Cancer Care
18 Case Studies
22 Member Stories
1058 Research

There are many side effects associated with radiation therapy and high-dose chemotherapy. Alternative cancer treatments may help you cope with cancer treatment side effects such as sleep problems, fatigue, pain, and nausea and vomiting.

What is cancer?

Cancer is not merely one medical condition, but a large group of many diseases. It is a genetic disease, with two main attributes: one of uncontrolled growth of the cells within the human body and secondly, the ability of those cells to migrate from the original site and spread to other parts of the body. It’s the second leading cause of death in the world. The survival rates for some types of cancer are improving thanks to more awareness, better screening, and advances in cancer treatments. Because of such medical advances and an aging population, the number of cancer survivors continues to grow.

Cancer is a disease wherein there is an abnormal growth of cells, leading to the formation of tumors. These tumors can be malignant or benign in nature. Benign tumors are generally harmless, and the tumor is restricted to a single organ. They can be easily extracted with surgery. On the other hand, malignant tumors are formed when the abnormal cells are migrated to other positions in the body through the bloodstream. Malignant tumors can spread very soon and can even be fatal (WHO Fact sheet 2015; NCI 2015).

Many may experience long-term and late consequences of cancer and its treatment through surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiation. Such effects may include dehydration (lack of fluids), eating difficulty, psychological side effects (anxiety, depression, distress), fatigue, pain, fear of recurrence, and anxiety.

Because of this, some patients have used or expressed interest in integrative holistic medicine therapies for the prevention of recurrence, optimizing wellness, improving quality of life, and managing symptoms. There is research published during the last year which informs our understanding of the usefulness of integrative medicine for cancer survivors.[1]

Physical activity, diet, dietary supplements, mind-body modalities, Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation, and Massage therapy all may play a part in the management of their physical (e.g. fatigue and pain) and psychological (e.g. anxiety and anxiety ) issues faced by cancer survivors.

Integrative medicine treatments are attractive to and used by many cancer survivors and might decrease symptom burden. It could be possible to enhance cancer survivorship care by understanding the evidence for or against their use.

See: Yoga Nidra and Meditation benefits for cancer patients

Types of Cancer

One out of every four deaths in the USA is from cancer. It is next only to heart disorder for a cause of death in the USA. Cancer can strike anybody. Since the occurrence of cancer increases as people age, many cases are observed in adults, middle-aged, or elderly. The most common cancers include skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer (in women), and prostate cancer (in males). In addition, cancer of the kidneys, ovaries, uterus, pancreas, bladder, rectum, blood (leukemia), and lymph nodes (lymphoma) are also included one of the 12 big cancers that affect many Americans.

Cancer, by definition, is a disease of the genes. A gene is a small part of DNA, that's the master molecule of the mobile. Genes make proteins, that would be the greatest workhorses of the cells. It is these proteins, together with other substances, that allow our bodies to carry out the many procedures that allow individuals to breathe, think, move, etc.  An alteration, or mutation, to the DNA molecule, can interrupt the genes and produce proteins that are faulty. This causes the cell to become abnormal and shed its restraints on expansion. The abnormal cell begins to divide uncontrollably and eventually forms a new growth known as a tumor or neoplasm. In a wholesome individual, the immune system may recognize the neoplastic cells and destroy them before they get an opportunity to divide. However, some mutant cells can escape immune detection and endure to become tumors or cancers.

Tumors are two types, benign or cancerous. A benign tumor is slow-growing, doesn't spread or invade surrounding tissue, and once removed, it doesn't typically recur. A cancerous tumor, on the flip side, invades surrounding tissue and has the capacity to disperse to other parts of the human body. If the cancer cells have spread into the surrounding tissues, then, even after the key cancerous tumor is removed, it normally recurs either independently or to a remote website. A majority of cancers are brought on by changes in the cell's DNA because of damage due to the cell's environment. Environmental factors that are responsible for inducing the first mutation in the DNA are known as carcinogens, and there are many types. Some cancers have a genetic basis. There are several different kinds of cancers. Carcinomas are cancers that develop in the epithelium (the layer of cells covering the body's surface and lining the internal organs and various glands). Ninety percent of human cancers fall into this group.

See: Meal Plan for Thyroid Cancer

What are Cancer Symptoms?

Cancer is a progressive illness, also goes through several phases with varying symptoms. Some signs are created early and may happen due to a tumor that's growing within an organ or a gland. As the tumor grows, it may press on the nearby nerves, organs, and blood vessels. This causes pain and a few pressure which may be the initial warning signals of cancer. Signs and symptoms caused by cancer will vary based on what portion of the body is affected.

According to Mayo Clinic, some typical signs, and symptoms associated with, but not specific to cancer, comprise:

Fatigue

- Lump or area of thickening that can be felt beneath the skin

- Weight affects, such as accidental loss or benefit

- Skin changes, such as yellowing, darkening or redness of the skin, sores that won't heal, or changes to existing moles

- Changes in bowel or bladder habits

- Persistent cough or difficulty breathing

- Difficulty swallowing

- Hoarseness

- Persistent indigestion or discomfort after eating

- Persistent, unexplained muscle or joint pain

- Persistent, unexplained fevers or night sweats

- Unexplained bleeding or bruising

See: Acupuncture for Nausea & Vomiting Treatment

Holistic Cancer Treatments & Therapies

There is a multitude of holistic cancer therapies and complementary remedies available to assist an individual with cancer. They are normally integrated with allopathic treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are a few of the most painful and toxic of conventional treatments, and often have inconsistent outcomes. Generally, complementary therapies are less invasive, non-toxic, and have minimal side effects. Once used as adjuncts to conventional treatment, some complementary treatments are proven to decrease pain and unwanted effects, assist in the healing process and enhance the quality of life of cancer patients.

Integrative treatment of cancer is a complex arena and picking one from the many can seem a difficult job, as can picking an alternative practitioner. Patients need to speak as many trained health professionals as feasible when choosing alternate therapies. If patients are ready to ask questions and thoroughly investigate their choices, they can increase their odds of getting the best possible remedy support for the difficult task of handling cancer.

Complementary medicine generally views cancer as a holistic problem. That is, cancer represents a problem with the body's overall health and resistance. As such, treatment is holistic too, striving to strengthen and heal the bodily, mental, and spiritual elements of patients. It may highlight different basic approaches, which include traditional medicines, psychological approaches, dietary and nutritional treatments for cancer, physical approaches, integrated approaches, and experimental applications.

Traditional Chinese medicine uses acupuncture treatment for cancer care, acupressure massage, herbal remedies, and movement therapies like Tai chi and Qigong to deal with cancer. Traditional Chinese herbal remedies have already contributed a significant number of anti-inflammatory drugs since studies have demonstrated their anticancer properties and immune stimulants. A 2001 report noted that the ancient compound artemisinin (wormwood) appears amazingly helpful in targeting particular cancer cells and helping to destroy them. The treatment is much less costly than many traditional options, but further research was underway. Acupuncture has been proven to reduce some tumors and significantly reduce pain and enhance immune system action.

Ayurveda treatment for cancer care includes the following:

- Panchakarma is an extensive detoxification and strengthening program that is suggested for cancer sufferers and people undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Panchakarma uses fasting, special vegetarian diets, enemas, massage, herbal medications, and other methods to rid the body of excess toxins that are believed to contribute to chronic diseases like cancer, also to strengthen the immune system.

- Ayurvedic herbs are also being proven to have important anti-cancer properties.


Naturopathy and homeopathy are traditional Western recovery systems utilizing herbal medicines and other methods to fortify the immune system and lower the pain of cancer therapy.


Western herbalism is also beginning to market studies of many herbs that have anti-inflammatory and immune-strengthening properties.


Alternative remedies that seek to aid patients with the mental and spiritual barriers that cancer poses include psychotherapy, support groups, guided imagery, meditation, biofeedback, and hypnosis. Psychological approaches work with the idea that the mind and emotions may profoundly influence the health of the human body and ailments like cancer.


A 1992 report from Oncology claimed that nutritional factors may account for up to 70 percent of avoidable cancer mortality in this country. Many nutritionists also say that cancer patients have increased needs for diets free of toxic substances and full of cancer-fighting nutrients. Diet and nutrition can enhance both a cancer patient's chances for recovery and quality of life during therapy. In lab studies, vitamins such as A, C, and E, as well as compounds such as isothiocyanates and dithiolthiones found in broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, along with the antioxidant beta-carotene found in carrots, have also been shown to protect against cancer. Furthermore, bioflavonoids and lycopene found in green tea help in preventing cancer. Dietary strategies for cancer include vegetarianism, raw food diets, macrobiotics, the Gerson diet, and also the Livingston-Wheeler nutritional plan, mentioned below. Cancer diets normally emphasize fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes, and restrict intake of fat, meat, dairy products, sugar, processed foods, and other foods considered to taxation cancer sufferers. Nutritional approaches to cancer include vitamin and antioxidant supplementation and using numerous herbal extracts. There are many herbs that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, immune-enhancing, and symptom diminishing properties, and patients are recommended to consult competent herbalists for herbal aid.  



See: Panchakarma

Natural cancer cures for prevention

Most practitioners agree that the best treatment for cancer is prevention. But how does one prevent cancer naturally? Possessing sound physical and psychological health can significantly decrease the chances of getting cancer. These guidelines are generally recommended by doctors, nutritionists, and other practitioners for cancer prevention and recovery:

• Refraining from smoking excessively.

• Exercising regularly, at least 20 minutes daily, preferably outdoors in the fresh air.

• Avoiding exposure to radiation. This includes avoiding unnecessary x rays, not residing near sources of natural or human-made radiation, and avoiding occupational exposure to radiation.

• Avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals in Food, the home, and workplace.

• Maintaining appropriate body weight, particularly avoiding obesity.

• Protecting skin from overexposure to sunlight.

• Eating a healthy diet. Becoming educated practicing and on dietary principles decreases the risk of cancer. These principles include eating loads of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains and consuming organically grown foods when possible.

Sound mental and psychological health is thought to help prevent cancer. Learning a technique like yoga, tai chi, meditation, or others can reduce stress and promote relaxation.

See: Ayurvedic herbs for immune system

Precautions

None of the therapies will be effective if the regimen is not followed in its entirety. It's for this reason that many professionals recommend a treatment be taken at the setting of the practice, because all of these details can then become the responsibility of the staff, freeing the patient to concentrate on the recovery. In fact many professionals who treat cancer require their treatment to be followed in a strict fashion, that they will refuse to take care of patients that are not well prepared to carry all the required actions and truly devote themselves to getting well. They warn that natural treatments for cancer are not simple, cancer is a sign that the integrity of their human body system has been seri ously compromised, and nothing but the strictest regimen is likely to facilitate a return to health. Nevertheless, these therapies are very experimental and there are no guarantees of a cure.

See: Ayurveda For Brain Fog & Chronic Fatigue

Side effects in cancer treatments

Side effects associated with natural therapies are very mild compared to those commonly experienced with allopathic treatments. Price is one of the main inhibitors of those remedies. Nonetheless, in the case of cancer therapy, a healing crisis may be an unpleasant experience. Complementary medicine practitioners generally believe that all illness is due to a toxic condition in the human body and cancer, being one of the very serious conditions, is a sign of serious levels of toxicity. It follows that when your system starts to throw off these toxins, the blood system gets overloaded and the patient will experience headaches, fevers, nausea, and in some cases extreme sensitivity to stimuli such as light and sound.

See: Acupuncture to help 62 year old woman with Chronic Fatigue and Pain

Science & Research

Treatments for cancer are among the topics where allopathic medicine disapproves most strongly of complementary medicine, and consequently these organic remedies would be the subject of much adverse publicity. Cancer patients' use of complementary therapies, including massage therapy, acupuncture, mind-body treatments, music therapy, physical therapy, and herbs and botanicals has improved in recent decades. In reality, complementary treatments are increasingly incorporated into mainstream cancer programs and facilities. Randomized controlled studies suggest that many complementary therapies control treatment related physical and emotional symptoms including fatigue, pain, nausea, xerostomia, nervousness, and depression in both adult and pediatric cancer patients. Importantly, many of these interventions create long-lasting improvement. Cautions are important, however, regarding the use of herbal, herbal preparations, and other over-the-counter agents. These may be harmful as many interact with traditional pharmacologic drugs, like chemotherapy, or create unwanted side effects. (Cancer & Chemotherapy Rev. 2008;4:204-11)

See: Top 7 Holistic Cancer Treatments and Therapies From A Naturopath

References

1. Viscuse PV, Price K, Millstine D, Bhagra A, Bauer B, Ruddy KJ. Integrative medicine in cancer survivors. Curr Opin Oncol. 2017;29(4):235–242. doi:10.1097/CCO.0000000000000376

2. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20370588

3. Integrative Oncology: Complementary Therapies in Cancer Care: Barrie Cassileth; Marjet Heitzer; Jyothirmai Gubili (Cancer & Chemotherapy Rev. 2008;4:204-11)  

4. Galland, Leo, M.D. The Four Pillars of Healing. New York: Random House, 1997.

5. Lerner, Michael. Choices in Healing: Integrating the Best of the Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1994.

6. Walters, Richard. Options: The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book. New York: Avery Publishing Group, 1993.

7. Weil, Andrew, M.D. Natural Health, Natural Medicine. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.

8. Yance, Donald R. Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer. Chicago: Keats Publishing, 1999. 

9. Hsueh W. 2015. Obesity, Inflammation, and Cancer. Annual Review of Pathology: Mechanisms of Disease, 11(1).

10. Naksuriya O, Okonogi S, Schiffelers RM, Hennink WE. 2014. Curcumin nanoformulations: a review of pharmaceutical properties and preclinical studies and clinical data related to cancer treatment. Biomaterials,35(10), 3365-3383.

11. National Cancer Institute. 2015. What Is Cancer? Retrieved on 13th Nov 2015 from; http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/what-is-cancer

12. NHS 2015. Cancer-Signs and symptoms. Retrieved on 13th Nov 2015 from;

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

13. WHO Factsheet. 2015. Fact sheet N°297. Retrieved on 13th Nov 2015 from;

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/

14. Gayle Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine

See: Ayurvedic herbs for constipation relief

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