Cancer is a serious diagnosis. It’s not something you want to take lightly, but you also should research your options before you choose a course of treatment.
For some cancer patients, avenues like chemotherapy aren’t possible. Others choose to use a less invasive route, opting for other alternative cancer treatments.
What Are Alternative Treatments?
“Alternative” can mean something other than the typically recommended therapies. Or, it can mean something outside of the “normal” medical fields.
From natural, plant-based therapies to pharmaceuticals, there are lots of suggested treatments for cancer. Your choice depends on factors like the type of cancer and how advanced it is and your own personal beliefs.
Thoroughly analyzing your options is crucial. Whether you’re looking into possible cures other than chemo or you want something to go alongside it, you need to gather information.
As you consider your decisions, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of these five alternative cancer treatments.
1. Clinical Trials
It can take years for a treatment to get FDA approval. During that time, researchers need cancer patient volunteers to see if their therapies work.
This is a touchy area for a lot of people. On the one hand, if it works, you’ll be among the first to benefit. But if it doesn’t, it could produce side effects worse than the actual cancer itself.
However, the possibility of adverse reactions occurs with almost any synthetic or pharmaceutical cancer treatment. Whether the risk may outweigh the benefits is for you to decide.
This article explains more about how to decide whether to participate in a clinical trial and who to talk to if you’re interested.
2. CBD Products
Currently, there are no CBD products that have been FDA-approved to treat cancer. But there have been a lot of promising research studies that show there’s a lot of therapeutic potential.
CBD is the general name used to describe any product that has cannabinoids in it. These come from the cannabis plant. Depending on the plant and the way it’s sourced, you can find THC and non-THC products.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
Both THC and non-THC cannabinoids interact with your endocannabinoid system. This system is the part of the body that works with the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
These receptors are in the central nervous system and our immune cells. An enhanced amount of them is associated with malignant cancer.
When cannabinoids interact with these receptors, they often respond in ways that inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells. The research is promising that CBD could be used to limit cancer growth and spread.
In the meantime, cannabis with THC in it is often used to reduce the severity of cancer symptoms. Cannabis has been proven to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting, cramps, and many other chemotherapy side effects.
Some medical providers are replacing addictive, dangerous opioids with medical marijuana. Veriheal offers more information on the pros and cons of using MMJ instead of opioids for pain management.
Acupuncture has been successfully used by experts for thousands of years, primarily in Eastern cultures. Only recently has it made its way over to the Western world, as people became more open-minded to alternative therapies.
With acupuncture treatments, the practitioner uses tiny needles strategically inserted into your skin. The placement of the needles depends on your problem. It can be effective for chemo-induced nausea or pain caused by cancer, for instance.
Always talk to your doctor before starting any course of treatment. It’s particularly important to do this if you are taking blood thinners or have a history of a low blood count.
4. Exercise and Movement
Exercise is the key to almost every mental and physical obstacle we have. As you deal with your cancer symptoms, some light movement can reduce stress, pain, and depression.
Having a consistent exercise program is a highly recommended part of cancer treatment. Studies have shown that regular movement increases the lifespan and improves the quality of life in patients with cancer.
You don’t have to hit the gym for your exercise. In fact, your doctor might recommend you avoid places like that if you’re also taking chemo.
Gentle forms of exercise that can be done from your living room or neighborhood include:
- Tai chi, which teaches you how to breathe deeply while moving in light motions. You can adapt the movements to accommodate your strength. As you’re exercising, you’ll notice your stress disappearing.
- Yoga, a combination of stretching and breathing techniques. A typical yoga session involves moving your body into a variety of poses that are low-intensity. Special yoga sessions for people with cancer are designed to reduce stress and fatigue, improve sleep, and increase muscle function.
- Walking on low-impact ground, like a sidewalk or pavement. Avoid areas with a lot of elevation, dangerous roots and potholes, and other hazards.Keep walking to the pace and distance your doctor recommends. It’s also helpful to have a walking partner to boost your morale and to be there for you if you get sick.
If you’ve always loved high-intensity workouts, this move to gentle sessions can be hard. Remember that you’re working on bettering your health, so you can go back to the exercises you prefer.
5. Massage Therapy
Therapeutic massages are a way to help cancer patients with pain and stress. Studies have linked massage therapy with reduced anxiety, muscle tension, fatigue, and pain.
Each person’s preference of massage methods is different. Some people prefer light, soft touches, and others want deep tissue therapy with strong pressure.
Some cancer centers even have massage therapists as part of their regular personnel.
Check with your doctor to see if he or she can recommend a therapist trained in treating patients with cancer. When you schedule a massage, let the therapist know ahead of time what kind of cancer you have and how severe it is.
Certain types, such as bone cancer, require a light touch, whether you want it or not. The therapist should avoid areas where you have recent surgical scars or any places where you’re getting radiation or have tumors.
Your cancer treatment plan should be a healthy mix of your preferences and proven methods. These alternative therapies can be done along with radiation or on their own, depending on your doctor’s suggestions and your choices.