as a whole—body, mind, and spirit. Instead of focusing solely on disease, integrative medicine looks at all aspects of a person’s life, including lifestyle, emotional well-being, and environmental factors.

Why does it matter? Integrative medicine offers a personalized care plan tailored to the individual’s unique needs and circumstances. It recognizes that each patient is different and that a one-size-fits-all approach may not be the most effective. By blending the best of both worlds—traditional treatments like chemotherapy and surgery with alternative therapies like acupuncture, herbal medicine, and yoga—patients can experience more comprehensive and compassionate care. Most importantly, you take ownership of your healing journey and consciously do the internal work needed to thrive.

Moreover, integrative medicine often emphasizes preventive care and the promotion of overall wellness. This proactive approach can help mitigate the side effects of conventional treatments, improve quality of life, and empower patients in their healing journey. It fosters a collaborative relationship between patients and healthcare providers, ensuring that all aspects of a patient’s health are addressed. In essence, integrative medicine matters because it seeks to heal the person, not just the disease, creating a more balanced and holistic path to recovery.

Complementary Treatment: A Path to Holistic Healing

In the grand tapestry of cancer treatment, alternative medicine adds vibrant threads of holistic healing. It’s not just about fighting the disease; it’s about nurturing the mind, body, and spirit. By integrating alternative therapies with conventional treatments, a patient can experience a more comprehensive and personalized approach to their care.

Taking the First Step

Alternative medicine offers a beacon of hope and a path to holistic healing for cancer patients. By embracing these therapies, you can enhance our quality of life, reduce the side effects of conventional treatments, and foster a sense of empowerment and well-being. Remember, you are not alone on this journey. You have full control of your body and your treatment plan. With the right support and a balanced approach, you can navigate the challenges of cancer treatment and emerge stronger than before. However, no one can make that decision for you. You have to decide to seize this opportunity to heal from within. 

If you have just been diagnosed with cancer and are looking for guidance on your holistic health journey, consider turning to a cancer coach like myself. As your trusted cancer coach, I’m here to help you explore complementary medicine approaches tailored to your unique situation. We’ll discuss how these therapies can seamlessly integrate into your current medical treatment plan and what approach is best for you and your goals. With an integrative therapy approach, I offer support not just for treating cancer, but also for your mental health during this challenging time.

If you’re ready to explore natural therapies beyond mainstream medicine, let’s start this journey together. Schedule a call with me, and let’s begin our partnership toward a holistic healing path.


Resources:

Mao, J. J., Farrar, J. T., Bruner, D., Hawk, C., & Xie, S. X. (2014). Acupuncture for chronic pain: Individual patient data meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 32(19), 2047-2051. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2013.53.1064

Chiu, H. Y., Hsieh, Y. J., Tsai, P. S. (2017). Acupuncture to reduce pain in cancer patients: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 35(9), 1047-1055. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2016.68.5196

National Cancer Institute. (2017). Yoga for cancer patients. Retrieved from NCI

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). (2020). Complementary, alternative, or integrative health: What’s in a name? Retrieved from NCCIH

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