Complementary Therapies


  • Introduction
  • Introduction 

     

    Complementary therapies, such as yoga and massage, can improve your quality of life during chemo. They can help reduce common side effects, such as nausea and fatigue. That’s according to Kathleen Wesa, MD, a physician in the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. These therapies are used along with—never in place of—standard medical treatment. Consult your oncologist or oncology nurse before starting any complementary therapy.

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupuncture

    What it is: A Chinese healing technique that entails inserting thin, metallic needles into the skin to stimulate various anatomical areas of the body, known as acupuncture points. What it does: It may reduce fatigue, nausea, hot flashes, and pain. It has also been found to ease chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, which is characterized by tingling and numbness in the hands and feet.
    Use it: Once a week and then taper to once a month. Best to do one to two days prior to a chemo treatment.

  • Mind-Body Therapies
  • Mind-Body Therapies

    What they are: Guided imagery, relaxation, visualization, self-hypnosis, deep breathing, and meditation are all practices based on the idea that your thoughts and physical health are connected. The therapy is designed to enhance your mind’s connection to your body, its movements, and function. What they do: These therapies have been found to ease anxiety, stress, fatigue, and pain.
    Use them: Daily. Training and classes are often offered at integrative medicine facilities Instructors help patients incorporate the therapies into their routine care.

  • Massage
  • Massage

    What it is: Massage works by the kneading and application of pressure to the body’s muscles, soft tissue, nerve endings, and pressure points.
    What it does: It promotes relaxation while reducing body tension and anxiety. In a recent study, the severity of side effects such as pain and stress were cut in half for patients receiving massage for symptom management.
    Use it: Weekly. Try a 60-minute massage session.

  • Reflexology and Other Touch Therapies
  • Reflexology and Other Touch Therapies

    What it is: A hands-on therapy in which the practitioner applies pressure to different areas of the foot, which are thought to mirror the functioning of the entire body. Other touch therapies, using energy fields and spiritual techniques, are also used for healing and symptom management.
    What it does: It has been found to relieve constipation, and may also reduce pain and nausea.
    Use it: Weekly. Try a 20-minute reflexology treatment.

  • Tai Chi/ Chi Gong /Yoga
  • Tai Chi/ Chi Gong /Yoga

    What they are: Gentle exercises that use body postures, martial arts, breathing techniques, and/or meditation to restore energy.
    What they do: They have been found to reduce fatigue and nausea, while improving mood and quality of life. These movements allow the body to heal and may help to lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress level. These therapies may reduce the severity of most side effects, enabling patients to better tolerate their full chemo dose.
    Use them: At least once a week. Just one weekly yoga class may improve quality of life for breast cancer patients, according to a recent study.

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