When a cure or traditional treatment plan for malignant mesothelioma can’t be found, patients have the option to turn to alternative, natural, and/or complementary treatments. Some patients may even combine traditional and nontraditional treatments for more effective relief.
There are a number of alternative treatments available, and as science progresses, even more therapies and treatments are predicted to become available.
Most non-traditional treatments are individual choices and are not a part of the conventional standard of medical treatment. These types of treatments are considered a part of “Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” a part of the U.S. Institutes of National Health.
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Some of the more popular natural healing treatments for mesothelioma patients are acupuncture, massage, meditation, and chiropractic care. Each of these natural techniques bring about relief from symptoms of mesothelioma such as chronic pain, inflammation, body tension, stress, headaches, and more. Stress levels are lessened and patients are able to relax more and enjoy a more serene psychological environment.
Vitamins and Herbs
Although most vitamins and herbal treatments are not recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mesothelioma patients may be able to benefit from them. For example, Cat’s Claw is a popular natural herbal remedy that works by stimulating the immune system when consistently taken. This is turn may help to eliminate cancerous cells.
Vitamin C, if taken consistently, can help prevent cancer cells from growing, as well as strengthen bones and help the body produce collagen.
Following a good nutrition plan is also useful in fighting mesothelioma and other cancers.
There’s been several studies on marijuana and lung cancer patients, and the results are positive. Most cancer patients who’ve taken medical marijuana reported that they’ve experienced positive benefits in the following areas:
- Pain relief
- Better sleep quality and the need for less sleep
- Increase in appetite and decrease in nausea
- Less stress and anxiety
Since medical marijuana is still not legal in all states, and research is inhibited due to strict guidelines, more studies need to be done. Scientists continue to push for better ways to run trials on medical marijuana, with hopes that it will be easier to determine how much patients need (in general), and the most effective way to take it (smoking, vaping, eaten, by spray, etc.).
A few side effects have been reported by cancer patients who used medical marijuana. The majority of patients said that the side effects were so minor that they outweighed the benefits. The most common side effects reported include:
- Red eyes
- Low blood pressure and increased heart beat
- Difficulties with food digestion
Side effects tend to vary from person to another. Prior to trying medical marijuana to help with pain, consult your physician first, and most importantly, check your state laws to determine if it’s legal in your state.
Homeopathy is an alternative mesothelioma treatment in which patients take diluted natural substances in order to bring their bodies to the same level of a healthy person. This natural approach works by giving patients natural medications that counteract normal body actions.
For example, even though an onion causes your eyes to water, a patient with allergies who has watery eyes can be given a diluted onion to counteract the effect.
Other examples include a system of diluted natural therapies consisting of plants, animals, and/or minerals are used, such as nettle, red onions, poison ivy, mountain herbs, and more. Keep in mind, however, that there are no set standards for homeopathic remedies and you should always consult with your physician first.
Chiropractic care is a form of alternative medical care that’s proven to be beneficial in numerous ways to mesothelioma patients. Trained, licensed chiropractors perform a number of techniques to help patients overcome pain, which in turn can help decrease the need for additional pain medications. Other benefits of chiropractic care includes:
- Reduction in stress and anxiety
- An increase in mobility and flexibility
- Help with indigestion and nausea
Massage therapy is another form of alternative therapy that continues to gain popularity due to its ability to help reduce painful mesothelioma symptoms and treatment side effects, reduce stress, and improve recovery time.
Professional massage therapy differs from a basic massage given by a friend or family member. Massage therapist are highly-trained professionals who generally work with physicians and chiropractors in order to offer mesothelioma patients the best forms of massage techniques to match individual needs.
Reiki is a type of mind-body therapy that is based on the idea that a healer can use his or her hands to manipulate the energy running through the body to bring about balance and healing. Reiki does not necessarily involve touch; the practitioner may either gently rub the hands over the patient’s body or move them over the body, hovering just over the patient and not touching.
Studies of reiki with cancer patients have found that the practice helps to reduce stress, to make patients more relaxed, to reduce fatigue, and even to relieve pain to some degree. Reiki is not a cure for any illness, but it is thought to be able to promote healing and is often used as a supplement to traditional medicine for this reason. Whether reiki really does promote healing or make traditional treatments more effective remains unproven, but the practice of reiki does seem to help cancer patients feel better.
As an ancient practice, yoga has long been known to provide health benefits both physical and mental, but any kind of exercise has not always been recommended for cancer patients. Modern research has proven that some activity is actually beneficial for people being treated for cancer and gentle yoga is a great way to get it.
Yoga has been proven to help cancer patients feel better in a number of ways: It reduces pain by increasing tolerance to it; it reduces stress and improves mood; it fights fatigue by providing a boost of energy; and cancer patients who practice yoga regularly report a generally better quality of life than patients who do not.
Yoga for cancer patients should be gentle and taught by someone who understands the special needs and the limitations of living with cancer.
Acupuncture is a practice from traditional Chinese medicine and is today considered complementary and alternative medicine, often used in conjunction with traditional treatments for a variety of conditions. The practice involves the insertion into the skin of thin needles.
They are placed in strategic points that help to direct the energy of the body for greater balance and relief from symptoms or illness. The needles are targeted at certain pressure points on the body and knowing where and how to place them requires training and practice.
Acupuncture is not a replacement for cancer treatments and is not effective at treating cancer or reducing tumors. However, medical research has proven that acupuncture can have some benefits when used as a complement to treatment.
For example, one study found that acupuncture seems to be effective at reducing the nausea and vomiting associated so often with chemotherapy. Acupuncture may also reduce pain and other side effects of treatment.
Hypnotherapy may seem like nothing more than a magic trick, but it is actually a proven alternative and complementary medical practice that can benefit many types of patients, including those living with and fighting mesothelioma. Hypnotherapy is the practice of helping a person come into a state of deep focus and intense relaxation. When in this state the hypnotherapists can make suggestions to the patient and the patient will be more responsive to them.
Studies have been conducted to find out if there are real benefits of this type of therapy for cancer patients and the results are promising. Hypnotherapy can help a patient to manage pain, even leading to a reduced need for prescription painkillers. It has also been proven to reduce stress and negative emotions like anxiety, specifically before undergoing a surgical procedure for cancer treatment. Hypnotherapy may also be effective at reducing the side effects of chemotherapy and at boosting mood for patients experiencing fatigue.
What the Medical Community Says About Natural and Alternative Treatments
Although most natural and alternative treatments are not considered the mainstream way of battling diseases, many professionals in the medical community are beginning see the benefits. More and more physicians today are beginning to embrace complementary and alternative medicines and even incorporating certain natural treatments with their standard medical care.
The Mayo Clinic, for example, believes in holistic and natural approaches combined with traditional treatment. As the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine continues to research and provide scientific evidence regarding these types of treatments, more members of the professional medical community are beginning to see the major advantages.
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