Alternative therapies generally refer to those therapies that are not considered part of mainstream Western medicine. They are also referred to as complementary, holistic, or unconventional therapies. While Western medicine treats the disease, alternative therapies treat the person who has the illness. In the treatment of cancer, alternative therapies focus on strengthening the self-healing abilities of the individual. In addition, alternative therapies can be very helpful in relieving stress and reducing pain.
Many alternative therapies are beginning to gain recognition by mainstream physicians as helpful in the fight against cancer. Most alternative therapies can be used in conjunction with conventional treatments; thus the term complementary therapies. In fact, many studies have shown that alternative therapies can enhance the effectiveness of conventional Western treatments as well as lessen their harmful side effects. Alternative therapies can also be used alone if you choose not to undergo Western medical treatments.
There is a tremendous amount of information on alternative therapies for cancer. Be cautious of anyone or anything that proclaims a miraculous cure. It is important to seek advice from reputable health professionals who are well educated in their field. There are also numerous books available to read concerning alternative therapies. Be an informed consumer and educate yourself. It is also important to use your own intuition in choosing which alternative therapies will work best for you.
What follows is a summary of some of the more common types of alternative therapies for cancer treatment. This is by no means a complete list. This is meant to be a guideline for choosing those therapies that you wish to investigate further. Click on a link from the list below to read more on a particular therapy or scroll through to read about all of the alternative and complementary therapies.
The information available on diet and supplements can sometimes be overwhelming and advice can vary widely. Many physicians have little training in nutrition. It is important to educate yourself by reading books and speaking with various health professionals. It is best to find a qualified nutritionist who works specifically with cancer patients. In general, the healthiest diets are those that emphasize fresh vegetables and whole grains while minimizing meat, dairy, sugar, hydrogenated oils, and processed foods.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Mind-Body Therapies: Relaxation, Meditation, and Visual Imagery
Many researchers have shown that various relaxation techniques can help increase the immune system's ability to fight cancer. In addition, relaxation techniques can help reduce stress from the cancer diagnosis and pain from the cancer or the treatments.
Meditation enables you to get in touch with your inner wisdom, to learn what is happening in your body, mind, and soul, and to learn what you need to do to heal yourself. Meditation can be done by anyone. There are several different ways of doing meditation and you can learn which one works best for you.
Visual imagery has been shown by some researchers to be a valuable tool in the fight against cancer. Being able to visualize your disease, your treatment, and your body's own defense system can be critically important in recovering from cancer. Visual imagery can also be very useful for pain relief.
Emotional and psychological issues surrounding a cancer diagnosis are very different from other difficult life situations. Therefore, it is very important, when seeking a psychotherapist, to find one who is experienced in working with cancer patients.
Support groups can be very beneficial by providing a place where you can share your thoughts and feelings openly with others who are also facing the tremendous challenges of living with cancer. Be cautious, however, as support groups can be good or bad depending on the people who go to them and the focus of the group. In general, if you feel better when you leave the group, then go back. If you find yourself more depressed after going to the group, then look for a different group.
Prayer and Spiritual Healing
Journal Writing, Drawing, and other Creative Outlets
Unconventional Medical Treatments