Mainstream medical treatment of cancer revolves around surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, used either alone or in combination . Chemotherapy and radiation therapy cannot discriminate between cancer cells and healthy cells; thus, they damage both types of cells and cause serious and often debilitating side effects, frequently forcing patients to abandon treatment . Therefore, it is not surprising that many cancer patients now opt to complement conventional treatments with alternative therapies that may not only temper the adverse side effects of conventional cancer therapy, but also improve its effectiveness via independent anti-cancer effects.
What Are Complementary Alternative Therapies?
Complementary alternative medical therapies (CAM) is a collective term for an array of remedies that lie outside what is traditionally considered conventional medical treatment for cancer. These include the use of herbal, vitamin, and nutritional supplements, as well as physical and psychological interventions such as exercise, relaxation, massage, prayer, hypnotherapy, and acupuncture
In the United States, 91 percent of cancer patients implemented at least one form of CAM in addition to undergoing conventional cancer treatment . The most popular forms of CAM were exercise, relaxation, and prayer (Yates JS et al 2005).
Naturally occurring antioxidants and enzymes are often depleted in cancer patients undergoing aggressive therapies, leaving the healthy cells defenseless against free-radical damage.Replenishing normal antioxidant levels reduces the adverse side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy (Mehta MP 1998; Olver I et al 2005), and actually improves patient outcomes (Fleischauer AT et al 2003; Malmberg KJ et al 2002; Park CH 1988; Prasad KN et al 1996)
Hydration! hydration! hydration!
Crystal energy helps to increase hydration of up to 6 time absorption of fluids
Many cancer patients, particularly those with terminal disease, suffer from low levels of body fluids, or dehydration . Artificial hydration in these patients improves dehydration symptoms (Bruera E et al 2005), assisting in detoxification process (flush out the toxins and waste products) and is also useful in treating chemotherapy-related diarrhea and kidney disease
Adoption of hope-inspiring interventions by cancer care providers is associated with an improvement in patients’ ability to cope with the fear and anxiety associated with a cancer diagnosis (Felder BE 2004; Watts S et al 2004).
Kundalini yoga involves a variety of meditation techniques that are effective in alleviating anxiety, fear, anger, and depression (Shannahoff-Khalsa DS 2005). Indeed, this type of yoga helped breast and prostate cancer patients think positively about their cancers (Shannahoff-Khalsa DS 2005).
Laughing has always been recognized as a good relaxation and coping strategy. Scientific studies have now demonstrated that laughter is able to reduce anxiety and physical discomfort in cancer patients (Christie W et al 2005). Laughter has a beneficial effect on the immune system and improves the function of natural killer cells, which play an important role in counteracting cancer (Bennett MP et al 2003; Berk LS et al 2001; Christie W et al 2005; Takahashi K et al 2001). Laughter is also known to improve pain threshold in cancer patients and to reduce levels of stress hormones (Christie W et al 2005).
-improves the symptom of hot flashes (Elkins G et al 2004) and overall quality of life by reducing anxiety and insomnia in breast cancer patients (Elkins G et al 2004). Hypnosis is also recommended as an integral part of palliative care (symptom relief) for cancer patients, with a view to reducing pain and shortness of breath (Marcus J et al 2003). In addition, hypnosis improves mental health and overall well-being in cancer patients treated with radiation therapy (Stalpers LJ et al 2005).
A study of cancer patients recovering from stem cell transplantation showed that following a breathing exercise program for six weeks reduced levels of fatigue (Kim SD et al 2005).
-improves cancer symptoms and treatment-related side effects such as nausea, pain, hot flashes, and breathlessness (Samuels N 2002). Indeed, the American Cancer Society recommends the use of acupuncture in cancer patients (Samuels N 2002). In a study of the use of acupuncture in cancer patients, as many as 60 percent of patients showed an improvement in their symptoms (Johnstone PA et al 2002).
Massage and Aromatherapy
-improve the general psychological health of cancer patients and, in particular, reduce anxiety levels, pain, and nausea (Fellowes D et al 2004). Breast cancer sufferers receiving massage therapy have improved immune system function and feel less depressed and angry about their circumstances (Hernandez-Reif M et al 2005). A combination of aromatherapy, foot soaking, and reflexology improves the fatigue that is often experienced by cancer patients (Kohara H et al 2004).
-adapted from Life Extension articles.
next article: the roles of nutrition in cancer treatment