When you have immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), it means your blood doesn't clot as it should, which puts you at risk of excessive bleeding.

The only way to treat ITP is through conventional medications prescribed by your hematologist. The goal of treatment is to increase your platelet count and lower your risk of sudden bleeding, both internally and externally. Still, your medication might not address all the effects of ITP, including any changes to your mood and energy levels.

This is where complementary therapies could help. A complementary health approach is defined by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) as “a non-mainstream practice used together with conventional medicine.” The use of both complementary and mainstream techniques are also at the core of integrative health. Complementary approaches aren’t designed to replace ITP medications, but they can be used together for improved health, overall.

Curious about how complementary therapies can work with your current ITP treatment plan? These nine techniques can help get you started.

Breathing exercises — especially meditation — are at the core of complementary medicine. That’s because they help relax your mind and body, improving your mood and leaving you feeling refreshed.

You don’t need to be a Zen master to reap the benefits of meditation. If you’re new to breathing exercises, start with just a couple of minutes at a time. Focus on your breath as you deeply inhale and exhale. You might even want to focus your eyes on a happy image, such as a mountain or a beach.

To really experience positive results, commit to meditating a couple of times a day at regular intervals. Just 10 to 15 minutes should do the trick. Be patient with yourself, as the stillness aspect takes practice.

It’s recommended that people with ITP invest time in energy therapies, such as qi gong or reiki. Qi gong is similar to tai chi in that combines controlled breathing techniques with slow physical movements. Such energy-balancing activities also improve your energy levels by improving circulation throughout the body. Reiki, on the other hand, is dependent on touch. A qualified therapist uses their hands to restore energy via massage and other manipulations.

If you’re interested in either exercise, consider reaching out to a practitioner who’s experienced with ITP.

Exercise is a great way to help you lose or manage weight. It can also help improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen your muscles, and decrease any feelings of depression and/or anxiety.

If you have ITP, it's understandable to have strong concerns about the risk of injury while working out. While exercise on its own won't cause any bleeding, an injury that happens as a result of the activity might. Yet, the benefits of regular exercise far outweigh the risks.

Focus on activities that are low in impact. For instance, you may want to try going for a walk or swim. Choose an activity you enjoy and stick with it. Gradually increase the intensity so you get stronger over time.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends engaging in at least 150 minutes of a moderate-intensity workout every week to get noteworthy results.

While there’s no diet known to cure ITP, eating certain foods (and avoiding others) can help you feel better and improve your long-term health. Your doctor will recommend a whole foods diet that focuses on lots of vegetables, grains, and lean protein. And eating well can help fuel your daily workouts and activities with less exercise-induced fatigue.

It might also help you to keep a food journal so you can track what you're eating in correlation to any changing or worsening symptoms. Then you can know if there are any foods you should avoid.

It's common to experience daytime fatigue when you're living with ITP. This is due to the loss of blood. Of course, not getting enough sleep at night can also cause you to feel tired during the day.

The Platelet Disorder Support Association (PDSA) recommends getting at least seven hours of sleep per night. They also note that Ayurvedic medicine suggests going to bed before 10 p.m. and waking up before 6 a.m. For the best results, follow a regular sleep schedule and avoid daytime naps.

Exercises that incorporate both your mind and body are among the most popular forms of complementary therapies, according to NCCIH. Two mind-body exercises you’ve probably heard of are yoga and tai chi. As a bonus, these exercises are low-impact and can help you build flexibility and muscle mass.

If you’re new to mind-body exercises, take a professional class first so you can learn the proper techniques. This will also help you avoid an injury. Talk to the instructor ahead of time about your condition so they can help you succeed in the class as best as they can.

Stress is a known inflammatory agent that can lead to long-term health issues, such as mental health disorders and cardiovascular diseases. While being stressed won’t directly affect your platelet levels, being in a constant state of duress can increase fatigue and put you at risk of anxiety and depression.

Meditation itself can reduce your stress levels, but it’s important to find other ways to cut stress from your life. Consider your daily to-do list. Is there anything you can leave off or delegate to someone else? Don't feel guilty about asking for help. We all need support from time to time, and your health is your priority.

For most people, living in a cluttered and messy environment can increase stress and affect our mood. The PDSA recommends feng shui to help you feel more at ease when you're at home. The ancient Chinese practice focuses on getting rid of clutter and items you no longer need.

If feng shui isn't your thing, you can start with something small, like buying a new plant or wall art to liven your spirits. Or, you can try fixing a broken item you already own to boost your mood.

Although it may often go overlooked, connecting with others is a beneficial type of therapy. Take time out of your day to spend with family, your significant other, and friends. You might also consider finding an ITP support group. Staying socially active will decrease your risk of isolation and depression. It may even extend your life.

These complementary therapies may help you live your best life with ITP. Remember, these are designed to complement your existing medical treatments. If you’re experiencing excessive bruising or bleeding, see your hematologist for a follow-up appointment.