Numerous alternative cancer therapies have long-standing roots in ancient medicine.
Acupuncture has been practiced for centuries, while yoga has been used for physical and mental restoration since the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. Homeopathic medicine was developed more than 200 years ago, but some homeopathic remedies utilize herbs whose healing powers were identified by ancient civilizations.
Even though medical procedures quickly go out of date, these and other alternative healing methods are still used in modern cancer treatment. However, researchers are continually studying how to make them most effective for today’s cancer patient.
Because some therapies are not found to have any positive effect on cancer patients, this research is crucial in helping patients choose therapies that will give them the best results. According to most recent studies, aggressive cancers such as mesothelioma cannot be cured by these therapies – however, some of the most common symptoms can be effectively relieved through alternative methods.
Recent Massage Therapy Research
Massage therapy has repeatedly been found to help patients with terminal cancers such as mesothelioma deal with physical and mental side effects. Some of the conditions that massage therapy is able to control include:
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea
- Mild depression
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed that patients with higher amounts of pain at the beginning of treatment responded most favorably to massage therapy. Mesothelioma patients typically report fairly consistent levels of pain after diagnosis, meaning they could receive considerable pain reduction from massage therapy.
In recent years, more and more cancer centers have started offering therapeutic massage as part of their on-site treatment. The improved accessibility has contributed to the increase in the therapy’s popularity among cancer treatment plans – it recently became one of the most commonly used complementary cancer therapies.
Recent Yoga Research
Yoga is another ancient practice that has recently become more popular in alternative cancer treatment. Several clinical trials have determined that yoga – like massage – can relieve some of the most common mesothelioma symptoms. Yoga poses have the potential to relieve mental distress, insomnia and fatigue – but they also may be able to help mesothelioma patients breathe better.
A 2012 study also found that yogic breathing practices can help chemotherapy patients correct sleep disturbances and improve their quality of life. According to the study, there was a distinct dose-response relationship between the amount of practice and the benefits a patient could obtain. Patients who practiced the yoga breathing most frequently noted the most improvements in chemotherapy-associated symptoms and quality of life. However, because the study was small, the researchers suggest further studies to confirm their findings.
Sendin, A. “Effects of Physical Therapy on Pain and Mood in Patients with Terminal Cancer: A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial .” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 18.5 (2012 ): n. page. Print. <http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2011.0277>.
Dhruva, A, et al. “Yoga Breathing for Cancer Chemotherapy–Associated Symptoms and Quality of Life: Results of a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial .” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 18.5 (2012 ): n. page. Print. <http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2011.0555>.
Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for the Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.