“Alternative and complementary medicine” is a loosely defined phrase that refers to treatments or therapies that are not routinely included in conventional medicine’s approach to curing a given disease. Complementary treatments may be used to help control symptoms, but they will not cure lymphoma. Acupuncture, for example, may prove useful in reducing pain. Similarly, massage therapy, meditation, yoga or tai chi are all practices that have been shown to help reduce stress and relieve anxiety. They may even relieve pain in some instances.

Traditional herbal remedies—such as ginger, or peppermint tea—may also help relieve nausea associated with chemotherapy. Ginger may be taken in a variety of ways to alleviate nausea. The powered, dried rhizome is marketed in pill form. Ginger may also be consumed as a beverage or used fresh in prepared dishes.

Other potentially beneficial herbal remedies include curcumin (the active ingredient in the curry spice, turmeric), and green tea. Both of these foods have been safely consumed for millennia, and scientists have amassed considerable data supporting their anti-cancer properties. Preliminary evidence suggests that these substances do not interfere with the effectiveness of chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Some studies have suggested that they may help relieve some of the side effects of conventional treatments, while actually boosting their effectiveness. Curcumin, for example, has been shown to help “sensitize” lymphoma cells in laboratory studies, making tumors more susceptible to chemotherapy drugs. But not all oncologists (cancer doctors) feel comfortable with complementary therapies, and patients should always seek the advice of their physician(s) before trying complementary therapies. 

If we define “alternative” therapies as nonconventional treatments that are used instead of, rather than in addition to standard treatments, such approaches to lymphoma treatment cannot be recommended. These alleged cures have not been proven safe and effective in clinical trials and may even cause harm.