ALTERNATIVE CANCER THERAPIES
Complementary And Alternative Therapies
To relieve certain symptoms of cancer, to alleviate the side effects, which come with the use of conventional treatments, and for the overall well being of the patient, the medical world has now turned to complementary therapies for assistance. Such therapies are there, not to replace the conventional methods of curing, but to offer additional support to it.
Cancer kicks in a victim, far more than is observed by the layman`s eye. Physical wasting aside, the stress and the trauma inflicted on the mental and emotional being of a patient and the added burden of the budget sapping treatment, is an acid test for the indefatigable human spirit.
Disillusioned with standard cancer treatments—which often have devastating side effects and typically cost $30,000 or more—thousands of patients are turning to alternative or nontoxic therapies. Often called complementary, unorthodox, alternative or nonconventional, these therapies include nutritional, herbal, metabolic, immune-enhancing, biologic, nontoxic pharmacological, and psychological-behavioral approaches. While the alternative therapies exhibit great variation, all of them are rooted in the idea that a truly healthy body will not develop cancer. Alternative practitioners believe the cause of cancer is often found in a disorder of the immune system or a bodily imbalance that allows the tumor to develop.
Alternative therapies share certain common features. They are relatively nontoxic, unlike chemotherapy and radiation, which destroy normal cells. They aim to cleanse the body, to stimulate its natural defenses and tumor-destroying capacity. They have relatively high safety levels compared to the orthodox treatments. Many or most alternative therapies combine special diets; supplementation with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes; detoxification; oxygenation measures; immune stimulation; and psychological or spiritual regimens to promote gentle healing.
Many cancer patients who were pronounced "terminal" or "hopeless" by their orthodox doctors went on to use alternative therapies, recovered fully, and are alive and well for five, ten, twenty, or more years after their fatal diagnoses. Other patients, who follow the alternative protocol, experience prolonged survival times and relief from pain and suffering. Not everyone does well on alternative cancer therapies; many die. There are no "magic bullets," no guarantees. Unfortunately, there are no reliable statistics on the results of alternative treatment. Some of the therapies work some of the time for some people.
The cancers from which most people die—the big killers like breast, colon, and lung cancer—generally do not respond to chemotherapy. Chemotherapy has only a limited effectiveness against any tumor that is large or has spread; its successes are generally with small, very early tumors. Several studies indicate that chemotherapy has no survival value in breast cancer.
Surgery weakens immunity, places great systemic stress on the patient, and can cause sudden death. Pain, disfigurement, and restriction of function often accompany surgery. Many cancer patients are left debilitated, crippled, traumatized, or humiliated after the operation. A surprising number of "cured" cancer patients have had their lives ruined by the "successful" surgery. For all these reasons, cutting up the body is not the final answer to cancer.
Types of Alternative And Complementary Therapies
A vast array of approaches falls under the heading of complementary and alternative medicine. Some, such as acupuncture and ayurveda, are ancient traditions used by millions of people over thousands of years. Most cultures have also developed herbal traditions based upon local medicinal plants. Other approaches, such as macrobiotics or anthroposophy are branches of wider philosophical systems applied to medicine. Chiropractic and homeopathy are examples of systems that arose in the West, alongside orthodox medicine, that view disease processes much differently than mainstream medicine. Mind-body therapies (e.g., stress reduction techniques, biofeedback, meditation) comprise a large class of approaches that owe a great deal to the spiritual traditions of the East.
The most effective use of complementary therapies is often in combination with mainstream therapies. There is evidence, for example, that Chinese herbs can potentiate the effectiveness and lessen the side effects of some chemotherapies and that acupuncture can greatly reduce the nausea connected with cancer therapy.
It is important to know that complementary therapies are not by definition harmless. They run the gamut in terms of their potential for harm, though many do tend to be quite benign. If you choose to use complementary medicine, it is a good idea to consider using one or more therapies that are considered to be intrinsically health promoting regardless of whether one is ill or not. As Michael Lerner has pointed out in his book Choices in Healing, these "lifestyle therapies" can give you a sense of taking charge of your own health and often enable you to better tolerate difficult therapeutic regimes.
The spiritual and mind-body approaches are primary among lifestyle therapies. Prayer, meditation, psychological therapy, imagery and support can, at the very least, bring about a transformation in the way you view illness and your own body. These approaches can also affect the way pain is perceived, and there is evidence they may actually affect the course of the illness itself in some cases. Nutritional approaches (if not carried to extremes) and physical approaches, like massage, exercise and yoga, are also generally health promoting.
Alternative medicine views an unhealthy body, which contains an immune, or defense system that is unable to stop the formation of cancerous cells, as the underlying effect of the formation of cancer. It does not simplify cancer as a disease that is confined to a locality but considers it to be an overall image of the human body. Therefore, alternative therapy strives for the restoration of the cancer patient`s immune system without the use of poisonous chemicals, which are commonly used in conventional forms of medicine. Alternative therapy utilizes treatments, which depend upon biopharmaceutical, immune enhancement, metabolic, nutritional, and herbal medicine that are believed to ultimately cure the whole body.
The lay media often refer to alternative therapy as if it were a well-defined area of medicine. This can create great confusion, as there are many different types of alternative therapies, each with their own inherent health implications.
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