Treat Cancer Pain with These Complementary Health Alternatives
Cancer sufferers are usually willing to take any step to minimize its painful side effects. Many turn to complementary approaches that may help them cope with the pain associated with the disease. Here are some complementary options to consider…
The symptoms and side effects of cancer are as diverse as the disease itself. The National Care Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines Cancer as ‘a term that is given to a collection of related diseases’. It can affect any part of the body and hence there are many types of cancer. [highlight color=”blue”]The main cause is an uncontrollable division of abnormal cells anywhere in the body and spreading into the surrounding tissues.[/highlight]
Through the blood stream, cancer can invade the surrounding tissues and spread to the other parts of the body. It is a leading cause of death in the United States, but with the advancements in screening, detection, and treatment, there is a considerable increase in the number of cancer survivors.
Chronic Cancer Pain Reading Materials
Role of Complementary Health Approaches
The majority of people affected with cancer are turning to complementary health approaches, which involve collaborative medical and health care methods including herbal and dietary supplements, meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy etc.
These complementary health approaches do not cure cancer but are used in accordance with conventional cancer care to help patients cope with its symptoms, manage pain, and improve the quality of their lives.
[highlight color=”orange”]Let’s take a look at these approaches in detail below:[/highlight]
- Message Therapy: Research has shown that this relaxation technique to be helpful in reducing pain, nausea, depression, anxiety and other cancer-related symptoms. However, more studies are needed to gain complete medical approval of this technique. Hence, people with cancer need to consult health care providers prior to undergoing massage therapy.
- Acupuncture: There isn’t enough evidence concerning whether acupuncture helps to reduce cancer pain and other specific symptoms, but some studies provide significant evidence that it may help relieve post-treatment effects of cancer such as vomiting and nausea. Although complications of acupuncture are rare, cancer patients have especially weak immune systems and so the use of sterile needles and hygiene is important.
- Herbs and Botanicals: Among wide range of herbs and botanicals available, there are some known for their anti-inflammatory effect such as Ginger, Turmeric, Echinacea, Mistletoe, Boswellia, White Willow Bark, Green Lipped Mussel Extract, Aloe, Golden Seal Root, etc. They help in cancer pain management. Research indicates that ginger may help to alleviate cancer symptoms such as nausea experienced after the chemotherapy. More evidence is needed whether these herbs are useful in treatment of cancer as some may tend to interfere with anti-cancer medications and might even nullify their effect on the body. Hence, clear instructions from health care providers should be taken before using these herbs.
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: A type of meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction is understood to reduce post cancer treatment-related symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, fatigue, improving sleep and quality of life. Research, as well, is ruling in its favor, stating its application is useful in early stages of cancer.
- Other Treatments: Relaxation therapy, hypnosis, yoga, music therapy, Tai-chi and biofeedback-(using electronic devices to control their body functions such as breathing and pulse rate) are some of the complementary interventions that many people are turning to for cancer symptom management. These techniques have been researched extensively, proving to be beneficial in reducing cancer-related symptoms mainly emotional stress, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia hot flashes, and other post-treatment effects.
- Magnet Therapy: among other diseases, it is also used in cancer treatment to improve energy flow throughout the body and to enhance the immune system. Though scientific studies claim otherwise and claim that the application of magnets is of little significance, some still believe its efficacy in addressing post-treatment cancer pain and inflammation.
- Dietary Supplements: Taking vitamin and dietary supplements during cancer treatment have shown no significant effect on cancer treatment according to several studies. However, extensive research on multivitamins indicated that their daily intake could bring a significant reduction of cancer risk in men. However, other studies on antioxidants showed no positive effect in cancer prevention. According to the NCI, consulting health care providers before taking any supplements for cancer treatment is highly significant.
For a better understanding of dietary supplements and herbs, The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has a complete database on them and their uses in cancer management.
Suggested Reading Materials
To learn more about cancer and pain management click here.