Cancer is a disease that is characterised by the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells that can invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body through the blood or lymphatic system. Cancer can develop in any part of the body. There are over 100 different types of cancer, each with their own way of growing and spreading throughout the human body.
Cancer can take various forms depending on where it occurs, which is why many different cancers exist, such as lung cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer, to name a few. Sometimes cancer metastasises before it has been diagnosed, causing it to be detected at its later stages.
Conventional Treatments for Cancer
Following a cancer diagnosis, cancer patients are often given medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery, to prevent the main cancer cell from growing and spreading to other parts of the body. Unfortunately, the adverse effects of chemotherapy drugs and other conventional cancer treatments outweigh the benefits. These common side effects include:
- Oedema (swelling)
- Hair loss
- Memory problems
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry skin
- Kidney and liver problems
- Sleep disorders
- Organ-specific inflammation
Integrative medicine practitioners, on the other hand, are well aware of the potential side effects of chemotherapy drugs and other conventional medicine, therefore they incorporate natural therapies into their treatment plans to avoid harming the body's healthy cells.
Source: National Cancer Institute
Natural Remedies for Cancer
A cancer diagnosis is scary, and anything you can do to mitigate your cancer risk might be beneficial. One way to reduce cancer risk is through diet and exercise; however, there are also a variety of natural cancer treatments that provide cancer-fighting benefits with minimal side effects, if any. Although it's always best to talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment routine, here are 7 natural therapies that cancer patients may consider using instead of standard treatments:
Traditional Chinese Medicine for Cancer Treatment
TCM is becoming more popular among cancer patients as it can help reduce pain and nausea, boost the immune system and heal cancer-related wounds. A holistic oncologist, a health practitioner who treats cancer, will recommend acupuncture if the cancer patient's condition does not improve after chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Acupuncture is an effective complementary medicine for cancer as it helps release the body's natural pain relievers like serotonin, a safe approach to cancer care.
Herbal Medicine for Cancer Treatment
A holistic oncologist also recommends herbal remedies because it can benefit cancer patients in several ways. Herbal medicine is used for detoxification and providing nutritional support. Cancer patients are usually prescribed herbs like ginseng and astragalus to help enhance their immune systems. These herbs can be boiled down into teas and given twice a day to relieve pain and enhance appetite when undergoing cancer treatment. Turmeric has several benefits too. It contains a cancer-fighting compound, called curcumin, that has been shown to prevent cancer from spreading. Turmeric is also packed with powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help cancer patients manage pain without relying on traditional cancer medications such as opioids. Besides raw herbs, cancer patients can also benefit from herbal supplements.
Naturopathic Medicine for Cancer Treatment
A naturopathic physician is a natural healthcare professional who utilises a wide range of natural treatments to effectively treat cancer. They focus on treating cancer patients holistically by treating all aspects of their being, including physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental and social. Treatments may include herbal medicine, homoeopathy, massage therapy, acupuncture, nutritional counselling and dietary supplements, among others, to reduce the severity of cancer and improve the patient's overall wellbeing.
Mind-body Therapies for Cancer Treatment
Integrating complementary therapies that work on the mind, body and spirit into a patient's treatment regimen may be more useful than only employing traditional medical treatments, according to holistic oncologists. They discovered that mind-body therapy, in particular, can address cancer's underlying causes. Because it affects how people think and feel, the mind-body connection is thought to have a key role in cancer development. Because cancer patients have been shown to have a lower quality of life than those who do not have cancer, incorporating mind-body therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy, meditation and yoga, into their treatment plan is an excellent way to improve their mental and spiritual wellbeing, which translates to a healthier body.
Essential Vitamins for Cancer Treatment
Oral vitamin supplementation aids in cancer prevention in healthy people. Injecting vitamin C into cancer cells has been shown to help fight cancer in people who are already afflicted with the disease, such as breast cancer patients, as cancer cells cannot grow without an abundance of glucose. Just like cancer cells require and depend on glucose for growth and multiplication, healthy cells also need glucose to function properly. When cancer patients receive vitamin B-complex injections, the cancer cells absorb the vitamins and convert them into a cancer-fighting compound called NADPH that stops cancer cells from growing and multiplying.
Massage Therapy for Cancer Treatment
Massage therapy is another form of holistic medicine that can help in the treatment of cancer. Massage therapists use their hands to apply gentle pressure on the cancer patient's body in order to help break apart cancer cells in the cancerous tumours, ease swelling and improve blood and lymph flow. This helps to stop cancer tumours from forming and activate the body's innate power to strengthen the immune system.
Art Therapy for Cancer Treatment
Cancer patients often feel isolated. One of the natural therapies that can help them is art therapy, which encourages them to express their thoughts and feelings through the creative process of making art. While anti-cancer drugs can kill cancer cells, they also kill healthy cells in cancer patients' bodies. Art therapy seeks to heal the whole person of a cancer patient, not just the physical body. Cancer can leave emotional scars that are not always visible, but art therapy can help cancer patients explore their mental health and recover from the pain caused by the disease as well as the side effects of traditional cancer treatment.
Aside from increasing cancer patients' survival rates, complementary therapies have been shown to prevent cancer cells from multiplying without causing any toxic side effects. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, speaking with a holistic oncologist who specialises in integrative care can help them live a better life.