Alternative medicine techniques are sometimes seen as ineffective and useless by conventional medical professionals, especially when it comes to treating serious illnesses such as cancer. However, there is growing evidence that many alternative medicine practices, including acupuncture, nutritional therapy and hypnosis, may be beneficial to cancer patients. While these treatments do not cure cancer on their own, they do seem to lessen the negative effects of conventional cancer treatments on the body, allowing patients to recover more easily.
Acupuncture and Cancer Treatment
Acupuncture is an important technique in traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into specific points of the body. It is thought that these needles, when precisely placed in the proper positions, can redirect the flow of energy through the body, leading to relief from a wide array of ailments.
Studies have found that cancer patients who undergo acupuncture are less likely to suffer from nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy. It is thought that this relief may occur due to changes in nerve impulses and hormones released from the pituitary gland as a result of the application of the needles.
Those interested in using acupuncture as a supplemental therapy during cancer treatment should seek out an acupuncturist who has experience working with cancer patients. Some cancer care units even employ in-house acupuncturists and recommend acupuncture as supplemental care for all of their patients.
There are a lot of myths surrounding hypnosis. Many are scared to be hypnotized because they have heard that a person under hypnosis may be motivated to perform acts that are out of character. However, this is not the case. Hypnosis is completely safe, and a hypnotist is not able to make anyone do anything against his or her will. In fact, hypnosis actually gives the subject more control over his or her body -- not less.
Hypnotherapists who specialize in treating medical ailments are able to bring their patients into a deep state of relaxation in which the unconscious mind is open to the power of suggestions. The power of suggestion while under hypnosis is remarkable. Patients who undergo this simple, painless therapy typically heal more quickly and experience less pain during cancer treatment. Studies show that hypnotherapy can reduce blood pressure, stress and anxiety, which has marked effects on the healing process.
Many people squirm at the suggestion of nutritional therapy for cancer treatment. Immediately, they think of drinking green juices and going days with nothing but water -- practices that are touted by a few alternative cancer treatment gurus, but are in no way backed by scientific evidence. Surely, foregoing conventional cancer treatment and hoping that eating baskets of fruit will cure your cancer is foolish, but using nutritional therapy as a supplement to conventional medicine is not.
In order to recover from cancer, a patient's body needs to be strong. However, many cancer patients lose weight due to the side effects of chemotherapy drugs: loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea. A nutritional therapist can work with a patient to suggest foods that will help him or her keep the weight on and continue to eat a balanced diet throughout the treatment process. For example, patients who find water unappealing may be encouraged to obtain more liquids from soups or juices. Those who no longer have an appetite for meat may be encouraged to eat plenty of protein-rich beans and nuts.
Today's advanced cancer treatments have saved many peoples' lives. However, they can be very hard on the body. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, talk to your provider about including alternative therapies in your treatment regimen. He or she may be able to recommend a knowledgeable acupuncturist, hypnotist or nutritional therapist in your area.