Cancer can wreak havoc on patients’ physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. While traditional treatments address the physical impacts of cancer, incorporating integrative therapy complements those treatments to address the patient as a whole person.
Patients look to different types of integrative therapy to:
- Help manage stress
- Reduce physical pain or symptoms of cancer
- Decrease physical side effects of the cancer treatment
- Improve overall mood and outlook on life
- Support their immune system
- Improve stamina and reduce fatigue and weakness
- Feel more involved in their care and healing
- Support their overall sense of well-being
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine divides complementary cancer care into five domains:
- Biologically based practices, which include the use of herbs, supplements, and foods
- Mind-body medicine, such as support groups, prayer, and meditation
- Manipulative and body-based approaches, including massage, chiropractic, and yoga
- Energy medicine, such as qigong, Reiki, and acupuncture
- Whole or alternative medical systems, which are complete systems of theory and practice, such as Ayurvedic medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, and traditional Chinese medicine
These five domains cover a wide range of therapies. Encourage patients interested in adding integrative therapies to their treatment plan to discuss options with their physician. Depending on your patient’s or the physician’s experience with integrative care, responsibility may fall to the patient to seek out qualified practitioners who offer the desired therapies and have experience working with cancer patients.
Here is a sampling of the various therapies available.