Alternative and complimentary therapies can be used to treat the symptoms of lung cancer and the side effects of lung cancer treatment. They aren’t intended as stand-alone cures, but rather as complementary therapies that help patients feel better or recover from conventional treatments faster.
As is the case with many alternative or complimentary treatments for any disease or condition, opinions are often mixed as to the efficacy of some methods, and research is often minimal in comparison to traditional medicine treatments.
However, many people have had success in using complimentary treatments in the management of many diseases and conditions, including lung cancer. Before trying any alternative treatments, you should always check with your doctor to be sure that the methods are safe and right for you.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method of stimulating specific points on the body with thin needles to remove blockages and restore natural flow to body functions. At the 1997 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Conference, experts reported that acupuncture was effective in managing two symptoms of chemotherapy, nausea and vomiting, and in managing pain associated with surgery.
Aromatherapy uses the natural benefits of essential oils to stimulate the part of the brain that affects emotion. Studies have shown that essential oils can promote mental and emotional wellness by reducing stress, depression, pain, and nausea. Lavender promotes calmness; frankincense is meditative; jasmine is uplifting; peppermint fights nausea; rosemary relieves pain and congestion. Diffuse a few drops of essential oil in jojoba oil and apply to pressure points (wrists, neck, and behind the ears). Add some to your favorite face wash or a bubble bath.
Massage is used to ease pain and promote relaxation. Massage therapists use their hands or feet to apply pressure to work out knots in your muscles caused by tension. Some therapists specialize in treating people with cancer.
Herbs and Supplements
Ginger has anti-nausea properties that can be helpful in calming an upset stomach due to chemotherapy treatments. Some studies have shown that mistletoe extract kills cancer cells in the laboratory. A study published in 2005 found that vitamin and mineral supplements are associated with better survival and quality of life in NSCLC patients.
Therapists use hypnosis to put the patient in a trance-like state by using relaxation techniques. It has been shown to ease anxiety, nausea, and pain associated with cancer.
Meditation is a state of deeply silent inner reflection in which the individual tries to quiet the mind from outside “chatter.” It can be helpful in reducing stress associated with lung cancer.
Yoga is a method of linking breathing with stretching movements and poses as a form of meditation. It can promote relaxation in cancer patients, and help them to obtain more restful sleep.