In the cancer research industry, holistic medicines are often viewed as less effective than traditional therapies. Regarded as the unscientific counterpart to allopathic (traditional) medicine, osteopathic (alternative) medicine is sometimes termed “quack medicine.” However, most of the osteopathic procedures – including acupuncture, Reiki and aromatherapy – have played a role in cancer treatment for hundreds or even thousands of years.
Most studies condemn holistic medicine for failing to stop cell growth or cancer metastasis in scientific studies. However, they fail to realize that holistic medicine is not intended to cure cancer.
Holistic therapies are intended as palliative, meaning they focus more on relieving symptoms than treating a singular disease. They are typically used to relieve symptoms, side effects of traditional treatment and improve a patient’s quality of life.
What holistic medicine can do:
- Reduce pain
- Relieve anxiety and promote relaxation
- Fight fatigue
- Stimulate appetite
- Naturally manage the side effects of traditional treatment
- Boost the immune system
What holistic medicine isn’t expected to produce:
- Prevent cell division
- Slow down metastatic spread
- Shrink tumors
- Put a patient into remission
When patients align their expectations with the actual intent of the treatments, the medicines can play an effective role in cancer therapy.
Common Holistic Medicines and their Benefits
Each holistic therapy has a different intended use. Patients may rely on any number of these gentle therapies to help manage their symptoms.
Studies have repeatedly shown a significant reduction in anxiety, stress and mild depression after massage therapy and Reiki. These therapies can promote relaxation nearly as effectively as anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication.
Acupuncture and reflexology are both used to help reduce pain. These holistic therapies gently stimulate pressure points in the body that correlate to other spots where pain is occurring.
Some holistic medicines are able to boost the body’s own cancer-reversing ability. Supplements such as tart cherries and vitamin C have helped some patients note improvements in their body’s response to traditional therapies.
These therapies are much gentler on the body than traditional therapies, but patients must remember that holistic medicine is still professional medicine. To ensure the best possible response to the therapies, patients should consult with an oncologist or a holistic medicine practitioner before beginning any of these holistic treatments.
Faith Franz writes for the Mesothelioma Center. She has a large interest in the research of medicine and health related topics that she uses to spread awareness about mesothelioma and new developments in the care for this type of cancer.