Chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments can cause all sort of unwanted side effects, from nausea to extreme fatigue. In order to remain comfortable during the cancer treatment process, many patients turn to supportive therapies. These are treatments that are intended to counteract the unwanted side effects of cancer treatment. Not only can supportive therapy make you more comfortable, but increased comfort can also improve your mindset -- and a positive mindset can do wonders when you're battling cancer! Here's a look at three natural supportive therapies to consider including in your treatment regimen.
Acupuncture is the practice of inserting tiny needles into the skin at very specific points. It is thought that these needles redirect the flow of energy through the body, and that this helps alleviate negative feelings like nausea and stress. Contrary to popular belief, acupuncture is not painful. You'll barely feel the needles going in; it just feels like a tiny pinch.
Acupuncture is so effective in alleviating the nausea associated with cancer treatment that many cancer treatment centers have begun offering it to their patients. If your center does not offer acupuncture, you should not have a problem finding an off-site acupuncturist who has experience working with cancer patients. Depending on the extent of your cancer treatment, you may wish to have acupuncture performed once a week or even several times per week.
When you're feeling nauseous from cancer treatment, you don't always eat enough to satisfy your body's needs. The lack of nutrition makes you feel even worse, which makes you even less likely to eat. It can be tough to break free of this endless cycle. This is where a nutritional therapist can come in handy. He or she can help you identify the most nutrient-dense, nausea-fighting foods to eat while you're in treatment. That way, even when you can't bear to eat a lot, your body's nutrient needs can be met, and you'll stay stronger and better able to fight your cancer.
When using nutritional therapy as a supportive cancer treatment, it is important to work with a dietitian who has experience working with cancer patients. Your oncologist should be able to recommend someone. Stay away from so-called "natural healers" and "cancer healing gurus" who claim they can cure your cancer with nutrition alone. These healers' claims often lack scientific support. Remember, you're looking for someone who offers nutritional therapy as a supportive treatment in addition to standard cancer treatment -- not someone who recommends nutritional therapy instead of traditional cancer treatment.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to improve the mood, balance the mind, and alleviate stress. The scents of certain essential oils can help battle some of the side effects of cancer treatment. Favorites among cancer patients include geranium, lavender and cedar wood.
Aromatherapy has the benefit of being a natural therapy that you can administer on your own without the help of a practitioner. Look for high-quality essential oils from a reputable manufacturer. There are several ways you can utilize them:
- Add the oil to a diffuser and let it permeate the room.
- Combine the essential oil with a carrier oil, like olive or almond oil, and massage it onto your skin.
- Float a few drops of the essential oil on top of a bowl of hot water, and inhale the steam.
Some patients prefer to indulge in aromatherapy after their chemotherapy treatments as they find it helps prevent symptoms like nausea from setting in. Others wait until they do experience symptoms, and then rely on the aromatherapy to help ease them. You may have to do a little experimenting to find out what oils and what methods work best for you. Just make sure you don't ingest the oils -- most are not safe for consumption.
The great thing about these supportive therapist is that because they are natural, you can mix and match them as you so choose. Talk to your oncologist (like those at Sturdy Memorial Hospital) about using these and other therapies to help make your battle against cancer more bearable.