NATURAL CANCER TREATMENT
Some of these therapies are available in cancer treatment centers or hospices, though not part of conventional support.
The word "aromatherapy" was coined in 1937 by a French chemist, Renee Maurice Gattefosse, when he accidentally discovered that lavender oil seemed to have special healing powers. This experience aroused his interest and he began studying the effects of a number of "essential" oils. These are the natural, high quality, pure oils that result from distilling flowering plants. He called this new field "aromatherapy."
Part of a holistic assessment includes the patient`s diet, digestion, sleep, support system, and the condition of the heart, mind, and soul. Aromatherapy support in cancer treatment is just one adjunct of a multidimensional approach. Aromatherapy excels in the remediation of infectious states, improving immune response and regulating neurohormonal imbalances as well as having a positive effect on the psycho-emotional state.Considering this, aromatherapy has much to offer and a wide application in the care of the person challenged with cancer. It also incorporates the use of essential oils with one or more complementary therapies such as massage, hydrotherapy, acupressure, etc. to increase the essential oil’s benefit to the recipient.
Today, aromatherapy includes as many as 40 different highly concentrated oils distilled from plants. The oils are used to treat physical and mental ailments and to prevent disease by increasing a sense of well being in body and mind. Aromatherapy is promoted as a natural way to relieve stress, energize the body, and produce a feeling of well being.
Oils from the different plants, including rose, geranium, French basil, sweet fennel and others, are grouped by the effect they are believed to have physically and on the emotions, and on their ability to treat disease.
The psyche includes, but is not limited to, mental tension, anxiety, fear, depression, feelings of isolation, etc. The sedating effects of essential oils to the central nervous system will prove beneficial, as will the euphoric essences, along with the power of thought and belief, promotion of emotional release, and reduction of stress. Tension, stress, anxiety, and fear were reported as the most common reasons for aromatherapy referral in a hospital study in England. The study concluded that aromatherapy massage reduced patients’ psychological distress and improved symptoms related to cancer treatment.
Different oils have different effects, for example, an aromatherapist may use cedarwood for a pleasant and relaxing effect, or rosemary for an invigorating and refreshing effect. Strategic essential oils to use for the alleviation of stress and enhancement of relaxation are Roman chamomile, frankincense, neroli, lavender, sweet marjoram, rose, and sandalwood. Herbal infusions and flower essence therapy are also strongly encouraged as part of the holistic approach to positively affect the psychological state of the individual.
Although there is no scientific proof, here are some of the promises made for essential oils (all uses are external—added to baths, steam, or used in massage)
• Lemon fragrance detoxifies and stimulates the immune system and the liver.
• The smell of French basil aids digestion, treats food poisoning, relieves menstrual cramps and strengthens the immune system.
• The odor of Cassie relieves muscular tension, lifts depression, and helps rheumatism.
• Inhaled geranium aroma stimulates the production of urine, balances abnormal secretions of sex hormones, improves circulation, and is good for sore throats.
• Rose fragrance improves appetite, aids digestion, and tones the stomach, liver and spleen.
•The smell of eucalyptus eliminates infection.
• Lavender fragrance calms, sedates, relaxes, and lowers blood pressure.
Used carefully, however, aromatherapy can provide pleasant, relaxing experiences. People`s attraction to pleasant fragrances endures in the form of bath oils and perfumes. Enjoying lovely, calming fragrances is the essence of aromatherapy.
Like other complementary therapies, aromatherapy may be used in relieving certain symptoms of cancer and side effects of cancer treatment. Aromatherapy, however, should not be expected to slow or reverse the growth or spread of cancer.
If one is, however, undergoing conventional therapy for cancer, for instance chemotherapy, one should check with the doctor before beginning aromatherapy treatment.
Generally, aromatherapy may have some value in reducing the effects of stress. It may make one`s surroundings more pleasurable and thus contribute to a better quality of life.
For more details on Aromatherapy click here.
Art therapy is used to help people express themselves through art. It is based on the idea that the creative act is essentially therapeutic. It has been described as a process that replaces fear with hope and inspiration. It can change feelings of distress to those of relaxation. Although there is limited research into art as therapy, there is an increasing interest in the concept, and it is offered frequently as a rehabilitation option.
Art therapy has been introduced as an alternative language for self-expression and visualization in the treatment cancer-related stress. The pain and anguish of the patient on procuring the disease, with the additional distress and agitation that comes upon an entire family, is a leeway for stress conditions to set in. Insomnia or sleeping disorders, loss of concentration, eating disorders, fluctuation in blood pressure, irritability, burnout, hopelessness and depression are some of the discernable caveats that signal the debilitating effect of stress upon the cancer patient and the family members involved. It is here that therapies such as art, music and dance have been necessitated to release stress and relieve all who suffer.
Art therapy is programed to distract the mind off its cancer-stress trauma, sooth a sagging spirit and uplift a languishing self-esteem. The program also has an impact on the friends and families of each patient in a profoundly positive way by engendering artistic collaborations between the patient and family member and stimulating communication and a sense of wonder. Overall there is a tremendous sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and stress relief experienced by those who participate in the program.
The presence of the program creates a unique opportunity for personal growth for both artist and patient, and also by extension, the caregivers on the unit, thereby having the artmaking experience directly impact the hospital environment positively. The desired result is uninhibited expression of feelings and emotions.
Patients are given the tools to draw, paint, or sculpt, and are urged to get involved in their art choice without restraint. The desired result is uninhibited expression of feelings and emotions. The creative process can be helpful to individuals who feel restricted, stressed, uncertain, or depressed. At the same time, visual art can display information helpful to the doctor or therapist, who can learn about the patient`s emotional state through their creative works.
Another, less active form of art therapy is simply to give the patient an opportunity to see art in paintings or photographs, and then to talk freely about the art and the personal meaning it holds.
It is believed that creative expression has the ability to heal by actually affecting brain wave patterns and chemicals released by the brain. These physiologic events bring about attitude change, substituting feelings of stress with those of relaxation.
It is said that fear can be reduced by the act of drawing or painting, replaced by a sense of creativity and inspiration. Some neurophysiologists say that art, prayer, and healing all stem from the same source in the body, and that they are all associated with similar brain wave patterns. Art therapy attempts to take the patient into his or her own inner world where, proponents of this therapy say, healing begins.
Art is also a distraction. It has the ability to remove us from the reality of pain and discomfort. This can contribute to the healing process because it reduces or removes stress and enhances a sense of well being.
Art therapists may visit a patient in the hospital, in a nursing home or at home. Art therapists work with patients individually or in groups. Patients are completely free to select their own art medium and are given the necessary tools or equipment to produce something of their own making. They are encouraged to express their feelings and interests. By constructing an original work of art, patients are able to get in touch with themselves and visualize sensations, inner emotions, and feelings that otherwise may not have been expressed. Further, the sense of creating something original is uplifting and refreshing. It enables people to temporarily remove themselves from the stress of illness while promoting a sense of control, which itself is very helpful.
Although art therapy is most commonly made available to psychiatric patients, it can be helpful to everyone. It has been used extensively with patients who suffer from cancer, from long-term, chronic illnesses, the physically disabled, and for Alzheimer`s patients.
Many medical centers and hospitals include art therapy as part of inpatient care. Hospitals and long term care facilities often display patients` art, or the work of local professional artists.
Creating art provides insight into one`s inner self and affords an uninhibited opportunity to express feelings. The expression of those feelings as images provides an opportunity for the patient to be in contact with himself through the senses. The finished product is a three- dimensional record of the patient`s feelings and perceptions. It can be touched and looked at, and shared with others.
The creative energy that goes into an art project may contribute to the healing process, soothing the physical and mental stresses of illness.
Like other complementary therapies, art therapy may be used in relieving certain symptoms of cancer and side effects of cancer treatment. Art therapy, however, should not be expected to slow or reverse the growth or spread of cancer.
The concept of imagery and visualization as a therapeutic technique is centuries old. Being able to create mental images is a strong mind-body force in reducing pain and symptoms associated with illness. Records dating from as early as the 1400s report that Buddhist monks could cure particular patients and diseases.
Today, imagery programs that focus on specific health problems are available. Usually called "guided imagery," these programs require that patients receive training to visualize specific objectives and go through the process of achieving those goals. One goal might be, lessening nausea or headaches, or being able to relax more to fight stress.
There are two popular imagery techniques in use today. These are "palming" and "guided imagery." Palming requires placing the palms of your hands over your closed eyes, and then imagining a color across your entire field of vision. The color selected first should be one you associate with stress. If you relate the color red to stress and tension, as many people do, first imagine you are seeing red. In a second step, change the vision of red to a more relaxing color, such as blue or green, which are thought to be "cool," calming colors.
A guided imagery technique designed to fight cancer is based on the old Pac Man video game, in which Pac Men gobbled up the "bad guys" to win the game. The Simonton method of guided imagery, named after the radiation oncologist and his wife who developed it, teaches cancer patients to picture in their mind, armies of "Pac Men" or other attackers gobbling up and destroying cancer cells.
Like other mind-body methods, imagery and visualization have been shown in careful studies to promote relaxation. There is no scientific basis to support the idea that visualization or guided imagery can affect the course of cancer or other serious diseases. Similarly, these methods do not lengthen survival time in cancer patients. Nevertheless, imaging does have value. Although it cannot cure disease, imagery is an important technique that helps the mind influence the body in positive ways.
This is a technique that involves the use of imagination while you are in a state of relaxation or meditation. For example, you might imagine that you are lying in a field full of beautiful flowers. The theory is that by imagining a peaceful scene you will encourage yourself to feel more relaxed. A simple exercise to show how imagination can produce physical changes is to `picture` a lemon being cut in front of you. Most people who do this will notice their salivary juices are stimulated.
Therapists who use creative visualization in the treatment of cancer have suggested that one can stimulate the immune system to affect the growth of the cancer. An American cancer doctor, Carl Simonton, and his wife Stephanie, who is a psychotherapist, have made this theory popular. Originally, they encouraged people with cancer to imagine their white blood cells eating or destroying the cancer cells in the body. The Simontons themselves have modified this approach and now suggest that focusing on feeling better and stronger might reduce the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment.
Many people report that visualizing themselves as stronger does help them to feel better, and regard it as a form of extended relaxation. One study has shown that gentle mental imagery can produce significant improvements in the mood of patients undergoing breast cancer treatments.
Imagery is using one`s imagination to create mental pictures or situations. The way imagery relieves pain is not completely understood. Imagery can be thought of as a deliberate daydream that uses all the senses of sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste. Some people believe that imagery is a form of self-hypnosis. It can help one relax, relieve boredom, decrease anxiety, and assist sleep.
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