Cancer affects the whole person: body, mind and spirit, not just the system it targets. Many find that cancer treatment best serves a patient when conventional treatments targeting the body are supported by integrative medicine approaches that help body, mind and spirit. Research-based, proven methods are used by integrative medicine providers to help decrease the side effects of the conventional treatment such as pain, anxiety, dry mouth and sleep disturbances. While supporting the patient’s overall recovery, these five recommendations can help a patient heal and improve peace of mind:
1.) Acupuncture – Originating 3,000 years ago in China, acupuncture involves placing fine needles into specific points on the body to elicit a healing response. The stimulation of these needles corrects the flow of energy, or qi, along channels throughout the body, called meridians. Studies show acupuncture can help with nausea and dry mouth. The treatment can also be helpful for pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression and stress.
2.) Massage therapy – Another treatment that has been used for thousands of years, massage therapy is a way to heal the body, maintain wellness and to demonstrate compassionate support to others through touch. There are more than 250 variations of massage and bodywork techniques, each helping to induce relaxation, soothe muscles and promote healing. A Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center study showed a 50 percent reduction in the symptoms of fatigue, pain and anxiety in cancer patients when they received regular massage therapy treatments. Continue Reading »
Acupuncture is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine and is one of the world’s oldest medical treatments still in use today. People have been using the ancient therapy to heal trauma, manage pain and maintain health for over 2,500 years.
Acupuncture involves placing fine needles into specific points on the body to elicit a healing response. The stimulation of these needles corrects the flow of energy, or Qi, along channels throughout the body called meridians. It has long been proven to be successful for people of all ages and physical conditions. It’s no surprise that athletes can gain a competitive edge over their opponents by integrating this technique into their training regimen. Continue Reading »
The goal of chemotherapy is to destroy fast-growing cancer cells. But in doing so, it can also damage normal, healthy cells that are fast growing, too. Damage to these healthy cells causes side effects. Nausea and vomiting – never enjoyable – can be among the most distressing side effects of chemotherapy. The good thing is that they are common side effects that can be treated with conventional medications as well as with complementary therapies.
Of the complementary therapies for nausea, acupuncture has the best evidence. Many studies have supported the use of acupuncture for nausea from chemotherapy, as well as post-operative nausea.
Typical treatment involves 10-12 needles inserted just under the skin on the legs and arms, including a point on the inner wrist that is especially useful for relieving nausea. The needles are left in for 20-30 minutes.
Most patients experience deep relaxation during the treatment and have a sense of well being after acupuncture. Acupuncture also can help with other side effects related to cancer including fatigue, stress, pain and dry mouth.
Other complementary therapies aren’t as well studied, but are safe. They include:
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Approximately one-third of cancer patients seek out complementary and alternative medicine. There are no proven cures for cancer in alternative medicine, but there are therapies that are proven to help with symptoms and side effects. I encourage people to use the best of both worlds — evidence-based treatments within conventional medicine as well as complementary medicine.
The complementary medicine treatments with the best evidence and fewest risks are the mind-body therapies and acupuncture. However, herbal medicines and vitamins should not be used without a physician’s guidance since they can interact with chemotherapy.
There are many types of mind-body therapies including yoga, tai chi, meditation, breathing exercises, guided imagery, relaxation training, prayer, music therapy and hypnosis. Many of these have been shown in clinical studies to help reduce stress and fatigue, improve the immune system, and help with sleep and mood. We offer many classes such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, guided imagery and diaphragmatic breathing to help people explore these techniques. Read here for a list of fall classes that are offered through Affinity Health System. Continue Reading »
Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago and is now used throughout the world. According to Chinese medical theory, acupuncture works by promoting the flow of chi, or energy, throughout the body and by balancing yin and yang.
From a Western medical perspective, acupuncture has known effects at many levels – from the local effects of increasing blood flow and relaxing muscles, to complicated changes in neurotransmitters and neural pathways in the spinal cord and brain.
Numerous clinical studies have shown benefits with the most evidence for migraine prevention, and chronic neck and back pain. It works well for many types of pain including myofascial and neuropathic pain, as well as headaches, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, menstrual cramps and many other problems. Continue Reading »