The holistic approach of treatment means treating the patient completely i.e. his mind, body, and soul. It treats the symptoms of the disease while keeping in mind the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of the patient, and their reaction to the illness.
The holistic approach for cancer treatment involves the use of conventional treatments along with complementary medicine, for example, acupuncture may be used along with chemotherapy. Medical treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy help to fight against cancer but they have severe side effects.
Pain, nausea, fatigue, weakness, and hair loss are all side-effects caused by cancer and its treatment. Moreover, the mental and emotional state of a person is affected. The holistic approach helps to take care of these side effects and helps the patients to live a better life.
Many patients use treatments besides mainstream medicine to improve the quality of their lives. These treatments include acupuncture, meditation, hypnosis, exercise, yoga, Tai chi, art and music therapy, nutritional care, etc. and help to relieve side effects.
In acupuncture. tiny needles are inserted by a trained expert into the skin at specific points. This may help to relieve nausea caused by chemotherapy and the pain resulting from cancer itself. Also, it helps to get rid of mouth pain caused in patients undergoing radiation therapy to get rid of head or neck cancer.
Using hypnotherapy, a therapist may help to concentrate on targets, such as managing pain and lowering stress in people experiencing pain, nausea, fatigue, and stress. Moreover, it is used in children to manage anxiety before procedures.
Meditation helps a person to relax and focus on something other than pain, thus, helping in managing pain, depression, and insomnia. Exercise helps to reduce stress and fatigue, thereby, helping a person to sleep better. Similarly, massage aids in easing muscle tension and promotes relaxation.
Yoga and Tai chi are exercise programs that combine deep breathing and relaxation. These help to reduce stress, fatigue, and anxiety. Additionally, they reduce pain, improve sleep, and increase the efficiency of the immune system.
Art and music not only provide a distraction to cancer patients but also have health benefits. They both reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. Also, music therapy has been associated with a lower heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, as well as decreased pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Nutrition counseling helps a person manage weight changes resulting from cancer and its treatment. It helps to control nausea. Furthermore, a nutrition expert may guide regarding the supplements that may interfere with treatment and the diet which may help to improve health.
Holistic treatments have their benefits, but unproven treatments should not replace traditional treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Although conventional therapies have their side effects, they are proven treatments to treat cancer, and delaying them might cause cancer to progress to a stage where it becomes more difficult to treat. Moreover, some procedures of holistic care are potentially harmful and may interrupt the standard cancer treatments.
One should remember that holistic cancer therapies are to be used in combination with standard cancer treatments and are not meant to replace them. When considering opting for a holistic approach for cancer treatment, a doctor should be consulted. The doctor is well aware of the condition of the patient and may be able to better guide about which complementary or alternative treatment to use.