Alternative medicine is the practice of using non-traditional methods in addition to or in place of conventional methods to treat disease or pain. There is considerable controversy surrounding alternative medicine, particularly in the cancer arena, because the majority of it is unproven in the medical community. A treatment must have been subjected to peer-reviewed, controlled studies in order to be proven. However, if one knows where to look, ample research exists to support the efficacy of a variety of alternative therapies.
Every day, an increasing number of us are becoming dissatisfied with the way conventional medicine operates; after all, let’s face it… Western medicine is geared toward disease management. Numerous alternative methods can be used to prevent rather than manage. Once I began to consider it, I knew there had to be a better way. That was the start of my alternative journey.
The numerous alternative medicine modalities can be overwhelming, and many of them I have no personal experience with. However, this is the starting point… a broad overview of breast cancer alternative medicine, by no means exhaustive. Some of these methods are palliative (aid in managing the pain and discomfort associated with cancer and its treatment), others are complementary (to be used in addition to conventional treatment), some are preventive, and others appear promising as adjuvant treatments.
Physical Touch and Manual Healing
This is a broad category that includes, but is not limited to, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, and Reiki. Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine that entails the insertion of fine needles into specific energy pathways on the body through the skin. This method, which is based on balanced Qi, interrupts the energy that flows through the body. While there is considerable debate over whether acupuncture can be used to treat cancer directly, it is well documented for relieving pain and nausea associated with cancer and its treatments.
Chiropractic is the correction of musculoskeletal mechanical disorders. It is accomplished through spinal and neck adjustments. There are traditional chiropractors who adjust the entire spine, and then there are Direct Non-Force Technique chiropractors who use specific, targeted adjustments to alleviate neurotransmitter interference throughout the body. The premise here is that the body is capable of self-healing and strives to maintain balance within. Correcting musculoskeletal disorders aids in reestablishing lost balance.
Recent studies have discovered that massage increases alertness and decreases depression, stress, anxiety, and pain. Massages come in a variety of styles, from deep tissue to basic relaxation. Numerous health care providers advocate for the addition of massage therapy to conventional treatment.
Reiki is a Japanese term that literally translates as “universal life energy.” This is a method that is typically carried out in person but can also be carried out remotely. Reiki is based on the premise that when the body’s energy pathways are blocked, disease and/or pain result. A Reiki practitioner can open these channels, resulting in decreased pain and muscle tension, as well as an increased body’s ability to heal itself.
Herbs, Minerals, Vitamins, Diet, and Supplementary Nutrition
This is one of the paths I’ve taken for myself, following thorough research and consideration. There is evidence that what we eat plays a significant role in cancer prevention, and it is constantly in the news. Our society’s evolution has resulted in an increase in processed foods and a decrease in nutritional value. Pesticides are used by farmers to keep bugs away from our produce. They use hormones to increase the size of our chickens, cattle, and pigs faster so they can profit from them sooner. Of course, they are unaware, or perhaps they simply do not care, that those substances are then consumed by us. I was unaware those items were being used until after I was diagnosed. What do you mean I’m consuming estrogen through my meat??? That was one hell of a wakeup call.
The majority of practitioners do not recommend the use of nutritional supplements simply because they have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration… This premise astounds me because numerous drugs approved by the FDA have resulted in serious injury and/or death. Numerous nutritional supplements demonstrate significant promise in preventing, and possibly even treating, breast cancer. The studies are readily available if one knows where to look.
Naturopathy is another technique that makes use of the body’s inherent capacity for self-healing. It is based on the concept that everything in the body is connected and that experiencing pain or illness is your body signaling you that something is wrong. According to naturopathic philosophy, your body begins to communicate when something is out of balance… Perhaps your food is not being digested properly, or your hormones are out of balance… and it starts a snowball effect that spreads through your organs until it catches your attention. Everything is interconnected, and when one area suffers a setback, another area attempts to pick up the slack and becomes overworked, and so on. Naturopaths balance the body through natural means such as homeopathic remedies, natural agents, manipulation, or electrical treatment.
This is the practice of administering extremely small doses of active ingredients to stimulate the body’s natural defense and healing mechanisms. As with naturopathy, it seeks to restore homeostasis (balance) to the body in order for it to heal itself. Homeopathic remedies function similarly to vaccines in our bodies and are based on the principle of like cures like. Homeopaths prescribe substances that would cause symptoms in a healthy individual in order to heal those same symptoms in a sick individual. For instance, a homeopath may prescribe trace amounts of thyroid to someone whose thyroid is excessively active in order to help the thyroid build a defense against this and slow down.