With cancer comes the anxiety of prolonged treatment and pain. While fighting cancer, one always casts about options that come with the least suffering and more healing. The term complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used for medical products and practices that are not considered part of standard medical care. This mode of treatment is usually opted to help cancer patients cope with the after-effects of cancer treatment, causing nausea, fatigue and pain.
In this article, we have highlighted the 10 most common complementary and alternative therapies for cancer that have come into the limelight after people started exploring more options.
Complementary treatment is used along with conventional medical treatment for cancer. Acupuncture is one example of complementary as it helps subside side- effects caused due to standard cancer treatment. More research is yet to be done to make it promising for those fighting cancer. At the same time, alternative therapies such as AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) are known to curb cancer symptoms and its treatment.
People often use the terms like “holistic or natural” to refer to complementary and alternative therapies. However, there are five categories to describe how every treatment works. Listed below are the treatments, along with their examples-
The combination of mental and body exercises and breathing help relax the mind and relieve the body of the pain due to the prolonged medical treatment for cancer. Below mentioned are a few useful techniques that you can include in your journey of healing-
Meditation- It has been perceived that meditation can help subside depression, anxiety and pain in cancer patients. Many patients have found meditation useful to relieve anxiety and improve sleep patterns and mood. However, they continued their standard medical treatment alongside meditation.
Yoga- Known for its effectiveness, yoga is one of the most reliable techniques that help relieve symptoms of most painful medical treatments. It helps cancer patients improve their mental health and boost their energy levels and fitness. However, it is recommended that you practice yoga under a trained yoga teacher’s supervision and post-consultation with your doctor to avoid any risk.
Music Therapy- Music helps relieve physical and mental discomfort but can’t cure, prevent or treat cancer. However, music therapy can assist people with anxiety due to cancer treatment, and it also helps improve their quality of life.
Acupuncture- This cancer therapy motivates life force energy, qi or chi, that flows through the body. Acupuncture usually helps restore the flow, bring you back in balance, and make you feel better during your cancer treatment.
Aromatherapy- In this therapy, using essential oils from plants improves physical and mental health. It helps cancer patients with improved quality of life and reduces anxiety, nausea, stress and pain caused by disease and treatment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy- This cancer therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that focuses on how your perspective affects your feelings. It has been used for psychological disorders in the past and is now being explored to treat a number of health conditions, including oncologic and hematologic diseases.
Exercise- Regular exercise helps the body and muscles relax. It also helps manage the signs and symptoms of cancer treatment. It may help relieve stress and anxiety and help you sleep better. Gentle exercise may benefit cancer patients to live longer and improve their overall quality of life. Do check with your doctor before you start an exercise program.
Hypnosis- Hypnotherapy is used to manage pain in cancer patients and helps them control depression, stress and anxiety.
Massage- Massage is often perceived to be risky for cancer patients. However, people with cancer shouldn’t take deep massages that may harm their body. So, always prefer gentler massages that will not harm the patient.
Relaxation Therapy- The techniques of this therapy helps people calm their mind and relax their muscles. This therapy includes muscle relaxation and visual exercises that relieve anxiety and fatigue. Relaxation therapy is said to be safer than most therapies.
Complementary and Alternative Cancer Treatments may not play a significant role in curing cancer but can help cope with symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and pain caused due to cancer and its treatment. Your healthcare providers do not usually recommend alternative treatment. Researchers study these therapies thoroughly so that there can be evident results and people can include them along with their standard treatments. This approach is also termed integrative medicine.
These evidence-based therapies may relieve symptoms, but they usually aren’t potent enough to replace standard treatments completely. Below are the appropriate therapies that you can consider according to the symptoms you may experience during the treatment -
|Symptoms You are Experiencing||Therapies You Can Consider|
|Sleeplessness||Exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, relaxation techniques|
|Anxiety||Music therapy, relaxation techniques, massage, meditation|
|Stress||Aromatherapy, massage, hypnosis, meditation, music therapy, yoga, exercise|
|Nausea||Acupuncture, aromatherapy, music therapy. hypnosiss|
|Pain||Acupuncture, hypnosis, music therapy, aromatherapy, massage|
|Fatigue||Exercise, relaxation techniques, yoga, massage|
As per the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI), new guidelines have been introduced where health insurance plans should cover alternative treatments. Care Health Insurance offers alternative treatment coverage under its Cancer Mediclaim. The cost incurred from alternative treatment such as AYUSH (Ayurvedic, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) will be covered through a cashless or reimbursement facility up to the amount specified in the plan. Ensure a registered medical practitioner renders the treatment with a valid practicing license for such alternative treatments.
Disclaimer: The above mentioned information is for reference purposes only. Please refer to your policy document for more information
Published on 3 Oct 2023
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