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Understanding Alternative Therapies: Our Favorites

Understanding Alternative Therapies: Our Favorites



Shenell Malloy

Alternative therapies can go by a lot of different names, like: complementary practices, integrated medicine, holistic modalities, and more. This world and what each of these practices claim to do gets confusing fast. These practices are becoming more mainstream - with major hospitals introducing integrated programs for pain relief and healing for cancer patients using alternative therapies.

Here is our list of the alternative therapies we’ve tried, and believe makes the biggest difference during and after cancer. Hopefully this helps you understand this space a little better.

Always consult your doctor before starting any practice. The NIH has a site focused on National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health with a list of common complementary practices to further understanding alternative therapies from a conventional medicine point of view.

  • Naturopathic Medicine: Naturopathic or Integrative Physicians have whole-body approaches to treat health issues and achieve overall wellbeing. After in-depth testing, suggested plans may include traditional medicine coupled with lifestyle changes, diet, supplements, healing modalities, exercise, therapy and alternative treatments. Each plan is uniquely tailored to your body’s needs. Read about my experience with Integrative Medicine here, and click here find a Naturopath. Naturopathic Physicians complete years of graduate-level schooling and are licensed.

  • Hypnotherapy: contrary to what it sounds like, hypnotherapy doesn’t put you in a trance, but a relaxed state where you work with a therapist to address burning issues and move past them to heal. During cancer, many things resurface – and you’re dealing with heavy anxiety about your health. We’ve had major breakthroughs when we committed to regular hypnotherapy and highly recommend it. Read a first-hand account of hypnotherapy here, and start a search for a virtual or in-person hypnotherapist here.

  • Meditation: chances are you’ve heard of meditation.  While meditation can follow many different types of practices and methods, it typically involves calming the mind to relax, reset and be in the moment. Mediation helped us calm our anxiety during cancer, and reassure ourselves that we would heal and return to health. Even 5 minutes can help. You may think that meditation is intimidating but listening to an easy recording can help train you to relax and focus. Here is a 15-minute meditation we love from Mindful Movement called Ignite Your Healing.

  • Acupuncture with cupping: this traditional Chinese medicine practice has been in use for 5,000 years and involves inserting fine needles into different places on the body to reduce pain and increase blood flow. Acupuncture helps us relieve pain and it also can help bring healing to areas suffering in the body. A Memorial Sloan Kettering study found that Acupuncture and massage is the best drug-free way to treat pain caused by cancer and cancer treatment. It can also be paired with cupping which involves “suctioning” areas of the body for additional pain relief using glass cups. It’s important to go to a reputable practice and be at a place in your treatment where you can do this.

  • Sound bath / sound meditation involves relaxing and having sounds lull you into a relaxed and meditative state. The vibrations coming from instruments like bowls, gongs, or binaural beats relaxes the active brain and promotes deeper calmness. The result is feeling calm, relaxed, less anxiety, and better sleep. If meditation is tricky for you, sound therapy is a shortcut to get you into a meditative state. Look for a registered sound healer here. If attending a sound bath at a studio or privately in your home is not an option, download binaural beats to your phone.
  • Supplements: it’s incredibly important to talk with your doctor about supplements during treatment. We found a list that really helped us keep our immune systems strong during treatment (zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, probiotics, mushrooms, astragalus), rest (magnesium), and relieve pain and nausea (CBD, aromatherapy). Read about my complete supplement protocol here.

Other alternative therapies we did included reiki, tai chi, craniosacral therapy, and yoga. We highly recommend investigating some of these practices to help relieve and heal your body as you’re dealing with cancer.

If you need assistance paying for some alternative therapies, please reach out to us to apply for our programs.

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