Although surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the most common treatments for mesothelioma, many patients turn to alternative therapies in place of (or in addition to) their traditional therapies.
Since traditional treatments are associated with high rates of complications (including chemotherapy toxicity and operative mortality risks), alternative therapies are often selected for their milder impact on the body. Elderly or advanced-stage patients may especially benefit from alternative treatments, when traditional treatments offer a greater likelihood of detrimental side effects than a total cure.
Alternative therapies for mesothelioma can include (but are not limited to):
- Nutritional supplements, juicing and/or basic dietary changes
Homeopathy, which is based on a principal of “like curing like,” can also be used in mesothelioma treatment.
In this approach to therapy, an agent that causes symptoms similar to the symptoms of a disease is given to a patient to treat their disease. This is used to treat the person instead of their tumor. Homeopathic approaches to mesothelioma treatment may combine a number of natural remedies, including teas, minerals and plant extracts.
Combining Alternative Medicine and Traditional Medicine
Patients who do elect a traditional treatment method may also choose to supplement their therapies with alternative approaches. When alternative medicine and traditional medicine are combined into a single treatment plan, the result is called integrative medicine.
Many alternative treatments can help support a patient’s body through a course of traditional treatment and potentially improve their body’s response to the therapy.
Alternative mesothelioma treatments can also be used to combat some of the side effects of traditional medicine. Take for example:
- Patients who feel fatigued from chemotherapy may benefit from the invigorating benefits of a gentle yoga class.
- Patients who are experiencing cellular damage from radiation therapy may be able to counteract some of this damage through herbal celandine products.
- Patients needing a boost of immune function to ward off post-surgical infection may turn to astragalus root – a traditional Chinese medicine plant – to boost their immune system.
Dietary changes are also one of the simplest ways to integrate alternative medicine into traditional mesothelioma treatment. Proper nutrition can help the body fight off cancer or help manage side effects of radiation therapy or chemotherapy. These benefits can be explained by a licensed nutritionist or dietitian, such as one employed by your hospital or cancer center. Centers like the Hippocrates Health Institute are home to oncologists who promote the effects of a raw, vegan diet on cancer patients.
Precautions to Take With Alternative Medicine
Although most types of homeopathic and alternative medicine have few – if any – detectable side effects, some herbal supplements can actually interfere with the body’s ability to properly respond to traditional treatment. Many chemotherapy drugs come with warnings to avoid certain supplements or foods during use, while other therapies may also have similar warnings against alternative medicines that may compromise their effectiveness.
To avoid any such negative interactions, patients should still thoroughly discuss their interest in complimentary therapies with their oncologist before beginning their regimen.
Bio: Faith Franz is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.