Can alternative medicine treat cancer?
There are many branches of alternative medicine and therapies that claim to be able to cure cancer, but the brutal answer is, ‘No, they can’t’. Here’s a look at the commonly used ones and how they work.
The reason most doctors do not advocate alternative therapies is that they have not been tested like conventional treatments. Some alternative therapies are not harmful, but some may affect conventional treatments, and some may harm too.
Some alternative therapies for cancer are dietary treatments. These cancer diet treatments usually comprise of juice diets, acid-free diets and raw food diets. Blueberries and garlic are usually the individual food ingredients that some believe can work against cancer. However, so far there is no evidence that any particular diet is effective against cancer. The downside is that these diets also lower energy and this brings down the body’s capacity to fight the cancer.
In this form of medicine, only small quantities of medicine are used, and these are supposed to activate the body’s healing powers. However, so far homeopathy as a standalone system has not proved effective against cancer.
Some alternative health practitioners look at cancer as a disease that comes due to a lack of adequate Vitamins and minerals. The result is that huge does of vitamins and minerals especially antioxidants are prescribed. These may have health benefits, but they have not been proved to cure cancer. Besides this, in some cases it can prove dangerous, for instance huge doses of Vitamin C can be detrimental for those with head and neck cancer.
Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on chi, the life force and aims to strengthen and balance it. Herbal remedies are used in conjunction with exercise techniques such as Qi Gong and Tai Chi. Western herbal remedies include the usage of various herbs but sometimes these can interfere with the working of allopathic medicine when combined. Herbal medicine has not been proved to cure cancer.
Complementary therapies which are used in combinations with allopathy may be beneficial though. For instance, acupressure can help relieve nausea that accompanies chemotherapy while yoga can bring down anxiety and depression. Tai Chi, guided meditation, music and art therapy can improve the quality of life of cancer patients.
Massage helps reduce cancer pain and relieve anxiety, fatigue and stress. However, this must be avoided if one has a low blood count. One must also ensure that massaging is avoided near surgical scars, radiation treatment areas or tumors. Light pressure must be used for those with bone cancer.