According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, approximately four out of every ten adults have enrolled in some form of complementary or alternative therapy for the treatment of an illness or a disease. Of that percentage, a growing number are seeking alternative forms of treatment for critical conditions, such as prostate cancer.1 For the most part, complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of prostate cancer is used as a secondary approach to care though some opt to forgo conventional treatment in lieu of prostate cancer alternative medicine, like naturopathy or a prostate cancer diet. Leading healthcare authorities classify complementary and alternative cancer therapies in one of five categories:
. Mind/Body alternative treatments for cancer
. Body-based manipulations
. Biological prostate cancer alternative medicine
. Energy-based prostate cancer alternative treatments
. Whole medical systems
Therapy of the Mind & Body for the Treatment of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer patients undergoing conventional treatment often experience high levels of emotional and physical stress which in turn, increases breathing, tenses muscles, and raises heart rate. The long-term effects of stress can be damaging to an individual's overall health. In addition to the emotional effects of stress, many physical maladies are attributed to prolonged periods of this state of being, including fatigue, pain, headaches, and a weakened immune system. What's more, chemotherapy, radiation, and other prostate cancer treatments, like prostatectomy surgery, leave in its wake a slew of unpleasant side effects that further tax the body during this difficult time. Mind/body complementary and alternative prostate cancer medicine seeks to relieve the stresses and side effects of cancer and treatment by deploying psychological and spiritual therapies. Through the use of meditation, hypnosis, or imagery, patients quiet the mind and divert energy and thoughts from the negative to the positive to promote healing and overall physical health. As described by the National Cancer Institute, examples of alternative mind/body prostate cancer treatments include:
Biofeedback: Monitoring and conveying a patient's heart rate, body temperature, and other biological factors to understand and alter body functions that are typically automated in nature.
Creative Outlets: The exploration of creative activities, such as music and art, to lift mood and raise self esteem.
Hypnotherapy: Focusing one's thoughts on a particular goal or aim, such as healing and the reduction of pain or stress.
Imagery: Instead of envisioning negative outcomes, guided imagery involves the use of positive thoughts to promote healing. An example would be envisioning yourself well and recovered after a prostate cancer surgery.
Meditation: A practice of quieting the mind through breathing and relaxation techniques.
Yoga: A combination of physical and mental exercises designed to unite the mind, body, and spirit.2
Affecting Health through Manipulations of the Body: A Complementary Approach to Prostate Cancer Treatment
Prostate cancer surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation often has a negative effect on the musculoskeletal system, causing pain and stiffness in the joints and muscles. Body manipulations such as massage, reflexology, and chiropractic care can be deployed to relieve this discomfort, reduce stress, and alleviate certain side effects of standard medical care, including nausea and numbness.
Biologically-based Alternative Prostate Cancer Treatments
High energy levels, strong immune function, and increased strength are just a few benefits of adequate nutrition during prostate cancer treatment. After many traditional modalities of prostate cancer care, the body requires additional fuel to repair and heal, making good nutrition a necessity for patients diagnosed with cancer of the prostate. Malnutrition during this time can negatively impact recovery and immune functioning, putting the patient at risk for illness and infection. What's more, many believe natural substances, like vitamins and herbs, are effective in the treatment of prostate cancer. What are they? Though lacking concrete scientific evidence, initial research suggests antioxidants such as selenium and vitamin E and foods such as soy, pomegranate, and tomatoes (or others rich in lycopene) may prevent or slow the progression of cancerous prostatic growth. Additionally, international surveys reveal that men living in the Mediterranean region and Japan exhibit a reduced risk of prostate cancer, leaving many to deduce that diets high in fresh fruits, vegetables, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, red wine, soy, green tea, and fish lessen the likelihood that an individual will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime.3 Before exploring a biologically-based alternative prostate cancer treatment plan or prostate cancer diet, it is imperative that patients first consult with their oncologist or pharmacist to ensure potential harmful treatment interactions are avoided and the effectiveness of care is not diminished.
Complementary and Alternative Energy Medicines for Prostate Cancer and Whole Medical Systems
Today, the use of Eastern medicine is rising in popularity among cancer patients, including prostate cancer. The belief behind these practices center on the notion of the presence of energy fields within the body, that when unbalanced, cause illness or physical and emotional detriment. To balance energy, and thus, promote healing, wellness, and relief from debilitating symptoms, prostate cancer patients can enroll in a number of activities or treatments including Tai Chi, Reiki, and acupuncture. Other examples of whole medical systems include: homeopathy, or the practice of injecting stimulating substances into the body to promote healing, and naturopathic medicine, or the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease through purely natural means, such as a prostate cancer diet or vitamin supplements and botanical (herbs) medicines.
1 Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin R. CDC National Health Statistics Report #12. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007. December 10, 2008
2 Thinking about Complementary and Alternative Medicine: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/thinking-about-CAM/. 06/08/2005.
3 Is There a Prostate Cancer Diet?: http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/is-there-prostate-cancer-diet.12/01/2006