What holistic practices have been proven beneficial to people undergoing chemotherapy?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 16, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I want to help my aunt who has breast cancer. She's got some great doctors, but I'm wondering what else I could integrate into her care without overwhelming her. Any thoughts on whether acupuncture or some other holistic practice could help her?

Expert Answers

Harvey Gilbert, MD, is a radiation oncologist with more than 35 years of professional experience in the medical field, working with cancer patients. He has edited 14 medical textbooks and coauthored 40 papers in the field of oncology. Dr. Gilbert is the medical director of the Ben Schaffer Cancer Institute in Lodi, California.

Modern medicine, referred to as scientifically based Contemporary or Modern Medicine, makes up most of what western practitioners use as the basis of 'proven therapy' for most cancers. In addition, ancient cultures have developed many techniques to help improve the quality of life and when added in the proper amount to our Contemporary programs, do make the patient's overall quality of of life better. These disciplines (called CAM specialties,i.e., Complementary and Alternative Medicine techniques)such as Acupuncture, herbs, Tai chi, Yoga, massage, Aryuvedic and many more. These are truly complementary to Modern medicine but rarely replace it in the definitive treatment of cancer. The question is highly complex, and leads us to state that the patient's quality of life is definitively improved with proper exercise, nutrition and stress relief.

Many centers are now exploring the proper balance of Contemporary modern medicine and CAM specialties. Most modern medical specialists are willing to consider CAM specialties as part of the overall regimen for cancer, but to not abandon scientifically proven Contemporary techniques when implementing CAM disciplines.